Something a little different in the Acquisitions department this month… aside from purchasing a house that is. With my little blog “hiatus” (which isn’t really so much a hiatus as a relaxing of regular blogging pressures) I’ve been making notes on my acquisitions page rather than outright reviewing things. Sure I’m still giving them a rating and in some cases making an extended commentary, but for the most part they’re just off-handed and reactionary. Perhaps more enjoyable as a result? Or lesser so?
I had a few things left on my “to review” list prior to taking time off from blogging (which quite obviously I haven’t, but instead have just taken the pressure off myself to blog, with surprising results), and I thought I’d just punch the rest I hadn’t finished off out the door and get some content up.
It’s a total mixed bag of movies as witnessed on TV and DVD (and even one in the theatre), and these reviews aren’t really about being reviews but rather just getting whatever comments I had about them put down somewhere where I can go back to them if need be.
The movies here span decades between each other, from back in the 1960’s through to stuff that came out this year, and one thing that isn’t technically even released yet. Enjoy. Or don’t.
One of my projects this year has been inventorying our collections, starting with comic books. That took a few months to get fully up-to-date, and now that it is, I’ve moved on to our trade paperbacks, DVDs, and action figures/toys, with cds and books to follow at some point.
did you know… that collectons of DVDs, CDs, and books aren’t considered collections/collectibles by some insurers, but comic books are? I’m sure that varies from insurer to insurer, but I have to wonder if trade paperbacks are considered comic books or books. I will inquire.
Anyway… I have some numbers to run past you, which will probably blow your mind:
1478 = approximate number of individual, distinguishable titles in our comic book collection (actual number of single issues, I have no idea and am scared to find out… updateI did find out and it’s around 8900. Which I’ll let you know was surprising… in that we weren’t in the tens of thousands. But still… man. Should anyone own 8900 of anything?)
466 = approximate number of individual trade paperback/original graphic novels we own. That’s actually not as bad as it could be
120 = approximate number of loose (out of package) action figures we have, not including those that are in JJ’s toy bins or our Star Wars action figures, which we let JJ play with. Also not including probably an equal number of figures still at my parents’ place.
75 = approximate number of Star Wars action figures I have still on-card, bought between 1995 and 1999. Does not include more still at my parent’s place.
298 = approximate number of DVDs we own before I’ve inventoried the TV on DVD collection.
You wonder where $20,000 worth of debt came from. There you have the bulk of it.
…here’s some LOLCATS to explain it to you
I’m the one on the left, Aden’s the one on the right. And that’s JJ hiding in back
or how to buy a home the geekent way
Step 1: get out of debt - this includes getting married to someone who has a good job and is willing to support you while the bulk of your income goes towards your debt for 8 months… this also includes airing all your financial laundry on national television, as well as exhibiting how excessively you once spent on geek items like comics and dvds. (geekent tip! Single moms get bigger tax returns because of child claims. score!)
Step 2: ensure you know how to stay out of debt - this includes setting up a blog where your goal is to not buy those very things which got you into debt in the first place… (also includes not buying crap like engagement rings)
Step 3: once out of debt, apply all that money you were putting on debt towards savings - this means, “hooray! you’re out of debt” and also “hooray! you’ve still got no disposable income to speak of!”
Step 4: let steep for a few months - you’ve got to give yourself some breathing room, a chance to enjoy being out of debt… no, you still can’t buy a puppy. It’s not about the money, but the amount of time you have to look after one. We’ll talk about this later.
Step 5: wait for your wife to bring up house hunting twice a week for three or more weeks, then wait another few weeks before conceding to enter the market - aka. the power of suggestion, but you have to be ready to be receptive to it. (geekent tip! Before entering the market, wait for a near-catastrophic, international financial sector/stock market crisis/collapse to happen)
Step 6: monitor MLS and other listings for houses going up for sale - judge these houses solely upon the tiny pictures provided with the listings and get your hopes up while also constantly asking yourself “what’s the catch?”. It’s good for you, that simultaneous optimism and doubt. When you finally find a house you want to see, even just to satisfy your own curiosity, you need to act… at some point… it won’t stay on the market forever.
