Friday, October 30, 2009
Click to see the album, The Condo With The Killer View.
1. You are only able to watch television on your laptop even though you have 5 flat screens in your house.
2. Your guests routinely ask, “Will you have running water? How about electricity?” before planning a visit.
3. You only walk through the house with your shoes ON.
4. You suspect that you might be high on paint fumes, and it's a familiar feeling.
5. You can recite your granite options backwards and forwards while simultaneously patting the top of your head and rubbing your stomach.
6. Your contractors are all on speed dial and you know the names of their kids. And dogs.
7. You refer to the Lowe's security guard that locks the doors at the end of each evening by his first name. And he knows yours.
8. The Special Services crew at Home Depot actually became so involved in one of your projects that they helped you paint it. (Kudos, Oakland Park! Special thanks to Rico!)
9. You sketch ideas so often that when you run out of paper you start using napkins. Then, you turn to receipts. In a pinch, you'll even take notes on the back of your hand.
10. You’ve convinced yourself that this is the last time that you’re ever renovating anything. Ever. Really, I mean it this time…
Okay, it's your turn to spill now. How did you realize that you were knee deep in the throes of a renovation project?
1. You tell your best friend, "Hold on for a minute, I have to have a word with the dogs," when you're talking on the phone.
2. You try to rationalize with them about picking up their toys. And they understand you.
3. When house hunting, you seriously consider things like, Will Satchel be able to sit in that window like she prefers? or I don't think that room would get enough light for Zoe's liking.
4. You stop noticing that you leave the house looking like a furball. Every single day.
5. Paw prints? What paw prints? I thought those were always there.
6. A trip to the vetinarian never equals less than $1,000. Ever.
7. People stop you on the sidewalk, and ask you about your dog walking business. You know, the one that doesn't exist.
8. You keep checking in the mirror to see if the word SUCKER is printed on your forehead.
9. You spend more time and money on their grooming and dental care than you do on your own.
10. They have their own closets. And beds. And dishes. And, well, pretty much the entire house is theirs.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
I love your blog, glad I found you, and thanks for any insight you can give! : )
Amy from House of Allen.
This is a great question, Amy!
The short answer is, yes, this may be accurate. The economy has wreaked havoc on property values in certain parts of the country. For instance, the property that we're currently purchasing has dropped it's purchase price nearly 50% since being put on the market 24 months ago. Don't get too discouraged, though; things WILL eventually bounce back, and in the mean time you own a lovely home on nearly 10 acres. That's something to be proud of! Also keep in mind, that the appraisal isn't the actual value of your home necessarily, it's the appraised value. The taxable value, market value, and -- most importantly -- the homeowner's value (how much the house is worth to you) may all be different.
Unfortunately, the appraised value is important for you to be able to refinance, and it stinks that it's not coming in at what you would like. Why has this happened? Well, it might be because of one of these reasons:
1. One of the appraisals is inaccurate. Appraisers are generally not as specialized in specific geographic areas as Realtors are. Values can vary from street to street within a neighborhood, and often appraisers are assigned several counties. Ridiculous. It's impossible for them to be familiar with all of the idiosyncrasies of your community. If you dealt with a good Realtor during your 2001 transaction, he or she was probably present during the appraisal and may have even provided a list of comparable closed sales to assist the appraiser. Your mortgage professional also most likely had a relationship with the appraiser. All of that has changed, though, as lending and appraisal standards have become more strict. Your mortgage professional probably has little idea who even performed the appraisal this go round. Any of these practices either in 2001, or with the changes now, could have affected the accuracy of your value.
2. Values simply plunged. Like I mentioned, with the rise of foreclosures this, unfortunately, may be the case. Go to your local property appraiser's website and check what your neighbors purchased their properties for recently. You will also be able to see who foreclosed. This will give you an idea of what your property is worth. Another easy way to get an estimate of your home's value is to look up your address on Zillow. (Warning: I only recommend Zillow as a quick pencil search, NOT an accurate portrayal of your home's value for the purpose of sale. Only a qualified local real estate professional can properly advise you on this.) Or, you can call a local Realtor who is very familiar with the area and ask for their professional opinion. Obviously, you'll want to refer these folks business, since nobody likes to work for free (but make sure you get advice from someone who does a lot of business in your neighborhood).
Enough about the why, let's move on and take a look at the position this puts you in today, and where you go from here. If you're considering (even the outside chance) that you may relocate in the next decade, than you might take this low appraisal as a blessing in disguise. At least it's a heads up that you may not be likely to recoup your upgrade costs anytime soon. However, if you plan on staying in your digs forever and ever, and absolutely want to move forward with your improvements, here are some of your options:
1. Have another appraisal done through a different lender. Since appraisal standards have changed, this may not be worth your time or money. Also, you can always ask to be refunded the cost of the original appraisal since you will not be moving forward with the loan.
