21 September 2005

Hi all. Mixed reviews on using the blog or not. I really don’t want to send out lots of emails so I will continue it. I am finding new ways to connect. First I discovered a business in the mall across the street has a wide open connection, but it is pretty bad standing in a mall playing on the internet. Last night I sat around the pool looking at house data sheets and mortgage options and discovered an open connection. This morning I discovered that if I sit close enough to the window, I can find another open connection. Much better then $11 and change each day. I am cheap.
House hunting is slow. I drove around one day to get a feel for the ground but still have more to go. The towns are compact and you only have a few ways out so while I was somewhat paranoid about getting lost, turned out I could find my way back “home.” The neighborhoods are mostly tract type homes, more so the new they are. I can chose the new homes with better look and probably less immediate TLC (pronounced $$$) or I can look at older homes (most after 1961) and get some what larger spaces and land but more TLC.
Today I go out with the realtor and look at what I am guessing is 7 or 8 homes. I pulled 15 or so out of a pile of 30’ish but a bunch were already sold or under contract. I have spent some time with the “extra” listings to try and figure out what I want in a place and what it is worth to me. I guess I will enter my impressions later today.
Yesterday I also met with a loan agent. Do you want to talk about a hard sell?! He basically would only show me an ARM and how much money I could save by making a minimum payment. He showed me the great cash flow numbers and how I could save money. He needed to be reminded of the fact that if you don’t pay all of the interest, you principle will rise. If you don’t pay more than your interest your principle stays flat. When I made these comments he agreed and quickly tried to counter them to little effect. He seemed disappointed that I understood so quickly and that I new the risk of an ARM interest rate going up. “Oh, but everybody refinances before the five years is up” I am not convinced that for just over ¼ of a percent interest rate (6.25% at 30 years fixed or 5.919% for a 5-year ARM with minimum payments below P&I). So all you financial genius’s out there can argue the points for me. I do not know what my plans are 5 years from now, I might move inside or outside of Hawaii, but in general I have stayed in the same abode unless there were compelling reasons to change. Which does seem to happen within about 5 years.
Other than house hunting I have been wandering around Honolulu and the beach. Yesterday I walked the length of it and back. I am not used to sandals, my feet really hurt when I was done. Meals have been quick for breakfast and lunch, but at dinner time I have picked places to treat myself. Prices here are definitely going to take some getting used to. I already bought my obligatory HardRock stuff.
I think on Saturday I will be moving to a furnished condo while I am searching for the house. It includes amenities and I can cook some of my own meals. Eating out will/has gotten old already and the meals are large!

21 September part 2

Well I went out for about 4 hours on a house hunting trip. Lily (the realtor) was well prepared and organized. We say 13 houses. Turned out 5 of them were ok. Nothing said mine. I know that all my stuff will not fit, I am going to have to sell/trash a bunch of stuff. The houses have no storage space like an attic. That means all the boxes I keep for my electronics will have to go away or be mostly curtailed. I think the selection of boxes will have to be much tighter but I will keep some of it.
I discovered I won't get a 10 room house with a basement (but I really knew that :-) ). I liked rooms better when they are continuous (one large open space for living/dining area). A nice touch I found was when a room was added upstairs at the top of the stairs. More like an open area, I think this is the open gaming area I am looking for. The TV/entertainment would be downstairs. Computer in a third bedroom and a guest room. Two queen sized beds is a problem for the most part but two of the houses could handle it.
I am looking at mostly reasonably newer construction. The oldest is 1998 (on my preferred list) and the newest is 2005. The prices range from $645,000 to $750,000.
Tomorrow I will talk to a different lender. Friday I get to do another 10 houses or so. Then I need to buckle down and decide on something.

