Friday, March 19, 2010

On the Way Home – Part 1

The contract has been signed, the earnest money deposited, and the loan paperwork is underway. It’s happening! Cute Man and I will be the proud owners of a brand new townhouse within a few months.

It’s a three level, three bedroom with a two car garage and “mancave” on the first level. Cute Man is in heaven imagining the good times he’ll have down there! The middle level will have a living room, kitchen, and dining room, with a deck off the back. The top floor is for the bedrooms and the laundry (I love the fact that it’s up there!) We’ve opted for just a few choice upgrades including an extra half bath on that first level (bringing the bathroom total to 2 full, 2 half!), an upgraded soaker tub in our Master bathroom (that baby is all me), and granite countertops in the kitchen. Cute Man’s best friend also noted that ceiling fans are key for keeping down AC costs so we’ll probably opt for a few of those as well.

We were most attracted by the location – Victory Promenade is just steps from the Morgan Blvd. Metro Station. This will allow us to both still take the train to work and remain a one-car family. This was literally only one of two developments I found that could provide that convenience. In my never ending searches online, it was tough to find much of anything in close proximity to a train station that was both within our price range and in decent shape. We’re simply not looking to have to fix anything up. Townhouse living is the best fit for us because we don’t have the time or inclination for yard work or home improvement projects. Yet, it allows us to have a nice balcony, common park space/playgrounds, a fitness room, and even a pool to use. For our lifestyle, it really can’t be beat. And I must admit, the fact that it will be brand spanking new absolutely floors me.

When we set out to look for our first home, we knew we couldn’t “have everything”. With our modest incomes and risk adverse personalities we knew a McMansion was not in our future. We were prepared to make concessions. The process of sorting through months of online listings really helped us solidify what was most important to us. The considerations outlined above are what we came up with. The response I’ve gotten so far from friends and family has been super supportive, but those who know the DC area inevitably wring their hands asking, “But what about the schoooooools?????” (We’ve also heard concerns about higher taxes, etc. but the pros outweighed the cons on that front for sure). Back to the schools. Yes, they don’t have the best rep in that area of Prince Georges County. Yes, that does not only affect property values but also could shape the lives of our prospective children. Please note the “prospective” modifier.
We do plan to have children and the education they get is important to us. But they don’t exist yet so it’s hard to hamstring our lives based on what ifs. There is a wonderful looking daycare place right across the street from the development and that would be way more of a factor over the next few years anyway. We will cross the bridge of what to do about the schools when we come to it. I do not personally believe that only the “best” schools turn out successful children. Much rides on parental involvement and outside stimulation. Safety would be my #1 concern for sure and we will just have to go see what the real deal is when that time comes.

As to property values, that’s not really an issue for us. We’re planning to stay for the long haul. Due to the proximity to the train, the location will probably remain attractive to young professionals and families. But all that remains to be seen and is not a factor until we need/want to sell, many years from now.

My main concern going into this remains financial security. It will be more important than ever to build a decent emergency fund. We should be left with a bit of cushion after all is said and done, but certainly not the several months of income that would make me feel secure. It will be tougher than ever to continue saving once we start paying the mortgage, but I am committed to making that happen. I like that we’ll have at least a few months more of paying our significantly lower rent so we can save as much as we can now.

I am really proud that we did this “the right way”. We have been extremely patient, living in our small apartment for what will be 5 years of marriage this summer. That patience definitely saved us from getting in over our heads before the bubble burst. Because we’re both so cautious, we knew we weren’t ready for homeownership before now, but I’m sure we would’ve been given a loan several years ago – I shudder to think of how that would have turned out. Instead, we chose to pay off all of our debt and truly start saving before taking this plunge. I know this is the right time – the right time for our particular circumstances (much more important than what’s going on in the market).

So that’s where we are now – on our way. We’re headed back to the development this weekend to pick out our interior choices. That should be super fun. Our sales manager also indicated that they want to start building a little earlier than expected, so I’m curious to see what that does to our timeline. Initially, it was an August or September move-in. It will be interesting to see if that has been moved up. We’ll see!


Anonymous said...

mazel tov! char

J. Money said...

Congrats!!!! That is such an exciting time in your lives :) Hope to see you at one of the next happy hours!


Thanks, J! We’re really excited for sure. I hope to make the next happy hour, if I can. It’s been too long!