Sunday, December 28, 2008

Househunting tales...

Yesterday (Saturday), we started our house hunt in South Carolina. Our agent (buyer's agent) is Madison Ballagh, and let me tell you, if you're in the market for a house in the Columbia, SC area, this is the guy for you...he's been working diligently with me since we found out we were coming here. He sent me listings based on very specific criteria...he kept in touch regularly with me by email and phone. I got regular listing updates as well, and when I changed some of my criteria, he was able to get all that included in my listings. His web service provided me with houses based on rooms, price range and specific schools within the districts I was looking at. Anytime there were major changes (homes being added or prices changing on a currently listed home) I got an email. He sent an information packet, not only for real estate, but of the area, which was nice to look at.

Madison picked us up on Saturday morning. We'd sent him the top 8 houses we were interested in. We'd checked the listings on Friday night and found that 2 of the houses we'd sent him weren't on the listing anymore, and I was not happy. But when he met us, he told us they were ALL still available. He had mapped out the homes so we would see all the ones in the same area at one time. We liked the first home we saw. Then we saw another one. It was nice...not necessarily what we wanted, but it had ONE major feature we was EMPTY and AVAILABLE. So, we bumped that to the top. The next house was GORGEOUS...but based on the price not moving (for almost 4 months) and a quick call confirming that the sellers weren't in any hurry...well, off to the next houses. Another house we saw was under construction and still at least 3 weeks from completion...not good for us.

We saw another was unremarkable. We then headed to a few new homes that were in progress. Again, I wasn't sure, since we didn't know if they were ready or not. We went to the first one, and it was not complete. Still had a lot of work to be done...floors not installed, no carpet, a lot of stuff left, really. Madison made a quick call to the sales office to see how long it would be before it was ready. They said end of January. That was not going to work for us. So we headed out to the next house in the area, which was only 2 doors down. And was BIG. We were told it would be ready for closing on the 13th of January. That fit our plans perfectly...but we needed to see the inside. And it was locked up. So Madison made another call to the sales office, and the guy came down with the key. And it was GORGEOUS inside too...and we knew it was going to be hard to top it. We had 2 more houses to look at, so after we saw everything, we headed to those. Still nothing remarkable on those two houses. We discussed a bit (Scott and I) and decided we'd like to offer on the new build that was going be be ready in mid-January.

We headed back to the sales office and put in our bid, with two allowances: one for a fence, and one for a refrigerator. The sales guy said he'd let us know by Monday, since today was Sunday. He confided that he was pretty sure we'd get an answer on Sunday anyway, but wanted to be sure he had till Monday, to cover himself.

So this morning, Sunday, we waited...we went to the house...and drove to Ft. Jackson just to see how long it would take (there are a lot of different roads to take, so Scott will be trying a variety to see which is shortest, time-wise). We saw his band building, and where his office will be. We went to the PX (larger than Ft. Riley), and drove around to see housing (HORRIBLE, really)...we headed back to the west side of Columbia to get some lunch and then veg out at the hotel a bit. Scott called a mortgage broker recommended by the builder of the house we were looking at (they offered 2% toward closing if you used their broker) and got the ball rolling on that. We had already been preapproved with another broker, but decided the extra $$ at closing would be nice.

Then the phone rang around 3:30 p.m. It was Madison. The builder had countered our offer. He accepted our dollar amount, but said that they would install a refrigerator, and they'd put 3.5% toward closing instead of the cash allowances we'd requested. So, we thought about it (for a HALF SECOND, seriously!) and said, "We'll be right over to sign the new paperwork!".

And we have a CONTRACT on our NEW HOME!!!!

Here are the major details: 2797 square feet, 5 bedrooms, 2 1/2 bath, 2 car garage. Hardwood, carpet and vinyl (only in the baths and laundry room). HUGE great room...large master suite with his and hers closets. 3 normal sized bedrooms (one for each kid, one for an office) and the 4th bedroom will be a studio/craft/family area. this room is over the garage, and could be easily considered a FROG (family room over garage), but it is a bedroom. It has a nice sized lot, and will be fully sodded and landscaped. There is a wonderful clubhouse with a large, Jr. olympic-sized pool. It has fountains that shoot into it, and a "beach walk-in" so the water starts at 0 feet and moves gradually deeper. The clubhouse has a game room (with pool, air hockey and foosball) and a workout center (2 treadmills, an eliptical, stationary bikes, other weight-related things). The clubhouse can be rented out for parties (large screen TVs, etc) and is really spacious.

The house is at the bottom of a hill, 2 houses from a cul-de-sac, which will be good for the kids to go riding bikes and scooters.

And are the pictures I took. I didn't take many of the upstairs.

