Saturday, April 4, 2015

We have a house!

Our last photo all together with our first house.
We were lucky to start the moving process by selling our house before we even left town. Originally, we had planned to move out, have some work done on the house, and then list it when it was all fresh and clean and empty. We figured it would be less hassle for us, and could sell quicker that way. But someone in my family heard we were planning to move, and tipped off someone in their family, and it was a match made in heaven. We were really happy to sell our house to another young family that really wanted to live in Burbank. I remember when we thought that was an impossible dream... The house and the town served us well for a while, until our job and family situations and priorities changed. Anyway, we we were really happy to be closing escrow on our house just a week after we arrived here so we could jump right into finding a new place to live. I think Alice was kind of disappointed that we never actually hung a "For Sale" sign in our yard.

You may remember the amazing house we fell in love with on our scouting trip, I shared some photos here. We had decided to buy it and I had just received the offer paperwork when Jon thought to check the sex offender registry for the neighborhood. He showed me the results as I was looking over the papers we were going to sign and my heart dropped when I saw that there was a registered offender right across the street. Like, directly across the street. Then we realized that it wasn't just one offender, that there were multiple offenders at the same address, and at another address on the same block, with a few other offenders on the block as well. 

We weren't comfortable buying a house knowing that there was even one sex offender living in such close proximity, let alone twenty-eight offenders (or more). We called our agent and told her we couldn't make the offer after all, and explained the reason. She let the listing agent know why we wouldn't be making an offer, and he actually looked further into the situation and let us know that the database we were looking at wasn't up to date, and that there were in fact only four offenders on the block. Oh good.

A friend had dug up an old news article about the neighborhood residents clashing with a landlord who was renting to sex offenders, which seemed like the same area. At that time there were nearly FIFTY on the block. I suspected that there was some sort of halfway house type of thing located there, but I was curious and wanted to make sure I had all the info so we could make the best decision. So I looked further into it and found out that there was a property owner who had bought up a bunch of property on the block in the hopes of buying the whole block, tearing down all the buildings, and erecting a high-rise condo development on the property. He lost the majority of his properties when the economy tanked, but managed to hang on to a couple. I spoke with the customer service officer at the police department to try and find out a bit more, but didn't get a real good feeling from him. He confirmed my suspicions, and said that there wasn't a legit halfway house operation but that that the landlord was basically a slumlord who was exploiting the offenders with high rent and whatnot, and working with the Department of Corrections to provide a place for them to live.

I also found a real estate agent who served as the community liaison on the city's sex offender task force. I was able to speak with her and had a really lovely and candid conversation. She actually made me feel much better about the neighborhood and situation and quelled a lot of fears, but ultimately, we decided that it wasn't the right home or situation for us. In fact, the whole town, while more diverse and lively and interesting, also had way more sex offenders (the majority in the whole county, in fact), and more crime. So we decided to focus on other areas, particularly one other smaller (safer) city.

We had gotten really excited about the possibility of making an offer on a home before we moved and being able to move door-to-door, which would have saved us a lot of money in temporary housing and storage costs. At that point, we hadn't been able to line up a temporary apartment yet, either.

There were a few new construction houses that were on our list to see and for about a day, Jon was thinking that we should fly up for the weekend to take a look and see if we wanted to make an offer. Ultimately, we decided not to rush into any decisions. So I found a temporary apartment, arranged for some rental furniture to be delivered, and we packed up the moving truck and sent it off to storage. And then we set off for new horizons!

We had started house-hunting as soon as we arrived, since we were basically ready to make offers. We looked at a lot of houses, around twenty older homes (anywhere from a few years old to twenty to forty years old). We also looked at at least fifteen new construction homes. There are so many new communities being built around here, especially right around where our apartment is. The new homes often pop up on our search tool when they are listed, but it's hard to find all the different communities and floor plans in any one way. So as we were driving to and from our various house tours, I would make note of all the advertising signs for new construction developments and would check their websites at home, or on the fly, and would pull over for anything that seemed worth looking at.

This house had a really cool floor plan, I just wish it had actually had a private yard somewhere. And wasn't so far away.

We loved the floor plan in this home. Again, wished it had a bigger yard.

The girls, picking up various dangerous construction materials. 

I really liked the floor plan of this house, and it had a bit of a yard, but I did not like the suuuuper steep driveway and the way the front door was literally right in the backyard of the house in front. Weird.
One of the houses we'd wanted to fly up and see was having an open house on the Sunday or Monday after we arrived, so we made sure to get out there. It had a lot going for it, but I wasn't totally head over heels in love with it. We did really like another new construction home that we saw, but we didn't love the neighborhood location or the tiny postage stamp lot.

We saw a few older homes that had big basements and plenty of space and great yards, but each had some kind of deal breaker. After the first week or so, we'd seen everything that was on the market that we had already "favorited." We had also seen just about every new construction home that would be ready by the time we'd need to be moved in before the baby was born. So we either needed to pick something that was on the market, or just sit tight and wait for something perfect to come on the market.

Jon was still thinking and talking about one of the first houses we'd seen, the one that had all good things going for it, but that I didn't completely love. It was having another open house, so we decided to revisit it and bring an agent. Walking through it again, especially after everything else that we'd seen, we really just couldn't think of a reason we shouldn't make an offer. It was brand new, it was vacant, it was in the city that we wanted, in a great neighborhood where the kids could play, on a nice quiet street, with an extra long private driveway to an extra big, secluded lot right next to a 144 acre "urban forest."

So we made an offer, and it was accepted! Our lender had approved our loan before we even got up here and had told us they could close in 14 days. So we crossed our fingers, jumped through all the hoops, checked all the boxes, and couldn't believe that everything went as smoothly and as quickly as possible. And then on Tuesday, exactly 14 days after our offer was accepted, we hung around the local park until we got the call that everything had been recorded and we could pick up our keys!

Alice and Ivy fought over the keychain so we let them both try to open the door. I think I ended up having to do it, though.

 My dad told us to get a photo of Jon carrying me over the threshold, but I just don't think that's going to be possible right now. So he carried the girls over.
We had to take a few quick measurements, so the girls amused themselves for a bit until we were done.

We are all pretty excited, but Jon is especially pleased. 
 We can't wait to move in, unpack, and get settled!

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