Water doesn’t like me, that’s the conclusion I have come to. The first day we moved into the house, we had a leaky toilet. Luckily, the leak came from the tank, not the bowl. All it took to fix was some new rubber seals, and it is fine now.

However, the sea of water that the washer dumped onto the basement floor was more than just a leak. Our sturdy Maytag failed on its very first use. This happened after everybody kept commenting “oh, a Maytag…you will have that for life”.

So I attempted to fix the beast. I removed the front cover, and took a look inside. Bone dry. All the hoses are connected, nothing was torn or loose, everything looked alright. I decided to run it again, while it was open…to see where the leak was coming from. It appears the washer is not just leaking underneath, its coming from underneath the washer. After some brushing up on the issue, I have found this is suppose to be a difficult fix. I have also read that similar Maytags have had the same problem…and that it may be more reasonable to look into a new washer.

I have a friend who is coming to look at, as he is a little more experienced in the area. If he isn’t able to fix it, I guess I will be doing some shopping this weekend.

Well, we are all moved-in to our new house. Settled in? No, just moved in. We still have allot of unpacking to do, however things went by fairly quickly. The more prepared you are before the move, the easier things are when that time comes. This includes basic tips that are sometimes overlooked, like packing an “immediate needs” box for things you don’t want to search for later. However some things, you are bound to miss. I went without a belt for two days.

I am lucky enough to live with a girl who is pretty crazy about organization. Each label was pre-made with the room that the contents of that box belonged in. This helped avoid the constant “what about this one, where does it go?” when unloading the truck. Due to the busy month we had prior to moving, there was still a decent amount of last minute packing…but nothing that took too long.

Now I am off to inspect the washing machine. More on that story as it develops.

We are wrapping up all the work we plan to do to the house before moving in, and I have to admit that I am pretty excited about how quickly things are coming along so far. We are having carpet installed the next two days, after which I will post some before and after pictures for comparison.

Its amazing how quickly you notice the difference from living in an apartment to owning a home. While at the house on the first day we had the opportunity to meet two of our neighbors. I have lived at the apartments for almost two years and don’t know any of my neighbor’s names, with the exception of the guy in my building who has the license plate “jtmoney” (I can only assume his name is JT). Sure you will get the occasional “hi” at the apartments, but no greetings as friendly as what we received not even one day into owning our first home.

There is also a general pride in ownership that accompanies owning a home. Since we have been at the apartments, we have done only the bare minimum in decorating and maintenance. There is no point in making improvements or changing wall colors because you do not see a return on your investment. In fact, we would probably lose whatever portion of our security deposit we have left. Now that we own a home, the list of things we want to do around the house seems to get longer by the day. Whats more is that we are eager to do all of these things. What may have seemed like a chore in an apartment turns into an opportunity in a home.

We closed on our new house Monday evening and have been working like crazy on it since. Closing went very smoothly without any real hitches. I have had several people in the past month telling me to “leave allot of time for closing, it takes forever”. This is when I have to revert to my previous advice of finding somebody you are comfortable doing business with. The Title Company Val chose was great, and we were in and out within an hour. All and all, a very painless experience.

My experience with working at Wells Fargo has taught me that you can’t allow others to rush you at the closing table. This was not an issue for us, as I was able to review each document before I signed without feeling pressured. I have heard endless horror stories of people being told they are signing one thing, although the document in-front of them reads something else. It is worth the extra time to review the documents before you sign, so you can be sure what you are agreeing to. Check to make sure that information such as your interest rate, loan amount, and escrow are consistent with what was previously discussed. Also be wary of addendum’s and riders that may have not been previously mentioned.

We were able to get a 30 year fixed loan at a great interest rate, which is keeping are payments very manageable. We were also fortunate enough to work with people such as Valerie (our agent) and Greta (our loan officer at Countrywide) who were able to provide us a product that fit what we were looking for. We put no money down (besides a very minimal amount in closing costs),  and did not get stuck with a pre-payment penalty. This way we can upgrade in a few years without taking a significant financial hit. We were even able to work with our agent to get the house at a price that was a good amount lower than what was listed. The reason I bring all of this up is to illustrate that even as a first time home-buyer…you can get yourself a great deal to get you started and in the right direction.

I will be posting pictures as soon as possible, as well as any new updates I may have. In the meantime I have added a new section to the page titled “Work in Progress” which lists all of the things we eventually want to do to the house.

I want to start of by apologizing for not posting any updates since the end of last month. A combination of busy work schedules and preparation for our new house has left me a little short on posting time. Closing is today at 4pm, and I think we finally have everything ready. Since I have been MIA for quite some time, I will try to provide a brief update on what has been going on with our new home.

As I mentioned, we have everything prepared for the closing this afternoon. The only slight scare we had was with the insurance policy (which has to be in place before closing). With all the commotion of ordering carpet, buying paint, scheduling moving dates, and hectic work lives…we had forgotten to get quotes on a homeowners policy. We were able to get a couple different quotes before deciding on a company, and got the policy around the middle of last week. It’s cutting it a little closer than what I would have liked, but I’m happy we were able to get it taken care of.

We are meeting Val at 3pm today to do a final walk-through of the house before our closing. I feel like I have been waiting forever for April 30th to come, so that we could finally close. My excitement about the idea of owning my first home really started hitting me this weekend, and I can’t wait to close and get the moving process started. I will make sure to post a full update on the walk-through as well as the closing in the next couple of days.

