Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Ok, so I've been very busy lately with the move, and Conference weekend, and a new church calling as the District Executive Secretary, and also a job change (more on that in a future post). But with all things going on in my life, I have to announce one more big change in my life.

Anna is pregnant!!!

When I told my sister, Lacey, she asked if the baby was mine. A fair question. So, yes, I am the father. But we are unsure if Anna is the mother... (Figure that one out)

I am super busy and I have oh-so-much I going on right now, so I don't have a lot of pics or videos ready to go. But, I can tell you Anna's due date is May 11, 2010. And yes, Anna has constant morning sickens.

Now that Anna is eating for two I can get away with gaining some sympathy weight, right?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Price of Homeownership...

After years of saving our pennies we have finally decided we had enough to go for our first home. The housing market has joined the economy and taken a dip. President Hussein has a significant $8k tax credit for first time home buyers. With all of that combined, the time was right.

For a few weeks we've been searching through house listings and walking through house after house. My sister recently got a GREAT deal on a nice big home in Arizona for a rock bottom price. But in Guam, the housing market didn't take quite the same hit. Also, home prices are much higher over all. We were originally looking for a house under $150k. At that price, you'd get a small, one bathroom fixer-upper house. We had to raise our max price to $200k. For that, you get an OK starter home with about 3 bedrooms and two bathrooms.

So, after much consideration we found a home that we liked and were able to get it below the asking price for $180k. The main drawback to this home is location. Our current apartment is a short distance to everything; work, church, shopping, you name it. Our new house is in Yigo, a city at the north end of Guam near Anderson Air force Base. There are a few relatively close shopping centers, but otherwise it's a distance to drive every day.

The house has covered parking for 2 cars, a big plus and very unusual for Guam. Also, the exterior over all is pretty nice.




The inside is ok, but needs some work. This was once a smaller house with 2 bedrooms and 1 bathroom. The previous owner took out a wall making the old master bedroom a living room and they added on two bedrooms and 1 bath to the back of the house. A good move, but some aspects of the expansion were poorly executed. The window in the old bedroom, kitchen and even the bathroom face the expansion's hallway. And remnants of the removed wall are still there, most notably in the non-matching tile work.


Decent kitchen with window over sink overlooking the water heater in the utility area.


The bathrooms look ok, but the sleek looking pedestal style sink is ultimately less functional as you have nowhere to put your toothbrushes, shaving stuff, etc. I miss counter tops!

Bathroom Window

Probably my favorite feature of the house. When walking down the hallway, you can look into the bathroom and see what people are doing in there...

Of course, buying a home is not as easy as a car. If you like a 100k car, you can drive off the lot with it and let the paperwork follow. With a home it's an uphill battle to the bitter end.

After shopping around and finding the right bank with the best rate and lowest points (and learning what that meant) we felt the worst was behind. That was the beginning. We had to pay for a new appraisal. The appraisers found remnants of termites. We had to pay for pest control. The appraisers also found some moisture on the ceiling which they thought may have come from cracks in the concrete roof. (It was condensation. Once the A/C as on it was bone dry.) We had to pay for crack repair. And then, we had to pay for a structural engineer to certify the roof. The appraisers also had doubts about the setbacks. They felt some of the house may be too close to the property line. The house wasn't too close, but the last survey and sketch was done before the expansion. Although the expansion followed along the same lines as the existing house, the bank insisted we pay for a new site survey and sketch.

Just as we thought we were done, the appraiser noted last minute that he found a government easement on the front corner of our property. Although it is our land, the easement means the government reserves the right to take back that part at any time (it's a corner home). Our fence and gate cross into that easement. So, we had to have the fence removed, take pictures, have the appraiser finalize the paperwork and then put the fence back. In the meantime, I also was narrowing down the insurance company and jumping through the dozen hoops that bank requires - including the body cavity search.

It took a month from when we started the appraisal till it was signed and completed. If you ever want to know what it feels like literally bleed money, try what I've been doing. I wasn't just bleeding money, I was uncontrollably hemorrhaging cash. I almost wanted to apply a firm turnicate around my neck on more than one occasion. Luckily we had a GREAT Realtor and friend who helped us along the way. He was willing to take a reduction in commission and negotiated for a reduction in cost at closing to help offset the issues we had to pay for.

Just when the issues were ironed out our bank informed us there was a new law saying that we must wait 5 days from the completion of the appraisal until we can close. They waited 13 days.

And of course, during the process of this home purchase we had other challenges. Our apartment lease expired the last day of September. We should have closed and been in the home by then had things gone more smoothly. When it became apparent that we would not be in the home on time, we were fortunate enough to strike a deal with the seller to let us store our stuff in the house prior to closing.

I took off work to clean the apartment and get it ready for the move out inspection. On the 30th of September when I was to have my inspection a tropical storm hit Guam and closed down business. The management canceled my inspection. Their intention was to charge me extra for staying there extra time, even though I was out but they declined to come inspect the property. I struck an agreement that I would get the key back to them before they locked up the office for the storm. So, with much less time than I had budgeted, I had to clean like the bastard love child of Mr. Clean and Martha Stewart on steroids. Other people were boarding up their windows and buying supplies for the storm. I was washing windows and relocation my stuff to the trunk of my car. My neighbors thought I was crazy. I barely finished in time. I had to keep my utilities hooked up and pay for them until the inspection, so I called the landlords every day until they finally inspected my apartment.

Anna and have been living out of our luggage at a friends house for 3 weeks. We also survived a typhoon and tsunami warning while being homeless. (Hence the lack of blogging updates along the way.) But today, we finally have closed the deal. We are officially homeowners. This weekend we will spend our first night in OUR new home.


Me, Anna and our Realtor, Tom Clark on closing. The cobwebs have nothing to do with Halloween. That is a natural effect of the bank moving so slowly.

Even after all that we have gone through, I think it will all be worth it. And as challenging as the experience was, I have a feeling the unpacking will seem even more traumatic.

One of the coolest things about home ownership is the ability to point out a piece of land from space and say that that chunk of earth is yours and yours alone. Of all the people on all the earth, that spot on the planet solely belongs to you. Here is my little piece of the big picture.