Emma Ferneyhough Colner

So Long San Francisco

So Long, San Francisco!

Oh jeez, where have I been the last 3 months? So much for updating this blog regularly. I vaguely remember that back in the LiveJournal days I’d always remark how the frequency of my posts declined whenever I had more things worth writing about happen.

Long story short, my husband and I bought (20% of) our first house. No, we didn’t know anything about how to buy a house before the day we went to our first open house, much less how much we could afford. Yes, going to Portland was partly an exploratory trip to see if we could live there. (The answer is yes, but as it turns out, not now). We ended up moving to the East Bay after 4 lovely years in SF.

In case anyone out there is curious about the rough timeline of how long it takes to buy a house, read on. It was surprisingly fast. I thought for sure it would take us 6 months to find anything we liked in our price range, but we actually liked a lot of what we saw. A lot of it was shit, in fact, there were a few houses we saw where I felt like I needed a shower afterwards. But after we saw about 20 houses in person and pored over hundreds of others online, we got a better sense of what things really mattered to us. It turns out, it was having 2 bedrooms, a nice view, a big yard, and walkable to BART so we could keep our jobs. And of course, keeping our mortgage comparable to what we were previously paying in rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in SF (2011 prices).

(Side note, our old apartment is now renting for $3800/month to give you a sense of how ridiculous renting in SF is now. And that’s way more than we ever paid.)

House-buying Timeline

  • 5 weeks - time between going to our first open house and making our first offer (and 2 of those weeks we were just online shopping because we were visiting family out of state)
  • 3 days - time between making the offer and getting it accepted
  • 2 days - time between offer acceptance and home inspection
  • 2 days - time between home spection and paying earnest money (3% of downpayment) and getting a roof inspection (yeah they happened on the same day :( )
  • 3 weeks - time between inspections and 17% downpayment (but almost daily calls with our lender, our title insurance provider, homeowners insurance provider and others)
  • 1 day - time between downpayment and signing closing docs
  • 2 days - time between signing and getting the keys

There was endless paperwork and gathering supporting documents for everything in our application. It was exhausting and stressful because it all had to be done by certain deadlines, and all the while I also had to go to work and not be distracted by the fact that I was going to spend every remaining penny I’d earned in the last 10 years. This was definitely a terrifying decision and we’re still getting used to the idea of homeownership. (Probably will be getting used to it for a couple years.) However, the decision wasn’t made lightly and was preceded by months of discussion, and it ended up being the right thing for us. And amazingly our first offer was accepted! That doesn’t happen much in this housing market. On one hand we were happy we got it and saved time, but on the other there is always that feeling that we offered too much. It’s one of those things we’ll never know.

It’s been about a month now in our house. I’ll be honest, it still feels weird. It doesn’t feel like home, but I know it will just take some time and some memories (and a shit-ton of remodeling :D).

Weird things I’ve noticed since living in a house instead of an apartment:

  1. I walk more to do the same amount of stuff
  2. I lose things more easily and have to look in more places to find it
  3. I wander aimlessly at night trying to remember if I closed all the windows and doors
  4. I constantly feel like I’m being watched out of all the windows that don’t yet have curtains, and just by the sheer amount of space I have
  5. I am way more paranoid about theft/home invasion now that there is more than one way to enter the premises

Some of my favorite things about my house:

  1. It’s tri-level (half-floors) and has some interesting nooks and hidden rooms.
  2. There are a lot of original features from the 1940s and 1950s, when the house was built.
  3. Beautiful sunsets and views of Mt. Tam
  4. Large backyward with a patio and terraced garden
  5. No longer throwing money away on rent

I suspect that this blog may also end up being the repository for our home improvement projects (photos included). For now, I’ll just say that one month in we’ve made some progress!