22 September

Went out to visit a second mortgage broker today. I am so glad I did. I was right to worry about the first kind of loan (negative amortization and prepayment penalties). I learned I qualified for an even higher amount and that qualification is about 45% of your salary in P&I. I will need homeowners and hurricane insurance. Taxes are very modest here ($125/month for $770K home). I am scheduled to look at more homes tomorrow at 9AM. I was quoted originally a 6.25% on a 30 year fixed but since I will pay origination fees it should really be 5.25% My concern is still there (it is one big mortgage) but it has been somewhat diminished now.
I am straightened out as to what to do on Monday when I go to work, I will probably make a dry run on Saturday. Sunday I know I will be going to visit 3 or 4 open houses at least.
I learned today that both my HHG and my hold goods have arrived in the state. I won't be ready for them for a bit.\
Now if only my car would arrive. This afternoon I walked around more of the tourist trap shopping. Did not buy anything, I have lots of time and I am sure someone will ask me to go back there eventually.

23 September

I went out house hunting again today. We planned on seeing 6 houses. 4 of them looked pretty good. As we waited for one agent to show up we decided to look at one of the houses for second time and called the agent. Both houses were the same model but one had two extra bedroom options installed. The other house has a large area at the top of the stairs (about the size of the 4th bedroom upstairs. The garage has a storage area that was converted into a room in the first house. I hope this all makes sense. We looked at the five bedroom then back at the 3 bedroom version that we saw on Wed. Both houses were the same price.
Bottom line - I put a contract on the 3 bedroom. So it has 3 bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths. Wood laminate floors downstairs, carpeting upstairs. Built in 2005. The yard needs landscaping. There is no patio in the back yard (most properties do). For the last two reasons I bid below asking price. The price falls at the higher end of what I want to spend, but still well below what I qualify for. The seller is apparently on the mainland now so it may be a while before I hear a response. We gave the seller till Sunday at noon to respond. The reason for that is they have an open house scheduled for 2PM on Sunday. I hope they don't shop the offer around.
This afternoon I picked up keys to a condo one block from the hotel. I'll be staying there for a while. I sign in tomorrow. It should be interesting, one block from the marina shore and a few blocks over to the beach.
I am a bit nervous about all this but it should work out OK.

27 September

Well things are still moving. Yesterday I countersigned the contract. The only changes requested was a quicker closing, a change in title company, and an "as is" addendum, which was fully expected. So the house is three bedrooms, it has a large landing area at the top of the stairs, it will be much like an open family room. There are 2 and 1/2 baths. A storage area off the garage (in some models this is converted into a room). That is really a good thing in that there are no basements or attics. The house is large, 2000 sq. feet. Good thing as I was told my household goods were 13,000 lbs. They estimated it at 10,000!!! I am going to have to thin some of this stuff down.
The downstairs is all pergo floors and upstairs is carpet. The house was build in 2005. Joan asked if there were any views from the house. Sorry it is not on the beach. The house is in Mililani Mauka, in the central part of the island. About 40 minutes to Wakiki Beach. There will other beach closer and farther.
So for those that asked there will definitely be a guest room. When the crowds get bigger, there will be room around the house for additional people. I have done some of the tourist things (I am 2 block from Wakiki Beach) but not a lot yet. I am not big into sitting on the beach and getting a sunburn so most of my time is walking around. Lots of stores and things. I still need to explore the north shore and other areas so I can play tour guide when you all start showing up. :-)
All of my household goods have arrived and the "fast shipment" too. So they can be delivered when I am ready. The car is still not here so I still have to do the rental car thing.
Work is going fine. Lots of new faces and a few old (as in I have known them for some time) ones. The usual issues about computer accounts and bureaucracy.

