Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Decisions, decisions

208.8 (yea! under 209!)

MM and I saw a mortgage lender this morning and have been approved for a home loan!  Many people probably take this step as a foregone conclusion, but in today's lending market, both MM and I had some concerns about the process.  It was actually relatively pain-free.  We are not getting totally hosed on our interest rate, and (predictably) we have been approved for an amount in excess of what we could comfortably afford to spend.

Now the really big decision: what home to buy.  We have looked at 20+ houses over the past few months and, aside from one that MM loved which is no longer on the market, neither of us has been totally enamored of any of the homes we've seen that are within our desired price range.  With each house we've viewed, it seems that there is something that is not quite right: the house meets our criteria in every other way, but we don't like the look of some of the other houses on the street. . . or we don't like to carpet/wallpaper/wall colors (yes, all can be changed, but at some expense). . . or the bedrooms are too small. . . or there's no garage.  You get the idea.  Something has been lacking for at least one of us for every house we've seen.

Part of the problem is a stumbling block for which I am primarily responsible: I do not want to live farther than a 15-minute drive from my office.  I am well aware that many, many people commute a lot farther than this every day. . . but I have no desire to be one of those people. 

I DESPISE a long commute!  The prospect of a long commute was a factor that kept me from moving back to Phoenix for a while after law school.  It's not about the cost of gas; it's about my time.  Every minute I have to spend in my car is another minute that I have to spend away from my home and my dog and eventually--God willing--my child.  I don't care that we could have a large home in a suburb for the money we are going to spend.  If buying that home means anything more than 20 minutes in the car twice a day for me, forget it.

I admit that restricting our search only to Phoenix proper has limited our options.  Many of the areas within the city are either (1) ridiculously expensive, or (2) in/near . . . erm. . . shall we say less desirable homes/neighbors.

MM doesn't care as much about the commute issue, partly because he is not as affected by it: it is rare that he is going to or leaving work during rush hour, so he usually avoids the worst of the traffic anyway.  However, to his credit, he respects my view on this point and has agreed to restrict our search to areas that aren't too far from my office.

On the one hand, neither of us is in a particular hurry to buy a place; we can continue to live in my current apartment through November if necessary.  On the other hand, we are both eager to move forward with our plans.  Plus MM doesn't like living in my apartment.

I suspect I am going to spending a lot more of my time looking at houses in the upcoming weeks. . . .