The great house search of 2014 has come to an end.

And not because we actually found a house to buy. Rather we called it off for health reasons.

Anne’s been suffering fromĀ a chronically sore back for some time now and our doctor had her go get an MRI done to figure out if it was muscular, spinal, or neurological in nature. Turns out it was muscular and the solution, as always, is to lose weight. Given that’s something we’ve both been working at for awhile, our doctor suggested we consider some form of bariatric surgery for Anne. Our health insurance has a $3,000 deductible so it made sense that we’d have to use some of the money we originally planned to use as a downpayment on a home to cover the deductible so we called our Realtor and let him know. Mike was great about understanding our decision and if you ever need a patient and hard-working Realtor in Michigan then you should look him up.

We started looking into the various forms of bariatric surgery available only to discover that our insurance doesn’t cover weight loss surgery of any kind. So now we go from having to cover a $3,000 deductible to having the cover the whole cost, which can average between $20,000 and $35,000. Hoo boy. I think it’s safe to say I will not be buying a home anytime in the next several years, but I’d much rather continue to rent and have a healthy and happy wife than a miserable one and a home that we can’t take care of because we’re not healthy. Apparently some of the clinics that specialize in this surgery have financing available and we’re looking into how many arms and legs that’ll take to acquire.

Why yes, yes I am.

Why yes, yes I am.

As for me, I’ve given up on trying to use the elliptical machine we bought and I’m going to try plain old walking for 30 minutes at a time now that the weather is getting better. I’m thinking I will try to sell the elliptical and maybe put the money towards a treadmill (for use in the winter or on rainy days) as that’s something Anne and I should both be able to use of a little more easily. We spent about $1,000 on the elliptical and it’s been lightly used enough that I think I could get maybe $750 for it. Anne and I recently upgraded our smartphones to Nexus 5 devices so I may try reinstalling one of the healthy eating/exercise apps I had tried to make use of previously and give that another go. At the moment I’m still hovering between 290 and 300 pounds and I’d really like to drop below the 290 mark sometime soon. My back hurts occasionally and my legs are sore more often than not so I need to find the motivation to make this a habit soon.

Lastly, our old queen mattress set is getting pretty long in the tooth and I’m sure some of our back issues are a result of it being worn out so we’ve been looking into spending a little of the money on a new king mattress and maybe a simple Ikea foundation to put it on. More specifically, I’m heavily considering ordering a Casper mattress as everything I’ve heard about it is pretty good. They make one model of mattress and it’s a combination of memory foam and latex foam. They fold it up into a box small enough to fit into a car and the price seems reasonable enough at $950 for a king with free shipping in the U.S.. Of course, as soon as I started looking into this new startup (they only came on the market back in April) I discovered a similar company called Tuft & Needle offering a similar product for an even better price. So clearly I have some more research to do, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to go with one of these two companies over the traditional route of visiting a local mattress store. If any of you out there have experience with either one then I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

So anyway, that’s what we’ve been up to lately and why I won’t be joining the ranks of home owners for a bit longer.

A small update on what I’ve been up to.

funny-thought-pleasing-everyone-cakeI’ve not blogged in awhile so I thought I’d at least get something up to say why. Mainly it’s because I’ve been pretty busy at work and have actually been spending more time than usual away from my computer once I get home. As I’ve mentioned previously, we’re also home hunting at the moment which has proven to be a lot less fun than I already thought it wouldn’t be.

In fact, this past Sunday we found a condo that we really liked and we decided to put a bid on it and things were going OK until a few hours later when our mortgage guy called to go over what our closing costs would be as well as the monthly payments. We’re trying to do this on my income only at the moment and the upshot is that the closing costs would’ve been about a grand and a half more than we actually had set aside for the downpayment/closing and then the monthly payment would be almost half of my net monthly income. Thus began my panic attack that evening. I won’t bore you with details, but suffice it to say that we withdrew the bid the next morning and decided to try looking for homes under $100,000, which there aren’t a whole hell of a lot of these days outside of cities we’d rather not live in. I’m sure at this point our Realtor, Mike Mazurek, is ready to pull his hair out, but he’s been incredibly patient with us.