29 September

Hi all. Life goes on. I applied for the loan today. I am hoping for a closing on 26 October. We will be trying to make it sooner if it all works out. The home inspection is scheduled for Wednesday at 8:30 AM. The loan officer indicated he will try to get the appraisal ordered for next Friday or Monday.
This weekend it is supposed to rain from Hurricane Kenneth (it will only bring the rain, not the wind). In fact it is raining now (Thursday night). Driving has been interesting because you can go from rain to showers to sun in 20 minutes. I will be living and working on the plain. This makes it a little cooler but increases the amount of rain. The desert is not too far away! And January will still be in the 80's!
I have been eating out mostly. Last night when walking around a middle aged woman asked me to help her with her camera. She had been talking with her son on the cell phone to figure out how to delete a few pictures so she could take one of a building she was going to put on the market. I figured out her camera and explained it to her. She gave me her card, she is a real estate broker. We spoke briefly and I indicated that I was new to the island and buying a house myself. As I was leaving, she said "call me if you want to go to a movie or a play". A Date! I doubt I will call, she was not attractive to me.

3 October

Well I picked up my car today. Turned in the money pit of a rental car! Driving to the condo from work was different. The rain is very sporadic here, typically over small areas and very short in duration. While driving between the airport and Honolulu There was a rainbow from the water to the other side of the city. I have actually seen a number of rainbows here in the last couple of weeks.
I now have to have an inspection and get it registered in Hawaii in the next 30 days.
The hurricane hit different part of the island very differently. In the city we saw cloud cover and a little wind. Other parts of the island saw 50 mph winds and a couple of inches of rain. Unfortunetly that is the area I am moving to! I was told by a workmate they lost power for about 20 minutes at one point as well. Utilities are underground in the area I am moving to.
Went to dinner at Hard Rock tonight. Going there too often, the manager and bartender both stopped by to say hello and observed that they saw me there recently. The manager is new she just moved from Florida.

5 October

Did the home inspection this morning. So the house is on a single pour slab (the garage floor however is separate). The walls are metal studs. Outside is a compressed wood. The attic is engineered trusses which means there is little usable storage space there. I am told that central air installers typically cut into the trusses (because there is no space) and don't necessarily support the change. Have to watch that one.
Other things that surprised me:

As I spent more time in it I am liking it more. I think I made a good decision but will still need to have a garage sale to get rid of some of the stuff. I am going to schedule the household goods to be delivered only after I close on the house. That should leave me some time to add a little colour to the house. All but one room is an off white.
I learned that the couple is not divorcing but instead moving to Washington state. He is apparently a Hawaii policeman (saw the uniforms in the closet). The inspector mentioned that the west coast states are making it a habit to recruit policeman after the fulfill their minimums in Hawaii.
Tonight's job is to read all the disclosures that were delivered today. Mostly community association and deed type things.

8 October

I signed off on the home inspection yesterday. I heard from people that some of the community associations are bad in Columbia (i.e. police enforcement of regulations), this community will be the same. I understand even to paint your house the same colour you have to ask permission. I could not tell that even a flagpole or a bracket to hang a flag from your house is "legal". I'll live with it.
Funny story. Wednesday after work I went to the Ford dealer (there are 3 on the island) to have a left light lense replaced. They were able to do if for a mere $244! There happened to be a policeman there having his car serviced. As I was waiting in line to pay (he was behind me) somebody cell phone rang, it was playing "bad boys". The cop said he loved the song. I thought it was really funny.

11 October

Things are going slow but they are moving. Yesterday I went and started the insurance process for my car and the house. The car insurance will be a lot lower which is pretty surprising. I was told it would be the same kind of price as Baltimore was. I need to ask some more people what they are paying and make sure I am not misunderstanding anything. A bit of an error planning for the house insurance. Technically the house is a condo, each house is an lot number. When the agent created the policy he assumed the association fee included insurance and I would only have about $400 premium. He called today and said the condo fee did not include the insurance, so the bill is back up to $1100 or so. What I figured.
The appraiser should have started their task today so that is good.
This weekend took some long walks. I am however a little to far to walk to Diamond Head and to climb it. Guess I will have to drive over one of these days and climb up.
I have been noticing the Honolulu police like the area I am living in now. I look out my balcony and I see a 3 way stop. The police have a tendency to park 50 feet down the road and stand on the side walk near the intersection. Anybody that rolls through the stop and turns in there direction gets a ticket. They keep pretty busy. Tonight is the third of fourth night in the last 3 weeks that I see the flashing lights below as they have someone pulled over. So I guess the lesson is STOP at STOP signs in Honolulu.

