House Anonymous

from house to home

My thumb may not be black after all… May 20, 2009

Filed under: Landscaping — houseanonymous @ 10:00 am

I recently posted about the new flower bed I planted in the backyard.  What I did not mention, is that in the days after I planted the roses, they lost all their petals.  I was very distressed about it.  One the one hand, I thought maybe they were just stressed, but I was pretty worried that I had killed my roses by planting them.  The leaves stayed green, however, and the other flowers in the bed began to bloom, so I had some hope.  Well, yesterday my husband pointed out that the rose bushes have buds on them again!  That means we get a roudnd two AND that I didn’t kill them!  There is hope for me after all.

 

Goals May 19, 2009

Filed under: Decorating — houseanonymous @ 10:51 am

Of course one of my goals is to have the most fabulous home possible, but that takes time and money.  Unfortunately I don’t have unlimited amounts of either of those.  In addition, I have other goals which require some of my time and money as well.  I have decided to temporarily confine my home improvement efforts to the virtual and/or imagined type.  It can be frustrating when I am out and I see something that I would like to have for my home to tell myself no.  I decided to remind myself of my other goals, some of which are as important as, and some more important than having a fabulous house.  Here they are, in no particular order…

1.  A new vehicle…

2009_Toyota_4Runner_image_0_11216

2.  Starting a family…

baby

3.  Getting in shape…

Nice-ass-ass-bikini_big

4.  Paying off debt

americanexpress

5.  Lasik

lasik-11

6.  More family time

hands

7.  That darn wedding scrapbook!

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8.  Career advancement

about_air1large

9.  Leisure time

beach chair

10.  Building a nest egg

nesteggWhat is standing between you and the most fabulous home possible?  How do you decided how to divide your resources?

 

Refi Basics May 13, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — houseanonymous @ 10:07 pm

All of my favorite bloggers have been doing it lately, so I just had to see what all the hype was about.  I am talking about refinancing, of course.  We have all see the headlines about record breaking low interest rates, and although I thought we did pretty well when we got our home loan a little under a year ago, I had to satisfy my curiosity.  I also really was not sure whether or not we could refinance after living in the house such a short time.

The first place I looked was our current lender.  I sent in a request online, but after I had not heard from them in a week I got impatient and called.  The man I spoke to said that we could get a better interest rate, but our PMI would go up and overall, our payment would only decrease around $20 a month.  At least I think that is what he said.  He was very difficult to understand.  I was discouraged to say the least, and almost ready to throw in the towel.  Instead, I turned to the trusty Internet.

I headed on over to bankrate.com, which is a resource to let you know what banks have the best interest rate on all kinds of products, from mortgages to savings accounts to credit cards.  They also rate banks on how well they are doing, which is important lately with all the bank failures.  I checked out a few websites of banks that I found on bankrate.  One had an instant online quote, one had a chart online that gave you some idea of interest rates and payments, and one asked me to give my info so they could give me a call.  I ran some numbers and determined that these banks could save me at least $100 a month.  Now that might be worth looking into.

Early the next morning (Staurday morning) an “executive banker” (ooh. ahh.) called me.  He said that he could get me a good interest rate, ok a great interest rate.  1.5% lower than my current interest rate to be exact.  They could roll the closing costs into the refi and it would pay for inself within 3-4 years.  Now thats a deal I can live with.

What you need to know – If you are thinking of refinancing, you are definitely better off if you are not in one of the areas where property values have not sharply declined lately.  To the best of my knowledge, an appraisal will always be required for a refi.  You will also be better off if your loan-to-value ratio is less than 90%.  This means that the loan amount is less than 90% of what your house is worth.  Unfortunately, we do not fall into this category, which means that in addition to having to pay PMI, our closing costs are greater.  The longer you are planning on staying in your house, the more you can potentially save with a lower interest rate, and therefore the more refinancing makes sense for you.  You should only refinance if you are going to stay in the house long enough for the refinance to pay for itself.  Therefore, if the refinance saves you $100 a month, and the closing costs are $4000, $4000/$100 = 40 months or 3.33 years, which means that it will take the refinance 3.33 years to pay for itself.  If you roll the closing costs into the mortgage then you are paying interest on them, and that makes the math too complicated for me but you get the idea.  Also, I understand that some part of the closing costs can be tax deductible which could make them pay for themselves more quickly, but I am not an authority on that so I won’t pretend.

What you will need – Initially, you will need to know the approximate payoff amount of your current mortgage and the approximate value of your home.  It may also be helpful to pull out your most recent mortgage statement to see what part of your payment goes to principle and interest, escrow, and PMI.  This will help you calculate how much you will be saving, since the discount will be off of the principle and interest payment, and the rest should stay essentially the same.  You should also know generally where your credit score falls (i.e. fair, good, excellent).  This should be enough information to give you an idea of what kind of interest rate you can get and whether or not refinancing makes sense for you.

