Madge's Super Housebuying Thread

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Madge
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Madge's Super Housebuying Thread

Post by Madge » 25 Oct 2012 02:01 am

I am going to bring back the concept of creating your own threads for things! Let's REVIVE the forum and our friendships!

For those of you who haven't been following my attention-whoring on the RL AaToW thread, here's the skinny! For those of you that are, here are even more FACTS and INFORMATIONS:

Me and my fiance, Paul, are buying THIS HOUSE: http://www.acton.com.au/mountlawley/?pa ... ID=2167914 - check it! Aren't they pretty pictures? We're planning on ruining it with our awful design aesthetic. I'm going to cross-stitch some characters from my little pony though and we can hang them up around the place! So very tacky ;)

The main reason we chose this house was the location as well as the size of the inside. The location is phenomenal - it's in a cheap suburb, but on the good side (it's literally on the good side of the train tracks, and 200m away from a suburb that is $100k-$200k more expensive), and it's 900m from the train station and 5km away from the city centre. It's also pretty close to a couple of nice big main roads and right near some arterials, which is good as Perth is a driving city.

We currently live 2 hours away from the house so we have this lovely thing called a buyer's agent. Apparently they're really common in the USA but not so much here! She's charging us $4,000 but she's basically doing everything for us. All the forms, arranging the inspections, getting quotes, etc. She also negotiated the price of the house and got it for $460k instead of the $469k we totally would have offered without her, so she's saving us $5,000! Not to mention all the stress.

Finance on the mortgage is going to be approved hopefully today or tomorrow. We're able to buy it solely on my income, which has some tax/finance implications in the future depending on how things go for us. Mortgage would work out to something like $600/week, and a similar rental would cost $450/week without equity and with the housing market and the area we're in, the equity is very valuable.

Got the house inspection report yesterday. Turns out it needs a lot of work done - understandable considering it's a 1940s house. The roof in particular is causing problems with the ceiling. Fortunately our contract states that the seller needs to pay for this sort of thing to be fixed, or at the least give us a discount. (It seems awfully like when you say "hey, this couch is a bit scuffed, can I get a discount?" when you're at a garage sale, except getting the scuff fixed might cost several thousand dollars and not having it fixed might make the ceiling fall in on your head while you're asleep). Again our lovely agent is gonna take care of quotes and negotiating all that for us too.

If all goes according to plan, we'll get the keys on the 4th of December. I start work in a location near the new house on the 7th of January (after having about 3 weeks off work over xmas - yay), so hopefully we'll have enough time to move in and get things sorted out. Going to need to work out some furniture on the cheap. My parents have promised us a new, cheap fridge as well as their very old fridge (for emergency party situations where we need lots of place to store beer). Maybe get a roommate, even. Rooms in the area go for about $150-$200 pw including bills.

But yeah, the damn thing is going to need maintenance and neither me nor Paul have a maintenance-inclined bone in our bodies. Things like the gutters, and some of the asbestos needs to be painted so it doesn't give us cancer. You know, the usual!

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Re: Madge's Super Housebuying Thread

Post by Wingsrising » 25 Oct 2012 07:26 am

It does look very nice. I especially like the floors in the first picture! And, there appears to be a perfect space for a kitchen island if you want to get one. Looks like they had to work to fit in the bathtub, though. :-)

There are a lot of downsides to apartment living (in my complex it's the luck of the draw whether you get undergrads living next to you, and whether they're nice quiet undergrads or loud undergrads) but one thing I do appreciate is that things that break are not my problem. I come home from visiting my parents over Christmas and there's no hot water? Call the office and someone comes and makes it produce hot water again? Roof is leaking? Someone makes the leak go away.

And... we have snow-removal faeries: no shoveling necessary in most situations! (Really only if it snows heavily enough that you need the shovel to get in and out before the snow-removal faeries come. Of course, the snow-removal faeries are actually tenants hired by the complex, mostly undergrad guys, and probably wouldn't appreciate being called snow-removal faeries. :-P (I'm guessing that's something you don't have a big problem with, though.)