17 October

Well, did a little checking today. Looks like closing will be the 26th. I should learn tomorrow that the loan is approved and ready to go forward. The sellers have booked the movers so I can not close earlier than the 26th. It should be 2 or 3 business days to have my stuff delivered so I should be in the house either next Friday or the Monday after. I'll miss this place, nice beach, lots of places to eat. But I would like my onw stuff back!

20 October

Today was interesting. I have been experiencing some headaches very different than in the past. It has me worried enough that I made a doctor's appointment. My appointment was today. The office is part of the Univ of Hawaii so it has a combination of residents and faculty. Don't know if it was unusual or not but after the resident did his thing, the faculity member made a repeat of a couple of the tests (extremity strength and eye motion) and suggested I get an MRI as well as an Opthamologist appointment (schedule for Monday). They took my blood pressure twice (148/80 and 140/80), higher than I have had in the past.
When that was done I went to the morgage broker and signed my life away. I signed all of the loan and escrow papers. Due to the Hawaii land court rules, I had to sign my full middle name on all of the documents. Different. So the next step is wire the money to the escrow company. The escrow company will record the transfer on Tuesday. On Wed, my real estate agent should call me and give me the keys!! DONE.
Then I get to make the appointment to have the household goods delivered. Should be Friday or Monday.

27 October

Well I expected this week to be pretty boring. So far it has been full of stuff.
On Monday I saw the Ophthalmologist to ensure my eyes were not the culprit for my headaches. They are not, he gave me a clean bill of health and said see you next year. He also gave me my "get out of the eye test" paper when I go for my drivers license. I did learn something interesting I had not understood before. My right eye is slight near sighted with a big astigmatism. My left eye is very far sighted and a small astigmatism. He indicated that the Sturge Weber Syndrome (birthmark) is the culprit for the difference.
Tuesday I got a call that the finance company has messed up and the escrow will not be funded until Wed. That moves the recording to Thursday. No big deal in the end as I know the combo for the lock box so I will just use that key to get in. As I left work I tried to get some money out of the ATM. My card is expired and they mail one to my old address, the machine ate it.
Wed was good news, the loan is funded and recording is good to go.
I showed up at the house about 9AM. Went around and took some pictures, brought in some stuff that I took from the condo (so I don't have to move everything on Saturday). I then noticed that I could not turn on the ceiling fan/light and the light in the half bath. Having noticed that the circuit panel box was open when I got there I checked it out. One of the breakers had tripped. I reset it and the lights work. It has me a little worried that I might have a power problem with my computers.
Thursday is delivery of my "unaccompanied" baggage. This is a small shipment that is supposed to be essentials. Much to my surprise, all of the electronics were missing. My computer, wireless keyboard/mouse, BRAND NEW 19 LCD flat screen, Hi8 video camera. I am not a happy camper.
After that I looked around while waiting for a call back from the insurance agent (the Government only insures depreciated value, my insurance is replacement). I learned one of the kitchen drawer is broken (the front falls off). Looks like my first repair job.
I filed a police report this afternoon and started the tracker with the moving company. I am doubtful of seeing it again. I hope I backed up all my pictures.
Let's hope tomorrow goes a lot more smoothly.

