Thursday, March 21, 2013

Journey to NOLA Pt 2

You can read my part 1 here.  This is basically going to be a gripe-fest about the idiot we bought our house from.  It may not be quite as dramatic as I make it seem. But this guy made buying his house extremely difficult. 

So as soon as we decided we were ready to move we started scheduling house showings with an agent we found online in a certain neighborhood we wanted to live in.  Its considered New Orleans, but its much more suburban.  We would schedule up to 10 in a Saturday sometimes so that we could make the most of our time. 

It was really tough to find houses in our price range.  New Orleans is a pretty expensive place to be a homeowner.  There are very high property taxes and the flood & homeowners insurance premiums are absolutely insane (Thanks Katrina!).  But the neighborhood we are in is expensive too because its definitely the safest area to be in. 

We were pre-approved by a bank even with keeping our current home but it was a pretty tight budget so we had to make sure to stick with the number the bank gave us.  Little did we know that even with that amount the mortgage payments would be crazy b/c of the taxes and insurance.  So we ended up having to reduce the amount we were looking at by almost $20,000!  That really narrowed the list of available houses.  The housing market is booming over there too.  We would find something online we liked, call the agent, then learn that it was already under contract.  And sometimes people were paying over asking price!  Its crazy b/c we had the opposite going on around our house. 

It was really discouraging because we wanted to be in a particular area to be close to the bridge for me to get to work.  And it just seemed like we couldn't find anything we both agreed on.  We even looked into buying a double and being an owner occupant.  My husband is obsessed with investing in real estate and LOVED that idea.  We looked at a lot of duplexes.  We were going to live in one side and rent the other side out to pay most of the mortgage while we saved more money.  Then when we were ready we would rent out the other side and build our own house.  We were very quickly brought back to reality when we realized you could not find a decent double for our price range.  Some of them were 600 sq ft shotguns on each side. No way!
typical NOLA shotgun double
So we went back to the drawing board again.  We finally decided on a townhouse.  The price is exactly where we needed to be.  Its 1900 sq ft.  The inside was recently renovated.  And it was in a GREAT area- exactly where we want to be.  We looked at it once and decided to get some quotes on insurance policies before we got our hopes up.  After getting back a "decent" price we decided to make an offer.

We need the seller to pay our entire closing costs b/c we were spending our cash on a down payment.  So we went in offering 10k under the asking price and $9000 of closing costs.  We waited.  They had 2 days to respond.  We didn't hear back until 30 minutes before their deadline.  They had countered with us paying $5,000 over asking price and them paying closing costs! WTF?!  Basically it mean they would get only $4000 under what they were asking.  We knew this was probably just the beginning.  At that point I did get a bad taste in my mouth.  I mean who prices their house EXACTLY what they need for it.  Especially in that area where they could've easily asked $10,000 more and probably got it!
So we countered again immediately at $2000 under asking price with full closing costs paid.  We thought for sure they were going to say yes.  We gave them 2 days to respond.  Of course, we didn't hear from them until the deadline.  They countered again at asking price and paying closing costs.  We talked about it, thought about it, talked to the bank, fought about it, etc over the next couple of days.  We finally decided we just didn't want to keep going back and forth.  I mean, in all reality $2000 over 30 years is like $10.  So we accepted their offer.  My hesitation to accepting it was- what if they are difficult to work with us in the inspection process?!  Then we would lose money at that point.  But our agent assured us they probably just knew they priced the house well and weren't willing to budge.  They would probably fix what needed to be fixed if we asked.

