Posts filed under "new home"

Our Crestwood Cottage: A First-Time-Homebuyer Story

I'm writing this post today because two months ago, I had NO idea what all it would take to be living in our home. Technically, Jason and I were supposed to start looking at houses TODAY.

Jason and I are both hard-core researchers. We research everything before we buy, go, and do anything! Since this whole house thing kind of snuck up on us, we didn't have sufficient time to research and we really just had to walk through it step-by-step.

After we renewed our lease on our apartment last January, we made the decision that we would begin house hunting after our one year anniversary (September 22nd). Once we planned our trip to Seattle, we decided that the day we got back, we'd begin our search. Little did we know, God had another plan.

For all of you out there who are considering buying a home in the future, whether it's the near future, or the distant future, I hope that this post gives you a glimpse into what it may be like. Obviously, everyone's situation is different, so please keep that in mind. But at the same time, I know that I would have loved to read someone's account of buying their first home before I walked through this myself.

Since I'm addicted to HGTV, I thought that we'd have to be pre-approved for financing before we even started looking. I think that's the biggest thing I've been surprised about...because we weren't. I actually saw the listing for our house on a website I frequently looked at. I checked out the pictures, and I loved the price. It was in one of the areas that I knew Jason and I wanted to live in, so I forwarded him the website. He loved it too.

The next day was Jason's birthday, July 24th. It was a Wednesday. Jason wanted to go eat at a restaurant that is out in Trussville, so we did. On the way home, he suggested that we drive by the house that I'd sent him. So we did. We loved the location, loved the outside "in real life", and loved that the FOR SALE sign still said, "Coming Soon". We thought it gave us some time.

Back up a few weeks.

Jason and I were driving home from Publix one Sunday afternoon, and saw an OPEN HOUSE sign in Homewood. We thought it'd be fun to walk through one of the cute little bungalow houses and just see what it's like. So we did. The house was WAY too small for us and WAY too expensive, but the realtor was just right (there's my Goldilocks reference for the week). As I was looking around the house, Jason began talking with him. They just seemed to click. We got his card, and decided in the car that when the time came for us to begin our home search, we'd call him.

So, after driving by our house on Jason's birthday, I emailed Scott, the realtor, to see if we could see the inside of the house. Friday after work, Jason and I met at my office and drove over to "the house" for the first time.

We loved it. It was a great price, great size, and great location. It was everything we'd be looking for in a couple of months...but we weren't at that point in time yet. Standing in the living room of the house, I asked Scott what the next steps would be if we really wanted this house. He explained, and then we left. That night, Jason and I decided that we needed to see a few more houses in the area so that we could compare sizes, price, etc.

We also spent the evening in that area...we ate at the restaurants around, went to the bank around the house, and spent time at a friend's house in the area. We pretended that we lived there, which made our decision to proceed much easier.

The next morning, I went to work on this house stuff like it was my job. Scott emailed me the name of a few mortgage brokers, and he set up showings at a few other house for us. By Saturday night, we were pre-approved, we'd looked at 4 additional houses, we'd gone back our house, and we ended the evening sitting in Scott's office writing up our offer.

The next few days were nail-biters.

We didn't hear back from the seller until Monday. They didn't want to come down much on the price, and they wanted us to pay closing. Boo. We countered. They countered. We countered. They countered with 3 choices that basically gave them the same bottom line, but allowed us to decide if we wanted to pay more for the house over 30 years, or pay closing costs upfront. We chose not to pay closing costs upfront. Our mortgage broker told us that for every $1,000 in the sale price, it's around $7 added to our monthly payment. Good to know.

Just as I was signing the revised contract and sending it back to Scott, we heard there was another offer on our house. The seller wanted our best offer - and we were so afraid we were about to get into a bidding war. After some prayer and discussion, we decided to stick with our original offer that was being written up in the revised contract. We felt like it was a little on the weird side that we'd already agreed on the terms and they came back with a 'best offer' type thing. I know it's pretty common, but it just didn't sit right with me.

The next day, Scott called to say that they accepted our offer and it was ours. The seller did add something to the contract though. She added that she would not fix anything if there was something wrong with it upon inspection. Great...

