Tag Archives: Property

Things Are Looking Up!

25 Sep

Sorry for deserting the blog again! This time I had a much cheerier excuse – one of my high school friends came to visit for five days so we pretty much spent the whole week exploring San Francisco (plus Google, Muir Woods and Napa).

Do I love San Francisco as much as Seattle? Not yet, but now I’m much more optimistic than I was a week ago. My favourite parts are Russian Hill, Telegraph Hill and the Mission Dolores area. This is a photo that James took from Dolores Park a couple of weekends ago.

It looks like there was some sort of festival on, but nope. As far as I can tell this is just how busy it gets on a sunny weekend.

We’ve actually made an offer on a condo like … a minute’s walk from the park. It’s such a beautiful place and we both loved it as soon as we saw it, but I’m 99% sure we won’t win. We bid right up to our max (>10% over list price) but our broker told us that other people will be bidding based on the potential to expand into the attic.

Oh, and there’s a super weird thing that buyers do here, where they write “love letters” (seriously that’s what they’re called) to the seller. So our broker got me to write one telling the seller about us and why we loved the house. I wonder if that’s something that will catch on in Australia?

Offers are due today at 5pm so I’ll have news about that soon. Though like I said earlier it’s unlikely to be good news.

Another possibility that James and I are considering is, instead of stretching to buy a home we love, maybe just buying a condo in Mountain View because it makes sense financially. I’ve been playing around with the NYT Buy or Rent Calculator and it looks like if we buy a crappy 2BR condo for ~550k we’d only be ahead renting if we could find a place for under 1k (HA!). We would never love it like we loved our North Melbourne apartment, the condo we’re bidding on now, or even Rollin Street … but it does seem to be the most financially prudent move.

I did a couple of hill sprints in Mission Dolores the other day (/sigh … there’s a hill right outside the home we’re bidding on that would be perfect for hill sprints). I also need to stop being lazy and start eating vegetables again. Maybe I’ll buy a bag of frozen kale that I can mix into my smoothies (I miss my Vitamix!).

James is still enjoying work at Google. He was told that he’s been exceeding expectations, so that’s pretty awesome. =)

Oh also, we’re going to Vegas in October! =D

Haggling For Interest Rates

29 Sep

For something like three months now, National Australia Bank have been dicking us around while we try to refinance the investment property mortgage. The people we’ve talked to have seemed fairly competent, and then when it’s time to get stuff done they just fall apart. We had all the documents they needed at the very first meeting; I don’t understand why this is so difficult for them.

But anyway, back when we first started this whole process, the interest rate they offered us was 6.92% with the Choice Package. I knew that Cat has a better interest rate (6.82%) because she borrowed more money. So I told James to ask for that, but it turned out that what he actually asked for was something a lot lower, like 6.5%.

James: I thought that she would meet me in the middle – like haggling.

But anyway, the NAB mortgage lady went to her boss, and initially we were all excited – including Cat, who said that if James managed to get a lower interest rate than her she was going to renegotiate her loan. I saw her and James talking about it on gmail, and it made me laugh because this is what James said to Cat:

(I actually had to re-draw that because I was initially looking at it going “hmm something doesn’t seem right”, and then I realised it was because I’d drawn stick figure James without clothes. Now he has a grey t-shirt and some sweet hammer pants)

But anyway, James sent them proof of Cat’s interest rate, and eventually they said that although they couldn’t lower our interest rate any more (which I am somewhat skeptical of, but it wasn’t worth the extra hassle), although they offered to waive the Choice Package annual fee for the first year. Just changing the loan over to NAB will save about $200 a month, so anything on top of that was a bonus.

But anyway, that’s kind of where we are right now, just twiddling our thumbs waiting for NAB to get back to us.

Moving The Chickens In!

8 Jul

James and I spent this afternoon helping Cat and Scott move into their new house.

It was extra challenging because my whole body was aching from my first proper BJJ session in over 3 months. But luckily James and Scott were able to do most of the heavy lifting, while Cat and I just kind of carried boxes.

We also went to pick up a chicken coop that Cat bought awhile ago. It came with two Isa Brown hens, Gertrude and Jermaine. James said I was like Rocky because one of the chickens escaped while I was holding her, and I had to chase her after she ran into some bushes.

I love the coop, it looks like an old fashioned barn.

We had the chickens inside the cat carrier while we set up the coop. But it was hard to get the coop through to the backyard, so Gertrude and Jermaine were cloistered together for awhile. Once we set up the run for them they were really happy, scratching around and pecking at the grass. =)

We were rewarded with some fish and chips for lunch and a Magnum for lunch-dessert.

It was a super late lunch (around 3 or 4pm) so none of us were hungry around dinnertime, but Cat and Scott promised to take us out at some point in the future. And Cat gave james a 6-pack of James Squire as well. =)

Gertrude and Jermaine will suffice for awhile, but Cat wants to get three baby chicks so she has some chickens that she can bond with. Cat, Scott and I are going to pick a chicken each, and we will compete to see who has the best chicken. We’re all going with different breeds:

Cat – Orphington (because they are supposed to be really friendly)
Me – Araucana (because they lay blue eggs)
Scott – Langshan (because he wants a black chicken)

The breeder said he should have some chicks in a couple of weeks, so I’ll update again when we go to pick them out!

