Friday, June 28, 2013

Low Voltage... High Investment

It has taken me a day to recover from the sticker shock of our meeting with Guardian. But the truth is we have no one to blame but ourselves. So where to begin...

Our rep was amazing. One of the first things he told us when we sat down with him is, he's paid salary and not commission. And what that means to us is his job was to help us make the best decision centered around our wants/needs and not to sell us a bunch of needless items. Good thing he was there to save us from ourselves otherwise it would have been another mortgage... Okay maybe not that bad! :-)

Now to the decisions... First and foremost Guardian is about security. The option we went with was the option that included the two way communication and the wireless access. The benefit to this option is we can arm our system from our smart phones or the keypad. While this seems needless think of the pluses. 

1. No remote needed to arm/disarm your system just before entering the house. 

2.  You can instantly check the status of your system regardless where you are. How many times have you been away from the house and could recall if you set the alarm... I know I have

3. Anytime the system's status changes you can be alerted. For those with kids it'll help you know when they are home as well. 

Our rep also walked us through sight lines in our houses and what would work best. Job well done and after spending good money on the build, the last thing you want to skimp on is the security. 

The wiring for cable, data, and HDTV took the majority of the time. It's really important to understand what is necessary in each room. Initially we decided we wanted cable and HDTV connections  in each bedroom, family room, and bonus room. But after seeing the cost, we had to critically think about our needs. From there we decided on what was important and needed and made the necessary adjustments. Our rep once again helped us with this and told us some ways to maximize our selections. 

Our last decisions were on surround sound and whole home audio. While whole home audio was a nifty thing the more we thought about it, the more we realized it wasn't necessary. So of all the extra speaker options, we did decide to run the speaker outside of the house in the back for sound outside. 

Finally came the prewired surround sound. Our initial thought was to go with audio in the family room, bonus room, and owners suite. We took out the last one and kept the first two. We currently have a sound bar that is better than the TV speakers so we decided we would use that in the owner's suite. 

After making changes to our original selection and dropping off $1200 we felt better about the final cost. We now know we will be secure in our new house, and set to enjoy entertainment both inside and outside of the house. 

Up next... Change order deadline.


Sunday, June 23, 2013

Week in review... And what's next

Last week was a slower week, to be expected, but we did make more decisions and additional progress. 

By far the best decision we made was to go look at the local model for the Avalon Isle again. Last Saturday we signed the purchase agreement and having made our decisions it was good to see how our decisions would translate into the model. This helped us know some items we need to change and we felt even more comfortable with the decisions we made. 

Additionally the request for more paperwork has started. Our Loan Officer gave us homework which we plan to finish by Tuesday at the latest. One interesting piece is the Budget Letter. 

This letter is an agreement with NVR on how we will save to account for the  closing cost. Didn't take too much time but it was just one more thing to do. 

My suggestions: Stay calm and flexible throughout the process. Just when you think they can't possible ask for anything else, they can and will. Keep in mind why you're doing this and understand that it will all be worth it in the end :-). 

As for this week. We have our meeting scheduled with Guardian on Thursday. Stay posted on the options available and the decisions we made. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Everything except a DNA sample

This morning, we officially completed our loan application and applied for our mortgage with NVR. It felt like we were signing our life away. All they needed to ask for next was a DNA sample and the big brother investigation would have been complete!

All in all, the process went very smoothly. Our loan officer had all our paperwork ready and places we needed to sign highlighted in yellow. The process took about 1.5 hours, and even though we had already turned in every piece of paperwork they requested ahead of time, we still left there with 4 homework items to complete before the loan can go to underwriting.

My suggestion:

-Definitely make sure all your paperwork is in order BEFORE this meeting
-Be prepared to still have to show proof of some outstanding items. We had some checks that were deposited and one of our homework items is to show a copy of the actual check to make sure everything's on the up and up.
-Be sure to ask what monies you need to bring to this appointment. We had to write a check there for our appraisal and credit report fees but we had called our loan officer upfront to know how much that was going to be.
-Ask lots of questions! If you don't understand something about the process or what you're signing, ASK! It's your loan officer's job to make sure you're understanding the paperwork you're signing.

Now it's just hurry up and wait. Our loan officer told us not to expect to hear anything for about a month since they were swamped with closings this month. We hope to break ground around the beginning of August if everything goes smoothly (hopefully before new baby boy arrives!).


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Choices, choices!

Here are some of the choices we made yesterday for our new home:

Elevation A with full front porch and partial stone 

English stone, Sandy Tan siding, red shutters, Grizzle Gray door and white trim

Sonoma Expresso kitchen cabinets, satin nickel hardware & faucets and St. Cecelia granite countertops

Sonoma Expresso cabinets, nickel hardware & plumbing and wheat granite countertops for owner's bath

These were the main choices aside from the Premier II stainless appliance package with gas hookup. 

In all other baths, we went with Sonoma Expresso cabinets with cultured marble vanity tops.

We'll meet with Guardian and Rite Rug soon to make our audio and flooring choices. 

Stay tuned!

To corner or not to corner, that is the question...