When you get started with the actual refinance, you will probably need one month’s worth of pay stubs and two months worth of asset statements (i.e. savings, money markets, mutual funds).  In addition you will need contact info for your homeowners insurance agent.  My bank is handling getting the exact payoff amount from my current bank for me.  That is all the info my bank has asked for from me, and as far as I remember that was all we had to supply when we obtained our first mortgage.  Of course, there are special circumtances such as when you are unable to document your income, so that may make things different.

Next, you will have an appraisal, title search, and survey.  The title search and survey are the kind of things that I really wish I did not have to spend so much money on, but alas, what can you do.  In this process I learned that title searches and title insurance in Texas are pretty much the most expensive in the country.  Yay.  My appraisal is tomorrow.  This is a real nailbiter for me, because if it comes in greater than then amount I estimated then it might put us under the 90% loan-to-value mark and it will reduce our closing costs, and increase our equity.  I wonder if the appraiser likes cookies?

So I hope this was informative!  Please let me know if I can clear anything up or if I said anything erroneous.

(Disclaimer – I am not a professional mortgage-girl or banker!  This is intended to discuss my exeperience with refinancing only.)

 

I Heart Grippiks! May 8, 2009

Filed under: Decorating — houseanonymous @ 1:18 pm

I just learned about a new product to day and I am so excited to share it because I think it is just fabulous.  They are called Grippiks surface accents and they are designed to customize Ikea furniture.  Anyone who knows me knows that I love Ikea, and this just makes it even better.  They have 6 different designs available, or more accurately 3 patterns that each come in two different color schemes.  The sizes are designed to work with specific Ikea furniture, so no cutting is required.  The material is “synthetic paper” which is supposed to be like plastic and wipeable for easy cleaning.  They are also supposed to be removable.  I am planning on buying a pair of Billy bookcases for the office/guest room makeover and I have been planning on customizing them with decorations on the back of the bookcase, either stickers or decorative paper.  This would make it so much easier!  I love the way they added the same pattern to the magazine file in this example…

Grippiks-1I am planning on doing something very similar!  Here are a few other example pictures…

Grippiks-2Grippiks-3I think the site is well done, because when you go to shop for accents, you pick the piece of furniture you are working with, then pick your pattern, so it is not confusing at all to get exactly what you are looking for.  They are also pretty affordable, although I’m sure you could do it for cheaper if you were doing it yourself.  The piece for the Billy bookcase is the size of two shelves and costs $18.95, and those for the magazine files are just $0.95.  If I do end up purchasing these, I will post again to let you know how they turn out.

I have heard that there are other websites that offer ways to customize you r Ikea furniture.  Anybody know of any?

 

Furniture Facelift May 5, 2009

Filed under: Decorating — houseanonymous @ 9:00 am

Since I bought our dresser and nightstands almost a year ago, I thought they could use a little updating.  Painting is not the answer in this case, since they match the bed and I think painted furniture is not exactly the look I am going for in the bedroom.  The answer… new drawer pulls.  While changing the hardware is an economical way to update furniture, relative to purchasing new furniture, at $5+ each, it still can be a little bit of an investment.  Thus, the reason it took me so long to do it.  (Trumpets sound) Dun dun da-duh!  Ikea to the rescue!  They have many drawer pull and knob options, and the ones I picked were $5 for two!  That worked out to less than $50 for both nightstands and the dresser.  Here is the uber-traditional before …

p4250783And the updated after.  Bonus:  the brushed stainless finish coordinates with our door and window hardware.

p4250787The basic lines are still very traditional, but I think taking away the ornate drawer pulls was a vast improvement, and makes it more transitional.  And it took no time at all!  Anybody else have any quick and easy updates to share?

 

Happy Anniversary to Us! May 4, 2009

Filed under: Decorating — houseanonymous @ 9:38 pm

Blair and I decided not to exchange gifts for our anniversary (it was yesterday).  After all, his birthday is in April and mine is in June so we have enough gift-exchanging opportunities this time of year.  I had to work until 7, so I asked Blair to plan a romantic dinner.  Boy did he deliver.  This is what I came home to…

p5040790Ok, it wasn’t that bright outside.  I confess, I recreated it this morning for blogging purposes.  The champagne glasses were also full 🙂  He made mango macadamia nut stuffed mahi mahi with rice, peas, and a salad.  It was excellent.  Now, for how this post is house-related…

p5040792He picked up this cute little candlescape for me!  Isn’t it very natural and soothing?  Pretty good score for a guy with no interest in decorating!  Here it is in its new permanent home…

p5040794I thought it would add a nice romantic touch in the bedroom 🙂  Can’t go wrong with that!

Now, lets close with some lovely photos from our honeymoon so that we can all pretend we are in Maui for a moment…

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Bed of Roses Part 2 April 26, 2009

Filed under: Landscaping — houseanonymous @ 9:30 pm

I finished my backyard flower bed!  I actually finished it the day after my last post about it but I haven’t had a chance to come back and post about it.  Without further ado…

p4220781p4220776I am pretty pleased with how it turned out.  Maybe this gardening thing is kinda alright.  I did not exactly follow the plan but hopefully it will turn out well!