Fun, Other Things I Like, Style

OMG – I Bought a Home!

March 16, 2017 – greatest/scariest day of my life

Okay, so this post is a couple of months late, but that’s because there was no way I could share any pictures until my home had all the furniture I ordered, actually in it. ūüôā Plus, there’s a lot I learned about the “joys” of homeownership, that I’d be remiss not to share.

45 Days of Impatience


As you saw in previous posts, on my home buying experience, if¬†there’s¬†two things I don’t have much of, it’s patience… and eyeballing measurements. ¬†When I put an offer on my home, and it was accepted, it took 45 days for closing, which is a short amount of time, compared to the standard (60 days). ¬†This meant I was moving out of my apartment a full two months early, which meant¬†breaking my lease (guess who won, financially, from that situation – hint: wasn’t me). ¬†It also meant having two weeks to pack up as much as I could, trying to sell almost all of the furniture that wouldn’t fit (note: I sold more than I needed – who doesn’t like new stuff anyway), and buying all of the paint I needed to begin painting, the minute I had my keys in-hand. ¬†Being a planner, it was the most painful experience, having to wait close enough to closing, to make absolute sure all of the financing went through. ¬†If you don’t have thick skin (mine is still in development), you’ll end up with¬†a few breakdowns, panic attacks, and bouts of “I want to buy that couch before it’s gone, oh my god, it’s gone”) impatience.

To add to this, the last time I got to see the place was one week after I put the offer in, which meant the proper thing to do would be to take great measurements and pictures. ¬†In my excitement, my handwriting was chicken scratch¬†(with the notes I took anyway), and no photos were taken because at the time, I though “I can totally eyeball this”. ¬†Thank God for the MLS listing, and being able to save the seller’s photos!

Moving Week


If there was any time to have a reality show, it would have been “moving week”. ¬†First, I never should have said the words, “Watch it, it hasn’t snowed all winter, and it’s gonna snow the week of my move.” ¬†Guess what happened? ¬†Second, I grossly underestimated the amount of time it would take to paint extremely old walls. ¬†My house was built in the 40s and while cozy and charming, the layers of paint, spackle, divots, holes, and bumps, were no match for my paint rollers and brushes. ¬†(The upside, going up and down ladders for days, made for a tighter glutes.)¬†And while I was cursing up a storm, getting paint everywhere, my saint of a¬†boyfriend underestimated the time/strength it would take to move my stuff in simultaneously (which he thought he could do alone). ¬†After some reinforcement was called, and everything was in one place, we survived the following:

  • Snow, ice, mud
  • One back injury
  • One old knee injury flare up
  • A few hundred man hours of moving help
  • 16 hours of painting
  • 8 coats of paint
  • A lot of junk food consumption because the kitchen wasn’t unpacked
  • One sad pup who was passed off to family for a week, coming “home” to a different place than where he started

That Moment When you Realize You’re Responsible…. for Everything…


I knew that when I bought the place, I’d be responsible for anything that broke, needed maintenance, renovating, etc. ¬†However, like anyone that brings home a baby, a puppy, or anything else delicate for the first time, everything freaks you out at first, and I mean EVERYTHING.

When is a Leak a Catastrophe?!

Week two and I find a tiny drip coming from the hot water heater, and you would have thought I thought it broke. ¬†“What if that slow drip turns into a bigger leak? ¬†And, what if that leak turns into a puddle, which turns into a flooded basement?” ¬†Were the questions I asked to my mom, before getting the name of her plumber, and calling my dad. My dad (who is the BEST Mr. Fixit), took one look and said, “You just need to tighten it. ¬†Go buy the wrench and some Teflon tape, just in case.” ¬†After I got over the shock that I didn’t even think of that, I took my ninth trip to Home Depot in two weeks (side question: When do they start customizing carts for repeat customers?), bought what I needed, and fixed it. ¬†I was proud of myself for being responsible (and now having enough tools to be the community’s handy-woman).

