Monday, November 06, 2006

Kicking the tyres

We went house hunting today. To be honest, we're not sure we can afford to be in the housing market just yet but you've got to at least throw some numbers around. It seems that it's rather easier to do it here in the US than it was back in Australia; the last time I refinanced my house there they did the arithmetic, concluded that as I had a mere 19 years until legal retirement age that they couldn't manage a mortgage (in blocks of 5 years) longer than 15 years. Seems it's against some law or other here to discriminate on the basis of age. Score one for the US!

And we're both sick of living in a two up, two down and two in the middle condo. I can't fart without everyone in the place knowing about it! I swore black and blue about twenty years ago (when I last lived in a flat, apartment, condo, call it what you will) that I'd never live in one again. Houses only for this little black duck. And now look at me!

Toss in the fact that until a couple of months ago I was required to mail an AR11 change of address form to an obscure address in London, Kentucky, if my permanent address changed, which requirement has now gone away and we have no good reasons not to go looking! Not, I hasten to add, that the US is crawling with secret police checking on the whereabouts of every alien, legal or not. Nonetheless, there's always the nagging doubt that some important piece of immigrant related mail will fail to arrive if I dare to move residence and suddenly I'll find myself out of status. No such doubt any more. Being a citizen has its advantages!

So we set off house hunting. Pretty easy to do - the buggers just sit there on their blocks of land! *boom boom*. Sonya wants to stay within the Horizon High School district though I have to say that given the quality of output that I've seen they don't overmuch impress me. But what do I know?

Thus to a funnish afternoon of driving aimlessly around looking for little signs stuck on street corners pointing toward an 'open house'.

It's all done very differently to the way I was used to in Melbourne. There every house for sale is open each weekend until sold but you only have a half hour window when it's open. Thus the need for planning. Grab the Weekend Age property guide, turn to the suburb of interest and map out four hours of driving. Gotta get to that address by 1:15 because the agent moves on to the next house at 1:30.

Not so here. The agent arrives, opens, and sits for four hours. And then, apparently, that house won't be available for casual inspection for another month! *shrug* That's the way they do things here so one goes with the flow.

We went through this exercise just after I arrived here four years ago and I got into the habit of pointing out that the master bathroom was larger than my bedroom back in Melbourne. Not much of an exaggeration. Of course, first house we went into I *just* had to say that! Laugh from Sonya. I can still make her laugh! :-)

But there was one house we looked at (way out of our price range) where the master bedroom really was larger than our entire condo. The bed looked like an afterthought in that sea of carpet!

We did find a couple of houses we liked so I imagine it's time to talk to the lenders. Of course, the way Sonya said that word I thought she said 'time to talk to the Linda's' and I found myself wondering why on earth we had to talk to a Linda I hadn't met and just exactly what she had to do with what we could or could not afford!

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