Right after we signed paperwork I schedule the inspections.  We were getting a video plumbing inspection and a full house inspection.  During the inspection they found several minor things.  Nothing was major.  But we did ask for them all to be fixed.  One of them was a leaking toilet, one was an area where the window leaked and caused mold, some electrical stuff, and an A/C issue.  Well guess what?!  Of course they rejected everything (after keeping us waiting for their response for days)  except the toilet and A/C.  I got pissed off b/c I felt like they were taking the easy way out.  This was just a glimpse into how big of a jack-ass this seller was!  After we talked it over for a day and got some professional advice from contractors we decided to accept their counter.  We would fix the other stuff ourselves.  They were given up to 5 days before the closing to fix everything, and they had to provide receipts from a licensed contractor showing they resolved the issue.  We fought about this a lot though because we couldn't agree on what we wanted to do.  And he wouldn't accept our offers. It caused a good bit of stress between the two of us for a couple of weeks. 

I'll be back with the rest of the buying story tomorrow.  I didn't realize this would be so long! 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

We're officially New Orleanians!

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Well we did it! We closed on our New Orleans townhouse on Thursday of last week!  We had a bit of an emotional roller coaster during the period of trying to sell our current home and buy a new one.  We definitely had fights, frustration, and tears (on my part)...  Here's a bit of a back story to how we arrived at this point.

We bought our first house in a very small town outside of Baton Rouge  in 2009.  We picked that location because husband was working in BR and I was working in a town about 30 minutes away.  It made perfect sense b/c it was right smack in the middle of our 2 jobs.  We got the house for a great price.  The house is perfect. It has really nice upgraded features and a nice size yard for the dogs.  We also got the $8000 first time home buyer tax credit. This meant we had to live there at least 3 years or we would have to pay it back. We spent most of the money on our wedding that October and getting things for our house.

In June 2010 my company moved their office to a town 50 miles away from my house!  I've been making this commute for nearly 3 years now.  Its pretty tough.  The amount of money we spend on gas and the time I spend in the car sucks!  We traded Matt's truck in about a year ago to save money on gas.  He got my Volvo S40 and I got a Hyundai hybrid. It definitely helps us save some money on gas.  But the amount of mileage I have racked up on the cars in the past 3 years is just crazy to me!

So we made the decision that we would put the house up for sale to move closer to our hometown and my work as soon as our 3 years were up (July 2012).  But we never thought about the fact that Matt's job was in BR.  So moving us closer to my work and home doesn't make a whole lot of sense.  We started toying with the idea of moving to New Orleans (33 miles from my office) because his company has a branch there.  He spoke to someone at work about transferring, and they said   But we just never acted on it.  Every time we would visit we would pine over gorgeous houses and living in that wonderful carefree city with so much character!  We're from a very small town (no red lights at all), and the town we live in now is very rural too.  So the thought of living in a city is pretty new to us and most of our friends/family too! We talked about moving a lot, but we didn't officially decide to start the process until December.

We called a local real estate agent to list our house.  We were quickly brought back to reality when we realized our house was the most expensive one in the neighborhood (and it was cheap)!  The amount of money we owe on the mortgage vs what things are selling for there is about a 10k difference.  This doesn't even include paying an agent to sell it.  We got a lot of showings on the house.  People loved it.  Everyone said it was priced too high.  We even did a realtor tour, and the agents loved it.  They said it was priced too high.  But we couldn't budge on the price b/c we priced it exactly what we owed on the mortgage.  We were going to pay the agent out of our pockets.  This meant spending every dime that we have worked so damn hard to save over the past 3 years for a new house.

After much much discussion amongst ourselves and with the agent we decided to take the house off the market after only being for sale for 2 months.  We realized we had 2 options- stay in the house and pay the mortgage down or rent it.  We already made up our minds that we would move closer to my work.  Plus, we were just tired of living there.  There's nothing to do there, and we have no family or friends there. It really just didn't make sense anymore.  Our agent even suggested renting it out.  So we put it on Craigslist, she screened the applicants (credit checks, background checks, reference checks), and we found a renter within 1 week.  He signed a 1 year lease, but is interested in a lease to purchase down the road.  He's moving in April 1st.  I don't think "investment properties" make sense for everyone.  But for us, it did.  We can afford to make the mortgage and another one if we had to, and hopefully the housing market will pick back up over there in the next 5 years.  Until then it looks like we're landlords.