I Hate Bugs, No Seriously…

One and a half months in, and it’s spring, which means unwelcome “visitors”. ¬†Anyone ever seen a Centipede? ¬†Anyone see one RUN on 100 legs, about 5 feet from your bedroom? ¬†Yep… mama Centipede was squashed (by my own personal hero, my boyfriend, because I ran to my room and shut the door, screaming) but it turns out… she had kids, which when I found one in our bedroom, it went something like this:


Thank God my sister is my Realtor,¬†and she could hand me the name and number of the Pest Control Inspector (Pest Now) we used for inspection. ¬†They¬†have become my own personal heroes.¬† For $89 a quarter, Pest Now is coming out and spraying because God knows I don’t want to wake up in the middle of the night with a scene, straight out of Arachnophobia.

Realizing If You¬†Break a Window, You Have to Pay For It… So Move Furniture In Gently

Not an exact depiction… but it did take four people to get it in…

If I was renting this place, I’d never give a second thought to popping out a window, in order to move furniture, in. ¬†I’d chalk it up to being part of the deal with moving into an old house with tight corners, and if it broke, no big deal. ¬†BUT, since this is MY¬†place, I’ve twice had to enlist the help of three people to carefully remove the windows, so two couches could come in through it… which begs the question of why I never thought to do it, while moving…

P.S. ¬†I’m pretty sure two sets of furniture delivery men hate me now.

The Fun Part…

Regardless of all the money you “bleed”, the sweat, tears, swear words, ripped/stained clothing, and physical pain you go through, to start turning a house into a home, it’s so completely worth it! ¬†I’ve already got renovation projects and small touches, on schedule for the next two years (take note of boyfriend’s total patience and encouragement, here).

In the meantime, while still a “work in progress”, I’ve managed to make our house a home. ¬†Below are before-and-afters of the rooms I’m sharing for now. ¬†Stay tuned for the myriad of decorating ideas, renovation projects, and any mental breakdowns that will come with this ūüôā

Guest Bedroom to Chic Office


Design Notes: Still searching for just the right artwork to complete this room.  The paint is by Behr in Island Aqua, lamps from Safavieh, rug from Houzz, desk from Overstock, bookshelf from Overstock.

Drab Bedroom to Cozy Bedroom



Design Notes: Pain by Behr in Espresso Martini, nightstands form Pottery Barn, lamps from Home Goods, bedding from Pottery Barn, fur throw from Z Gallerie, area rug from Home Depot, artwork from Home Goods.

Comfortable Living Room to Cozy Chic 


Design Notes: Floor lamp on order, followed by two side tables, a mirror, and centerpiece display. ¬†Pain by Behr in Perfect Taupe, Dryden couches custom made by Crate and Barrel, coffee table, drapes and rug from Z Gallerie; painting by Maggie O’Neill, media console by Z Gallerie, travel books made by me on Shutterfly.

Multifunctional Dining Room to Dedicated Space


Design Notes: We are refinishing this dining room wall with stone next year!  Table by World Market, dining chairs by Pier One, artwork by me, candles/candlesticks by Pottery Barn.

Outdoor Functional to Chic Outdoor Space


Design Note: Next year there will be flower pots!   Outdoor set by Houzz.




Date Ideas, Events/Performances, Fun, Other Things I Like

Celebrating Love, Friends, and New Adventures!

On top of the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C.

I had a couple of messages this¬†morning, asking me if I stopped meditating, since I’ve not posted in close to five days. ¬†I’ve definitely had my morning practice however, I did not finish the 21-day Meditation Challenge. ¬†So much of what I shared, over the last 2 1/2 weeks, was already shared. ¬†I felt as though a bit of it was too repetitive and thus, I’m not comfortable writing a blog post if I can’t give¬†unique, applicable content.¬†So instead, I’m going to show you proof of what “hope” looks like…

This past weekend (includes Thursday) was filled with celebrations of love, new milestones, and great friendships. ¬†It’s one of those rare weekends that I was constantly on the go, but so happy to share in the joy in so many other people’s lives. ¬†Below is a peek into my weekend, and what I am most grateful for because of it:

Thursday: A New Year, and New Connections

My “weekend” kicked off with the birthday of my BFF, and a date auction. ¬†(Yes, I’m taken but I also happened to throw a male friend up there, and wanted to be there for moral support.)

