Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Natural Taupe

That's the carpet color. Yes, I am boring. :) So, here's pictures. I'm pretty sure I'll be on blogging hiatus until next week, unless I pop in on Friday with some pictures of boxes or furniture with boxes all around. Two more days to finish up packing and cleaning the current abode, and I am R-E-A-D-Y to move and get it over with! Thanks for sharing in my (our) excitement. Your comments really do make me smile. xoxo!

This is in the master... the living room has hardwoods, but didn't want our TWO fireplaces to confuse you! ;)

P.S. Swiffer Dusters are the bomb. And, no, unfortunately I'm not being paid to say that, but Swiffer, you can definitely pay me to say nice things about your products. I'm a sucker for them!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Dark Walnut

That's the color we chose for our new hardwoods (well, part new and part refinishing of the old). I really couldn't be happier with the result, but I could deal with not having to dust every surface left exposed to the sanding. Ick! I wanted to make before and after photos on www.picnic.com, but of course my Flash player at work is an old version, so I can't use the site. And, I will never post them if I do it at home, because I still have a laundry list of things to get done before the big move Thursday. And, really, why won't blogger just let us post pictures side by side? Annoying...

Without further ado, here they are!




AFTER (I should've paid attention to my "before" pictures and taken the "after" pictures from the same perspective... oops.


AFTER (well, sorta... still need to paint risers and railing)


AFTER (horrible picture)

BEFORE (yes, this is really what the carpet looked like)


Carpet goes in tomorrow (bedrooms and upstairs hallway). CANNOT wait to see it all done. It's amazing what a difference the hardwoods make in updating the feel of the house... pictures truly do it no justice, but there will be more to come. :)

And, I just want to state publicly that I am so very happy I married Matt. Besides the fact that I'm crazy for him, he is sooooo handy. I mean, truly, he never ceases to amaze me with the things he can do. Exhibit A: he wired a 220-volt outlet for our dryer by reading something online. And then, he just did it (after a trip to Ace Hardware and then another to Home Depot and another to Lowe's... gotta love when they have every amp circuit but the one you need). Exhibit B: the dryer still doesn't fit in the closet (one inch people, one freaking inch). After a lot of deliberating, our only solutions are to remove the doors and hang a curtain (eh...) or to cut a hole in the house at the exact, precise measurements where we can push the dryer directly to the vent and not need any hose or other contraption. This makes me very nervous. Or, we could re-frame the wall and extend the closets out further... that sounds like a lot of fun, huh. So, I think Matt is going to spend Saturday cutting a hole into our house for a new dryer vent. Please pray for us. Ohhhhh, and we have mold in our return plenum and trunk, so more money later, we'll be replacing that! But, other than those things, so far so good... one day at a time.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Something NOT house related!

Oh, I have things I could tell you, but I'm withholding. :) But, Monday you will have some before and after pictures.

I was visiting LEB's Esty Shop this morning and admiring all of her super cute, handmade things. I was going to do a post on it, and then I visited her blog, and she's also doing a give away. So, go check our her store, buy some cute stationery or an etched glass tray (love that), and then go enter her give away for one of seven very cute items! While you're at it, she has a BUNCH of great design pictures posted on her blog... I steal a lot of them and save them for future use. :)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Joys of Home Ownership

Yes, they've begun. :) Thankfully, nothing major so far. I was at our house this morning to meet the Best Buy delivery, A/C contractors, and flooring contractors. The A/C should be completely done today, but they won't finish up until tonight. The flooring guys are taking up the carpet in the living room and laying the new floors in there today, as well as putting in the stairs. Tomorrow they'll sand and apply one coat of stain, which is TBD. I'm going to go around lunch tomorrow to pick out the color, but I think we're going to go with a dark walnut. I put some paint colors up on the wall last night, and I think I've picked a paint color for the common areas, but I want to wait until the floors are done to make sure it works.

