Thursday, March 20, 2008

Spring Travels in Full Swing

We have managed to seriously overschedule our spring this year. We have quite a few trips planned, and we just got back from our first one.

We went to Orlando for a week. GB had a class to go to for work along with a couple of coworkers, so I tagged along with the intention to work in the hotel while they were in class. The hotel internet connection had different plans for me, so it became a catch-as-catch-can week of work. That part of it was stressful, but somewhere along the line I've figured out how to turn off the work thoughts when I stop working. I think it's called something like "burnout". Oh well. The world shouldn't cave in on itself if I have a less than 110% productive week, and it turns out that it didn't.

While we were there, we did Universal Studios and Disney World. While I had a nice time, I think I have enough of prepackaged fun for a while. We also went to a science museum with lots of cool hands-on exhibits. I enjoyed that quite a bit, especially the phone-booth-sized category one hurricane simulation. We hit up a dinner murder mystery theatre, played pirate mini golf, and ate a lot of good food.

But the clear highlight of the trip for me was the early Tuesday morning shuttle launch that we witnessed. The launch was at 2:30am, and it was a cloudy pitch black -- no stars, no moon, no natural light at all. We were set to watch the launch from about 6 miles away. As we listened to the countdown approach zero, the light from the ignited jet fuel lit everything up like it was mid-day. It was phenomenal how fast the dark went to light, and then when the shuttle got past the cloud cover, it went right back to black again. I worked as an intern in one small portion of the space program back when I was in college, and I've always wanted to see a launch, so this was extra exciting. I did try to take pictures, but they just didn't do justice to the experience, so I'm leaving them out.

This was also our next installment in vacationing with another couple. It worked pretty well, but there's nothing like spending 24 hours a day for 9 days with people to find out what annoys you about them. But, for the most part, we all got along pretty well. Course, GB actually has to work with them, so if there is going to be any awkwardness, it'll be on him. Poor guy.

Anyway, so we made it through our first trip. More installments coming soon!

Monday, March 03, 2008

I Guess We're In Escrow

For the strangest house-buying story in these many years, you've come to the right place.

Labor Day week, 2007 -- We made our first offer on this house a full six months ago. The owner said she had to get a few things in place to be ready for that. By the end of September, we were already steeling our resolve for this process.

October, 2007 -- By this point, we'd mostly figured we were in to waiting for the old year to leave and the new year to appear before there would be any moment.

November, 2007 -- The owner has the gall to say something to the effect of "I'm still not ready to deal in writing, but let's talk verbally. If I would have come back in September, XX would have been the number." I was ready to walk away. The number was only 4% off her asking price that was excessive. (Why do you think she's had this house on and off the market for two years with no offers? hmmmm...priced too high, maybe??) Besides being disgusted with the number, what's that about pretending that two months hadn't passed since we put our offer in? Doesn't that count for anything? We say thanks, but no thanks, we'll wait until she can deal in writing.

December, 2007 -- We keep getting updates every couple of days that she's "really close now."

January, 2008 -- We get the word that she's ready to deal in writing! Hallelujah! We submit a new offer that looks remarkably like our offer from September. The market here basically hadn't changed, so that seemed reasonable to us. Two days later we get a request for a 5-day extension. The extension is granted. And expires. Apparently she wasn't as ready to deal in writing as things were presented to us. Meanwhile, there are a lot of new houses going on the market, so we get out and look at the new inventory. There's not a lot we're interested in, so we keep waiting.

February, 2008 -- Crisis! We find a house we LOVE! It's quirky, cute, in great shape, cheaper than the house we're in, and quirky. Ultimately, we decide it's too quirky and that limits resale potential (and there's nothing we want less than to be stuck with a piece of expensive California real estate we can't sell). We go back to waiting.

Last Wednesday -- We hear she's ready to deal in writing. Yeah right. Pardon my skepticism, but we've heard that one before. So, we resubmit our same offer a third time. Friday afternoon I get a call from our realtor. Sit down -- we have a written, signed counter! And even better, it's in the ballpark of our offer!! We sleep on it, and send our counter back on Saturday (split evenly between our offer and her counter, and magically, our target price). We have counter 3 back to us within a few hours (just $5k more -- she apparently had some superstitious issue about the number we countered with, and over 30 years, that's just $43/month, so I think we can handle that). She signs it, and we have an executed contract Saturday night. Wait -- did that actually happen? After six months of waiting, we have a deal in three days?? And it's a deal I'm happy with?

Well, I've slept since then and rechecked the docs. We do actually have a signed contract. She wanted a 30-day close, too, rather than the 60-day one we proposed. So, that would put us closing on April Fools Day. I think we found the joke. Since we'll be on a train that day, we'll actually likely close on the 2nd or 3rd and avoid all that. Why will we be on a train? We've got a long weekend we planned to Oregon back in our we're-never-buying-a-house-anyway days. In the meantime, there is a lot to do. And since I'm the one with the early afternoon schedule, I'll be dealing with most of it. Tomorrow we have the inspection scheduled. Tuesday I meet with the mortgage company. The pest inspection will be no later than Wednesday. We'll probably have to have a carpenter out for a quote on some of the pest work that will result in some wood replacements. All needs to be done by Friday. Why Friday? Well, we leave for Orlando on Friday, and we'll be gone for the week on a trip we planned back in (you guessed it!) our we're-never-buying-a-house-anyway days. Since we're pretty confident the house will need to be tented for pest issues, we want that to happen while we're gone. Plus, with these two trips, we'll be gone 14 of our 30-day escrow, which means we have some really busy days the 16 we're actually in town.

I'm overwhelmed just thinking about it. But I'm smiling, too. Can't you tell how excited I am by all the punctuation I've used in this post? That and the run-ons and sentence fragments? Hee hee. :)