29 October

Well I am packing out of temporary quarters at 7 AM. I should be done in a hour or so (dishwasher is running). The delivery yesterday went well. It was the same crew that delivered my unaccompanied baggage the day before. It took 2 trips back to the warehouse to get all the crates. Except for one of the crates that showed some damage in that everything at the bottom was crushed. I destroyed a glass "tiffany like" lampshade. The other boxes showed more minor crush damage. Some cleaner leaked and got all over some kitchen stuff and the end of an area rug.
The stuff fit in the house real easy so I guess it is a little big :-) Part of it is that tools and things are out in the garage and the waterbed is also not in the house (no matress and the doctor told me some time ago to stop using it). Time for a tag sale.
Last night I unpacked the master bedroom (about 8 boxes of cloths and assembled the bed and dresser. The red dirt here is a great reason to take you shoes off before you enter the house. The rugs were clean when the day started but there are red foot prints now everywhere there are boxes. I tried the vacuum but it did not pick it all up. Now I need to clean the rugs.
When I am done here it is off to unpack more boxes.

27 November 2005

Yes it has been almost a month. Time does fly. I'll just list some of the things that have happened in no particular order.
Thanksgiving was spent on the beach. Work organized it. It rained for a while so a lot of people were late. It was fun and I met up with people I have not seen for a while from Maryland and England. I work in a pretty small community. Christmas will be in Hawaii, so Mele Kalikimaka!
First the doctors. I had an MRI due to some strange headaches. I always get them, have to call in to work for more often than I care too. These headaches were different. The MD sent me for an opthamologist and an MRI. Both turned up no abnormalities. Blood pressure is a little higher than I have had but still in the "normal" limits. I could lose some weight and it would help. My feet however have been hurting. Due to the habit of walking in sandles without sufficient support it seems I have agrevated the tendons. They are taking their sweet time to heal. Worse is getting up in the morning and walking. After 10 or 20 minutes, they feel fine. Too much walking and sitting down is agony to get up again.
The house is great. The staircase light fixture however did not work, I had to replace it. Took three lightbulbs to figure it out (two were the wrong type before you think I am too slow). The previous owners did not add any lights so I have been fixing that up too. I have added a dimmer/fan control down stairs and a fan upstairs near the new computer. I still need to fix the switch for that one. The only light upstairs was the three 120W light fixtures. A lot of light for a short hallway. I replaced the bulbs with flourescents. Power here is about 3 times more expensive than Baltimore. Makes me debate powering up my computer farm. I have not done it yet.
One feature that I always thought was lazy is an ice/water dispensor on the fridge. Boy is it nice, I use it all the time!I still need to buy the new gas tank for my grill so I don't have to run the stove. The G. Foreman grill however I am sure will still get plenty of use. I have not hung anything on the wall yet. Have not decided where. There are a lot of big windows, makes wall space rather precious. I have an assortment of pictures I want to hang and my shot glass collection.
I need to figure out the landscaping. No grass here. Little I have needs cutting soon so a small lawn mower needs to be purchased. Bunch of stuff I should not have moved is in the garage storage area (room that could have been added to the house but instead makes a great "cellar" in the garage that does not effect the parking of two cars. Really a great feature in my opinion, better than a finished room for me. I might put the computer farm there, more power is available and I network the whole mess anyway. I am really worried about tripping breakers with a half dozen computers and lights/fans. Besides it would make it quieter.Commute to work is about 8 miles and 15 minutes. GREAT. Don't be late or parking is a pain. The lot is basically full before 8 AM. Not even a long walk will do it. You have to go to the main base, park, and take a shuttle bus.
As I said I did buy a new computer. An AMD 2 core with 1 gig of memory and a 256Meg video board. It is an HP Preserio. While I don't like the fact that none of it is standard, the price was the same as building it myself and it will work. This leads into my credit card story. I tried to purchase some stuff at Home Depot and the card was refused. I learned I was over my credit limit. The reason was a $1500 charge that was not mine! It was cleared up OK (credited back) but I reported it as fraud so I needed a new credit card. At the same time my ATM card expired and the machine ate it. I was lucky I had already opened a local bank account and could cash some checks. After I purchased the computer, the card company decided that this was not normal for me and put a hold on my account. So again, credit was refused, this time at Walmart. It has been turned on again. What a string of calamities.
That is about all. I don't intend to blog my life away, you would be bored anyway. So this entry will close the current chapter.

It has been fun.