For the stresser of the day, the dryer hookup is for a gas dryer... and we're 99% sure the seller's disclosure said they had an electric dryer, so that is what we purchased. It isn't a huge deal, but we'll have to have an electrician (or Matt with good instructions) put in a 220 volt outlet (and cap the gas line) so we can plug it in. Also, it's going to be a very tight fit (and may not work) for the washer and dryer in the closet they go in. Yeah, we measured like seven times for the refrigerator but never thought to measure that space. The bi-fold doors may have to go or we might have to figure out something else to make it work (I'm talking an inch, max, of space we need to gain to shut the doors - washer fits but dryer is looking tough due to the vent behind it). This is such a boring post. haha. So, I leave you with a picture of our new fridge, which we LOVE.

I almost forgot to add this picture...

Monday, July 20, 2009

These may just look like another ordinary set of keys, but my friends, these are the keys to our very first home! Woohoo!! Everything went great at closing, and we are now the proud owners of a real house with a real yard and a garden and 2.5 bathrooms and two fireplaces and an upstairs and a killer front porch! Our amazing realtor, who ensured I kept my sanity through this process and made sure every i was dotted and t was crossed, got us two rocking chairs as a house warming gift. So excited! Lucky for us, she's also going to be our neighbor, as she and her husband live about 1/2 mile away.

Now the craziness really begins... hardwoods start Thursday, new A/C installation begins Thursday, hardwoods finish Sunday, carpet starts Monday, and then we (and by we, I mean I) move next Thursday! Matt is going to be put to work the first weekend in the house, because I'm stuck doing all the heavy lifting during the week. Maybe I can just sit back with a beer and give orders? [wishful thinking] Oh well, I do what I gotta do. Hopefully we get all packed up this weekend, because apparently I may be making a work trip some time before then, too. Gotta love it!

In other news, there was no winner named at the Rib Off. Yeah, weird. People's ribs were finishing at different times, so everyone just ate. But, the real winner of the Rib Off was Caitlin's banana pudding. I'm also being talked into bottling my salsa. Matt, sadly, did not have the best ribs this year, and we are 100% convinced that the cut of the ribs is at least 75% of the battle.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Conference Call

You know you and your friends have grown up when you have to schedule a conference call to discuss one of their recent engagements and wedding plans! Haha! It was definitely the best conference call I've ever had.

Lovely weekend planned - Jenn and Madelyn are coming up for a bit tomorrow for the 2nd Annual Riboff. Matt and some buddies started this last year as a competitive excuse to drink beer and grill all day. Matt won the Inaugural Riboff, and we're looking for a repeat! Hopefully we'll get a bit more packing done and then we close on Monday at 9:00 am!!!!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Money Saving Tips for Future Homeowners

Aha, a new post idea thanks to my newest married friend and blogger with the best name ever, Kristin. :)

Kristin asked for money saving tips to save for a house. Obviously, a down payment on a house is a HUGE chunk of money, and it's not always easy to get there. But, there are a few ways to minimize that amount of money, even in this lending environment.

*FHA Loans are a great tool for first time home buyers. They allow buyers to put as little as 3.5% down. The money is a bit more expensive (higher up front costs and a higher interest rate than a conventional loan), and it takes a little more paperwork and time to qualify, but it can be completely worth it. You also have the option of financing some of your closing costs, which can help with that up front expense. There's also a limit on the amount of the loan, which I believe is around $350,000.
*Depending on your area, you can also put as little as 5% down on a 30-year conventional mortgage. However, if you finance more than 80% of your purchase price, you will be required to have Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI), which varies depending on the percent you put down. We are putting 10% down, so we have to pay an additional 62 basis points (0.62%) annually on top of our interest rate. Once you're down to 80% LTV (loan to value), you no longer have to pay this expense. This can occur through principal paydowns, investment in your home's value, appreciation of your asset, or more likely, a combination of these three.
*You also have the option of taking out a conventional 80% LTV loan and an additional loan to cover the remaining down payment less what you can put down (most often, not less than 5% down). This second mortgage will be at a significantly higher interest rate, so you'll want to pay it off as soon as possible.