At the moment my biggest beef with apartment life is that I wish I had a bigger space for a garden. I put in a 3x3 raised bed in front of my living-room window this past summer (shh... if I remove it when I move, they should be OK with it, right?) but I'd LOVE more space to grow more different kinds of veggies. (It turns out 3x3 is just about big enough for 3 tomato plants. The tomatoes are only supposed to take up 1 square foot each, but no one told the tomato plants.)
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Re: Madge's Super Housebuying Thread

Post by AngharadTy » 25 Oct 2012 08:25 am

If/when we get a place of our own that is not a shitty apartment that I loathe, I should definitely take up cross-stitching again. I love MLP but I would probably do some old-school video game scenes so as not to kill Derek with femininity. (If you ever read Cosmo, you will know that a guy can totally lose his masculinity at any second and must constantly guard against it!) (Also don't ever read Cosmo.)

Heh. It would be nice to have people fix things that break in/around my apartment. We have a really nice maintenance guy and the landlords are also nice. And they sound so super helpful. "A thing is broken!" "Oh my! I will schedule it for a repair immediately!" Repeat ten times and give up because hell you really don't need a working outside light do you.
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Re: Madge's Super Housebuying Thread

Post by Huggles » 25 Oct 2012 11:59 am

Dammit. I wrote words and then went to move them to this thread and my clipboard was only filled with "Die Antwoord".

Anyway, In brief, even in a small Ohio farming town I couldn't afford to rent an apartment and live on my own. I worked about 30 hours a week last year and made around $9000. That's within the US federal guidelines for poverty, and where I've been for the entirety of my working life. However, I've lived at home for 90% of that time. When I'd been considering moving to Columbus for school, the cheapest studio I could find was around $450/month. Which, if I still worked $30 hours while going to school full-time, I could technically afford if I didn't have to worry about things like eating food and going to the doctor.

A couple months ago I was choking for about 8 hours, 4 of those spent in the Emergency Room, the other 4 spent wondering if I really was choking since I could breathe. I am not a smart woman. That visit along with another unrelated one, a scope to check out my stomach and esophagus, doctor visits, and prescription meds ended up costing me around 9k. Around $4500 of that is in the process of being written off, but there's still I large chunk I have paid/will pay out of pocket, and this is with insurance. I actually received a letter from Obama last year about how my insurance plan from my job would soon not meet the minimum federal standards, but they were letting me keep it since even their new minimum coverage options were out of my price range. Dur. And trying to go the medicaid/social security route is just asking for all sorts of convoluted trouble. Trying to prove that your depression and anxiety are disabling is difficult when the only treatment you are offered is drugs because any sort of in-depth therapy or analysis would require money which you can't get because you are depressed which you can't prove is disabling without records of treatment beyond medication you get just by asking for it without any other criterion. It's the circle of stupid.

If I made 100k/year and spent 100k on 2 emergency room visits and some ulcer medications, that would be insane, right? Apparently thinking it is here means that you are an entitled communist. Mitt Romney is visiting our town and everyone is ever so exicited. :/

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Re: Madge's Super Housebuying Thread

Post by Madge » 26 Oct 2012 12:44 am

@Wings - Yes! The kitchen is nicely sized. We love cooking and that was one of our priorities, so very good news. The place being so old means we get pretty floorboards and whatnot which is quite nice too :).

Maintenance is going to be a bitch, ugh. But if we bought an apartment we'd end up paying $1500 a year in "strata fees" that go towards building maintenance etc. On a place this old it'd probably work out cheaper to pay those fees though, but most townhouses/apartments are newer and made out of brick rather than asbestos :P.

As far as snow... yeah. It's never snowed here, ever. Once or twice during winter the highest mountain in our state (the entire left third of Australia for those of you playing at home) might get snow overnight but that is all melted the next morning. So fortunately that's not such a concern ;).

Garden - that's the one thing I don't like about the place! There's no back garden - it's all paved. We want to try growing herbs/veggies so I think we'll see about getting ahold of some planter boxes. To be honest we're probably better off without the garden as the one in the place we're living in now is having a hard time of not dying. Maybe we'll get a window box for herbs in the kitchen. That might work better.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

@Ty - You should kill Derek with cute! Let him know about the magic of friendship! Paul actually got me into MLP, even though I loved the ponies as a kid. It's such a cute little show and Rainbow Dash is best pony.

The maintenance guy thing makes me think of Dexter how that girl will break her neighbour's light when hers needs fixing because the landlord only pays attention to the neighbour's calls.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

@Huggles - holy shit, hearing stuff like this always reminds me how privileged I am to have a the opportunity to get a good job, good education, live in an "entitled communist" country, and most of all a supportive family and partner.

