I’m Going To Need Some Stuff

In case you hadn’t noticed, houses have a lot of stuff in them. Tables, chairs, pots, pans, appliances, computers, towels, vacuum cleaners, curtains, shelves, lamps, picture frames, the lists goes on and on. Over the years I’ve accumulated “stuff” in anticipation of one day buying a house. House shopping has told me one thing if nothing else: I’m going to need to buy some stuff. Sure, I have a bedroom suit, a TV, enough electronics to land on the moon and a toolbox, but when it comes to things like furniture, kitchen supplies and a lot of the little things that turn a house into a home, I’m going to need to make at least a few purchases.

As a single person I know that I won’t have to worry about outfitting a house with multiple beds or a huge dinner table that seats ten, and as most people will tell you, I’m not exactly a “fancy” person, but when I’m looking to outfit my future home I also don’t want to buy a bunch of cheap, laminated particle board junk. For things like tables and chairs I’m hoping I can find some quality used pieces that just need some TLC. After all, short of termites or shoddy construction, there’s no reason that solid wood furniture can’t last a lifetime or longer. Plush furniture like couches and chairs might be a little tricker as they can hold smells, mold, dog pee, bugs and a litany of unmentionable stains. Some of the other, smaller items like pots and pans, kitchen appliances and other electrics, I’m not sure where to begin looking for a decent deal.

What are some of your tips for outfitting my first place? This is all new to me, so while I have an inkling of what I’ll need to do, I’m hoping people with first-hand experience will be able to help fill in the gaps.

A Sign

Were you ever at a point in your life where you were ready to make a big decision but you just needed a signal that things were right? Something to give you that extra little bit of a shove to tell you that it was meant to be? I’m pretty sure I just had one of those moments. In the middle of the pouring rain as I was taking out the garbage I came across a skunk. It walked over to me and stopped just a few feet away and looked right at me, sizing me up, for what seemed like forever. Then, as if saying, “you’re OK” it sauntered off into the darkness. Was it a sign? I’ll never know for certain, but it sure felt like one.

Shortsighted Reactions

The big news today was that Steve Jobs was resigning as the CEO of Apple. He’ll still stay on as the chairman of the board, but the new CEO will be Tim Cook, who had been acting CEO while Jobs was dealing with health issues. The news of Jobs’ resignation caused two things to happen that really bothered me. One was that there was an outpouring of emotion on Twitter thanking Jobs for all that he had sone and the other was that Apple’s stock price went into a tailspin. I think that both the praise for Jobs and the impact on Apple’s stock are due to the same thing. People don’t appreciate the team that Steve Jobs put together.

Yes, when Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak started Apple back in the 1970s they did the dirty work of designing all of the hardware and the two man show was responsible for the company’s initial success, but as the company grew I have to believe that the technical work was passed on to other talented people and that the Steves could fill a very necessary, but more abstract role, which is one of leadership. As any good leader will tell you, they could not have achieved success on their own. Only through the hard work of a great many people did Apple become one of the most valuable companies in the world. Those who are doling out thanks to Steve Jobs for their various Apple gadgets or are selling their Apple stock are extremely shortsighted or are naive.

Perhaps the most important thing that Steve Jobs brought when he came back to Apple in the 1990s was not his ability to deliver a great speech, or dream up a new gizmo. His greatest contribution was assembling a team of people who could help fulfill a vision for the company and its products. Even though Steve Jobs may be stepping down so he can take care of himself, the amazing group of talent he helped put together isn’t going to evaporate. When Steve Jobs was serving as CEO, do you really think that he personally designed every single piece of that iPhone you cherish, or the Mac that you use to do your job every day? Of course not. The people that did all of the behind the scenes work aren’t going anywhere, and if past performance is any indication, Tim Cook, Apple’s new CEO, will do a fine job of carrying on Steve Jobs’ vision.

I don’t think that the praise of Steve Jobs is undue. He certainly has been a powerful force is shaping the world of technology, and maybe even the world in general, but to thank him without recognizing those who worked with him just isn’t right. So thank you Steve Jobs for your strong vision, but most importantly, thank you for putting together an incredible team of talented people who will ensure that your ideals are carried on well into the future.

Pre-Approval

While it seems that the whole country is talking about the earthquake that happened in Virginia today (yes, I felt it while in my office), the big news for me was that I got my mortgage pre-approval from the bank so now I know exactly how much I can spend on a house. I was approved for more than I want to spend, but I guess that’s not a bad thing. After all, they could have approved me for less than I was looking to spend. I guess it goes to show that the Total Money Makeover baby steps that I started on three years ago are working.

With a solid maximum amount that I can spend my search criteria for a house has gotten better, but I’m pretty frustrated that there have only really been two houses that I’ve come across that I want to check out further, and after a closer look at the second one I found, I’m not even sure about that one. It may have pink shutters, which I can always repaint, but I didn’t see what was behind it when I drove by and that may be a deal breaker for me, not to mention the taxes that are considerably higher than the house that I like better anyway.

As I get out and drive around looking at houses I am getting a better feel for what kinds of houses and areas I’d like to look in, even if they didn’t have many “For Sale” signs up. Another thing I’m getting better at is picking out what houses are in my price range, and there are more than I thought. I’m still trying to keep my mind open about different styles of houses, but while I initially thought that I might want to look into Cape Cod style houses, all of the ones I’ve come across in my price range are tiny. I know I’m only one person, but I’m now convinced that I really need at least 1000 square feet.

I have an appointment to meet with my Realtor on Thursday afternoon to take a look at some houses and to set up an automated notification of houses that fit my criteria. Hopefully after looking at houses that I like she can help me find ones that I’d like that I’m not able to find on my own. That is pretty much one of the main reasons why you work with a Realtor, isn’t it?

About An Hour

As I mentioned yesterday, I was advised by my Realtor to get a pre-approval from one lender so I would know what dollar amount I’d be working with in my house search and to search for a lender later. I’ve always had a good experience with my bank so I decided to go through them. Looking at their website it said that the loan officer didn’t work at the branch near my office, but at another branch a few miles away. That’s not a problem at all, it just means instead of a five minute drive it would be a ten minute drive.

His posted hours were 8 am – 5 pm, Monday through Friday. I called around 10:30 am and was told he was out of the office but to try back after 1 pm. I called around 1:30 pm and was told that he was in the office, but was with a client. I left my contact information and was called back around 2 pm. I explained that I was an existing customer of the bank, a first time home buyer and that I was looking for a mortgage pre-approval. I was pleasantly surprised that instead of having to produce documents he could take my information over the phone. He asked my:

  • Full name with middle initial
  • Home address
  • How long I’d lived at that address
  • Home phone number
  • Birth date
  • Employer
  • Work address
  • Contact phone number for my employer
  • How long I’d been with my employer
  • My annual gross salary
  • Any other sources of income
  • If I did all of my banking with this bank and my estimated account balances
  • Any additional assets such as 401(k), IRAs

It was about a fifteen minute phone call and I was told that it would be about an hour and he would have my application processed. About two hours later I hadn’t heard back and I was leaving the office so I called his cell phone and he told me that he had two clients show up unexpectedly and that he was currently meeting with one. I asked if it would be worth me coming over to pick up the approval today since it sounded like he was running behind and he had previously mentioned that he had an afternoon appointment. He hesitated and I could tell that he was trying to figure out a way to deal with the client he had there and to finish my application all before he had to leave for his prior commitment. I suggested that he finish it tomorrow morning and that he give me a call once it was done.

You could immediately hear the relief in his voice. Don’t get me wrong, I am very anxious to find out how much I’ll be approved for, but I also know what it’s like to have unexpected things come up and to get behind. I want my application processed correctly and would like to be able to discuss the estimated terms with him, so even though I’m very anxious to find out what I’ll be pre-approved for, waiting until morning will ultimately be for the best.