Posts Tagged ‘house hunting’

Our new condo, almost a done deal!

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , ,

What a productive morning! Panda’s dad came in on a red-eye and we picked him up around 7:45. We drove him up to our second choice condo just so he could see what the neighborhood looked like and get an idea of what we’re comparing to. After spending some time there, we headed to our first choice, where we were set to meet the sales rep at 10. We decided to show up early so we could show him the community and explain the layout of everything prior to delving into the property more. Just as we were checking out the entryway to the model house that has the same layout as our ideal unit, the sales rep showed up and let us in.

panoramic of living and dining room area of model home

What our future living space will look like.

We spent a good hour going over all the features, analyzing every possible detail and feature. I took a bunch of pictures to share with our family back home so we can fully explain and help them visualize what it’s like to be in that space. Then we proceeded to get into the negotiation, where we laid out the various features that we wanted thrown in. There was a ton of conversation over what was possible, what wasn’t, what was worth it, etc. We also went over to the preferred lender, who showed us what our new numbers would look like now that we’ve decided we’re going to pull together the 20% down to avoid mortgage insurance. With those numbers in mind, we were back to the sales rep to hash out final offers and ultimately came to a good compromise. As long as the big boss approves it, we’re good to go!

We’re going to be family #46 to join (not counting the families already living in the units built by other buildings on the property) and I can’t wait! They estimate our building will be completed in November, so I think we might be in by the holidays. So that begs the question: should we go home for the holiday season or have our families come spend time here with us? We’ll have to see as the time draws closer, but I think it’d be really fun to have a house warming by bringing in our folks.

I’m pretty confident our deal will go through, but I’ve still got my fingers crossed! You never know what might happen before the final approval.

That dream condo

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , , , ,

the three stages of the villas being built: foundation poured, frame up, and exterior completed

Here you can see some of the other buildings going up! Closest to us the foundation has just been laid, then you can see the building where the frame is up, and finally at the end you can just see the one where the exterior is completed. Then of course over on the model home side you can see models of homes with completed interiors as well.

Wow, things are moving fast! It’s only been a week since we first started looking at properties and that first day we came across our dream condo (I’ll call them the Villas). We wanted to keep our options open, so we continued looking and found another great option yesterday in Ashburn (further north and west of the regions we’d been looking in). We had set up an appointment for today to meet with a loan officer working with the builder of the Villas and after another look at them, we’re pretty set on our favorite model. The Ashburn one we like is called the Matisse model and it’s more traditional: 2 storied stacked condos, garage and balcony in the back “alleyway,” and a good 6-8 middle units per building. Meanwhile the Villas have 6 units per building, 2 of which are middle ones. It’s also unique in that is it ranch style and each condo is located on a single floor (not counting the garage space). Plus, the Villas are more high-end, with standard granite in the kitchen, nice large spaces, and a ton of windows.

For both properties, we were really attracted to the end units that allowed for a lot more window real estate. I love how bright and airy they feel compared to their center counterparts. The Matisse had a super cool Roman shower (I wish I took a picture!) with two showerheads on opposite sides and little seats too. I also loved the little window in one of the walk-in closets (totally claimed that for myself!). The Villas boast expansive single-floor layouts with a nice bonus room on the second floor units, a nice large porch, and a huge living room/dining area. For both models I loved the island in the kitchen, which is pretty important to me. On the Villas, Panda really likes how the garages face the road so there isn’t some small alley to maneuver into and you don’t have to walk around the entire building to get to the front door.

the future site of the pool and clubhouse for the community

Our ideal location is a very short walk to the community pool and clubhouse!

As for the location themselves, the Matisse is going to be very close to a future metro stop, which will be great for commuters. If I get a job in Tyson’s Corner, it will be a straight drive/train ride over. The Ashburn area is also a great region that’s developing very well. We loved the community feel though it did feel more crowded in our condo community. However, I’m also looking at jobs in the Arlington and Alexandria regions, which would be nearly twice as far and a much longer commute than I’d want. On the flip side, the Villas are located pretty equidistant from Tyson’s or Arlington, not that far and not that close. It’s reasonable middle ground and it’s very close to Panda’s work in Chantilly. The region is also growing and expanding, but it’s still a little more private and quiet, which we like. Oh, and the Villas will have a community pool and clubhouse whereas the Matisse community will not – definitely a good bonus.