Beyond driving our Realtor nuts, I’ve managed to get my dad’s computer upgraded to Windows 7 as my parents were still running Windows XP and support for that just dried up. Mom is supposed to get my old Win 7 Home license as I upgraded my machine to Windows 8.1 and moved my 7 Pro license to Anne’s machine, but when I went to upgrade Mom’s it was clear it wasn’t up to running it. I ended up bring it home so I could figure out what I need to do to get it to work and she’s currently sharing Dad’s PC. So if she’s not blogging quite as often as she used to, it’s my fault.

The only other new thing with us is Anne and I made the switch from Virgin Mobile to T-Mobile yesterday and upgraded our phones to a pair of Nexus 5s in the process. Took awhile for our numbers to port over, but we’re up and running and it’s nice to have a decent smartphone close at hand.

So that’s what I’ve been up to. Nothing particularly exciting other than freaking out over trying to buy a home. I’ll try to get back into posting more regularly. Now that I have the Nexus I may even try blogging from that. Maybe put up some pictures. Maybe even a vlog. Though I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for that.

We are officially looking for a home to buy.

CalvinonAdulthoodIt’s taken entirely longer than I ever imagined it would, but Anne and I are finally in a position to start looking for a house to buy. Having read umpteen million horror stories of first-time buying experiences over the years it goes without saying that we are a little intimidated by the whole process, but we’re jumping in with both feet because there’s really no other way to get started.

Ironically enough, our opportunity springs from Anne becoming unemployed. Her previous employer had an Employee Stock Purchase program as its form of retirement savings and as she is no longer employed there she had to option cash it out, which she did, and after taxes and penalties it’s just enough to make a 5% down-payment on a house of $150,000 or less. So that’s what we’re looking for.

We started browsing homes online Wednesday night on Zillow.com and I have to say that it’s amazing how quickly a real estate agent will get back to you even after 8PM. The first three homes we filled out “we’re interested” forms on called or texted me within 10 minutes of us hitting send. One of them already has a pending offer on it, which is a shame because it looked perfect online and was close to work. Another one had just listed that day and already had 11 offers so if we were pre-approved (we’re not) and ready to make a fast decision (we’re not) then it was an option. We passed on it. The third one in Whitmore Lake we’re scheduled to go look at this evening after work. Of the three, it’s the one we were least excited about — it’s an old house built in 1940 — but we figure it doesn’t hurt to look so we will.

All of the agents are, of course, trying to lock us into using them for any additional searches and that brings up the first problem we’re facing: How do you know which agent is willing to put up with us long enough to find a good deal on a home? A coworker suggested I ask each one how many homes they would have to show us before they got annoyed. I have a feeling we’re going to be a particular pain in the ass because A) we need something that’s ready to move into as I’m far from a handy man and I won’t be able to afford a contractor anytime soon, B) being that I’m buying a home so late in life I have every intention of making it the only home I ever buy… unless I win the lotto, C) I’d prefer to have city water/sewer and a finished basement, though that’s not a deal breaker if it’s a really good buy, and D) I’d prefer to avoid places with Home Owner Associations.

Our lease comes to an end in May and we need to let the apartment complex know if we intend to renew it a month ahead of time and that’s the second problem we’re facing. Rent is likely to go up (jumped nearly $200 last year) and if we try to do a 6 month or a monthly it’ll be even more ridiculous. So do we sign up for a year and then break it when we find a home? I think our agreement includes a clause allowing us to do so if we buy a house, but I’d have to double check it to be sure. We’re going to go into the office and discuss it with management soon.

So, yeah, the next weeks and/or months are sure to be filled with joy and peace as we undertake what I understand to be one of the more stressful life events you can engage in. Change is always fun, but if we don’t do it now I don’t think we’ll ever own a home of our own. Feel free to leave your horror stories of first-time home buying in the comments and, if you have any advice, that would be good too.