Step 7: get a pre-approved mortgage - some people shop their pre-approval around through mortgage brokers, others go see the people that a debt management TV show they appeared on hooked them up with. Your choice really. Obtaining a pre-approval requires you to a) have an idea of how much you want to spend on a house, and b) be prepared for the bank to give you about 20K more than you need (or as it’s commonly known in the loans bidniz “just enough rope to hang yourself”)
Step 8: find a real estate agent - don’t ever become a client of an agent who solicits you at an open house (in fact, don’t go to open houses, go see houses with your agent… it’s a much better experience). Your best bet is to get a referral. But get a referral for an expert in the neighbourhood you’re looking in. Getting a great agent who knows nothing about the area(s) you’re interested in doesn’t help you too much. This means you’ve got to focus your search on specific regions in town, so some advance research is good. (geekent tip! - if your wife’s a west-end girl, don’t even bother suggesting east-end… sure it may be cheaper, but only “those people” live there… you know who I’m talking about… “Easties!”) If your agent is anything like ours, (s)he’ll help you figure out what you want in a house and where through process of elimination. This can take a while (see Step 9)
Step 9: go house hunting - that’s the best way to figure out what you like in a house, and if you actually like the neighbourhoods you’ve chosen to look in. Also, if you have kids, check into the schools and day care facilities in the area. And if you’re a wimp like me, check the crime statistics for the area and rule them out on that basis. Gentrification is your friend, middle-class white guy (in theory, in actuality it’s all kinds of yucky).
Step 10: put an offer on the first house you look at - that is if this be the house that you wanted to look at what brought you into the market in the first place (geekent tip! you should actually want this house… putting an offer in on a house you don’t want is kinda dumb)
Step 11: get your offer rejected - rejection builds character and in home buying it’s a vital learning experience. When you want to buy a house you wind up dealing with a host of emotions, which are variations of uncertainty, nervousness, and anger… we’ll come back to that. Knowing what’s in store for you honestly prepares you better for the next time, where you’ll be more patient by half (but also more anger prone).
Step 12: keep looking - dejected feelings are for losers so get back on that house horse and go look at as many houses that appeal to you as possible. Always give lots of thought to houses that intrigue you… go back for a second look even. Look closely at what’s been done and what possibly needs to be done (and whether you can afford to do it). If there’s a home inspection, read it, know before you buy. Look past facade and see a place’s potential… also look past the facade to see what it’s covering up. Wiring, furnace, roof, windows, basement.. these things are all key to a good home in move-in condition. Carpets can be removed, some walls can be too. Ugly walls can be painted over, and always remember the furniture and nick-nacks aren’t going to stay there. Look past all that and see the place for what it really is.
Step 13: if you have expectations, lower them - over time, while looking, you’ll come up with a comprehensive list of must-haves and can-do-withouts. Don’t ever think that you’ll find the perfect house… there’s no such thing. Find a place that works for you 90%, while taking in the neighbourhood and the cost (geekent tip! you can always change your house, you can’t change the neighbourhood)
Step 14: get frustrated with the process at least once every other day - really, finding a house is equal parts fun and annoying. It consumes your brainspace most of the time making work difficult and relaxing just as hard. You’ll want to talk houses with everyone, even people who couldn’t give a crap, and you won’t be able to stop yourself. You’ll be utterly entrenched in the market and asking everyone their opinion on where it’s going. You’ll look at house after house after house, and you’ll keep finding things wrong that you reason will make living there uncomfortable, if not unbearable. It’ll feel regularly like finding a house is an utterly daunting task and you’ll want to quit, but you know that your stupid rental place will never be as good as a place you own. So don’t give up.