Congratulations Cat!

23 Mar

My little sister just bought her forever house. =)

She and Scott fell in love with it as soon as they saw it, but there was another couple interested in it too. Cat couldn’t pay much more than the asking price, and she was hardcore stressing out about it. Then inexplicably the other couple backed out, and the house was Cat’s!

It’s in Pascoe Vale, right near the station, and it has everything she wanted – a big backyard, 3 bedrooms, a deck (in fact it has 2 decks!), and a good kitchen. She wants to renovate the bathroom eventually (it’s a shower over a spa, so not the greatest) but it’s useable as-is.

Two fridges! Two ovens! Clearly somebody in this house liked to cook.

Cat said she doesn’t think the house needs to be painted, which is good.

This is the backyard. She wants a herb garden in that tanbark area against the house, some vegie beds to grow tomatoes, eggplant and zucchini, and a chook enclosure (probably where that cubby house is right now).

Personally I would consider putting some vegie beds in the middle of the lawn to cut down on mowing, but maybe Cat wants to keep it intact for her future kids to play on.

She will rent out 2 of the bedrooms to her friends to help pay the mortgage, but once they are more comfortable financially the plan is to live there just the two of them.

I’m looking forward to naming my chicken! I was keen on Lady Cluck, but I think Scott was going to give his chicken a similar name. I have 4 months to decide (it’s a long settlement period because the owners need time to buy another house).

But anyway, yay Cat! =)

Checking In On The Investment Property

17 Jan

On Sunday had to go to the investment property in Reservoir to move some furniture into the garage. The garage is kind of a catch-all for:

  1. furniture from our old house that my parents don’t want to chuck because it was too expensive
  2. crap from our old house that my parents don’t want to chuck because they’re too cheap
  3. the neighbours’ furniture that they don’t want to chuck (see point 2)
  4. furniture that the previous tenants left when they moved out, and my parents inexplicably decided to keep

From what my parents had told me, I thought everything was mainly in the first category, but when I saw it in person I was like “WTF, this is all junk”. Like seriously, some of this stuff is fridges with half a star energy efficiency, ugly little bedside tables, broken chairs, old mattresses (I don’t think my parents even know who those mattresses belong to – who keeps anonymous used mattresses???)

It’s a pretty big garage too – you could probably fit 4 cars in that space. Or, you know, a bunch of crap, whatever floats your boat.

Poor Scott and James had to do all the heavy lifting – some fridges, tables, the oven, that giant cupboard on the table … the washing machines were definitely the worst, because they were filled with water, and one of them tipped over onto James.

Luckily even mum realised that the grossest of the gross stuff shouldn’t be kept, so we also had a pile to throw out.

Hmm should this mattress be kept?

Throw it out! Throw it out!

Incidentally am I the only one who is creeped out by mattresses without sheets? When you read a news story about some guy keeping a woman locked up in his basement for 15 years, they always show a shot of the room, and there is always a mattress without sheets.

The shed out the back had that scary mattress and a few bits of furniture inside. We called it the rape shed. The rape shed was filled with spiders.

Edited to add: Today Cat said “I’m still impressed by the door of the rape shed!” My sister is so creepy! I said to her,

you are like the rapeman!
/pats door
mmmm … sturdy ..

But anyway, aside from the busted furniture, water-filled washing machines and the rape shed, the property was actually quite nice. James has never actually seen the house, and he felt like he should since we’re moving it to his name this year. It’s pretty basic – brick, either 3 or 4 bedrooms (I can’t remember), and a nice living area.

It has wooden floors now. Wooden floors make everything look better. There was extensive termite damage to the kitchen floor, so after it was treated mum got the tradies to rip up the kitchen and completely renovate it.

This is the view from the garden to the back of the house. Cat was saying that it would be really nice if you could make a deck coming out of the living area and extending into the garden. I think that actually would be really cool – maybe something to consider in the future.

The garden is definitely big enough so that you wouldn’t miss the room. This is the view from the living room – you can see how a deck would extend out very nicely.

This is the vegetable patch at the end of the garden (currently overgrown). Once mum and dad sell the milk bar they want to move here, so Cat and I think that when they do, we’ll come by and fix up the vegetable garden for them, and maybe plant a lemon tree.

The garden is pretty amazing – there’s this huge fig tree behind the garage, just bursting with (unfortunately unripe) figs. The vegetable enclosure (OK at the moment it’s like … a grass enclosure) is very cool though.

So that is a brief tour of my Reservoir house. James said it was nicer than he imagined it, though he is not a fan of big gardens.

In a couple of days the tradies will finish whatever it is they’re doing, then the real estate agent will come in and take photos, and hopefully it will be smooth sailing from there!