Friday, July 31, 2009

The First Big Commitment

Before I begin I have to clear up 2 things.

1) Last night Brian pointed out, ever so kindly as only he knows how to do, that yet again my memory failed me (for my family all I’m going to say is – golf cart). Apparently, when we arrived in Austin, we met up with the real estate agent on Saturday and Brian didn’t talk to Fouad until Monday. So I had those two events switched around.
2)Brian and I, to date, have taken nothing slowly in our lives unless nature forced us to. We got married in 2 months, bought our first house in a week, and this post will show you again about our speediness. But I wanted to bring that up because for you it may seem like we move fast, but this is our pace.

Now back to the blog…

So, Saturday morning, we met our real estate agent outside of the hotel. Brian was the one who contacted her to set up the appointment. I couldn’t wait to meet her because apparently on one occasion she had phoned Brian and during the conversation had shared with him the trials and tribulations of her recent divorce. I just couldn’t’ imagine a stranger thinking Brian would be a good person to share feelings with. Apparently she was over her divorce because she was nothing but pleasant and pulled together for our entire day together.

As an aside, because Brian will huff and puff if I don’t admit this out loud, Brian made the phone call to contact the realtor because… I don’t make phone calls. I just don’t. There is no major reason for it. It isn’t like I was psychologically scarred by a phone call early in my youth, I just don’t do it. Besides, Brian is really good at it. Inevitably he ends up flirting with the person (even though he denies this and says he doesn’t know how to flirt) and we get money off or we get something for free. Why would I even try a phone call when I’m obviously not in the same league as him?

And, back to house hunting. We were told that the Austin market was a cheaper market than New Jersey (at that point in the real estate world I wouldn’t have been surprised if the Beverly Hills market was cheaper than New Jersey) and so we gave our criteria (maximum of 300k, at least 3 bedrooms and 2 baths, preferably 2 floors) and off we went. The first house we saw had some major drawbacks. First, the deck out back, beautiful deck, was only accessible through the master bedroom. Let’s face it, my bedroom is the last thing that gets cleaned in the house and I don’t want people traipsing through it. The second issue was that these people had obviously never seen a show on how to sell their house because every photo on the wall was of the happy couple. The happy couple engaged, the happy couple on vacation, the happy couple getting married, etc. It was just plain creepy.

We moved on to the next house and went to a brand new development. Before we got out of the car I knew this wasn't going to happen. Every fourth house looked exactly the same. All I could think was “Stepford Wives” – bad omen.

We had one more house left to see – in some development out in Cedar Park. The drive from Austin was pretty (smart real estate agent took the windy and scenic route to Cedar Park) and the development was really well laid out. It had a combination of different builders and they made an effort to not make it look cookie cutter. The house we saw was 4 bedrooms, 3 baths, and well within our price range. It was a brand new house, used as a model, so no one had lived in it before. For us, who owned a 40 year home, this meant there would be few maintenance surprises… at least for a few more years.

The agent representing the builder who showed us the home gave us some ridiculous, by New Jersey standards, discount on the house because it was a model, told us the house was one of 3 models left for the builder to sell so they really wanted to get a deal done ASAP. As she was saying this we could see people in the street coming towards the house to see it.

Yes, the night before we had pretty much decided we were moving to Austin, but buying a house wasn’t on my mind. After all, I owned a home in NJ and I didn’t even have a checkbook with me. But Brian convinced me we had to do this. So, within a few hours, we owned a promise to purchase this home within a certain timeframe. The only problem was they needed a down payment and as I said, I had no checkbook. Our real estate agent drove us around to a few ATMs (banks were already closed) but no ATM would let me get out the amount I needed. So, we begged the agent representing the builder to let us get her the money on Monday. She agreed, paperwork was signed, and we sort of owned a home in Texas. I think I hyperventilated a little but was able to keep it to myself.

On Monday, when Brian went to tell Fouad he accepted the offer, I went to find a bank in Austin. I got a money order so we could finalize the deal. Oh, and by special request, I’ve been asked, by Brian, to include in this blog the only funny thing Fouad ever said. Apparently, when Brian went to accept the offer he told Fouad that we had just bought a house. Fouad’s response, “Well, I guess that weakens your bargaining point.” (I didn’t say it WAS funny, I said Brian thought it was funny)

So, on the plane back to New Jersey, as I thought about the fact that I was indeed moving to a foreign country, I mean Texas, that I now owned 1 home and held a legal promise to own another very soon, that I had to pack our house, move the cats, and keep sane, I just knew this was not as good as it gets.

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