We had 10 days to get an inspection done. We hired a really eclectic inspector known as Inspector Dave to do our inspection. He was really thorough, and thankfully the house had no big problems. Whew, that was a relief. We went ahead and set the closing date for Sept. 3rd at 4 p.m. Since we knew our closing date, we went ahead and scheduled everything to be turned on and connected the next day.

Over the course of the next three weeks, I sent tons of paperwork to our mortgage broker. Lots of signing, lots of sending. The crazy thing is, over the course of all that paperwork, all the phone calls, and all of the emails, we never met our mortgage broker in person. Technology fascinates me.

Then came the appraisal. Our house appraised at the selling value, but it was exactly our price. I kind of freaked out about that a bit, because we thought we were getting a great price. Turns out, many times, appraisers do that. They just put what the selling price is as long as it's worth that. They don't really look at the actual value unless it's way under the selling price.

More paperwork. More signing. More sending.

As I mentioned previously, we were scheduled to close on September 3rd, which was the day after Labor Day. Well, the Friday before Labor Day, we received a call that our closing was going to be pushed to September 5th. Not a big deal, right? WRONG. Since we'd planned for three weeks for closing to be on the 3rd, we'd scheduled movers, bakers, and candlestick makers cable people, and internet people all to come on September 4th. As it turns out...we would not own the place that day, so I had to call, before a holiday weekend, and reschedule EVERYTHING! It felt like a nightmare.

Later we found out that getting your closing date pushed is somewhat normal, and honestly, it ended up a little better this way.

So, Thursday, September 5th, Jason and I arrived at the closing attorney's office to buy our house. I brought basically every piece of paperwork I'd ever signed in my 24 years of life, plus my passport, marriage license, birth certificate, and social security card, but all we needed was a certified check. Leave it to me to be overly OVERLY prepared. We had our check made out a little higher than it needed to be, just in case. At the end of the closing, the attorney gave us the difference back, and another check for something we'd overpaid on previously. I know this is highly uncommon, but we ended up walking away from the closing with a lot more money in our pockets than we expected. Praise God...He really does take care of us...even in the tiniest things.

After closing, Jason and I drove straight to our NEW HOME, sat on the porch, and had our friend come over and take some pictures of us in front of the SOLD sign.

The process was easy in the beginning, hard in the middle, and then wonderful at the end. But isn't that the way most good things are? We know that God has placed us in our home for a purpose, and we intended to live in it well, for His glory.

Posted on September 24, 2013 and filed under "live well mentally", "new home", "trust".

Our Crestwood Cottage: A King's Headboard

Ever since I began reading Young House Love, I decided that I wanted to be more like them. Obviously I don't have nearly the talents or skills, but I figured I'd take it one project at a time. My first real DIY home project that I decided to do was a king size headboard. My plan was to follow their directions for upholstering a headboard exactly, to ensure there would be no errors.

Well, when I showed up at the art store, I was informed that the size frame I needed would either cost me about $90, or it did not exist. I opted out of that, and chose make a stop at Home Depot (which is less than a mile from our house...DANGEROUS) and buy some plywood.

My mom was really helpful in this. She's a pro I tell ya. We ended up buying an $8.00, 4'x8' piece of plywood and having them (Home Depot dudes) saw off the 2' or so that we didn't need. The plywood was about 1" thick, which is really all you need for this. We also bought 2 1"x3" boards that we had cut into 3, 4' pieces. These would serve as the legs for our headboard. We bought a pack of 1 1/4" wood screws to attach the legs to the plywood.

Previously, I'd picked out a fabric from a website that has great quality fabric for a very affordable price. I bought 3 yards, which was probably a little to much, but King beds are huge, so I wanted to be safe. I had also previously bought 3 yards of batting at Joann's Fabrics.

TIP: If you download their iPhone app, there's one coupon a week for 50% a regular priced item.

Just FYI...
Our materials, post sawing.
After our Home Depot shopping trip and after steaming my fabric, we were ready to go.

Probably the most unflattering way I could have done this. But honestly, I didn't know Jason was taking pictures.
Also, right after this, we realized that our backyard is really shady, so we moved back there. Then Mom and I got chiggers. Any tips on how to get those nasty things out of our yard?!?

My hardworking DIY team.

Some intense drilling.

I probably would do a few things differently if we were to do this again. But the process was not bad at all. In fact, my mom and I joked decided that we'd start making these and selling them out of our backyard. So...if you're in the market for a custom headboard...hit us up!