No real breaking news to report as of yet. We have submitted all of our records and financial information, which will now undergo the final review by an underwriter. The application process is taking a little longer that what it normally would, due to the mortgage program that we are using. Both Jolena and myself have never owned a home before, and as you may know…there are several products out there for first time home-buyers. I wanted to take this opportunity to highlight the specific program that we are applying for.

After speaking with Greta at Countrywide, we decided to apply for a loan through the CDA, or Community Development Association. In our case, we were able to apply for a fixed rate loan with no down payment. The interest rate is low, and the program will allow us to get a good house while keeping the payments manageable. The CDA is just one of many programs designed for new homeowners, all of which are definitely worth looking into. The application process takes a little longer, due to the fact that we have to qualify with the CDA to use their product before we can be approved for a loan through Countrywide. If it means getting the keys to our first home, the extra time and effort are well worth it.

Well our first offer was accepted by the seller, and it looks as if we are moving forward in the loan process. The property in question is in the Farmbrook development (in the Ballenger Creek area of Frederick). So far, things are moving along nicely.

We had our inspection today, which was an interesting experience. There were a couple of small things that need corrected here and there, but nothing devastating. The only thing we are asking the seller to fix is some electrical items upstairs. Nothing that poses any danger or risk, but things such as switches not controlling outlets like they are suppose to. There was also an issue with the kitchen plumbing, but again…nothing big, just small inconveniences. We plan on remodeling the kitchen anyway, and all the issues are things that can wait until then.

Due to the recent snowfall, the inspector will be making a short follow-up visit for the roof and deck (both of which are still covered). After the inspection we spent some time looking at what kind of things we want/need to do to the house before we move in. Some fresh paint is definitely in order, as well as new carpeting. We are also looking at the possibility of tearing down some kitchen cabinets to open up the main floor. This is something we are definitely doing, the only question is if we will do it prior to moving in. Such an adjustment would certainly be easier in an empty house.

Inspection included, things are going fairly smooth so far (knock on wood). We stopped by the leasing office Saturday to let them know we plan on ending our lease (as we are currently under a month to month contract). They require 60 days notice, making May 16th our final day in the apartment. With a scheduled closing for April 30th, this will give us some time to do things such as paint and carpet before moving our stuff in. If you are making the transition from renter to owner, ask your leasing office if you are able to prorate your final month. In our case, this is something they were willing to do…which makes scheduling the move allot easier.

This will be the first in many posts regarding my experience in the closing process. Up until now I have documented getting approved for a loan, as well as looking at properties. Today we put in an offer on a house we really feel good about. Starting with this post, and throughout the closing process…I will be trying to update the site a little more frequently. Hopefully this will give a little more insight to the turn of events that will be taking place.

We met with Val this afternoon to review the offer we intend to submit, and sign all the necessary paperwork. Val has since submitted the offer, and hopefully we will hear back from her in the next couple days. After a deal is agreed upon, we will have five days to meet with the broker and officially submit all of our paperwork (bank history, year end statements, paychecks etc). We will also have seven days to order and complete an inspection on the home. As long as the inspection goes well, all systems are go.

With such quick time-frames, I think this is the point allot of people tend to get panicked. From working at Wells Fargo, I have heard numerous stories of things getting complicated due to the application/approval/closing processes being rushed. I would advise anybody to try and make sure they are prepared throughout the entire loan process. After speaking with Val today, we got in contact with Greta (our broker). She advised us on exactly what we will need before we meet with her. Jolena and I spent the evening getting everything prepared, and I will be contacting her tomorrow to set an appointment. I feel we are prepared as can be, which will hopefully cut down on any complications further down the road.

I will be sure to update once we have received word on our offer.

This past Saturday we saw ten different properties in the Frederick area. We saw some properties in the neighborhoods behind Jefferson St. (near the apartments where we currently reside), and then headed out towards the Ballenger Creek area to look at Farmbrook, Robin Meadows, and Kingsbrook. Some of the places we saw are a little more expensive than what we feel we can afford right now, but those were not the majority.

We also saw a property that had become bank owned, which turned the whole experience into an adventure. As we pulled up the single family bank owned property, Val mentioned that they previous owners still had dogs there. She advised us that when she asked if the dogs were friendly, the gentleman at the bank replied “I can’t feel comfortable telling you that”. At this point, we decided to peek our heads in, to see if the dogs were in the house. It turned out they were not, so I followed their barks to the kitchen window that faces the back yard…and found three very large aggressive looking dogs. Jolena realized the back door was not shut all the way at the same time the dogs did, but luckily she beat them to it. This visit proved to be a little more interesting than what we had expected.

In the end, the majority of the homes were in a decent price range…and without the risk of dog attacks. The Ballenger Creek area offers nice neighborhoods, and sits outside of the zones for city taxes (a definite plus). Although we are still looking, we do have a couple properties that are holding our interest, and we have grown more and more confident that we are going to find the right place for us.

As you may or may not be aware, the search for my first home is taking place in Frederick, MD. Recognizing the fact that allot of readers may not be familiar with the Frederick area, I have added FredNet to my blogroll. FredNet (in its own description) is a guide to living, working, and playing in Frederick Maryland. I have been a regular reader of FredNet for some time now. It is well written, updated frequently, and most importantly…gives a glimpse of what it is like to live in the Frederick area. If you get a chance, definitely check it out.