Saturday, August 22, 2009

Contest: Win a $50 Shopping Credit

Once again, I have a little prize to raffle-off to my readers. This time, the contest is sponsored by the kind people at CSN Stores. The prize is store credit to purchase an item worth up to $50, from any CSN store. They got a lot of cool stuff - from mattress to stroller to rugs to cool things for your house. They have an impressive selection. So, while $50 can hardly be defined as a shopping spree, you can call this a shopping spr. :-)

What do you have to do to win the prize?

Very simple. My readers know that my wife (who shall hence forth be known on this blog as "Alpaca") and I have been looking to buy our first house. In fact, (this week we put down our first offer on a house). To participate in the contest you need to leave a comment on this post with a (hopefully) useful piece of advice for Alpaca and me. What are the most important things for us to consider in searching for and buying our first house?

No need for literature, just a small, little piece of advice will do.

Want to earn an extra entry into the contest? Link to this post from your own blog or website.

So. Here are the rules:
One comment per reader. No limit on the number of entries you can get through external links.
Contest only open to residents of the lower 48 US states. Sorry international readers, you can't get in on this one. Obviously "void where prohibited" is something I gotta say. There will be only one winner.

The contest will continue until 5 PM Pacific time on Friday, August 28. The winner will be determined by a random drawing and will be announced by Monday, August 31.

When you leave a comment or link, you need to make sure I am able to contact you. Best way is to leave your e-mail in a similar format to this shadox1 [at] gmail com or something similar. Should be good enough to defeat spammers. The winner must then contact me within 3 days. If the winner does not contact me, I will select and announce a new winner.

In my last contest, there were only about a dozen valid entries, so it looks like anyone who enters may have a good chance to win. Looking forward to reading your advice.

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Anonymous said...

First obvious thing is to buy before 12/31/2009 to take advantage of the $8000 tax credit for first time buyers. Since you've put down an offer, looks like you have that under control.

I would hope that you didn't buy too much house. Most real estate agents will invariably try to steer you towards the more expensive/bigger house. What you can afford and what you can afford comfortably are two different animals. The bigger the house the bigger the ongoing expenses; utilities, taxes, furnishings, etc. And they also like to tout the tax advantage. That's not nearly as straightforward as they would have you believe. You'll get a rebate of some percentage (depends on your tax bracket) for each dollar you pay in interest but only on the amount in excess of the standard deduction.

I'm not knocking home ownership (I own one, and truly as it's mortgage-free) but think you should look at a house as a place to live, not an investment. Contrary to what many folks thought during the housing boom, historically houses have traditionally just barely kept up with inflation.

So I hope you look at a house as a comfortable place to live and not as a piggy bank. There's nothing wrong with renting, but so long as your employment is secure, you live within your means and you intend to stay in your house it just feels good to own (at least in my humble opinion). And there's the intrinsic reward you and your wife will get from turning a house into a home.

Best wishes!

Shadox said...

Anonymous - all very sound advice (and I very much agree with the "house is not an investment" thesis).

Please add your contact information or some other way for me to contact you, in case your comment comes up in the drawing.

Kim Stiens said...

It's hard to compete with the homeowner above and the blogger himself, which are both much more expreienced and credentialed than I (I'm 23 right outta college), but the most important piece of advice for me when I've been searching for apartments recently is to look at everything. I've a strong tendency to think that the first once that I see that works and looks good is perfect, but after we'd already found a house to rent that was everything we wanted, we looked at another place as a formality, to make my boyfriend feel better, and it was much, much better, and we ended up taking it.

I feel lame for leaving such sparse advice, but not $50 bad. :)

Good luck!

Oh, I'm leaving a link to this on my "blog" on facebook:

I hope I bring you many good fans!

Anonymous said...

Don't run bullshit scans using your blog d-bag. There is your advice for a better world.

Shadox said...


Erin said...

Get a good home inspector. do your research and get the best home inspector. There will always be things that they miss, like the settling sub-floor in our current house but anything that he catches will give you room to negotiate at the closing table.

Carlyle said...

Ok Shaddox, I think I just figured out how to use a screen name in this blog format. I don't have a Google account and am not familiar with that OpenID thing. So I'm thinking if I zap that Name/URL button then I can enter my screen name? (Sorry, I'm pc skills challenged!) Oh, I'm the first Anonymous. I'm with you in regards to the second Anon comment. Though not being as diplomatic as you I might have chosen, "WTF?" as my response! Ok, her goes...testing 1,2,3

Carlyle said...

Yeah! Man over machine!

frugal zeitgeist said...

My best advice is for you and Alpaca to make a list of things that matter to you and rank them in order of priority. You both need to be mostly on the same page in terms of what you want, and it'll help you weed out unsuitable houses quickly.

Linking from my blog. Thanks!

Bucksome said...

My advice is to buy in a good school district; even if don't or won't have kids it helps when you sell!

BK said...

Think about your 5 year goals, if the place you are looking at doesn't fit into the plan it is time to rethink. Plan to be in the place 5 years or more. This can save a lot of time, mney and hassle in the long run.

fern said...

My advice would be to try not to let your emotions overwhelm your objectivity. When I was househunting, I fell in love with a house that had a Japanese soaking tub in the bath along with a Palladium window and a vaulted master bedroom ceiling done in pine. My realtor discovered that the pile of furniture in the middle of one room was hiding buckled parquet wood floors, which was caused by a slab foundation under which there was just dirt floor, so moisture was seeping up into the house. It was hard to tear myself away from that house, but i'm glad i did.

Try to step back and look at your "finalist" houses with an objective eye and think about how it might appear to OTHER prospective buyers. Yes, your house will be primarily for you and it's your principal home, but you more than likely will sell at some point so it might be helpful if you notice now (not later) that the house lies adjacent to a Superfund site. Even if that doesn't bother you personally, it might be a problem for others.

Home Loans said...

Well i am totally agree with Erin's opinion. He is saying quite right.

frugal zeitgeist said...

Darn those bullshit scans, Shadox! Heh heh heh.

Shadox said...

I wonder what kind of "scans" he was talking about. Medical maybe? Possibly radar?

Shadox said...

All - I am experiencing computer problems (this is being written on my iPhone). Hopefully will be able to announce the contest winners by tomorrow morning. Will tell you all about it when I am back on a decent machine.

Amanda said...

I know the contest is over, but we had such an experience that I wanted to share anyway...GO LOOK AT THE HOUSE WHEN IT'S BEEN RAINING CATS AND DOGS FOR AT LEAST AN HOUR...and go in the crawlspace and all around and search for water. Watch the gutters and see if they function and if they are pouring water onto or next to your foundation (this is BAD). Water is your worst enemy.

Good luck on your house purchase!

Shadox said...

Amanda - thank you for the good advice and kind wishes. UNFORTUNATELY being that we are in California and it doesn't rain here in the summer... that's going to be tough to accomplish. I do, however, sense that your good advice comes from hard won, personal experience.