Here's the final product:

And I must's quite comfortable to lean up against!

That's all for today! Seattle is calling our check back with my review of our first trip to Seattle!

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Posted on September 18, 2013 and filed under "DIY", "new home".

Our Crestwood Cottage: Cheerful Welcome - Front Door Makeover

When we moved in almost two weeks ago, we had a black front door with a storm door with bars on it. Very dark, not too pretty. Our porch is one of our favorite things about the house. So Saturday, while my parents were in town, we all 4 went to work on brightening up our front door.


Dad removed the storm door.
Jason and Mom sanded down the door.
Mom and I painted.

The outcome:

We will want to add a door knocker, wreath, and maybe our house number just to add some visual interest to the door. But overall, we LOVE the color and the way our front porch looks.

This was a really simple and inexpensive project with big results.

We bought Behr Ultra paint. It's an exterior semi-gloss with the primer mixed it. We chose from the Martha Stewart collection of colors, and they had to color match it. The color we chose is called "Lagoon". This paint cost about $18 for a quart, and we only used half of the quart. We bought a fine sanding block and sanded the door down first. Then Jason used an electric sander to go over everything to even it out. We used liquid sandpaper last because it makes the door a little "tacky" and it holds the paint on really well. Going from a black door to this bright color only needed two coats of paint!

Come and knock on our door... :)

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Posted on September 17, 2013 and filed under "DIY", "new home", "project".

Our Crestwood Cottage: Master Closet Makeover

When we moved into our house about 10 days ago, our closet was about four feet wide with two bars to hang clothes on and a shoe rack on the door. We didn't even attempt to put our clothes in there because we knew they would not all fit. The previous owner lived there alone, so her clothes probably fit fine - mine would have for sure. But, Jason and I wanted our new home to be 100% OURS, since our apartment was not that way (I lived there first). This meant we wanted both of our clothes in the master closet. I don't know why that was so important to us, but it was. So we did a little closet reno and it's almost complete!

Phase One: We hired someone to knock out the wall that served as the back of our closet and the side wall of a hall closet. Thankfully, we noticed the two closets were only connected by a nonessential wall when we were looking at the house. We had someone come and look at it before closing, and scheduled him to come knock out the wall only 3 days after we'd begun living there. I must say, the noises that I heard at first (I was the only one home when he got started) scared me to death!

One of the biggest things we've had to get used to about our house is the fact that it's OURS and we can do what we want to it! Since Jason and I have always been renters, that's a hard thing to get used to!

Getting a peek at our sub-floor was surreal.

Insulation falling from the ceiling.

Phase Two: No more insulation! Everything was sealed up nicely and ready for some paint!

Phase Three: Everything is painted to match the hallway and living area.

Phase Four: Shelves were hung and clothes were put in the closet. Originially, we were going to have the shelves hung professionally. But the decision came down to professionally hung shelves or a king size bed, and we chose the king size bed. My parents came in town this past weekend, and the four of us hung our shelves. It was actually pretty simple!

Phase Five: The floor still needs to be stained and some of the trip needs to be replaced. We also want to hang bottom shelves for pants, but we will have to wait until the floor is stained.

(come back to see pictures of the last phase)

Overall, this has been a pretty simple process. I'm very thankful we made the decision to do this project right away, because I don't think we would have ever done it otherwise. As of right now, I have no complaints about our house...but I'm almost positive that we would have both been complaining if we would have had to share that little closet that we had before.

The cost of this project was around $1,000. The shelving was about $250, and the labor and materials were around $750.

Posted on September 16, 2013 and filed under "DIY", "new home", "project".

Our Crestwood Cottage: Weekend Progress

Well, it's been two full days since my last post and I feel like it's been two weeks. Every part of my body is sore, especially my feet. My little Camry has been packed to the brim a few dozen times, and it's currently housing boxes from Ikea that I really don't want to take inside. Jason has been at war with a couple of bugs - he's won most of the battles, but there's one "bird-like" bug in our garage that is currently winning. I've realized that I know nothing about keeping flowers alive or grass green (conversation with my mom: Mom - "Do you have a sprinkler system?" Me - "I think that's what we call rain."). But all in all, the process has been fun and I'm so thankful for what we've been given. I wouldn't want to do this whole moving thing often, but I also wouldn't want to do it with anyone but Jason. He's quite a trooper.