I'll be back tomorrow to talk about the search for new home and buying process!

Friday, March 8, 2013

My 13.1 in 2013!

I decided back in October that I wanted to run a half marathon. I signed up shortly after and gave myself a lot of extra time to prepare. I had 19 weeks from the start of my training to the race.  Most training plans are around 12 weeks.  But I never wanted to have to skip a long run due to other plans.  I also knew that I had some knee problems in the past.  So I planned for not being able to run sometimes and an injury... Just in case....

I never missed a long run. I followed a  combo of Hal Higdon's novice 2 training and a Women's Health Half Marathon training plan.  The thing I didn't like about the Hal Higdon plan was the 5 mile runs during the week.  I would run before work.  Even with a 3 mile run I needed to wake up at 5 am.  There was just no way I would wake up any earlier.  So I liked the Women's Health plan b/c it only had me running 2-4 miles during the week.  So I followed the WH during the week but used the HH for the weekend runs...

I really feel like the speed work on the treadmill helped me a good bit. I started out running 10:45-11 minute miles. I know that's slow. But I never had a plan to be fast. And towards the end of my training I could run a 9:30 mile- which was good for me. I would sometimes do the interval runs on the treadmill during the week. I always ran a long run outside- mostly on Saturdays. I started at 4 miles and every Saturday I added a mile until I got to 11. A couple of Saturdays I either didn't feel like it or the weather was bad, and I ran 6 miles. 

Towards the end of my training I got pretty burnt out. I would dread running. I started running with a friend in different locations on the weekends, and I think that helped.  My last couple of months I ran around the LSU lakes or another campus to change the scenery.  But we don't have any friends that live near us.  So running with a friend during the week at 5 am wasn't really possible. And it did get boring towards the end.  I honestly dreaded my short runs way more than the long runs.  The long runs were always a new challenge for me.  But the short runs- I had done it a million times and didn't wanna do it again. So I did skip those sometimes. 

My friend, Amanda, decided to sign up for the race with me towards the end. She had been training all along on her own, but didn't sign up yet. She just didn't know if she would be able to do it that weekend. I was so incredibly excited when she signed up!  I had already booked Matt & I a room to stay the night before.  So she just decided we'd both stay the night before & our husbands could meet us at the finish line the next morning. 

We went to the expo the day before the race to get our bibs then checked into our room.  We had a little visitor on the wall behind our bed too... It was quite the adventure trying to kill the roach.

We ate Mexican for dinner then hung out in our room.  Of course I couldn't sleep!  My alarm was set for 4:45 am!  We were only 2 blocks from the start line. But it started at 7.  I think I only slept about 4 hours that night. I was just too anxious.

The next morning we woke up on time, drank a cup of coffee, had a banana & peanut butter sandwich, and got ready.  We checked out and headed to the start line. It was really windy. And I freaked out b/c I don't like running in the wind.

We put ourselves in a corral with 1:45 finishers b/c I heard that if you put yourself towards the back you will be with a lot of walkers. I freaked out for a little while and regretted doing that b/c there's no way in hell I could run that fast. But I figured maybe the people would give me a boost and I'd try to keep up. My goal when I started that race was to finish in 2:30. I just wanted to get to the end.

Just from the time we were there from 6-7 the sun started beaming and I regretted wearing long pants and a long sleeve shirt. I wore UA compression heat gear pants and a Champion dri-fit long sleeve shirt.  The gun went off and they waved the 1st corral then the 2nd then us... We started running.  Immediately I felt like shit... My legs felt like lead. And I had really tight calves. I started to get discouraged in the first few miles. Amanda ran with music. I chose not to b/c sometimes I get annoyed with my earbud strings flapping. Plus, there was supposed to be bands and music playing throughout the route. She knew I was discouraged and offered her music to me. I was just pissed b/c I thought how am I supposed to do this for like 2 hours?!  I kept pushing though...

