Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Delay in Escrow

We are one day behind in the closing of escrow. First of all, we had to deal with the nightmare of a landlady. Secondly, the home insurance agent was out of the office and didn't send in our paperwork. Lastly, the earthquake knocked down the phones and fax lines at the title company. So instead of getting the last loan documents signed yesterday, we will *hopefully* do it today and send it back in. We are stressing and hoping we close on Friday, August 1st, and not Monday or Tuesday. Who wants to pay the interest on a whole month if you don't have to?

Crazy Landlady

Argh! We just told our lawsuit happy landlady that we were going to move out at the end of August (which is the end of our year long contract). We also asked her to sign papers for our loan saying that we paid on time every month. What an ordeal!!! I wonder how I can warn people about her and the rental property without her turning around and suing me!

So far, she has sued:

Noah's Bagels
Her old real estate agent who "fired HER"
A cleaning company

She also tried suing the last tenants, but the renter's dad was a lawyer. Scary!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Master Bedroom Color Inspiration

I am still loving the black bed from Ethan Allen and the black chandelier. I also really like a black and white bedding to go along with it. But how can I keep the room from looking like a bordello? Paint it yellow!

I saw this picture on

Here is a close up of the bedding (also from Jessica Claire):

The bedding set is called Waverly: Metro Damask Comforter. You can buy it from Target. Reviews are mixed and I will probably stay away from this purchase.

Someone also recommended the India Ink Duvet Cover set from Anthropologie. I think it is very close, but I am not sure if I like it as much as the French style seen in the Waverly.

I am thinking I like the idea of white beadboard on the lower portion of the walls too. Hopefully it won't make it too Pollyanna. I have not decided on that yet!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

First Bathroom Purchase

Today we bought this from the Restoration Hardware Outlet Store:

We got it for about 10% less than the sale price online. It is from the Cartwright Collection. We plan on adding this from the collection too:

Tip: If you buy from an outlet store, be sure to use your AAA discount. It saved us an additional 10% on top of the 40% already being saved by going to the outlet. I bought my wedding dress the same way.

Friday, July 18, 2008


If you have been to our current place before, you probably know that we don't have a bed. Not only are we bedless, but we have no furniture whatsoever in our current room. Our rationale for this was that we didn't want to buy a bedroom set when we didn't know what size and shape our future bedroom was going to be.

Now that we know what our new bedroom looks like, we can start planning out our bedroom set. Here is a bed we like, the Quincy, from Ethan Allen. Now the question is, how can we get this bed for half the price?

I also found a chandelier I really loved from Home Depot:

Unfortunately, this chandelier is only being sold at Home Depot Canada. Argh! They have beautiful chandeliers at Home Depot Canada. It really seems quite unfair that our Northern neighbors get all the beautiful products while we are stuck with ugly lighting at our Home Depot.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Bathroom Inspiration

Wainscotting, a light blue, and hexagonal mosaic tile...perhaps with a border.

(border design from

Friday, July 11, 2008

Interest Rates

Today we locked in our mortgage. Points are a percentage of your total loan amount which you have to pay on top of your monthly loan + interest (I believe this is called Principal + Interest, which equals PI). The "TI" of PITI is the addition of (property) taxes and (hazard) insurance. You can deduct points on your taxes (in some cases), which hopefully means that in the long term we aren't paying as much. We locked this in after Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae started tanking in the stock market. Scary thing! Interest rates have been getting higher by the day. When we first started looking (A few months ago), they were around 5.75%. Better lock this in before it gets any higher!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


Today we signed some escrow papers on our house. Basically this transfer the title of the house over to us when we close.

On another escrow front, we are VERY unhappy with our real estate agent, lawyer, and escrow people in Chicago (the ones handling the condo). As of now, they shall go unnamed. Courtney, you know who they are, and I am NOT HAPPY. Our condo closed on July 7th. The money was to be overnighted to us, ensuring a delivery by July 8th. Today is July 9th, there is no money, and what is worse, the lawyer and his escrow people are pushing the blame onto each other. Each says they it was the other's responsibility to get the checks out. To top it all off, the REAL ESTATE LAWYER decided to put the check in the mail, like a birthday card. WTH? And this guy passed law school and the bar? You don't put tens and hundreds of thousands into the regular mail. You get it certified, wired, FedExed, whatever!

Courtney, please pass around this negative referral to any friends and family you might have who may or may not use this agent and his crappy referral of a lawyer.

Kitchen and Dining Room Inspiration Pictures


We both want white cabinets in our kitchen offset by gold or bronze counters. I think we like the cottage look, just not the shabby chic kind. We also like the glass fronts in the cabinets. In reality, I think we just want to recreate the condo kitchen as much as possible. :)


I like the look of a two tone wall. We also like the chair railing and the picture frame moulding below. While I love the color gray in the picture, it might be too different from the color and style of the kitchen (but closer to the color and style of the living room). The dining room lies in between the kitchen and the living room. This is our inspiration picture anyway.

