Saving money is hard, though. Nobody goes into teaching for the money and I racked up some student loans to get there. Between rent, car payments, the pets' needs, and other bills, there's not a lot of money coming in and staying in. I had kind of resigned myself to renting for the rest of my life (or until I marry rich).
But Barley and I spend a lot of time walking in our neighborhood, and over the last several years, I've noticed signs that say things like "Buy this house, $0 down, $475/month." For a long time, I walked by them, thinking that they were too good to be true. All of the signs advertised monthly payments of significantly less than my rent payments and the thought of being able to own a house for less than I pay in rent just didn't seem real to me.
With my lease coming to an end this spring, I decided to contact the agency whose signs accompanied these signs and in early January I started the home search after my realtor told me about USDA home loans.
I'm pretty sure my realtor thinks I'm crazy because almost all of my decisions were based on the pets. Two of my three non-negotiables were dog related: it had to be in a walkable neighborhood and have a fenceable yard (#3 was have a place for a washer and dryer). Almost every house I've looked, I've commented on perfect features for pets (a spacious backyard for Barley, bay windows for Soth) or features that take the house off the list because of the pets (the smell of cat that would make Soth go on a marking frenzy, no room for a crate). None of the things my realtor was used to people looking for--updated kitchens and bathrooms, big closets, hardwood floors--mattered much to me.
Although the amount of time I've been searching has been relatively short, the process has felt long. I looked at a lot of houses that were just not me. They were perfectly nice houses, but they weren't my house. Then I fell in love with one--that had no appliances and no garage or shed and did need some updates, and the sellers weren't willing to budge on the price at all when we started the offer/counteroffer process. I was heartbroken because I could see all of our stuff fitting into that house and I could imagine our walks in the neighborhood and where Soth's little face would peek out of the windows while he waited for us to come home--and I was excited to shop for appliances even if I hated the idea of spending money on them.
There were a few other houses that I liked, but none that I was sure was "the one." I didn't want to buy a house just to buy a house--no matter how nice it would be for Barley to have a yard.
I was pretty sure it would be weeks, if not months, before I found something I loved as much. Then one day, I drove by a few houses we were scheduled to look at later in the week to check the commute to work and I saw a for sale sign in a yard of another house. I made a note to ask my realtor about it, and before I even got home to send her an email, she'd emailed me the listing and said, "check this one out!"
Before we'd even see the whole inside of the house, I knew it was "the one." It had the character I wanted, the space I wanted, the yard I wanted, and then some. (Plus--it has a dishwasher, which I've never had in my adult life!)
My offer was accepted relatively quickly and the home inspection happened this week. I'm requesting a few repairs based on that, but if all goes well, we should be moving in at the end of next month.
Barley's getting a yard! (And I'm getting a washer, dryer, and dishwasher!) I also finally commented on the awesome closets in the bedrooms and my realtor might see me as something other than a crazy pet lady now.
Be sure to check out all of the great Barks and Bytes posts hosted by Heart Like a Dog and 2 Brown Dawgs.