Now that you have some options for financing, here are some tips to save extra cash.

*DINK status doesn't hurt (double income, no kids).
*BUDGET!!! BUDGET!!! BUDGET!!! Did I mention, budget? Be realistic and stick to it. Make weekly/monthly savings contributions part of your budget, not an afterthought.
*Do you have a daily Starbucks habit? How about eating lunch out every day? A $4 latte 5 days per week costs you $1,040 per year. Spending $8 on lunch 5 days per week costs you $2,080 per year. Invest in a milk steamer and make your own lattes, and limit eating out. I try to limit eating lunch out to once per week, and Matt and I typically don't eat out for dinner more than twice per week. Actually, since we only see each other on the weekends these days, I think we've only eaten out once total in the past 3-4 weeks. Even if we go somewhere cheap, dinner and a few drinks costs $50. We can have dinner and a few drinks at home for under $20.
*Unless it is an emergency, do not touch your savings account. Until this week, we never once transferred money from savings to checking.
*If you're the type of person that has a hard time not spending what is in your checking account, make a separate savings account for your house and for other items you want to save for (i.e., vacation, car, Christian Louboutin heels), so that you don't have to dip into your house savings.
*Prioritize what is really important. If buying a house is high up on your list, forgo the nice, expensive apartment and save the difference each month toward your down payment. Although our condo is pretty cute, we could have lived in a nice rental house, but we didn't see the point in spending that much on rent, so we went with the 2/1 condo that fit our lifestyle perfectly and allowed us to pocket a lot more money each month.
*Shop sales and use coupons. Fiddledeedee is a blog I use to shop Publix sales. I try to plan my weekly menu based on what is on sale, and if something is BOGO that I use a lot (olive oil, chicken stock, etc.), I stock up when it is on sale, even if I don't need it at the time. I also rarely buy clothes that aren't on sale, and as much as I'd like a Louis Vuitton bag or a pair of Christian Louboutin shoes, I wanted a house more.
*Sell what you don't need anymore. I recently went through my closet and compiled an embarrassing five shopping bags worth of clothes I don't wear anymore. I took them to Plato's Closet and made almost $150. I'm donating what's left to the Junior League of Atlanta's Nearly New Shop. If you have items in good condition, try consignment or selling them on eBay.
*If you have existing debt (with the exception of student loan at a low rate), put away enough money for an emergency fund and pay off your existing debt before you saddle yourself with a mortgage. Plus, being debt free is going to make the loan approval process much better.

Matt and I are lucky that we are both doing well in our careers. We don't spend beyond our means, but we don't have to scrape by. However, without solid goals and a money saving plan, we would not have been able to save so much so quickly. One other tip for purchasing a house, don't forget to add on taxes and insurance to your monthly payment when figuring out what you can afford. Taxes are high in Atlanta, so that is unfortunately a large part of our payment (around 1/5 of our total monthly payment!).

So, do any of you have some good, money saving tips you'd like to share with your blogging buddies?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Getting excited!

We went to our house on Saturday to meet the carpet guy, and they have an Under Contract sign on the For Sale sign! Woohoo. :) I hope it gets a sold sign on it next Monday, so I can take another picture.

So, the scariness has worn off, and now I am just excited! Our "to do" list is a mile long already, and I know that will get really old really fast, but I just can't wait to see it with the new flooring in, new paint colors (slowly, but surely), painted spindles on the stair railing (the spindles have never been finished in 18 years... still rough wood... they are getting primed and painted white and I'm definitely painting the hand rails black), and my red front door and black shutters. :)

Okay, I'm also having a design dilemma, so let me know what you think... all of the door knobs and everything are currently gold. I can't decide between satin nickel and oil rubbed bronze. Do you think oil rubbed bronze is a fad that will make the house seem so 2009 in 2015? I feel like the nickel is a little more neutral, but the bronze is really pretty. Here are two examples in case you're not sure what the heck I'm talking about.