The Villas are a higher price point than we had originally wanted to look for, but with all the bonuses, the nice materials, and a ton more space, I think it’s well worth it. We’d both be really pleased with our living situation (though we certainly could do with a lower price!) and the unit we’d most like in the current building is available! It’s a great place to grow into – we don’t need anywhere near that square-footage right now but in a few years, we wouldn’t feel any pressure to move as we build our family. I checked a bunch of details like the water pressure, the tub size, the window heights, the location of the AC unit (and how much noise it produces), the angle of the sun throughout the day, the availability of ceiling lights (not included but they make it easy to put one in), and the various storage options. I got almost every single feature I wanted and the only upgrade we’d pay for is a better floor tile in the master bath.

Now it’s just a matter of discussing things with our parents to see if they have any additional insights, prepping our financials, really honing in on getting me a job, and then getting ready to commit! I had expected to spend a good 5 or 6 months looking and deciding, but if we don’t lock down this unit soon, the next building they release will have even higher pricing and we don’t like the location quite as much. It’s such a crazy whirlwind, but when we both like the same condo out of all the ones we’ve seen, how can we go wrong? Our dream (first) home will be completed in November (possibly December) so my hopes of spending the end of the year there just might come true!

On My Mind, episode 8

laelene Posted in on my mind,Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday Thoughts

Been awhile since I last linked up with Jennifer of Ramblings of a Suburban Mom, so let’s do this!

brand new condos with now selling sign

Our future home?

a. ~A lot has been on my mind lately, mostly related to where I want my life to go in the next couple of years. Panda and I have been house hunting (more like condo hunting) and we found a place that is basically our dream home. We love the layout, it’s brand new (not even built yet), it’s super spacious, it’s a nice neighborhood, and it’s on the higher end of our budget but totally manageable once I get a job. The one thing I don’t love is the location in relation to where I might work. It’s looking like I will have a 40-60 minute commute each way, based on the jobs I’ve been applying for. Am I willing to make that commute every day? I was hoping for something less stressful, but we’ll see! If I love the job and my home, a commute isn’t so bad.

b. ~I’m still grappling with the idea of my new life “out east.” I’ve had to resist looking at some very appealing job opportunities in the SF and LA regions, where a lot of cool start-ups are. I really want to find a company culture that I would fall in love with, where they take care of their employees and offer great growth potential. Oh, and I’d really like a job that involves around 25% travel. I don’t need all the crazy cool perks of some companies I’ve seen, like free massages or no dress code or no set hours, but I do want a somewhat laidback vibe. I don’t mind business casual dress or having to show up at a certain time each morning so long as the people are chill and there is room for a ton of learning and evolution of my role. So many companies on the west coast offer that and it’s a little harder to find here, but I have some promising leads.

small round glass table with blue star pattern designc. ~The other day I was at Target exchanging a tripod when I happened upon a super cute table. When I checked, it was on clearance for 50% off, which is not ideal, but still a steal! I mean, with something this adorable I just had to snatch it up. Initially it looked like the perfect little thing to put out on the porch, but now that I’ve field tested it in my room I can’t bear to put it outside. We’ll see where it fits in when we move to our future home! I may not be as good as Jennifer when it comes to Target clearance shopping, but I’m learning from her!

d. ~I started looking at laptops today, since that will be my reward for landing a job (in addition to getting a car for myself!). My absolute no-compromise criterion is that it is QUIET. Like, tablet quiet (aka silent). I determined that that basically means I need a solid state drive (SSD), so that’s what I’ve been focusing on. My tier 2 criteria include having a touchscreen, backlit keyboard, 3 USB ports, and 2-in-1 media reader or better. An added bonus would be a button that can turn the display off so I don’t have to wait for it to go idle on its own. Oh, and I was hoping for an ASUS but the only one fitting my specifications is $2250 with a student discount! DANG! Depending on how happy I am with the job I land, I might spring for that just because it really satisfies my needs, whereas all other options are missing this or that.