Saturday night we spent the first night in the house. We planned on waiting until this coming Wednesday so that all of our furniture would be there, but after taking a short nap in our new king size bed on Saturday afternoon, we decided that we could not go back to the apartment with it's measly queen bed :) . We are in the process now of figuring out a morning that's fun. I think Jason got a little too eager about our morning routine today and he showed up to work an hour early...whoops! Y'all, I can't blame's been a LONG weekend. are some photos of our progess:
This was all we had in our fridge Saturday morning.
For some reason this just made me laugh.

Our giant bed.

Dining room is complete

Kitchen is getting there. All essentials are in place.

And yesterday we drove to Atlanta to go to my friend Kate's wedding. We did however stop at Ikea before the wedding and racked up on some great finds. Stay tuned for pictures of those items!
The beautiful bride!

Hope you all have a great week!

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Posted on September 9, 2013 and filed under "new home", "wedding".

Our Crestwood Cottage: Closing Day

Welcome to a small glimpse of our new home! These are the photos that I took from our first steps into our new house. At this point, it's empty, dusty, and there's no water...but it's ours and we couldn't be more excited! Make sure to stay tuned for more photos and updates from our Crestwood Cottage!
We bought a HOUSE!

Front porch sittin'

Our home

Only piece of furniture...our new dining table

Dining room and table

Front Porch

Living room and fire place

Living Room

Living Room

Living Room

I tried to get a photo of our fireplace but the dining room was too bright.

Kitchen entrance.
One word: STORAGE!




Garage entrance/laundry room

Laundry room

Guest bathroom

Jason's office

Jason's office

Master Bedroom
Master Bedroom

Master Bedroom/bathroom

We actually do have another bedroom that will serve as our guestroom/my craft room, but when I was taking pictures last night, it was dark outside and I couldn't reach the overhead light.

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Posted on September 6, 2013 and filed under "new home".

My Plan vs. His Plan

Right about now I should be signing my name 1,000 times. Someone should be handing Jason and me a new set of keys. We should be driving out to Crestwood and opening up the door to our new home.

But we're not. 
Our dining room. Don't ya wanna come over for dinner?
We're serving cereal.

You see, that was our plan. That was our plan that worked with our schedule, and fit nicely into our calendar for this week. If our plan worked, we'd be spending the night in our new house, in our new bed, with all of our stuff there tomorrow. But we won't. In fact, tomorrow, the house won't even be ours.

God's plan was different. 

Friday, as Jason and I were taping boxes and wrapping everything we own in newspaper, we got a call that we would not get to close on our house Tuesday (today). Instead, we'd have to wait until Thursday.

"What!? That's only two days I can handle it, no biggie I had everything planned and I just don't know if I can live two days, this is the worst thing ever," I said. I stomped and yelled, and basically acted like I was reliving my terrible twos. After a few minutes hours, I calmed down enough to see the bigger picture.

You see, God has a way of slowing us down. If you know me at all, you know that I'm super laid back and I like to roll with the punches, except, if you think that, you probably don't know me very well. I'm pretty laid back about where to go to dinner, but when it comes to big life events, I'm like a really controlling control freak meets military officer (or Jillian Michaels). I get really bossy, I want things done in my way, and in my time frame. Our plan was to close today and move in to the house tomorrow. Even though we have our apartment for about 3 more weeks, there's no doubt that I would have required every box under the same roof  Wednesday night and I probably would have stayed up all night unpacking to make sure everything was in it's place.

Yeah, I'm ridiculous like that. Pray for my sweet husband.

Fortunately, God is working on this in my heart. He's shaping me and creating me into a much better image barer of Himself but forcing me to slow the heck down. Part of the reason I pitched an ever-lovin' fit on Friday when we got this news was because I knew it wouldn't push our move back just two would push it back a week. Since Jason works in a retail environment, he has to work on the weekends, so that means that his next day off is the following Wednesday. I almost volunteered to handle the whole thing on my own on Friday, but Jason put in end to that before I even finished my sentence.

After a couple of days of letting our new plan settle in, I've come to see how much better God's plan is. Now we will have the time to do things in a more organized manner, and I won't give myself a stroke trying to get everything done. It even works out better for some of the remodeling that we're doing in the master bedroom because now the work will be finished before we actually move all of our furniture and start living there.