I am so grateful for my girlfriend (pictured below). ¬†While I have so many amazing women in my life, she’s seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. ¬†We often joke we’ll be living together at age 80, watching Star Wars movie marathons, while knitting. ¬†Thus, a year hasn’t gone by where I’ve not celebrated a birthday with her. ¬†In fact, it’s also the anniversary of when we met!

For her celebration, a bunch of us girls took her to¬†Cafe Milano for dinner (complete with a firework slice of cake). ¬†(If you have never been there, I HIGHLY suggest it! ¬†It’s home of the power¬†dinner, where the “who’s who” goes to dine. ¬†It’s also home to some of the best gluten-free pasta and ros√© in D.C.)


While her own personal celebration had concluded, we weren’t done with the evening. ¬†We all headed over to Capitale for our friend Sher Mathew’s date auction. ¬†She is in the running to be LLS Woman of the Year, and she’s knocking it out of the park with about three events A WEEK! ¬†It was there it felt like one, big friend reunion, complete with stage takeover to sing my friend Happy Birthday!

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Photos, courtesy of Vithaya Phongsavan

Friday: Celebrating My Most Favorite Person in the World

My other half is seriously THE BEST. ¬†Between the move into our new home, my compulsive behaviors to get everything unpacked, put away, and decorated; AND putting up with my work schedule, he’s a complete¬†rockstar. ¬†Thus, I wanted to surprise him with a dinner outside (check out Cactus Cantina if you want some great Mexican food and drinks, on an outdoor patio with a view of the National Cathedral) and a quick stop at a¬†private Tiffany’s event in Chevy Chase, to buy him something he’s always wanted” a Dog Tag.


Saturday: Celebrating New Beginnings

Last year, my mom, sister, and myself held an annual Bags, Baubles, and Bubbles fundraiser at Westwood Country Club, to raise money for the Stroke Comeback Center. ¬†I wrote about the Center last year¬†when we were getting ready to hold the first annual event.¬†¬†It’s a wonderful place for Stroke and Trauma victims to rehabilitate, and certainly, there have been some amazing comeback stories because of it!

This year was bigger and better, with a private fashion show, hosted by Bloomingdales; hundreds of auction items, a beautiful luncheon, and even more attendees!  I was so grateful to be a part of it again!

When it was over, I was down for a quick nap and then onto the last event of the evening: Saying goodbye to one of my close friends and her husband (plus pending baby), as they are moving to San Antonio!

It couldn’t have been a more perfect evening, atop the Watergate Hotel (I HIGHLY RECOMMEND you check this out), with the sun setting (everyone was grateful for being able to witness the most perfect sunset from the best view in DC), being surrounded by good, close friends.

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Sunday: Celebrating Love

To cap off the weekend, we were grateful to be able to celebrate two amazing people who are the absolute epitome of true love. ¬†It was so special to be amongst¬†our close friends, and both the¬†bride and groom-to-be’s¬†respective families, in one of the most beautiful historic homes in D.C.

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It’s weekends like these that make me thankful for the friends, family, support, and love I have in my life! ¬†Stay tuned for Mother’s Day weekend, when I take you all down to Williamsburg, VA with me!


Fun, Other Things I Like

My Home Offer Was Accepted… Now What?

Last Tuesday, I saw a home that I fell in love with. ¬†It’s bright, warm, cozy, and cheerful. ¬†It’s the perfect first place for me and I was “sold”. ¬†When my sister (who is also my real estate agent) dropped me back off¬†at my apartment, we agreed I should¬†make an offer on the place. ¬†Within just a few hours of submittal, the offer was accepted.

When you get that call to say your offer has been accepted, it starts out with total relief and excitement… followed by “oh shit…” ¬†(depiction of reaction below)


Real estate agents, mortgage brokers, and title companies exist for a reason – it’s because unless you’re hybrid real estate agent/lawyer, there’s no way you can navigate your way through the various¬†tactics in which your final monthly mortgage payment, closing fees, and repairs/credits from the home inspection, come about. ¬†After my offer was accepted, I spent Wednesday morning hunting down and sending the following:

  • Two years’ worth of ¬†W-2s
  • Two months of pay stubs
  • Two months¬†of bank and savings statements (which put the fear of god in me that someone was going to see my addiction to iTunes)
  • My picture ID (which I had to casually explain why I looked like a serial killer)
  • My blood type
  • My dog (aka first born child)

(I’m kidding on the last two… I also went out for a large glass of wine and double Jack and diet that night.)