All of the switch plates and outlets will be white, all the trim will be white, and other hardware (faucets and stuff) will be probably be brushed nickel. I'm not worried about being matchy matchy when it comes to door knobs and faucets, but all the doors will be one of those two colors. I'd love your opinions!

Other than that, we've got some paint colors narrowed down and our goal is to have the common areas painted before Matt's 30th birthday party on August 29. It's going to be quite an undertaking considering we have an 8 day vacation in between moving in and his birthday, but we're ready to hunker down and get it done.

We also got some "good" news today... the current owners are going to leave their patio furniture and bar stools for us, because they don't need them. The bar stools are ugly, but it's nothing a can of black spray paint can't cure for the time being. I'm glad not to have to buy any until we renovate the kitchen, because who knows what we'll want then!?

Lots of before and after pictures to come in the coming month...

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

18 Kids and Counting...

Anyone else here love that show as much as I do? I seriously love the Duggars! I get mad when people call them weird or talk bad about them having 18 kids. People - they have 18 amazing kids who are smart, well behaved and have good values... and they have NO debt. Who cares if they have 30 kids? They'll all be contributing members of society. And, I personally think Mrs. Duggar is a saint... she is so amazing with how she raises those kids. I don't agree completely with their way of life, but I certainly don't begrudge it... more power to them!

So, anyway, last night's show was Mr. Duggar taking the older girls to a Daddy/Daughter campout. He also brought along two of his daughters' friends that had lost their fathers. I guess it just struck a chord with me having lost my dad at age 12. I think it's so great that he cares enough to invest in these young women's lives, because I know I appreciated the very few men who did that for us. My mom actually met and dated a guy for about five years a few years after my dad died. It was a HUGE adjustment for me and my brother, but we grew to love him, and he adored my little sister. I'm so glad she had him, because she was only 5 when our dad died so she really missed out on that experience.

Anyway, my random thoughts for the day... back to work!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Uh, DUH!

Economist: FDIC gearing up for bank closures
Tampa Bay Business Journal - by Janet Leiser Staff Writer

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. is gearing up to handle a large number of bank failures expected as a result of bad mortgages, both in residential and commercial real estate, an economist said Tuesday.

“They know they’re going to take down a large number of banks and they can’t do it until they’re staffed up,” said Mark Dotzour, chief economist and director of research for the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University.

Dotzour expects federal regulators to establish an agency, similar to the Resolution Trust Corp. that disposed of assets belonging to insolvent S&Ls in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

“Once they start to sell [foreclosed real estate], we’ll find out what the market really is,” Dotzour told attendees at a local economic summit hosted by the Tampa chapters of the Commercial Real Estate Women, CCIM, Florida Gulfcoast Commerical Association of Realtors and NAIOP.

Dotzour blamed federal intervention for the lack of commercial real estate investment activity in recent months, as well as the failure of businesses to make major decisions.
“Nobody knows what to do so they’re doing nothing,” Dotzour said at the luncheon meeting at the Intercontinental Tampa.

Government, in its quest to help the economy, is causing harm by propping up failing companies and regularly changing rules, he said.

“No one can predict what the government will do,” Dotzour said.

“People are frozen. It’s not that they don’t want to invest in the future, the rules are unclear,” he said.

He jokingly called the Federal Reserve “inksters” for routinely printing money to bail out big business, including banks that are still not making many loans.

The government’s role in a capitalistic society, he said, “is to make the rules and get off the dance floor.”

Businesses and individuals that can’t pay their bills should resolve their problems in bankruptcy court, not with money from the government, he said. It’s a process that has worked for decades, for generations.