I don't know where you are in your walk with Christ, or if you even have a relationship with Christ, but I do know that He cares for you deeply. Jason and I are buying a house, which is a HUGE deal to us, but to God, it's just us using the money He's blessed us with so that He can shelter us in a different zip code. Only, it IS a big deal to Him too. He's protecting us and working out each and every detail for our good, even when it's not in the way or in the time frame that we wanted or expected.

Wherever you are in your life today, cast your burdens, your plans, your timeline on Him...because He truly cares for you. In the battle of my plan vs. His plan, His plan will always be victorious. Praise Him for that today!

"Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you." - 1 Peter 5:6-7
Posted on September 3, 2013 and filed under "live well mentally", "live well spiritually", "new home".

Big Blessings from Left Field

If you follow me on any sort of social media, you probably have heard our news.

We're buying a house!!!

Next week at this time I will have woken up in a new zip code, driven a short little drive to work, and I will leave at the end of the day and head home to Crestwood. Jason and I could not be more excited to move, and more importantly, we give all of the glory to God. He truly has given us this house...for us, it came out of left field.

On September 22nd, we will celebrate our first wedding anniversary! Since January, we've been planning to begin our house hunt after our anniversary. We've been saving like crazy since before we got married for this ambiguous "something", and back in January we realized that "something" would probably be our first home. Jason and I have never picked out a place to live together since when we got married, he moved into the apartment that I already lived in, so that has made this whole process even more exciting.

Obviously, thing did not go as we planned. By September 22nd, we will have been in our house for 3 yeah...good job planning Morales'! But as always, we know that God has a bigger plan for us than we can even fathom, and that has never been more true than in buying our house.

Here's how this happened - 

A few months back, I started to get an email each morning that showed me new listings or listing that had been reduced in price in the areas we wanted to look at buying a house. I figured that it'd be good to get a feel for what's out there before we actually start looking, and also, it's just really fun to look at houses and dream. 

Also a few months ago, we randomly drove by an open house on a Sunday afternoon in Homewood. The house was way too small and way too expensive, but we really liked the realtor who was showing it. We got his card and information, and we decided we'd call him when we were ready to start looking in late September.

On Jason's birthday, July 24th, I got an email with this cute little 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom house as a new listing. So I did some investiaging. I looked at the pictures, looked where it was on Google Maps, and ran the numbers for our budget. After I decided that it had some potential, I sent it to Jason. That night after we went to dinner for his birthday, we decided to drive by it just to see if we liked the neighborhood and the outside in real life. We did. We really really liked it.

The next day, which was a Thursday, we decided to contact the realtor we met at the open house to see if we could go see the house on Friday. So Friday after work, we headed out to Crestwood to look at our first house together.

We loved it.

Jason was a little concerned about the size of the bedrooms, and our realtor assured us that the size is pretty standard for all of the houses in the area. Our realtor said that he wished we'd already looked at a few homes already because if we had, we'd probably love this house even more (which I didn't even think was possible).

We had a lot to think about. Jason and I spent the rest of the evening in the Crestwood area. We ate dinner there, we hung out with friends there, and we kind of just pretended that we lived there. That night when we got home, we decided that we needed to do our due diligence and look at comparable houses, but we were probably going to make an offer on that house.

Saturday Jason went to work and I spent the day on the phone with a mortgage broker to get our financing in order. He got all of my information and basically said that we were good to look at anything under a certain amount. That was good enough for me, so that night we looked at 4 other houses, and then went back to the first house. We still loved it most.

We spent Saturday night in our realtor's office writing up our offer.

It took until Tuesday or Wednesday for us to hear that we had the house. It was ours if we wanted it. It's taken a couple of weeks, a lot of signing, proving our incomes, and a lot of other stuff, but in 5 days, we will close on our house!

I can't help but dream about where we'll put our furniture, how I'll decorate, what we'll change, and what we'll leave the same...but even more than that, I can't help but dream about all of the memories we'll create there. It's a perfect home for us in so many ways, but most of all, it's the perfect home for us because this is where God has placed us.

Stay tuned for updates about moving, decorating, and some DIY projects that I'll be doing over the next couple of weeks and months!