And that wasn’t it… then you have to start signing the checks/wiring the money.


  1. $475 inspection fee (by the way, if you live in the DMV,  Romano Pietrobono of The Building Inspector of America is the best!
  2. $4500 in earnest money wired

When all that’s done, you’re still not. ¬†Then comes the:

  • Paperwork from the title company (five forms)
  • The actual loan application (100 pages – thank GOD for Docusign)
  • Securing home owner’s insurance up front (USAA made that super easy on me)
  • Reading the HOA manual, to know which utilities you have to set up
  • Getting a home inspection (must be done within two days of offer being accepted)
  • Re-negotiating any repairs with the seller and signing the final docs

While all of this seems easy enough (since you’re not doing the heavy lifting), the emotions that come with it are not. ¬†Why? ¬†The first two bullet points do not include ACTUAL numbers but instead, numbers that are estimated. ¬†The title company included things like Title Insurance (which are not needed if a seller is in good¬†financial-standing¬†with the home), which elevated the closing costs, past my budget; and although my Mortgage Broker did put an emphasis on the closing costs being estimated extremely high, they were jaw-dropping enough that after a long day, my head was spinning and I broke down.


This last part is what EVERYONE goes through when they buy their first home (or so I’m told). ¬†And, it’s common to set a budget and get it blown out of the water. ¬†SO… I’m going to give you some tips on how to avoid (as best you can) the emotional pitfalls of parting with your money/being financially prepared for something like this.

  1. A mortgage broker is worth their weight in GOLD. ¬†Mine has been amazing, treating me as though I’m family (you can check out his contact info here). ¬†It’s his job to run all of the numbers for you but…
  2. Be incredibly honest about your financial situation. ¬†Mortgage Brokers¬†are not here to judge you but instead, get you the best possible deal on closing costs and a mortgage. ¬†What this means… give them the bottom number of what you have saved for the entirety of this purchase. ¬†This includes money down (3.5% for FHA loans and 3% for conventional – assuming you have great credit), closing costs (averages around $6K) , any current home fees you will have to pay at the same time (I have one month of paying for two places), ¬†and inspection fees ($300-$500 for a modest home).
  3. Know your bottom number for money down and closing costs, and then… add 30%¬†for safety’s sake – this is probably the biggest tip I can give you. ¬†Granted, there are all sorts of credits mortgage brokers and real estate agents can give you, to support your closing cost number. ¬†However, it’s important to still understand what the reality could be.
  4. Communicate/understand timing of first payment¬†– This is also something a lot of people forget about. ¬†Since I’m in an apartment, I still have rent to pay every month until my lease is up. ¬†I have one month where I’m paying for both places. This is in addition to two utility bills. It’s not ideal but I had to account for that.
  5. Read all of the paperwork – especially the numbers sheets, and ASK A TON OF QUESTIONS!! It’s okay to question everything, especially if there is something you don’t understand. ¬†This is one of the biggest purchases you will make in your life and it should never be taken lightly!

By the end of this week, I was emotionally (and financially) spent. ¬†However, I’m still so excited. ¬†For me to be able to afford a place on my own is a huge life achievement, and one that I would never trade in for anything else. ¬†Now off to start planning my decorating, while I wait for settlement mid-March…

Other Things I Like

Modern-Day Home Buying Is Like Online Dating

In my last post I announced my intent to find a permanent home to keep my stuff, touching on budgeting tips and the different types of loans in existence.

Since doing the leg work on what it was going to take financially to do it, I’ve¬†been on an emotional roller coaster of trying not to get overly excited.