Step 15: wait for your agent to go on vacation - chances are if you really like working with your agent then the moment (s)he goes on vactation you’re going to find the house that you’d really like to buy. This is called karma or something… the butterfly effect… Murphy’s law… Also make sure that if your agent is going on vacay, that they have a back-up that’s trustworthy. The back-up agent should be just as keen to show you houses and help you buy a house as your regular agent. I really don’t have any advice for you if they’re only half-assing it… we haven’t encountered that situation.
Step 16: agree to put an offer in on that house you’d really like to buy, immediately, especially if it’s $90K less than the last house you put an offer on and just as good if not better living space - seriously. Try to buy the hell out of that house.
Step 17: wait - sometimes you can’t just put in an offer… sometimes you have to wait until the homeowner is ready to receive an offer. In the old days — that is, six months ago — the homeowners would hold all offers until a certain date and time and then the buyers would be placed into a blind bidding war where they would pay upwards of 20% more than asking price on the house in question. These days, in what we call a “buyer’s market” homeowners that hold bids are hoping and praying for more bids. As the buyer, you chomp on your nails waiting for the deadline to come, hoping that nobody else looks at the house or that nobody else wants to put in offers. In a market like this, agents that advise their seller clients to wait on an offer are what we like to call “on the list”. You’ll probably encounter a lot of agents who will soon be added to your “list” as well.
Step 18: in the meantime, build your offer - rack your brain coming up with all the contingencies. If there are more people putting in bids, how much are you willing to offer? If there are no more bids, how much are you going to try and lowball those poor people? This is a tough thing, since you don’t want to offend the seller by offering too low and terminating negotiations, but you also want to make sure you’re getting a good deal. But too low an offer may just make the seller hostile towards you (as you will get hostile with them when they send you back their shitty counter-offer). Other contingencies you need to consider aside from price are closing date, conditional acceptance (based upon home inspection or financing) and the like. Some people get a lawyer for this. Not sure that’s necessary if your agent is willing to go over everything with you and ensure you’re happy with the offer.
Step 18: wait some more - when the deadline finally comes, you will be sitting somewhere — perhaps a cafe or perhaps at home or perhaps in an office, or perhaps in the back of your agent’s car — and you will be left there while your agent goes and sits down with the homeowners and their agent to present the offer. You won’t know what’s going on in there for anywhere from 10 minutes to half an hour. Your agent will come back to you as the homeowner and their agent talk things over. This is why you should like your agent. Spending time with them waiting in the back of their car.
Step 19: get angry about waiting - eventually your agent should get tired of waiting and go back and pressure the homeowner into making some kind of decision (especially if the offer terminates in 15 minutes if they don’t). This will leave you alone again, with plenty of time to get angry about the indecisive seller. Eventually the offer will come back, it’ll likely have some things changed. You’ll need to either agree or counter again to those, and more waiting… more golddang waiting. By the time the agreement is actually finalized, you won’t be happy, you’ll be pissed off that you had to spend 3 hours in the back of a car with the urge (and inability) to pee only increasing your ire.
Step 20: all the other shit - if your offer is conditional upon home inspection, you will need to find a home inspector (good agents should have a good recommendation… I’ve got a guy if you need one), and you should be there with them when they’re doing the inspection so you can ask questions and understand what they’re talking about. You’ll need to secure your financing, either via your bank or a mortgage broker, and you will need a lawyer to do title searches and arrange for title insurance as well as draw up some mortgage papers and hold your money until close. You’ll also need fire insurance to solidify your loan… so there’s all that crap to deal with… oh yeah, and packing up and arranging moving, and getting your kid’s school transfers in place (and daycare/after-school care if applicable). Yeah, goodtimes (geekent tip! - booze!)
Step 21: settle in, be happy - eventually you will move into your place, your wiring will be fixed, the painting will be done, your water heater will get replaced, your floors will be waxed, your lawn will be mowed/your drive will be shovelled, your water pressure will get increased, you’ll have your new furniture, and so on… your multi-hundred-thousand dollar responsibility will be your life’s burden, and you’ll be happy for it. Congratulations, homeowner.