The route was amazing. I freaking love New Orleans. There was plenty to look at. The crowd was phenomenal and so encouraging. I absolutely loved looking at the signs and the babies and puppies! Eventually I noticed that the stiffness kind of melted away. And it got much much easier. I felt like the time was flying by!  I kept a steady eye on my watch to make sure we stayed under a 10 minute mile.  I think we ran the first mile in like 8:45 or something... But I kept telling Amanda and myself- we have to pace ourselves!  We don't need to get burnt out quickly.
mile 7

We got water pretty much every chance we could. I ate shot blocks at miles 3, 6, & 9... I did walk for a second through some of the water stations. And I think I had to tie my shoe once...

I can't remember much of miles 7-11.  I think at one point I teared up a little thinking of how damn proud of us I was!  We both started running a little less than a year ago.

Miles 11-13 were really pretty tough.   My knees and my toes hurt really bad. I kept pep-talking to both us... Saying we're almost there we only have a couple of miles. We've done this a million times!  We had a plan to hold hands and run through the finish line together so we could get a pic. When we got towards the park- where it ended- we had like .5 miles left. We saw a photographer and grabbed hands and took a pic.

Then something came over me and I took off! I thought about my husband waiting at the end. And more than anything- I really just wanted to impress him. I wanted him to be proud of me- like I was of myself! I wanted to say I finished strong. And I did!

I crossed the finish line at 2:11. I was ecstatic. Amanda was right behind me! I waited for her and then we looked for our husbands! They brought us flowers. Matt said he was yelling my name as I was running through. I never heard him or saw him.  I was so focused on that clock! 

We got our medals and didn't stay very long after. It was windy. I was disgustingly sweaty and my toes hurt like I had never felt before. We grabbed something to eat then drove home.  When I got home I noticed severe chaffing on my inner thighs. I never noticed it while running. It was from the seams of my pants. It was terrible! My knees were aching and my toes hurt so bad!  So I took my first ice bath. It didn't last very long. But I managed to stay in for 15 minutes. 

It took a couple of days to feel back to normal. I've run a few 2-3 milers since then. I'm happy to not feel like I HAVE to do it... And I won't beat myself up if I walked or went a little slower.

The sense of accomplishment that I feel when I talk about this experience or even think about it is unbelievable. I really feel like its something everyone should feel!  Its crazy for me to think about how far I've come in a year. I participated in my first 5k on March 31, 2012- I walked a lot and it took me almost 40 minutes.  Then on February 24, 2013 I ran the New Orleans Rock N Roll Half Marathon in 2:11 with no walking! 

Now I need a new fitness goal!

Thursday, March 7, 2013


Anybody still out there?  I sort of fell off the wagon a bit... I've really missed blogging. Every time I find a new beauty product or recipe I love I think about blogging it... Feels like its been forever!

A lot has happened since November. I ran my first half marathon a couple of weeks ago. It was the New Orleans Rock N Roll Half! It was the most rewarding and amazing experience ever!  More on that later....

I've continued with the Tone It Up plan!  I sort of fell off the wagon during the holidays and my race training. Luckily, I didn't gain any weight back (probably due to running so much).  But I am actually right in the middle of a junk food detox. I'm staying away from refined sugars and starches all this week to try to detox my body off of it. So far so good.  I've basically had either eggs or pancakes for breakfast all week, fruit, a salad w/ some sort of protein for lunch, & a protein source w/ roasted veggies every night.

Husband is right smack in the middle of tax season.  So he works late every night. So I've actually been fine just eating the same thing all week.

We've decided to turn our current home into rental property, we found a townhouse in New Orleans, and we are closing on it in 1 week from today.  We will be moving at the end of the month. We have had quite the adventure searching for a home, trying to sell our current home, and dealing with the ridiculous sellers of this house. They have been unbelievably stubborn and difficult to deal with. I'll write a full blog post on the house situation too..

Have a great Thursday everyone!!!