Home shopping is a lot¬†like¬†meeting a “match” online. ¬†You get to know the person through their profile, you look at their pictures a million times, you reach out to the person and maybe secure a first date; only to be¬†stood up, turned down after the first date, or creeped out. ¬†And like all other dating stories, it eventually has a happy ending.

I¬†got stood up by my first “love”…


My first “love” was a great townhouse¬†that was a PERFECT fit… at least from its online pictures. ¬†We ran all of the numbers, made an appointment to see it, and 20 minutes before we were supposed to be there, the realtor said they had a ratified contract (meaning the offer was accepted and it was onto next steps). ¬†I was bummed out for a couple of days, wanted to give up, ¬†but picked myself up and move on.

I made it to date one and then…


While you can’t swipe left or right on real estate listings, you can favorite. So I told myself to be patient¬†because the perfect home for me¬†was¬†out there. Each¬†day, I went through the different listings on a few different dating¬†real estate apps, favorited ones that I thought could work, and in the middle of that, found a condo¬†that had been remodeled with me in mind. ¬†It had almost everything I¬†was looking for: turnkey with sleek, modern enhancements; more than one level, and potential to add some personal touches. ¬†We got along great with the owners, it all seemed positive (I maintained little expectations), and I decided to put an offer on it. Unfortunately, someone else put in a much higher, more attractive offer (above asking price) and thus, I had to move on.

When¬†you meet someone and you just know they’re creepy…


In the area I’m looking in, it’s generally older homes because most of the area used to be military back in the day. ¬†While most of the homes are renovated, there are some that clearly haven’t been touched since at least the 1960’s. ¬†In one such home, it was as though the previous owner was in the middle of doing minimal updates when they just disappeared. ¬†The minute I walked into the place,¬†I was faced with a child-height closet that looked like the “victims” were kept there. ¬†In the basement, some of the¬†light¬†fixtures were dangling, the floor was a sterile color tile, and the walls were a dark charcoal gray. Upstairs, the bedroom fans were on and were wobbling back and forth, while the paint looked slapped on in a hurry. ¬†I really couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

A Perfect Fit


A few weeks ago, I swiped right favorited a townhouse¬†that had potential. ¬†It wasn’t my first choice but I kept coming back to it (stalked it) over and over again. ¬†I flipped through the pictures over a dozen times, I ran the numbers that seemed to good to be true, and finally decided I needed to meet this place in person.

On January 31st, I went with my sister to see it. ¬†From the minute I stepped onto the stoop, I felt a sense of calm. ¬†It was lovingly cared for by a woman who was called overseas for work and couldn’t rent it out. ¬†It had warm wood floors, plenty of light (both from the windows and from the newly-installed lighting), and plenty of space to entertain. ¬†While it needs small amounts of updating,¬†it didn’t really matter. ¬†I could tell this would be a place I could call a home. ¬†So, we put an offer in… and it was accepted.

My Tips for Home Shopping


  • Make your list of must-haves and nice-to-haves ahead of time but keep an open mind! ¬†I started out wanting a garage, fireplace, and back patio but ended up with none of those things. Yet, I’m totally happy!
  • Know what you can’t change. ¬†Sometimes, we get so sucked into a timeline of finding place that we might concede on major things, such as location and structure (condo, townhouse, house). ¬†If you see a neighborhood or type of home you like – start there. ¬†You can’t change those once you buy a home.
  • Much like any other big purchase or life event, you just ” know” when certain things are a fit but…
  • NEVER get attached. ¬†Real estate moves very fast¬†–¬†at least in major cities and their surrounding areas. ¬†If you don’t get it (because the home had competing offers) or you weren’t quick enough to put an offer in, it means something better is out there!
  • Someone will almost always offer more and that’s okay. ¬†I always liken this to people who speed past me on the highway – let the cops catch them so I can go on my way. ¬†The person that pays over market price is doing you a favor by setting the new price trend. At the same time, if there are other homes in the neighborhood going for less, during that timeframe, you get in at a great price and then watch the value rise! ¬†The person that offered way over value on the first place I put an offer on, did me a favor. I paid market price for mine, which allowed for built in equity. ¬†It was a far better move!


Stay tuned for my post on the marriage closing process… on March 16th!