I can't fathom how universal health care isn't a thing and the shit that so many people in the US have to go through to afford an education.

What sort of job could possibly work you 30 hours a week, and only get $9,000 a year? My maths works that out to $6/hr - it seems inhumane! :(

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Re: Madge's Super Housebuying Thread

Post by Usul_Princess » 26 Oct 2012 02:15 am

Madge, it's beautiful! I am quite jealous.

I can safely say I'm in a point in my life where I can make it. I moved to a lousy city for a very good job and GREAT insurance. In about 6-ish months or so, I'll have enough to buy a duplex I've been eyeing a few miles down the road in a different town. Now is the best time to jump on a foreclosure. For what I'm paying, I can get an actual home.
Wingsrising wrote:There are a lot of downsides to apartment living (in my complex it's the luck of the draw whether you get undergrads living next to you, and whether they're nice quiet undergrads or loud undergrads)
That's an understatement! I got on the very lucky end and I'm on the 3rd floor. I have an eerily quiet building: Only one unit has two (very quiet) college roommates. Only two units have kids. I live across from a single mom with four loud kids under 7. (Lucky for me, I have dense walls).


My apartment rent is about 45% of my monthly take home pay...which is over the top to say the least. But every time I want to complain about it, I just think about how...this is a huge-ass apartment! :) I'm in a 950 sq ft. 2BR 1BA w/balcony, and I have selfishly declared I need all this space for a full-size bed, an "office" (my desktop) and a single-cup tea brewer in a full kitchen. You know you've made it when your biggest problems are whining about not having a husband and a puppy to feel complete.

I did want to make a point about coverage. US healthcare pretty much screens out who can see a doctor and who can't. My insurance is probably what the rest of the world expects of universal healthcare. I've never been covered better in my adult life after getting this job. I don't have to live in fear of some 4-figure bill coming down the road a few weeks after a visit that took place in X doctor's office instead of visiting office Y. You simply can't afford to be sick.
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Re: Madge's Super Housebuying Thread

Post by Madge » 26 Oct 2012 02:29 am

There was one thing that always boggled my mind about health care in the USA - I always thought to myself, "if private insurance is such a big thing, why don't they buy it? It's not that expensive!". My private cover is $650 a year, including things like partial cover for physiotherapy and dental (I think I get a free dental checkup every year - should see about doing that). Then I found out that over there $10,000 a year for one person's insurance is considered quite cheap? No wonder it's such an important thing for you to get from your employer!

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Re: Madge's Super Housebuying Thread

Post by Wingsrising » 26 Oct 2012 03:02 am

I don't actually know -- it's going to vary a LOT based on age and health, as well as quality of coverage. For someone young and in excellent health, it might not be that expensive.

On the other hand, people with pre-existing health conditions will pay huge premiums assuming they can get coverage at all. I'd be pretty much uninsurable on the private market thanks to some health issues, for example. The only way I'd be able to get insurance at all except through an employer would be through my state's high-risk insurance pool, which wouldn't actually be that bad (I checked for grins and giggles and it looks like I'd pay about $530 a month there for a $1000 deductible) but note that pool was created in 2010 as part of health care reform. (It's meant to tide people over until 2014 when -- depending on, say, the results of the upcoming election -- something a little more universal would kick in.) So that wasn't what the price would have been before the 2010 law was passed (and before 2010 not all states had a high-risk pool at all).

Also note that employer-provided insurance isn't free: our salaries are presumably lower than they would be if we didn't have insurance, and generally the employee has to pay something each month also (though I can't complain, mine is very low). I think the main benefit is that generally if your employer offers group insurance at all, it has to cover pre-existing conditions for the same price people without pre-existing conditions would pay.

EDIT: Though of course "not that bad" is a question of degree. $530 a month (which I gather is limited by law to 150% of what a 36-year-old non-smoking woman without a pre-existing condition might expect to pay on the private market, suggesting that without health problems I'd pay $350 a month). That's a LOT lower than what I would expect to pay on the private market (in fact, as I said I doubt anyone would insure me at all, at least not with insurance that would cover an pre-existing condition). And it's less than my rent (though more than my car payment was). But of course $530 a month would be a HUGE bite out of my paycheck even now, and if I were going through the high-risk pool it would mean I either didn't have a job or didn't have one which provided benefits -- and jobs without benefits often don't pay that well.