“Everyone has a lesson to learn here, including you and me,” he said. “We have to live within our means.”

Dotzour expects foreclosure rates to continue to climb, real estate prices to fall more and cap rates to rise to at least 9 percent before leveling off.

In 2010 and 2011, interest rates will begin to rise, as will inflation. Once investors realize the market is at bottom, deals will begin to flow again, he said.

In the meantime, he compared the bad loans that remain on banks’ books to a smelly cat litter box and the feds keep throwing more litter on top to mask the smell. But they’ll eventually have to remove the organic material to fix the problem.

P.S. This partly highlights what I do for a living... I workout these bad commercial real estate loans and manage/dispose of REO (bank owned) assets if a resolution can't be reached with the borrowers.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Independence Day Festivities

Well, we ended up having a rather lovely weekend. We just hung out on Friday and had dinner with our friends Matt and Jenny that night. On Saturday, we watched the women's final at Wimbledon, prepped dinner, and then enjoyed a day at the pool with about everyone in our condo buildings plus 10 of their friends. The pool was slammed, but it was a lot of fun. One of our good friends lives in the same condos, so I think about 1/3 of the people at the pool were our friends, and said friend got a keg. Good times. We enjoyed burgers, corn on the cob, fruit salad with yogurt, and fruit pizza for dinner with Matt and Jenny again before heading off to watch the fireworks in Buckhead.

My good friend, Lauren, ended up getting access to a penthouse condo at 10 Terminus Place, a condo development by her employer and my former employer, Cousins Properties. I underwrote a lot of that project, but I actually hadn't seen the finished product. It was very nice, but definitely the most impressive thing was the approximately 1500-2000 SF of outdoor balcony overlooking the best city views in Atlanta. (Something was on my camera lens, and I didn't bring my good camera, so pardon the pictures - my battery died so I didn't even get any firework pictures, but we were so close!)

We began packing on Sunday. I love packing. Not. At least we will be settled somewhere for the first time in our adult lives and we won't be moving for a long time, God willing!


Douchebag alert - Wes on the Bachelorette. Holy crap. I just made my blog rated PG-13 by using that word, but that and assclown really sum it up. Darn show got me sucked in last week, and I hadn't watched one episode (except little snippets) up until then. I blame it on the Jon & Kate Plus 8 hiatus.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

A feast for the eyes...

Andy Roddick v. Roger Federer - 2009 Wimbledon Men's Final. I really couldn't have picked a better duo to go into a record 77 games. I was pretty bummed hottie boombody Roddick didn't pull out the win, but I did not mind the extra sets they played one bit. They are good eye candy. I just can't believe the only time Federer broke Roddick was when it mattered... championship point. Next year, Roddick, next year (and you better hope Nadal or Federer slip up or have to sit out for some reason).

Thursday, July 2, 2009

3.5 Day Weekend!

Holler! I am ready for the weekend. I've actually been pretty sick this week, but I'm so busy at work (so busy I have time to write this blog... lol) that I had to come in and battle through. I'm feeling much better today but still not 100%. But, we have a short day today and are off tomorrow, so I am super excited. I'm heading over to the house when I leave work to meet with some flooring guys and another HVAC company, so things are moving ahead! And, the Sellers accepted our amendment with things we wanted them to fix with no changes, so that is good. The bats will be out of the attic, but apparently they are some sort of protected species, so they are actually going to put a bat box in one of the trees on the property, so we get to keep our pets! I'm totally cool with having bats... they eat lots of bugs.

So, that's about it. Nothing too exciting to report. No big plans for the weekend... might hang out at the pool and cookout on Saturday and then find somewhere to watch fireworks. We might be able to see them from our place... I could see the Downtown fireworks from the apartment I lived in before Matt and I got married, and that's only a mile (if that) west of where we are now. We'd definitely be able to see them if we got up high enough. :)

Happy 4th of July to you and yours! xoxo