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Amparo Bertram

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07:20 am: House Hunting
After years of talking about it, I have finally taken the plunge and contacted a real estate agent to start searching for a house. Sadly, I won't be able to find anything in the same area where I'm living now (all the houses in my neighborhood are worth double or triple what I can afford), but I may find something promising in one of the towns farther south.

The tricky part will be finding a property near public transportation. There is only one bus route that will get me to work on time in the morning, and most of the properties currently available in my price range are separated from the bus by over a mile, not to mention a major highway with only one overpass. Since I don't want to walk 35-45 minutes in the dark (and the cold and the rain) every morning to reach the bus, that limits me to a smaller number of houses that are near the bus route. Luckily, I don't have any pressing need to leave my current apartment, so I have plenty of time to find the perfect place.

I'll be starting my search on Thursday, when the agent will be taking me to tour the various neighborhoods with available properties. I'm looking forward to seeing things in person rather than snapshots from real estate websites.

In other news, I couldn't resist ordering a few more plants for my balcony, including this Passiflora vine. The poor little thing dropped its leaves after I transplanted it into a larger pot, though, so I hope it recovers. My other plants are doing all right. The bay laurel tree I got several months ago has just shot up to nearly double its height over the past couple weeks. The pineapple sage now has tall stalks of bright red flowers that have attracted at least one hummingbird. And I finally have a bunch of serrano peppers nearly ready to harvest.

Comments

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From:photoash
Date:October 5th, 2010 02:23 pm (UTC)
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Awesome on the house search :) I know it's really challenging :D good luck! :) (oh and wait till you go see the houses it's amazing how different the online profile and what's really there is ;) )
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From:spacealien_vamp
Date:October 6th, 2010 12:26 am (UTC)
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it's amazing how different the online profile and what's really there is

I'm sure it is. Actually, it's already amazing the kinds of pictures (or lack of them) that are displayed for some of these properties. One property, for example, shows a front view of the house and then a shot of a blank interior wall with some tape residue on it. And the point of that picture is...?
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From:neonhummingbird
Date:October 5th, 2010 04:20 pm (UTC)
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Congrats -- it's a big decision, but I'm never regretted buying my place. There are some great books and resources out there for a first-time home buyer -- definitely make sure you've got a handle on how the whole mortgage thing works right off the bat -- points are very treacherous things. :P

Try to make sure your loan officer is a straight shooter -- mine kept trying to change the terms of my loan and being surprised when I caught him. :p Read your paperwork!!! And if your realtor isn't helpful in the ways you need her to be, don't hesitate to talk to another one. I didn't find another one, and I still regret it a little. Oh, and you want a lawyer when it comes time to close; that's not something to nickle-and-dime on. My lawyer was worth every single penny I spent, and I got him at a flat rate.
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From:spacealien_vamp
Date:October 6th, 2010 12:27 am (UTC)
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Thanks for the advice! I hadn't thought ahead to getting a lawyer, but that does make sense.
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From:bentleywg
Date:October 5th, 2010 04:35 pm (UTC)
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You could bike to the bus.
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From:spacealien_vamp
Date:October 6th, 2010 12:29 am (UTC)
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That is certainly a possibility. I would have to A) buy a bike and B) figure out if there's anywhere to stow it at work. I can definitely look into that if one of the more distant properties turns out to be the most appealing.
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From:sara_tanaquil
Date:October 5th, 2010 04:48 pm (UTC)
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That's exciting! Good luck!

I gather you don't own a car? (I guess I should have known that, but somehow it didn't register...) Might it be cost effective in the long run to have one so you can afford to park-and-ride (or even drive to work)? I know traffic is horrendous in CA, though, and the price of owning a car, too. But if it made a big difference in the price of houses you're considering, it could balance out.

I look forward to hearing updates about the house search.
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From:spacealien_vamp
Date:October 6th, 2010 12:35 am (UTC)
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I gather you don't own a car?

I don't, and I really dislike driving. Buying a car would be my absolute last resort if I found the perfect place that was just too far away from the bus. (The city where I'm looking is only about a 15 minute drive from the airport.) I could only afford it if I got an extremely cheap house, though, and the good ones generally come with a high price tag.
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From:manga_crow
Date:October 6th, 2010 12:41 pm (UTC)
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Yay! I hope your search goes well; it would be neat to see what you could do with an actual garden =)
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From:spacealien_vamp
Date:October 8th, 2010 03:21 pm (UTC)
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If my yard is large enough, I'm hoping to do some small-scale potato breeding along with my other garden vegetables. It's just such a thrill to know that you're the first person on the planet to see a new potato variety. I'm actually amazed that more people don't get into it as a hobby.
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From:manga_crow
Date:October 8th, 2010 07:40 pm (UTC)
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I can see the appeal, though I've never really looked into doing that before. I haven't had the chance to do much gardening since I moved out of my parents' house, though hopefully I can get back to it when we move.

Hmm, time to do some research^^
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From:spacealien_vamp
Date:October 8th, 2010 08:05 pm (UTC)
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Hmm, time to do some research

If you ever want to give it a try, Daughter of the Soil has a good blog entry with lots of details.

The main problem is that you either have to cross varieties that bloom at the same time, or you have to save pollen from the one that blooms earlier to pollinate the one that blooms later. The best way to preserve potato pollen is by freezing it in tiny capsules.

Potato Garden has a huge selection of varieties listed. You may want to take notes on the various qualities so that you know what you're looking for. (For example, do you want something for frying, or for baking, or for mashing? Do you care about color, or do you want a particular size?)
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