Tuesday, April 24, 2007


Hey, we’re going to be less likely to post for a while. We have no DSL in our area of town. We’re going to talk about other options.
On the plus side, we have a lot more space in our new house.

Monday, April 23, 2007


Hey, we did our move yesterday and the day before. Thanks to all those who helped us move, Jan, Kelly, Carol, Mary, Chris, and Tim, genius of loading a moving van.
We're pretty much unpacked, although it's an ongoing process. Patricia unpacked a bunch, while I studied for finals.
We won't be posting until we're hooked up to the internet.

Friday, April 20, 2007

49 boxes

Most things are packed and I just sealed box 49. That doesn't count all the boxes Matt packed. Very tired.

Thursday, April 19, 2007


So, we signed a bunch of papers today, although there seems to be some disagreement between what Jennifer at Home Street Bank told us and what the rep at Ticor said about the earnest money and the taxes being included in the mortgage. Patricia will sort that out tomorrow. it sounds like.
It seems like Greg, our new Home Street banker, is not entirely to blame. It's kind of the situation that's causing all these difficulties. The "unique" nature of the house (it's not a condo, it's just got two floors with separate tenants), the sudden switch of bankers without a very good handoff of the baton, and various persons difficulties in dealing with said "unique" nature have been the source of the frustrating delays.
Now that it looks like we are going to get the keys tomorrow, I'm going to have to get crackin' on the packin'. And find time for studying for one final exam (I was lucky to get most of my work done early).
Also, Dr. Gina Bullock of the Broadway Foot Clinic fixed my ills with a shot of alcohol and a syringe. Kinda ironic for a future AOD [alcohol and other drugs] counselor. This is good, because Morton's neuroma makes it very difficult to lift things (as in moving). I came up with the description of the feeling of having a stone in my shoe all the time on my own, but apparently I wasn't the only one.

We signed today!

Matt and I went to Ticor Title Company to sign our paperwork today. There were a few surprises which I need to call about, but everything looks ready to fund by next Wednesday, at the latest. Which I translate as "maybe Friday". (Unique situation.) Also of note in our signing process was that I had the best pen! It was a papermate, probably cost 40 cents, but was such a smooth writing tool. I contemplated stealing it, but ended up leaving it there. Although they probably won't appreciate it as much as I did.

Matt looks a little glazed (though cute!) in this picture. I feel very glazed. I haven't been sleeping well, and I will be glad when this is over. (I think I am counting "over" as: possessions moved to new place and old place cleaned out.)

One thing I wondered was, how did we end up with Ticor as our title company? Maureen, my coworker is also buying a house and going through the same lender, but she ended up with a different Title Company. I guess I will have to file that wondering in with questions like, "How much did the people around me on the plane pay for their plane fare?" Perhaps someday there will be a huge title company expose and some sort of deregulation and we will have to shop around for our title company after signing 4 "truth in title company" forms. All to save $50.00. And how did title companies come to be? It's all so mysterious. But not mysterious enough for me to find the answers.

Off to change addresses...

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Sunshine breaks through!

Phew! We still haven't signed or closed BUT! we get to rent the house for a few days until all the paperwork comes through. We will get keys on Friday and can move as planned on Saturday! I am so relieved.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Home Street Bank delays us further

And thus we get further screwed over by Home Street Bank. Greg didn’t call Patricia back today. He promises that we’ll set up an appointment tomorrow to meet tomorrow, but Katie says there’s no chance of that happening, especially since our property is “unique.” Patricia says we are holding onto our moving date for this Saturday, but I’m thinking more along the lines of two weeks from now. Sorry, no witty wordplay this post.

Greg, our banker

Our substitute banker said he would call us tonight and he hasn’t. We’re thinking that he’s not the most reliable of people. Then again, his predecessor impulse-adopted and disappeared. Patricia’s hoping that we close on Wednesday, but I’m playing the cautious pessimist.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Unique living?

Referring to our house as "unique" has become something of a joke. It can be translated as "a bit of a pain in the rear."

Our house is the downstairs unit in an upstairs/downstairs building. It isn't a duplex, and it isn't a condo and so everything to do with the unit has taken much longer than expected.

The first time we saw the house we talked to the builder and he talked about how the design had all sorts unique challenges, building-wise. If it were a duplex, they could have put a fire wall between the units and called it a day, but the upstairs/downstairs unique format made it hard to divide the units according to code.

The first time we talked to our lender we were told that because of the unique situation they weren't entirely sure that they would be carrying the loan, but their lawyer was talking to the Land Trust Lawyer and they were hoping they would come to an agreement. There was a lot of back-and-forth between the lawyers before they agreed to fund.

Insurance has proved to be a unique situation; we pay the land trust, who holds the policy on the land for both units, and then we have our own "indoors" insurance.

When we went to see our lawyer, she talked about our unique situation and how it took her longer than usual to review the file.

And that is the reason that we were supposed to close on March 28th and will probably close on April 25. Every person who has encountered our file has had a "huh?" moment and had to check and double check that everything is a-okay.

We're pretty excited about our unique house. But it has been a very unique first home buying experience.

How we found our house.

We are still waiting for keys. I've got all crossable body parts crossed in hopes that we will be able to move this Saturday (April 21). In the meantime, the story of how we found our house.

