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Home, sweet home – almost

Just got a call from MortgageSA to say that we have had provisionally had a bond approved (pending a valuation of the property).  We had a nice response from ABSA and Nedbank, no response from FNB and a really crappy response form Standard Bank.  ABSA’s response just beat Nedbank’s so we’re going with ABSA.  (No rude comments, please… I know “My Bank” is crap, but hey, I’m going to be paying the least amount of money if I use them, so I’m going to use them)

Now we just need the valuation to be ok (it should be), and we need the body corporate to approve of our cat.  The cat should be fine as long as she is spayed and wears a collar, and our cat is spayed and will get used to a collar.

So, everything is looking good for us to move in on 1st April 2007!

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Thoughts for the day

I read two great blog posts today.  One by Wil Wheaton, and one by Joel Spolsky. 

Wil’s post was about taking the time to take care of yourself, not just living for your job or to help others.  Its something I’ve thought about every now and again: how can you help other people if you are dried up because you don’t take time to replenish your reserves?  Check it out here.

Joel’s post was about great customer service.  Its a pet peeve of mine so I won’t dwell on it for long, but he makes some good points that I think most companies don’t pass on to their support people.  Its a long read, but its pretty good.  Check it out here

Joel’s article actually mentions a company (Land’s End)that he has had awesome service from.  It is funny how certain companies seem to stick in your mind.  I remember them from about 1998 (when I was in varsity). I was helping out at the Sanlam Future Business Leaders Week by managing “sound/media” for various venues which meant that I got to listen to a bunch of really interesting speakers.  One of whom was “Brian Gardiner” (my apologies if I have spelled that incorrectly).  I first met Brian when he came to lecture at Rhodes University in the Infomation Systems department (my dad was the head of the department at the time, I was in school).  I think that in 1998 he was at Internet Solutions, and while I don’t remember much about his talk, I do remember that he mentioned Land’s End.  He was talking about doing business over the internet and mentioned how awesome their service was even though he was a customer in a different country to their main market.  At that time there probably weren’t too many large companies selling products globally via the internet.  But I do remember him telling me that they had done some great work in keeping him happy when he’d had problems.  Its good to see that they have kept up that customer service value going strong.

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When technology works…

Continuing in the saga of the home acquisition story, I’d like to ruminate on how handy technology can be.

Back in the day, faxes were “all that”.  And while I still think they’re useful, I am really appreciating e-mail and fax to email.  In the quest to obtain  home loan you end up having to send and recieve a lot of faxes.  But, thanks to fax to e-mail a lot of this schlep goes away.  (I have a fax-to-email account from CyberFax)

The process for the bond application went as follows:

  1. Christie and I have to fill out a “Fica” declaration form and fax it to the bond originator
  2. We both have to send a copy of our ID books
  3. We both have to send a copy of our last 3 months bank statements
  4. One of us have to send through some proof of address.
  5. We both have to send through a copy of our last salary slip

The only thing in this list that was actually faxed off is the form that we filled out.  (I was too lazy to scan it in and e-mail it.)  Both of us have electronic copies of our ID books, both of our banks faxed our statements to my fax-to-email account, SABC faxed me a statement with my physical addess on it, my salary slip is e-mailed to me so I just printed it to PDF, and Christie faxed her copy to my fax-to-emal account.

Then in one e-mail, I sent all of these electronic copies of to the bond originator.  No hassles with writing cover letters, printing things out, and waiting by the fax machine for ages until it sends successfully.  Just a few phone calls, and one quick e-mail.

It really was quite easy.  So by Tuesday next week we should know if we have a bond or not.  Yay!

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General

Changes and Attitudes

Today we heard from an estate agent that an offer we had made on a house was accepted.  Currently I am swinging from excited to nervous and back again every few minutes.

But the story starts long before today.  In fact, you could probably say that it started just over a year ago.  Christie and I have been renting a place on a six month lease for the past two and a half years.  So every time that our lease is about to be due we wonder if we should find a house of our own.  Our lease ends at the end of August and the end of February.

Two augusts ago, we started thinking seriously about buying a house.  By February we had realised that we could not find anything in our price range that was the right size and in the right location.  Then we found a new development which was a great price and great size.  The only down sides were that it was just outside our desired area (but that could be compensated for)  and that it was near Cosmo City (not so much of a down side as a “risk factor” since it is a new suburb with low cost housing and RDP housing combined so it could be either great or really bad).

Fortunately after my dealings with legalities around my Telkom bursary at varsity, I was quite prepared to read the entire contract and do by best to understand any implications it might have.   It was a good thing that  I did that because there were a number of clauses that were very bad for the purchaser.  After much fighting with the developer who insisted that nothing was wrong, and who sounded most frustrated that I had actually read the contract and was asking to be shown the various appendices that were mentioned in the contract, I managed to get a few clauses added.  One of which stated that we had to have occupation of our unit within 12 months of signing the contract.  (We were supposed to have occupation within 6 months, so it wasn’t too unreasonable)

Now, almost 12 months later, they still haven’t started building at all.  They predict that they will start with phase one at the end of next month. Our unit is part of Phase 4, so we would only be moving in in 2008.  After recieving this news at the end of January, we decided to find somewhere else to live.

From using Private Property we managed to find one place that we absolutely loved, but unfortunately they didn’t allow pets in the complex and for us there was no point in moving to our own place and a better lifestyle if we were going to have to give up on some of our current lifestyle to get it.

This weekend we spent most of Saturday going through the weekend property section of the newspaper.  We looked through over 300 pages of adverts, cutting out the ones that were in our price range, area and size requirements.  We then sorted them into areas, and picked the ones in our most desired locations.  This whole process probably took over 8 hours to do.  I am so completely over this way of finding properties.  Online searches are definately the way to go.

On Sunday we went to see our 30 odd houses.  We made it to well over 20 of them, and found two that we liked.  After some financial calculations we made an offer on monday for the one that we liked the most, and today we got the call to say that our offer was accepted.

Its a big step for us, and not just because our “housing” expenses are more than doubling.  So I am super excited about all the nice things we can do in our soon-to-be new house (as long as the banks agree that we can afford it), but I am also slightly daunted at all of the changes that we’ll need to be making to our lifestyles for the next long while to make it affordable.  We’re saying “Bye bye” to iBurst, DSTV with PVR, our maid (although we’re hoping not), eMusic account, Audible account, KFC, Nando’s, Spur, Woolies and all the fancy clothing stores out there.  But, we’re opening up a future where we are no longer paying off someone else’s bond, one where we will have our own space, and where we can adapt it to our needs as we see fit (within “body corporate” regulations, of course).

If all goes well, we get occupation on the 1st of April 2007.  And before you think it (no, you’re not the first) this is NOT an april fools joke. Remember Gmail?  People thought it was an April fools joke and it wasn’t.  In fact, it was really good for us… just like our house will be for us.  Yay!  I’m getting older and more responsible!