e. ~Is it just me or do you marvel at how freakin’ perfect Kate Middleton always looks? I mean, she just gave birth and she’s coming out looking like any other day? She’s so composed and elegant and graceful and personable all in one. I doubt we’ll ever see her trip or yell or mess up at all. It’s amazing because I think of how I’d be and well, quite frankly I’d never be accepted into royalty! They’d cringe at the casual wear I go out in, how I don’t wear makeup or do my hair, and all my other imperfections. I am perfectly happy being out of the limelight and I don’t understand how famous people manage; then again, I guess many of them don’t, what with those in rehab and lashing out and whatnot. You won’t be seeing that from the Cambridge royalty though! Always so poised it baffles me.

f. ~I started watching Once Upon A Time as my first deviation from my “normal” shows (crime dramas) and it is tangling up my mind quite well. The relationships are suuuper complex – [possible SPOILER ALERT] I mean, your step-great-grandmother is also your adoptive mother and step-great-great-grandmother was once in love with your grandfather (on the other side of the family) and a bunch of them are trying to kill each other? It’s all sorts of weirdness that I can barely keep up with. No wonder I stick to shows where each episode brings on one less-complicated mini-drama generally not related to previous ones.

country junction soy candle in macintosh from gettysburgg. ~Tonight I finally decided to break in my super cool soy candle from Gettysburg and I love it! This is my first time with a soy candle and I’m pretty sure I’m a convert now. I’ll have to test out other brands, but it burns sooo clean!! I usually have a little reaction to a candle burning due to my over-sensitivity to particles in the air, but I couldn’t even tell this one was burning. This particular candle is also super cool because of the little mug it comes in. I can’t wait to find a way to use it once my candle is all burned up.

That’s it from me for now! What are your thoughts on this fine Thursday?

House hunting

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , ,

Yesterday marks the first official day of house hunting! Panda and I went to one resale not too far from our current location and then up to a cluster of new developments a bit further away. I think it was the first time he saw a basement, because when we went down he was kind of creeped out (even though it was a nice finished basement!). Californians just don’t get that extra space. The rest of the house kind of reminded me of the UK – tight hallways, small rooms, and steep stairs. The interior was nicely upgraded, but the entire place was hardwood and we prefer carpet in the bedrooms. I did like the giant porch in the backyard, complete with plants to offer shade on a hot day. The neighborhood was nice and quiet and this house was located on a roundabout so it wouldn’t receive high traffic. Still, we were nowhere near as enthusiastic as the other couple viewing the house when we were! Oh, the other down side – there was only one bathroom upstairs for the three rooms and the one downstairs was a half bath. Granted, we don’t need any more than that, but it might be harder to resell. In fact, that interested couple was discussing how they could add another one somewhere.

ranch style condos for sale panoramic

Our favorite building!

Far more interesting to us was the next stop, where there were three builders each building different condos on a shared plot of land. Is that normal? I’ve never seen builders intertwined like that, with everyone in that community sharing the same amenities – a pool, clubhouse, tot lot, etc. Our favorite was the more luxurious ranch-style condos, which are quite unique. The building pictured contains 6 units, each one only one floor. The upper level condos included the extra space over the garages, making them much more spacious. We of course fell in love with the most expensive layout, which would be in our price range if I get a job soon, otherwise it’d be a stretch. We spent a good hour or two exploring these models and chatting with the sales rep about our options.

After all that, we walked down the block to the other two builders’ sales offices and explored their models as well. One had a very strange “2 by 2” plan where they actually stacked two 2-story condos on top of each other, so the upper set would have quite a lot of stairs to climb! That’s also something I’ve never encountered before. I did like being up so high, but dang those stairs would probably get old fast. Dumbwaiter, anyone? Finally, with the third builder we did a quick look-around at their 3-story models. The ground floor had a living room and the 2-car garage (all the others had 1-car garages), the middle floor had the kitchen and other living room, and the top floor had the bedrooms. Very interesting setup that reminded me of some condos I’d seen back in LA.

All in all I found that we prefer a more upscale, luxurious feel to the home, which generally means less cramped. All of these were 3 or 4-bedrooms, which is really more than we need. Ideally we can find a 2-bedroom with nice amenities in the community and a spacious layout. I loved that all of the homes had a ton of windows – sometimes even in closets and garages. That’s totally my style! We got a good idea of what we like and it turns out it’s on the higher end of our price range, so I better get that job soon! We’re off to hunt some more today and check out a few open houses Panda found.

Have you purchased a home before? How long did it take you? Did you use a realtor? Any advice would be helpful! 🙂

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