2. Take out a personal loan or credit card debt. My opinion? Don't do it. You'll get killed with the interest rate, and it may affect your credit negatively. Even if it's a low interest credit card, or the like, be careful. 10 years ago, it might have been a better idea, but right now it's a lot of risk in a bad market.
3. Save your moolah and pay cash. Maybe play around on E-Trade or take out a CD until it's enough to cover the costs.
4. Do the work incrementally. You know, little by little. This can work out well, because over time opportunities for better deals on materials often present themselves. Also, at some point before you're finished, the market may bounce back.
5. Rob a bank. Always my favorite option, personally. But don't get caught.
I hope this helps give you an idea of why this may have happened, and where you can go from here. By the way, I literally stopped 3 or 4 times while writing this to throw a few of the boxes in Harry so if this didn't make complete sense or I forgot something, I apologize.
Oh! And thank you for the kind comments about my blog. I'm glad you enjoy it! I'll keep dropping in and checking the progress of your projects on House Of Allen!
Good luck with your refinance.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Remember that I promised to share with you how I scored my appliances for nearly half off?
Here's how you can do it:
1. See if anyone else you know needs appliances so that you can piggyback orders, giving you more negotiating power.
2. Every place -- even outlets -- has an outlet (yes, there are outlets of outlets!) that will sell their "damaged" appliances. About half of these are scratch and dent models where the damage is in a place you'll never see, or something as minor as a missing drawer. Plus, you can still negotiate the price even lower than it's already reduced.
3. Develop a loyal relationship with one store and, preferably, one salesperson. You may have to wait, but they'll call you when a steal finally goes on sale.
4. Call the manufacturer. Even the highest end manufacturers will give hefty discounts for discontinued or slightly scratched models.
5. Forgo the insurance they sell at the store, and instead use it as a negotiating tool. Nearly every appliance comes with a manufacturer's warranty anyway. You can always choose to extend that one when it runs out.
To save money, I would NOT recommend:
1. Purchasing "refurbished" appliances.
2. Buying used.
3. Buying online from an individual.
4. Buying online from a store that you've never heard of.
5. Settling on a brand that you're not comfortable with.
Andrew: Don't forget that the Sam thing is coming tomorrow.
Me: Who's Sam?
Andrew: The storage unit. Remember, we talked about this? We're going with that other company instead of Pods.
Me: They name their storage units?! No way? Like Sharon or Bob? Can you request names? Like Henry or Jill or...
Andrew: No, no. They just call it a Sam. It stands for something, but I can't remember what now.
Me: ...or Joe or Sandy or Jerry. What do you think about Harry? I think Harry is fitting. Let's call it Harry?
Andrew: We are not naming the storage unit. Are you listening to me?!
Me: What? Why not? You just said that they have one named Sam?
Andrew: No. That's not what I said I-
Me: Then what's it called, if it's not a Pod?
Andrew: They call it Sam, but-
Me: Exactly! And we'll call ours Harry. Harry The Sam.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Double click on photos to enlarge.
You've heard me blabber on about this project here and here so I won't bore you with anymore details. (Again, though, please keep in mind that this project was one of my firsts -- there's so much I'd do differently today.) Anyway, let's just march on over and check out some more of the pictures, shall we?
From left to right, The Existing Plan, The Demolition Plan, and The Proposed Plan that I drew up.
The roach infested formica hell kitchen was redone with Emerald Pearl granite and pumpkin stained cherry.
Shelves from West Elm held my Shelley Bone China teacups. The view overlooking the Intercoastal Waterway.
Floating shelves in the living room from West Elm. The second door at the entrance was drywalled over.
Designed the cooler to fit between the plumbing and electrical walls.
Close up of the china shelves that ran down the column.
Before and after shot of the reworked Master Bathroom.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
*I am not an attorney. For legal advice, please seek qualified legal counsel. The recommendations in this video pertain to my experience with title insurance and closing costs in the state of Florida.*
Monday, October 19, 2009
*sigh* I'm lucky, lucky girl.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
I swear if these Striped Booties from Pleasantly Plump Knits were any cuter I'd vomit. Seriously.
I know, here I am, drooling over baby garb again, after swearing up and down that my reproductive organs are on hiatus. And they are.
But I can still look, can't I?
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Double click on the photo for a close up view.
This beautifully rich blue Cole Chair by Room + Board exudes an inviting cheerfulness in an understated, modern way. Doesn't it just beg you to relax with a good book? Andrew practically had to rip the telephone out of my hands when I came across this gem earlier today. I've been put on furniture lockdown until after The Move. Ah, well.
The fabulously colorful Cole Chair by Room + Board.
Tucked into a Queens' living room here.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Are anyone else's dogs certifiable or silly? Or just ours?