Exterior of the house (Scott and Madison are in the driveway

The door and stonework. This is the first house in the plan that has this type of stonework. The door color (and shutters too) is called's beautiful!

the formal dining room, as you walk into the house. The lower level has crown molding in the dining and entry/hall area. The dining room also has the picture frame molding below the chair rail which I fell in love with!

view down the hallway into the great room area. The door on the left is a coat closet, and the door on the right leads to the garage.

view into the kitchen from the dining room.

One view of the kitchen. All the lower cabinets have pull out tray shelving!!! Black appliances, all GE. Granite countertops with an undermount sink with two deep bowls.

Another view of the kitchen. The door in the corner near the stove is a pantry, quite large with shelves on two walls. That's Madison standing at the bar/counter. We are planning to get stools to put there!

Eat-in area, along with kitchen. The slider leads to the backyard. It's not huge, but there'll be room for the kids to go play outside easily. The neighbors have a playset in their yard (green roof visible through the slider), so that means kids to play with!

This is the great room. Huge. Really. Those of you who have seen our furniture know that it will be lonely in this room, lol! The fireplace is gas, and the white "frame" above it is wired for a flat-screen tv (someday!). The room you see off to the right is a 1/2 bath. We both think it's an odd place to put it, but there really wasn't any other place to put it, I guess.

The his and hers closets. Scott will have the one on the left, mine's on the right. The master bedroom has tray ceilings. Nothing fancy, but the room's big and bright and there's enough room for all our furniture AND room to move.

Master bath, left side. A nice garden tub with a big window, textured so you don't need to put curtains up. Besdie that is a stand up shower, large enough to turn around in without banging elbows on the door.

Other side of the bathroom. Double sink vanity. If necessary, we could put a twin sized air-mattress on the floor between the tub and sink and STILL have room to move about.

So there you have it...our new home. I will have more photos as I go along, and once we start moving things in and decorating, I'll share those too. Thank GOD all of this worked out!!!


Debbie said...

Linda, it all looks great! I'm so glad it all worked out for you and Scott.

Berry Patch said...

How exciting!!! Enjoy all that space & don't get lost! ;-)

Suzanne said...

Wahooo! I'm sure you are totally excited! Much better than the duplex, huh? I'm so happy things are working out. =)

cherylan said...

I LOVE the pictures of your new home! Wow! Cheryl

Sheri said...

What a great home. So happy for you guys. Enjoy it.

ptoole said...

wow! Can't wait to come for a visit since you will be " right down the road"! The house is beautiful!

Sue said...

Yay Linda, I love it -- can't wait to come visit!! :)

Lori said...

Congrats Scott and Linda! This is a beautiful home that your family deserves after years of dealing with military housing/off-base housing in areas too expensive to be justified! We are so happy for you! I can't wait to pick out a house-warming gift for you all. Thanks so much for taking the time to post these pictures in the midst of all the chaos.

Laura said...

Gorgeous!!!!!! Want to trade houses? LOL After everything you've been through, t his house looks like a welcome relief to come home to!

De'Etta @ Choosing Joy said...

Gorgeous, Linda. A beautiful answer to prayer. Congrats.

ruthannlytle said...

Congrats Linda! I love it!

Kim said...

Wooh Hoo! That's so exciting, Linda! I am THRILLED you are going to be only about an hour away! Love the house, and can't wait to see it up close and in person! God is good!

SB said...

you did well, Linda! SO happy for you.

rennratt said...

Congratulations! That is a gorgeous house!

Once you move in, you will be MAYBE three hours from me!

La-Shawn said...

Congratulation Linda and Scott! Wow I love it. I know you will love your new kitchen. It's much bigger then mine now(lol).
We can't wait to visit you guys in June.

Bob-kat said...

Your new home looks lovely and I am sure you will soon settle in :)

Happy New Year to you and your family and here's to statrting 2009 in your new home :)

Ali said...

I could barely look at the pics without turning green with envy! It is beautiful!!! I am excited to have you closer...surely we'll be able to see you!!! Congrats on such a beautiful home!!!

The Mrs. said...

FANTASTIC! its beautiful. I'm so jealous you guys get to head down south.... enjoy your new home!

Carmi said...

Want some new neighbors? :)

I am so happy for you...what a great house, and what a great area. You'll doubtless turn it into a home in no time.

Julie said...

What a lovely New home. love the woodwork

Diva Gina :) said...

Congrats to you and your family on your new home....I love the wanescotting (sp.) in the dining room!

Sharon said...

OMG Linda, it's beautiful! Congrats to all of you..I'm jealous..I wish I had all that room! Can't wait to see it all decorated. Good Luck!!

Diva Sharon :)

April said...

Just thought I'd stop and say Welcome!!
We live in Elgin, SC

April said...

I don't remember for sure how I found your blog---either 2 peas or maybe another blog I followed?

This is my email address in case you should have questions or are looking for activities in the area: