We’re Homeowners!

At last.

I was pretty much over renting about a year into it. It was one of those things where at the end of that first year, I was like, “Well, that was nice, I’m ready for a house.” It just wasn’t a good time–if I remember right, Paul would’ve been working at Alcoa at the time, and in the middle of his Alcoa stint was when he moved to Greensburg, an hour away. We weren’t financially ready to get engaged, let alone married, so a house wasn’t really in the plans. When he lost that job and ended up working a mile away from my apartment, he moved in with me, and while we discussed an apartment upgrade since we could afford better, we decided to stay put and save money. After some time at that job, he proposed, and we set the wedding date for about a year and a half later because I wasn’t about to plan a summer wedding for the same year when he proposed New Year’s Day. We look at houses a tiny bit in the middle of wedding plan, but as expected, we got really busy with that and the house took a backseat. We didn’t jump back into it immediately after the wedding because I was focusing on things like thank-yous, but we did a little house-hunting in the fall, took a break around the holidays, then jumped back into it right after New Year’s. At this point, by the time the lease is officially up, I’ll have been here for six years (what the fuck?) and he’ll have been here about 3 1/2. And man, is it well past time. The first year of us both being here was fine, but we very quickly ran out of space for both us and our stuff. The place looks like a train wreck, and while some of it is because we’re just both messy people, it’s also a matter of some of this stuff has nowhere to go. There’s shit sitting out in the living room solely because we have nowhere else to put it.

I got pretty frustrated with the whole process, really, because things would look great online and then end up being a total disappointment. We looked at places that wouldn’t have given us any extra space, places that were shitty flips, places in shitty locations, whatever. After we took the parents along to look at what we thought was gonna be a really nice, promising house, I was really annoyed. The place was a small half-assed flip, and the parents were concerned that our real estate agent either pretended it wasn’t or didn’t see it. It wasn’t hard–a cabinet door wasn’t even on, things were put on crooked, the countertop looked a lot like one that they don’t sell anymore because of how easily it chips, that kind of stuff. So my mom got the name of one of my cousin’s realtors, and we switched. I basically ghosted our old realtor because I didn’t know how to go about it, but also because I was pretty sure she’d hardly notice if we dropped off the face of the earth. I was still getting the automated e-mails for listings from her while we were working with someone else, and nothing was appealing anyway.

The second agent was a lot more helpful, particularly in terms of the process. I’ll grant that with listings being automatically sent based on our search criteria, the actual process of choosing places to tour wasn’t any different, but I just felt like we were in better, more helpful hands, and I didn’t feel so frustrated.

We looked at four houses on one night out with her, and the first one ended up being the one we bought. It was one I’d seen in the middle of the realtor switch, and honestly, the outside was–and still is, for now–a little ugly, with this mint-green siding. But it had some things that strangely were hard to come by in the area we were looking in, mainly an actual yard and a two-car garage, because for some reason, one-car garages seem to be the thing here, and being in a more urban area, a lot of the houses are squished together with tiny yards. I showed my mom this listing and I was like, “I’m betting Paul’s gonna want that yard and like this one the best.”

Our realtor, Jody, has her buyers rank houses on a scale of 1 to 10. I gave the place a 7 with the caveat of I thought we could make it a 10, and Paul just straight up gave it a 10. And I knew that was it. Something was gonna have to really stand out for him to want a different house. Admittedly, the last one of the day was the nicest–a renovated three-story house with these gorgeous kitchen out in Bentleyville, but with a carport that could only fit one car taking up the yard and street parking for whoever didn’t get the port. I was just so ready to have a house that I’d take Paul’s 10 no matter what, probably, but I also felt like we were gonna have a hard time finding a two-car garage and a decent yard around here, so we decided to go for it.

I think the fact that the siding was kind of ugly worked in our favor. I think it turned people off, and there were some things inside that needed upgrading. The price was lowered a couple times, including just days before we saw it for the first time, and I think I saw potential where other people didn’t. We offered their asking price and got it, and the month-ish since has just been the whole loan process, which was annoying, and that’s coming out of one that went relatively smoothly. Paul has a coworker who insisted it would take longer than a month and complained of the loan officers continuously losing paperwork, but aside from some miscommunications, ours was pretty painless.

We closed Friday, right before the Easter weekend. The real-estate office, for reasons unknown, had beers stocked in the mini-fridge, so both our agent and loan officer cracked some open, and Jody sent us home with two to celebrate. And on top of that, she gave us a sweet card with a Longhorn Steakhouse gift card, and the loan officer gave us a small jar of apple-pie moonshine and a cake and nut roll from one of Pittsburgh’s best bakeries. We joked about how Paul’s friend Andrew’s experience had been such a headache and here we were coming out of it with alcohol and baked goods.

It’s like an unwritten rule that you have to get takeout and eat it on the floor of your new home, so that’s what we did. Paul had Andrew and his wife come over, and they brought some honey mead and we ordered a pizza and enjoyed both our first meal and first guests in the new house. I had to work the next day and Sunday was Easter, so other than taking some small boxes of stuff over, that was about it for house fun for the weekend.

My mom and I both took Tuesday off, so we spent that priming this one room with ugly wood paneling. Already it’s made a huge difference–it’s such a brighter, more modern-looking room. In true me fashion, I got sick right after. I felt a cold coming on, likely from Paul, and felt really exhausted by the end of the day. Powering through a full day of painting was probably not smart, so I called off today and feel a lot better than I did last night but still not great. Hopefully I’ll feel okay enough by the weekend to go with Paul and do the official painting without relapsing, so we’ll see.

We–or admittedly, mostly I–have a small list of things we want to change before we move furniture, and with a few months left on our lease, we have plenty of time to do it. We have to finish that painting, and then there’s the fake wood beam going across the ceiling I want to take down. Apparently, much like the wood paneling, fake wood beams were all the rage in houses built in the ’60s and ’70s. After that, I’d like to replace the carpeting, but that depends some on what flooring will work best on a house built on a slab and without a basement, which is weird for the area. The existing carpet is definitely gone because I don’t like it and it’s got some stains anyway, but what goes in its place is unknown right now. It’s either gonna be wood or fake wood, unless the slab means carpeting is the best way to go. And once that’s done, we can start moving furniture. The next project is gonna be replacing that siding, but being that some of the siding companies can’t come out until May, that may take a little while. At least that’ll give us time to get money saved up to do it, now that we took out a good chunk for a down payment.

We’re both antsy to be out of the apartment and officially in the house. It’s not my 10 yet, but I love knowing that it’s ours and we finally knocked buying a house off the list, which is particularly impressive since we did it not even a year after paying for a wedding. I don’t want to leave when I go over there. I’ve said coming back to the apartment feels like such a downgrade, where you come in to a small space filled with clutter. I don’t necessarily expect that once we’re all moved in, we’ll feel like we have tons of free space the way it seems now, but it’s sure to be an improvement. And maybe we can purge some things in the process of moving. It’s nice to actually have time to do the move slowly, too, and actually take a look at what we want to go and what we can get rid of.

For now, at least, I’m taking stuff over little by little and enjoying a nice tub with reliable hot water. I’m driving over later this evening solely to take a bubble bath.

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