Holly House! Woot woot!

That’s what Eliza yelled every time we talked about or drove by Holly House. We closed on our house one year ago today, and we couldn’t be happier with our new home.

Holly House!

You can see the before pictures of our house here.

There have been some surprises along the way. Utilities were way more expensive than we expected them to be. The previous owner was a DIY guy, which was beneficial to us because we got the old house character without the old house plumbing, electrical, and insulation (though we still have old house windows that leak so so much cold air in the winter). But the DIYing means that everything wasn’t done perfectly (there’s no access to the motor for the jets on the bathtub, the pipes weren’t set up correctly on the second floor so sewer gas smell leaks up, some things aren’t perfectly aligned, etc.). But I’ll take all that over crummy apartment kitchens, thin walls, and pot smells in the elevator (I’m talking about you, loft) or a new, boxy cookie cutter house.

For Sale

We kind of decided to buy a house out of the blue. I was pregnant with Jonas, and obsessing over houses was my most all consuming nesting impulse. (Though there was that day that I spent 7 hours cooking. No joke.) But we actually didn’t decide to buy a house because baby Jonas was on the way. I was freaking out because Eliza starting kindergarden was looming ever nearer, and I wanted to be in a permanent spot before she started so that she wouldn’t have to switch schools (I switched schools tons and hated it. I switched elementary schools six times. Not an experience I want for our kids.)

We considered moving out of the city. The schools are failing here, and we knew that our only options were charter schools (more on that here) or homeschooling. The school Eliza ended up going to was our first choice, but it was a gamble. Spots were limited. And it was the only school we liked. We wanted to at least look in other areas, so we checked out a few neighborhoods in the ‘burbs with good school districts near family members. It didn’t feel right. We’re definitely city mice. (Not to mention a house in the ‘burbs the size of our first floor alone costs about $30,000 more than our 3 story house.)

Next we looked at condos and lofts. We had something like this in mind. Let us tell you, that is not what was out there. Even things advertising themselves as lofts felt like cheap apartments. And they weren’t open. We could deal with a deficit of square footage if the ceilings were high and the floor plan was open, because then we could get all Dwell and super efficient with space. Alas, places like that just don’t exist for under $750,000 in Kansas City. Even the lofts that kind of sucked were out of our price range. And each of them had a $200-$300 a month home owners association fee. Sorry, but we don’t like tiny gyms and rooftop gardens enough to pay that much for amenities.

So after all of that, we settled on house hunting in the city. I tried to convince Jake to move to what is pretty much the ghetto. (“But honey, we can get a 7 bedroom mansion with beautiful built in bookshelves for $90,000!” said I. “Megan, why do you think that is?” said he.) So we drove through the neighborhoods at night. Jake won. We then settled on a two square mile area to look in. We weren’t expecting to find anything we loved for some time, especially since we were looking in such a specific area. We just wanted to be moved into something before May, when our lease was up.

Hunting

We found Holly House way sooner than expected (thanks to our awesome awesome realtor – my Great Aunt Amy Byers). Our offer was accepted quickly and then began the most stressful six weeks of my life. I thought the house hunting part would be the hard part. No, no. The loan approval is the hard part.

I literally had to fax over about three new signed documents to our bank a day (Please account for all of this money coming in from Etsy, Craigslist, and Ebay. Why was Jake laid off in 2009? Why is Megan not currently employed? Where are your student loan statements? Have your stocks posted to your account yet? Etc, etc.).

Our original closing date was October 28, but it was pushed back to November 8 because the loan approval was taking so long.

So we went and put our pumpkins on Holly House’s porch, even though it wasn’t ours yet.

Jack O' Lantern

Waiting for the loan to go through was the worst feeling in the world. Should we break our lease? What if the loan doesn’t go through and we end up homeless? Should I really be packing right now?

Everything ended up fine, but our loan officer was probably the least helpful person on the planet, so that made things hard. Especially on closing day: he never gave us the actual number of the down payment/closing cost total. We didn’t even have it yet on closing day. We ended up being $200 short (Jake got paid the day after we closed), which was infuriating because the loan officer knew how much was in our bank account. We thought we had almost $2,000 extra. Some heads up would have been nice. We had to borrow the money from my grandpa, I couldn’t even call him I was crying so hard, as I was 8 months pregnant by this point, so Jake had to. I was so embarrassed and stressed, and I know that was a hard phone call for Jake to make. But it all turned out well.

Lessons: don’t let loan officers jerk you around, don’t buy a house when you are pregnant, closing costs can be way more costly than your down payment.

P.S. Seeing these photos of myself made me realize that this dress wasn’t quite flattering (though, remember, I’m 7 months pregnant in these photos). Sometimes photos are way better than a mirror. So I was prompted to alter it. See the alteration here.

Have you ever bought a house? Was it a good experience, or was it stressful?