Other Things I Like

Achieving a Life Goal: Buying My First Home


Growing up, my Barbie owned a home (see example pic above), an RV, a Corvette, a company, and more fancy outfits, shoes, and jewelry than Imelda Marcos (she also had a hot boyfriend named Ken).  She was also a master chef, a lead singer in Barbie and the Rockers, and a beauty queen (but I digress).  I know that in this day and age, Barbie seems somewhat controversial but back in the day, she was the epitome of showing girls they could be anything they wanted to be.

In more realistic life, my parents¬†always encouraged complete independence – that we could be (and do) anything we wanted to. ¬†They wanted my sisters and I to always have enough means to not depend on someone else, teaching us the meaning of working hard and saving what we could, so that we were always okay.. ¬†Each of us had bumps in the road with that but those lessons she taught us, stuck, creating “overly self-suffiencent and independent” women (writer’s note: My mom also blames herself for doing so well in this department that she has no grandchildren).

I’ve definitely had my share of bumps in this, moving across the country and back again not once, but twice; choosing luxury cars and vacations over purchasing a home; and general reckless spending to go out and have a good time. ¬†I regret none of these decisions but at the same time, it’s also pushed out my “adulting” timelines by eight more years than it should.

In the middle of 2016, I wrote a post about giving into wanderlust and if it was irresponsible.  At the time, I was hell-bent on traveling more and saving less.  I felt that seeing the world would bring greater joy than being a home owner. This was a week after I renewed my lease, believing that renting was all I could ever afford.  About two months later, something smacked me upside the head Рwhat if I could do both?

I always believed that buying a home was something pretty unachievable for one person to handle – the down payment, closing costs, insurance, titling fees, inspection fees, any renovations, decorating, etc. ¬†But as it turns out, I also missed out on tax breaks, as well as saving myself from increasing rent prices and moving costs. ¬†This lead me to realize I hate having to determine if I’m going to spend another year re-negotiating my lease on a small space with little storage; or if I will have to move again to keep rent prices down. ¬†Plus, the appeal of being able to paint walls, change out lighting fixtures, etc. to make a house a home, were all huge to me because most rental properties strongly advise against it (plus, I’m not one for paying to have something changed back before I move).

So, I started online “window” shopping. ¬†This quickly turned into an onslaught of questions to my sister (who is a real estate agent), which turned into a couple of conversations with her recommended Mortgage Broker. ¬†The gist of this is that I should have bought a home years ago for the tax breaks alone BUT now that I’ve taken the first step in acknowledging that it’s time to purchase one, I had some things to do to get to step 2: Actually shopping.

For those who are contemplating buying a home for the first time, I’d encourage you to do a lot of homework: Talk to live people – friends who have been through the process, a trusted mortgage broker, real estate agent you know, etc., to get as educated as possible. ¬†I’ve learned that trying to educate yourself online will lead you down a lot of false paths, spammy phone calls and emails, and a ton of stress and headaches.

Below is the process I’ve completed so far. ¬†I hope this can help one or two of you in starting your own path to home ownership!

Budgeting Questions to Ask Yourself

  1. Take a look at your current rent and any other fees attached to it.  Are you comfortable paying that or a few hundred more?
  2. Take a look at your overall debt-to-income ratio- would you be able to sacrifice going out to eat/drink a little bit to pay down your debt a bit, or at least not amass more debt?
  3. Take a look at your savings РThese days, a conventional loan requires a minimum of 3% down and an FHA (should the home be under $500K) requires a minimum of 3.5%.  Would you be able to afford that?

In my case, the answer was “yes” to all of them but it took some work, soul-searching, and “adulting” to make it happen – this included getting rid of my expensive car lease, saving me money on a car payment, gas, and insurance. ¬†(Being car-free has its challenges but overall, I’ve been able to breathe a lot easier.)