I (Patricia) have been pining for a house for years. I left Massachusetts, home of the incredibly insane housing prices, and rejoiced when I arrived in Portland in 2001 and found that there were still houses for sale for under $100,000. They weren't pretty, but they were full of potential. I'm all about potential.

Fast forward five years. It's 2006, and though I have finally gotten through graduate school, out of my incredibly underpaid job, and into a job that pays me a very decent wage, the housing market has gotten completely out of control. People are paying $200,000 to 300,000 and up for houses with around 800 square feet. There are no houses for sale for under $150,000--even the junkers are hovering around that price. I ride around town on my bike, and when I encounter a house for sale, I stop, read the flyer, grumble to myself and move on. My dream of owning my own home has receded. Everything is hopeless in the housing market and I am left to hope that all those people with adjustable rate mortgages will start losing their houses in the next few years so prices will come down a bit. (Funnily enough--or not--, this is starting to happen. I heard a story about problems with sub-prime mortgages on NPR last week. I did feel guilty for wishing people ill.)

In January, I found the web site 43 Things. There, I entered about 10 "things," goals I wanted to achieve. The first one was "own my own home." At the time, I thought that there was no way that would happen, but I put it on there just to keep my eyes on the prize. 43 Things recommends you visit the website regularly to update your progress toward your goals and I started to do that. I would visit each Wednesday and report on any progress I made toward those goals. With the house goal, I knew I was still pretty far away from being able to buy a house like a normal person. The market was much too high. So I started thinking about alternate ways I could buy a house. I had heard about the Portland Community Land Trust, and decided to check it out. I went to an orientation on January 18, and learned about their program. Suddenly, home ownership seemed much closer than it ever had.

In early February, Matt and I went to "get on the list," a process of making sure we were income qualified and had the means to purchase a house. We would then be able to say if we were interested in any homes that became available. We met Katie, the Homeownership Program Manager and she showed us varying amounts of loans we could afford with our current income. My plan at that time was to buy a house in the next 6-12 months. I was mostly interested in the grants they had to purchase an existing home, but there was a unique upstairs/downstairs unit of new construction. The lower level had been sold, but the upper unit was still available. I initially wasn't interested because I wanted my own yard, but Katie explained that the shared yard would probably be fenced. We said we were possibly interested and got to work on all the various things we needed to do to be officially "on the list."

By February 22, we had completed our taxes, met with a loan officer, attended an eight-hour home buying workshop and lost out on the upper unit. The person buying the lower unit had decided to purchase the upper and this left the lower unit for sale. Neither one of us was interested in the lower unit, but we had made an appointment to see the upper unit, and so we went by to check out the lower unit, just for "practice" looking at a house.

Both of us really liked it. So, we scrambled to jump through the rest of the hoops and by March 15th, I was standing at the big open house for all the people who worked on the house, being referred to as "the buyer." It was an incredible experience, and reaffirmed why I was happy to buy a land trust house.

I love that we can afford the house we are buying. I love that if we decide to sell, another buyer in our same position will buy our house. I love that Portland YouthBuilders, an organization I admire tremendously, built the house. I loved hearing the Youth who built the house speak about how incredibly proud they were to work on the house. I loved that almost all of them said that they would always point out our house to their friends and family as something that they had built. It is a wonderful feeling.

Both of our families have been very generously helping us out with our first purchase, giving freely of their resources. It has been really wonderful to have that support. Hopefully, in the next few days, we will get our keys to our very first house and we can begin truly settling in.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Spending money, and packing.

Yesterday, I went and spent more money. I am finding that there are a lot of things to buy, even with a new house, and I have been very thankful for my diligent savings over the years. It is so much less stressful to spend money I have.

I bought a locking mailbox, a hose, a water wand and a rack to more compactly hold some dishes. I did not get to buy everything on my list, so my two whiskey barrels, electrical conduit, casters and spray paint will have to wait for another day.

I also packed yesterday. Up until yesterday morning, I managed to pack 12 boxes. I did another five in the time between coming home from shopping and leaving for the play I went to yesterday with the MAunts. So I am up to 17. We shall see how many boxes there are this time. I am guessing 40.

Right now, I am procrastinating packing. I have about 2.5 hours until I get ready for church. We shall see how many boxes I can finish in that time.

In old house (current apartment) news, the runners doing the Race for the Roses are jogging by as I type. In our current place, we have seen many races go by, including the Portland Marathon. I enjoy race days, as I love to watch the procession of runners, but right now there are some very enthusiastic people cheering and they woke Matt up. He is a bit grumpy. Oh well, this is most likely the last time we have a race run by our house.

Friday, April 13, 2007

What used to be there

We are still waiting for keys. To occupy my time, I looked up our property on Portland Maps. Amazingly, they had a picture of the house that used to be on the site. I grabbed a copy before it disappeared. It's not the best photo, but you can see the tiny house that used to sit on the site. Looking from left to right you can see a little bit of the house on the corner; then our next door neighbor: the tiny blue house with the large tree; then our lot, with the old house and, on the left is a part of our "neighbors" next door, a motel. I've also included a picture of our house under construction so you can see how different the new place is.