Yesterday was a whirlwind with many decisions to be made in a relatively short period of time. It can be broken down into three sections: 

1. The Money
2. The Lot
3. The Decisions

The Money:

Our NVR rep contacted us Friday to obtain some preliminary follow-up questions (I know, follow-up questions cannot be preliminary, just let it slide :-) ). Since we recently moved from another state and of course started new jobs, we needed info from employers for the last two years. Now as a show of hands, how many people know the address, phone number, and contact info for a rep at your previous job... That's what I figured. Nonetheless, it was a good conversation. Our rep went on to inform us that we would need to obtain a copy of our purchase agreement, we will get to that in the decisions portion, before our loan meeting on Monday. Since we did not have this we needed to go yesterday to make all of the decisions in order to complete the purchase agreement, including handing over a nice fat check for our earnest money deposit.

Once done, we would go through the litany  of paperwork we had to compile and submit as part of processing our loan. 

My suggestion:

-Create a spreadsheet of all the items you know you will need. This it typically provided by your NVR rep
- start obtaining electronic copies of all the required paperwork and be sure to date each electronic piece in both the file name and the spreadsheet. The reason for this, as time goes along you will need to provide updates to some of the documents you provide in the beginning. If dated in both place properly, you can easily identify what you have and what you need to replace. 
- If you are married or going in with a co-applicant, create an online repository that you both have access to and can upload documents as necessary. 
-When all items on the spreadsheet are accounted for, zip up the docs and send to your rep. 

Doing this as soon as you have the required list will save you much stress as you go through the process in the beginning. Because once you complete the purchase agreement and it's signed, you have seven days to obtain financing. And there is a lot of paperwork... Just be prepared. :-)

The Lot

One of the early decisions you need to make, one of many, is which lot you would like. This request for a decision came quickly for us as we found out on Friday afternoon that we needed to have our purchase agreement complete by Monday so we could process our loan application. I guess the one good thing about the speed in which we needed to make the decision is we didn't have time to go back and forth, over and over about the lot. 

All along we knew we wanted a corner lot or at least a lot with room apart from our neighbors. As it turned out there was only one corner lot that that would fit our house and it just so happens someone else was looking at this lot as well. 

Armed with this and the aforementioned information, we decided we needed to go view this lot immediately. As we took the forty minute drive from where we were to the community, we were quickly approaching dusk but we would not be deterred. We needed to view this lot immediately and decide if this corner would be our corner (hence the title - I attempt to tie up all loose ends as I tell this tale; a tale of truth - so lets call it non-fiction... But I digress). 

When we arrived we still had a little bit of sunlight remaining. We pulled out the document provided by our sales rep of all the available lots and we began our search. 

Of course our first stop was the corner lot and with all the clay, rocks, and sparse grass - it was still a beautiful site to behold. It was hard to image our house fitting in this space, but it was no mistaking that this corner was in a great location. In doing our due diligence we looked at he other lots, but the didn't have the pull of the other. Without much hesitation we knew this was he lot for us. We drove around the community for a while as dusk continued to settle in and was convinced this was the right spot to raise our family. 

From there we went to get ice cream and while waiting, I sent our sales rep a message to let her know we wanted that corner lot and would be there first thing in the morning to complete out purchase agreement and provide our earnest money. 

I have to say that was a great night of sleep. :-)

The Decisions

After receiving our 10:30 PM email about our lot decision Friday night, our sales rep emailed us at 8:30 AM Saturday morning to confirm our meeting time (12:30 since she had another appointment). A note of caution: This meeting is probably one of your most important initial meetings as you will get into the specifics of your house. This includes exterior colors down to the number of additional outlets you may want.

My suggestion:

- Do your homework as it relates to the model you have selected 
- Come prepared with as much info as you can. To do this obtain info from your sales reps as to the options available in your model. And map out for yourself which options you want. Doing this in the comforts of your home helps you to think critically about your decisions and you won't feel rushed or overwhelmed at your appointment. 
- Additionally the time you spend making your decisions at home helps this meeting to go much quicker. We already had all of our decisions ready to go and the process still took about three (3) hours. 
- If you have kids, I suggest not having them present at this meeting. Mainly because of the aforementioned time duration, and also because there is a lot to absorb and maintain so you will need your focus. 
- Narrow your decisions by taking out what you know you don't like first. What you'll find is that may narrow it down to about three choices. Continue to do this with the remaining choices and before you know it, a decision will be made... Stress free. 
-Last but not least: Don't sweat it if you aren't sold on the decisions you make. Take pictures and understand you have fourteen (14) days to make a change. However, if you follow some of the steps I mentioned above, it just may make your decision-making process easier

In an effort to wrap a bow to this post, the family that was also looking at the corner lot we chose may end up selecting the lot right next to us. Guess that could lead to some interesting conversations when we move in :-). 

I hope this has been helpful and feel free to ask any questions. 


Friday, June 14, 2013

The beginning of it all...

We're well on our way to beginning this big, huge process of building a home. So far, we've listed our Ohio home, fired our first realtor, got a new realtor, decided on Ryan Homes, started the loan approval process & gathered a lot of paperwork (all tidied up in one nice zip file), met with the sales rep to make preliminary selections (more on that later), and decided on a corner lot--the only lot not squished between other houses that will fit our floorplan. 

Tomorrow, we'll meet with the sales rep and hand over a check for our earnest money. That should secure our lot. Wish us luck, we've dived in head-first!