We closed on our house two years ago today and so we have now been homeowners for two full years. Overall, I think we are happy with the experience of owning our own house (although the buying experience left something to be desired). Despite having two kids and two cats, we feel like the house has plenty of room. We might be happier with a more open floor plan and an updated kitchen, but no house is perfect. Over the last two years, we’ve done some things to improve the house and make it more ours. For instance, we painted (ourselves!) most of the main floor, the stairways and the hallways. We replaced many of the fixtures with bright new fixtures. It’s funny how replacing a light switch fixture can really make something look better. We’ve replaced a few of the sink fixtures in the bathrooms as well.
In a few weeks, we will be ripping out all of the bushes and plants in front of our house. (see the photo). The stumps will be mulched and we’ll spread the mulch over the area and then plant a few small flowering plants. I think it will vastly improve how the front of the house looks. It also makes for easier maintenance. The architectural review committee for our homeowners association approved this change and we are just waiting for the vendor we chose to do the work to return from their vacation.
The house still has the original windows, now more than 30 years old and so the next big improvement we do will likely be replacing all of the windows in the house. At perhaps, at some point in the more distant future, we will redo the kitchen.
Our neighborhood seems to be bucking the tide in terms of housing prices. The first year we owned the house the prices went down slightly and the house was reassessed just a few thousand dollars down from what we paid. However, this year, the country reassessed the house and the value jumped up 5%. Houses on our street sell quickly, usually in less than a week or two. We are not planning on moving or selling any time soon, but it is nice to know that things move pretty quickly here.
We have gotten to know several of our neighbors and our homeowners association has been slowly working to improve the overall community. And of course, the bulk of the paper mail we get is spam from companies who want us to refinance our mortgage for a historically low rate. (We got a low fixed 30-year rate when we bought the house and nothing would convince me to go with a ARM as most of these other companies would like us to do. I’m willing to pay the slightly higher percentage for a fixed 30-year and take the stability. Besides, we try to make one extra mortgage payment each year to build equity and cut down on interest over the life of the loan.)
It’s still strange to think of ourselves as homeowners. I don’t know why that is. I always thought owning a house was such a grownup thing. So is having kids, I suppose. But here we are, and after two years, we still like our house and where we live.