Differences in Loans – Doing My Homework

There are SO MANY different kinds of loans out there and with every article I read and every professional I talked to, my head seemed to swirl a little bit more. ¬†In my case, I’m focused on two:

  1. FHA Loan – Simply put, you’re paying mortgage insurance to the Federal government¬†to protect the lender against bankruptcy. ¬†This is actually a great option for first-time home buyers who don’t need to borrow above $500K. ¬†It requires a 3.5% down payment (unless your credit score is less than 550 and then in that case, it will require a 10% downpayment). ¬†So if you were going for a $500K home, you would need $17,500 to put down. ¬†In addition, if you need to make improvements on the home, you can apply for a 203K, which can give you up to $35,000 for the improvements, which is absorbed into your loan. The drawbacks with this loan:
    1. The list of bank lenders becomes a lot smaller
    2. You are paying two mortgage insurance premiums – one is up front ($1,750 for each $100K you are borrowing) and one is annual (about .85% of the loan).
    3. If the home price is more than the actual worth, FHA will reject the request to purchase the home.  The home price must fall on-par with or under the assessment price.
  2. Conventional Loan РA conventional loan can be many things.  The main difference is that it is not backed by a government agency and instead, purely by a bank or other lender.  It requires a minimum down payment of 3% (with a great credit score), and can include a fixed APR (also dependent on credit score). The drawbacks of this loan:
    1. You are paying Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) for down payments of less than 20%.  With good credit however, it can sometimes cost less than FHA.
    2. The max of the loan will be less than FHA – it’s typically $417K for most areas and $540K for those in more expensive areas.
    3. Your credit score is the driving factor – the lower your score, the more you pay

Getting the Pre-Approval Letter

As of today, my application was submitted to my Mortgage Broker and I was pre-approved! ¬†Taking all the necessary budgeting steps, helped tremendously in getting me there. ¬†Now that I know my max spending number, I’m ready to start house shopping! ¬†Stay tuned for the fun part ūüôā




Fun, Other Things I Like

Book Reviews: Borgia Bride

200352Almost uncanny timing, I just finished reading Borgia Bride – another book that was impossible to put down.

Set in the 1400’s – 1500’s, “Vivacious Sancha of Aragon arrives in Rome newly wed to a member of the notorious Borgia dynasty. Surrounded by the city’s opulence and political corruption, she befriends her glamorous and deceitful sister-in-law, Lucrezia, whose jealousy is as legendary as her beauty. Some say Lucrezia has poisoned her rivals, particularly those to whom her handsome brother, Cesare, has given his heart. So when Sancha falls under Cesare’s irresistible spell, she must hide her secret or lose her life. Caught in the Borgias’ sinister web, she summons her courage and uses her cunning to outwit them at their own game. Vividly interweaving historical detail with fiction, The Borgia Bride is a richly compelling tale of conspiracy, sexual intrigue, loyalty, and drama.” — Amazon

What isn’t included in this description are the factual happenings of the Papal family, ruling at the time.¬† Author Jeanne Kalogridis does a great job of intertwining a story with what has been historically recorded, producing a novel that both educates and entertains.¬† What’s more fun: Reading a story about my VERY distant relatives – the Aragons.

I highly recommend this book as another must-read that you will have a hard time putting down.

Fun, Other Things I Like

Book Reviews: Night Circus

9361589I’m a huge fan of books that take you to a faraway place – an escape that brings you into an entirely different world.¬† For me, books that spark my imagination, that bring something magical to life, are what pique my interest most.¬† This was entirely the case for Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.

An excerpt from the book: “The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des R√™ves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them both, this is a game in which only one can be left standing.¬†Despite the high stakes,¬†Celia and Marco soon tumble headfirst into love, setting off a domino effect of dangerous consequences, and leaving the lives of everyone, from the performers to the patrons, hanging in the balance.”

This excerpt doesn’t do it justice though.¬† The tents they create are little worlds that pique each of the senses.¬† Morgenstern’s generous descriptives are so powerful that you feel as though you are peering through these tents, exploring the worlds that were created, as well as eavesdropping on conversations with the masterminds.

It was one of the hardest books to put down.¬† I highly recommend it – especially if you’re like me and you need reading material for hour-long cardio sessions ūüôā


Fun, Other Things I Like

Book Reviews: Fearless


Rarely do I find books so powerful that I can’t put them down.¬† Over the last two days, even when I was exhausted at 1am, I’d pick up this book and find myself reading for a few more hours.¬† Last night, I not only finished it, I ended up crying.¬† This story makes you feel what his wife feels, makes you understand how faith can carry you and makes you learn, intimately, what it’s like to be part of such an elite force.