So by "not bad" I guess I mean "might conceivably be possible" as opposed to paying for my care out-of-pocket which would definitely NOT be possible.

Sorry, this is a topic dear to my heart for a variety of reasons: I could go on for a long time about it. :-)
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Re: Madge's Super Housebuying Thread

Post by Madge » 26 Oct 2012 10:08 am

$530/month is still ridiculous to me! But I guess your taxes are lower, so maybe it's all a wash?

In other, more homebuying related news, the loan has been approved. Now the purchase will almost certainly go through without a hitch, especially considering the seller has promised to fix the problems with the house before we get it. Now it's just time to wait...

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Re: Madge's Super Housebuying Thread

Post by AngharadTy » 26 Oct 2012 08:33 pm

We get insurance through Derek's company, and it's only enough for me to get a regular prescription (off-brand) for $10/month. And one doctor visit a year. No dental and no help with my very expensive glasses. (Not like I need them to be a functioning member of society or anything!) So when I feel sick, I just ignore it. Sure, actual emergencies are somewhat covered, but...

Oh, in home-related news here, we talked to the bank and... can almost be sure of getting a home loan. =| We'll have to check again in a few months.
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Re: Madge's Super Housebuying Thread

Post by Huggles » 27 Oct 2012 02:21 am

I make about $7.75/hour. Whatever the federal minimum wage currently is. I may have worked fewer hours because of school, but no less than 20/wk. I do my own taxes and last year it was just shy of 9k. As Wings mentioned, my insurance is deducted from my pay, and I also pay taxes and Social Security. However, I get the money I pay in income taxes back every year, and usually it goes straight into paying off debt, except for last year when I had zero debt and bought a new compootatoe. Then, shit happened. Toilet broke, roof leaked, had bronchitis and pink eye for 3 weeks and couldn't work. The insurance my job offers has just been updated to somewhat coincide with new laws. Before now, I paid approximately $1000 for $1000 worth of coverage. No, that doesn't make a lick of sense, but you can't get treatment anywhere without insurance nowadays, so that's why I had/have it. This year they changed it so my coverage meets the $10,000 minimum, but I will be paying $3000 to get it. Yay?

I would seriously consider moving to some English or Spanish speaking country for health care. Seriously. If I can get a degree, you may find me on your couch sometime next summer.

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Re: Madge's Super Housebuying Thread

Post by Wingsrising » 27 Oct 2012 06:01 am

Madge wrote:
Garden - that's the one thing I don't like about the place! There's no back garden - it's all paved. We want to try growing herbs/veggies so I think we'll see about getting ahold of some planter boxes. To be honest we're probably better off without the garden as the one in the place we're living in now is having a hard time of not dying. Maybe we'll get a window box for herbs in the kitchen. That might work better.
I did self-watering planters for a few years and they worked well for tomatoes, well for peas one year and badly the next. (The second year was a very wet spring and I think the soil I used was too heavy, the peas kept rotting.

You could also try putting in raised beds on the pavement with something like this:

http://www.gardeners.com/Small-Grow-Bed ... row%20beds

Presumably not this exact thing because, Australia, but presumably there would be similar products locally.

I put in a raised bed this year (although instead of a liner I just removed the rocks and put them down on the soil and ripped-up weed fabric that was underneath.

June:
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My garden by wingsrising, on Flickr

October:
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Tomatoes by wingsrising, on Flickr

The three tomato plants kinda took over.
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Re: Madge's Super Housebuying Thread

Post by Marah » 27 Oct 2012 08:39 am

Wait, wait ,wait, is your house listed as the Tardis???

I hereby volunteer to come and paint it blue!

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Re: Madge's Super Housebuying Thread

Post by Madge » 27 Oct 2012 02:32 pm

You're more than welcome, hey! :)

The advertising shit was right, it is much bigger on the inside than it looks on the outside. That's the joke! And it's awesome.

@Wings - those potting thingies look awesome. I will get some stuff like that and create a garden. :D

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Re: Madge's Super Housebuying Thread

Post by Huggles » 28 Oct 2012 02:47 am

Oooh. I like your garden. We used to have one growing up, that my dad tended. I once grew a single corn plant for science(!), but other than that I tend to kill things off from forgetfulness.

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