What Needs to Be Fixed ASAP

1) Complete electrical overhaul. House needs to be brought up to code.
2) Complete plumbing job. Water pressure is low.
3) New glass in windows
4) New stucco and drywalling in garage
5) Flooring - replace, refinish, or install, depending on the room
6) Take down wood panels in rear bedroom and put up drywall
7) Remodel main bath
8) figure out what to do with 2nd wood paneled bathroom
9) Remodel kitchen
10) crown moulding and paint

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Why We Like Our House

1) Location! - walking distance to beach (either less than 2 miles walking south, or just over 2 miles walking west), 1 mile from awesome park with ocean view, and 2 miles to downtown and our favorite happy hour bar!
2) Neighborhood - all custom homes from 1920s to early 1950s. Most have been remodeled and the neighborhood is safe and friendly.
3) Schools - Great elementary school (Loma Vista Elementary), middle school and high school
4) Freeway access - about a mile away from the 101
5) Fruit Trees - 2 avocados, 2 oranges, 1 peach, and one orange/lemon tree, all on a sizable backyard
6) Arched entranceways - they were almost a must have on our list
7) detached posterior garage - no ugly garages to look at in the neighborhood
8) cove ceilings - cool
9) original hardwood floors - need refinishing
10) original brick fireplace
11) two bay windows

Home Inspection

Home inspections are highly recommended, yet not required by law in the state of California. Why one would not get a home inspection, I don't know. Do it and save yourself the headache of being surprised when something bad happens! We were prepared for the most, since the home is from 1938. Luckily we had another home inspection report to work off on from the previous potential homebuyers of this house. Let me tell you, just by reading the original report, it did NOT look good. In fact, the house sounded like it was just rotting away. Huge money-hole here.

We decided to get a back up inspection so that we could get a first hand look at what the house needed. The first home inspection was good, it just wasn't done with us there, so we weren't sure how bad of shape the house actually was. We contacted Andrew's second cousin, Bill Fetzer of The Inspection Connection who recommended Andy Hasler of National Property Inspections to us.

Andy was very courteous, on time, and thorough. In looking at the house from the outside, he was worried. After getting inside and underneath the home, he felt a lot better. To quote him - "My opinion of the house has gone up since seeing the inside and under the home." Whew! We know the house needs a lot of work (complete electrical rewiring and replumbing) but it will be worth it. The comps in the neighborhood are a LOT higher than what we paid, so hopefully whatever we put into the home will only help increase its value!

Here is a link to pictures from inside

Here is a small sample of homes from the neighborhood. I actually think we took pictures of a lot of ugly homes in the neighborhood and it isn't a true representation of what is actually there.

Loans and Mortgages

Our advice? Save save save! We thought about doing an FHA loan with 3% down, but after doing some more saving and waiting, we were able to do a conventional loan with a 30 year fixed rate. Having a conventional loan means that there are less stringent rules on what kinds of properties you can buy (and have financed). An FHA loan is government backed. You can get one with less of a down payment, but you have to jump through more hoops and they might not finance certain homes with higher needs.

We highly recommend doing your own research and crunching your own numbers before talking to a loan office. We started with Mortgage for Dummies and The Complete Idiots Guide to Buying a Home. They are easy reads and great for beginners. Andrew also did Excel spreadsheets up the ying yang of our finances. This made us less of a easy target when meeting with loan officer. Also, do yourself a favor and do a BBB check on your mortgage company.

This is probably the least fun job but the most important. Trust me, you don't want to be an unarmed bozo when it comes to dealing with these people.

Goodbye Condo

Andrew and his parents have jointly owned a condo in Evanston, IL for the past 7 years. Recently, they sold it. This is a home where Andrew lived while in undergrad and graduate school. In 2006, I joined him, and we made it our first home for over a year. It was a beautiful historical condo with convenient amenities. Most of all, it was a place with filled with wonderful memories, and we will really miss it. Sadly, on our one year anniversary, it became someone else's home.

We Found One!

After a few months of searching, we finally put an offer in on a Spanish Colonial Revival style home in midtown, Ventura. Unfortunately, we were in a multiple offer situation (yes, it does happen, even in 2008). In fact, homes in midtown were being purchased and pulled off the market within a couple of weeks here in Ventura! What is this, 2005? We ended up losing that house to a higher bidder. We were back to square 1.

Back in April, we went to an open house in an awesome area. Unfortunately, the home was pricey, and a total fixer! It was hard to see beyond all the work it needed, and it definitely wasn't worth it for the price tag. The house was sold and went into escrow quickly, so we forgot about it.

A few weeks later, it popped up again, but we just ignored it. Later, the price dropped. In June, we decided to take a look at it again with our agent. It was much better the second time around (without the hustle and bustle of an open house)! Apparently it had fallen out of escrow twice because the previous buyers did not have the finances or energy to fix the home up. We decided to put in a lowball offer on it. After only two low counteroffers, we found out that WE GOT THE HOUSE!

House Hunting in Ventura, CA

We decided to start looking for a house in January of 2008. We have been renting a home in East Ventura since last fall. Ventura is a beach community with mountains to the north, and farms to the east. The entire town stretches narrowly from west to east. Downtown (and the beach) are on the west, and the east is more suburban with newer construction (and takes about 15 minutes to get downtown!) While our neighborhood is very safe and friendly, it is out of the way from EVERYTHING we like to do in town. We are also in a lease until August 31st, 2008, and don't want to rent forever!

Here is our current house:

We contacted Stuart Monteith and Dale King. You can visit their website at Stuart works mostly out of Santa Paula but her partner Dale handles Ventura. We did not make it easy for them. Here are some of the things we wanted on our list.

older than 1940
rear or detached garage
arched entranceways
original hardwood floors
big yard with grass
mature fruit trees

Dale and Stuart pointed us to the Ventura County MLS so we could get cracking. It was hard for us to find anything that fit our needs in an area we liked. Houses were either in yucky neighborhoods, or just completely lacking in architecture, or in East Ventura (where we don't want to be anymore).

We searched online everyday for months, and visited a few more homes. We finally narrowed our search to Ventura, and the Midtown area.


Welcome to the House of HoodLims! We decided to start a blog to keep everyone (including ourselves) updated with the house purchasing, remodeling, and gardening process. Who knows how this will go, but it will be neat to read if we can keep this up!