The excerpt about the book from its website:

FEARLESS takes you deep into SEAL Team SIX, straight to the heart of one of its most legendary operators.

When Navy SEAL Adam Brown woke up on March 17, 2010, he didn‚Äôt know he would die that night in the Hindu Kush Mountains of Afghanistan, but Adam was ready: In a letter to his children, not meant to be seen unless the worst happened, he wrote ‚ÄúI‚Äôm not afraid of anything that might happen to me on this Earth, because I know no matter what, nothing can take my spirit from me.‚ÄĚ

But long before Adam Brown became a member of the elite SEAL Team SIX‚ÄĒthe counterterrorism unit that took down Osama bin Laden‚ÄĒthere was a fun-loving country boy from Arkansas whose greatest goal had been to wear his high school‚Äôs football jersey. An undersized daredevil, prone to jumping off roofs into trees and off bridges into lakes, Adam Brown was a kid who broke his own bones but would never break a promise to his parents ‚Ķ until he grew older, and his family watched that appetite for risk draw him into a downward spiral that eventually landed him in jail.

FEARLESS is the story of a man of extremes, whose determination was fueled by faith, family, and the love of a woman. It‚Äôs about a man who waged a war against his own worst impulses and persevered to reach the top tier of the U.S. military. Always the first to volunteer for the most dangerous assignments, Adam Brown’s final act of bravery led to the ultimate sacrifice.

What isn’t described in this excerpt was Adam’s drug addiction that he fought his whole life – the fact that he was one of the older men to join the Navy and quickly move his way up the ranks, despite him being accident-prone and not physically at the top of his class. Or, his need to help others – like on Thanksgiving Day when he handed out more than 500 pairs of shoes, that he requested from home, instead of a Thanksgiving care package, to poor children.¬† Or that he was already thinking about his future and how he wanted to get an MBA at Harvard and powered through getting his bachelors, while he was deployed.¬† Adam’s story gave me a deeper understanding of what it means to struggle and what it means to fight through it.¬† No doubt, each of us can pull a little inspiration from this to become a better person in some way.

I highly recommend this book, as there isn’t one person it can’t touch.¬† It can be bought here.

Fun, Other Things I Like

Book Reviews: Let’s Pretend This Never Happened

In a quest to find something light-hearted, that could take my mind off work and away from my more educational reading, I followed the recommendation of some girlfriends and picked up “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened”.¬† Below is the description that Amazon provides:

“Jenny Lawson realized that the most mortifying moments of our lives‚ÄĒthe ones we‚Äôd like to pretend never happened‚ÄĒare in fact the ones that define us. In the #1 New York Times bestseller, Let‚Äôs Pretend This Never Happened, Lawson takes readers on a hilarious journey recalling her bizarre upbringing in rural Texas, her devastatingly awkward high school years, and her relationship with her long-suffering husband, Victor. Chapters include: ‚ÄúStanley the Magical, Talking Squirrel‚ÄĚ; ‚ÄúA Series of Angry Post-It Notes to My Husband‚ÄĚ; ‚ÄúMy Vagina Is Fine. Thanks for Asking‚ÄĚ; ‚ÄúAnd Then I Snuck a Dead Cuban Alligator on an Airplane.‚ÄĚ Pictures with captions (no one would believe these things without proof) accompany the text.”

If you remember the Metal Chicken Story, then you will know who Jenny Lawson is, as this one story successfully went viral last year, providing audiences all over the world a glimpse into her wacky life.

The first few chapters of her book were absolutely hysterical Рespecially those centered around her childhood (cue talking squirrel and the wild turkeys that followed her to school).  About midway through the book, after she got married, the book got slightly mundane (even eye-rolling at one point), before picking back up in the last few chapters.

Lawson certainly has a gift for comedy, with stories that you just can’t make up.¬† I highly recommend putting it on your reading list, if you haven’t already read it.