May 16, 2011

Dispatch from the field: Moving in with mother-in-law

Many have found themselves doubling up with family the last few years out of necessity, economic or otherwise. This week's guest poster is doing so temporarily while she's between houses. She offered to write a dispatch early on with more to come -- anonymously, so she could be candid without fear of hurt feelings.

Here's her tale:



My husband and I moved in with his mother on April 18, with some trepidation.

We sold our house in Virginia, and now we are in Maryland. We have about four months before our house in western New York will be built. My husband's first choice was to find a short-term rental in New York so that we could immediately begin our new life there. I wanted to move in with his mother for a variety of reasons.

First, I thought that it would allow for a more seamless transition of our U.S. mail. The post office doesn't do well with multiple changes of address in a short period of time. I figured it would be easy to receive any mail that goes to Maryland after we have moved to New York. Second, I thought we could save money. Third, we could help my mother-in-law. In return for not paying her any rent, we were planning to take over my mother-in-law's gardening, lawn-mowing, housecleaning and car-washing. Since she is quite elderly and physically limited, we also planned to help her with anything she feels unable to do -- such as driving long distances and shopping for anything heavy or unwieldy.

After we sold our house and were committed to closing quickly, we felt there was little time to move, store our belongings, and look for temporary housing in New York. So my husband gave in to me on this one. Here we are.

Continue reading "Dispatch from the field: Moving in with mother-in-law" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Dispatches, Guest post

January 14, 2010

Dispatch: A home buyer surveys the field

I like to hear from home buyers and sellers experiencing today's unusual market, and I know many of you do, too. So gather 'round for Andrew Waldman, who answered my call to write a dispatch from the home-buying front.

A 27-year-old journalist who moved to Maryland about 18 months ago, he's been living in Baltimore since March. He's renting a place close to Penn Station, which gives him "a very easy commute" to his job near the U.S. Capitol.

Here's his tale of being early in the buying process:


To be frank, I’m tired of paying rent when I could just as easily use that money to purchase my own home. It seems to me that there are lots of good reasons to buy now: the $8,000 federal tax credit for first time homebuyers, lower interest rates and close-to-the-bottom housing prices. I’m also a veteran, giving me the option of several different financing options.

I started my search about a month ago. The first thing I did was the only thing I could think to do ... I called my parents. I’m from a very financially conservative family (read: we’re all cheap), so I figured my accountant father would steer me away from purchasing.

Continue reading "Dispatch: A home buyer surveys the field" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Dispatches

January 11, 2010

Dispatch: Home buyers walk away

Peter Arrabal has been sharing his tale of trying (and trying and trying) to buy a foreclosure with girlfriend Karen Parlee. Now he presents his final -- or at least final for now -- dispatch from the home-buying front:


We bailed out. Maybe we wimped out. We finally backed out. But no one seems to be able to help us out.

As documented last month, my girlfriend (who, as of New Year's Eve, can be called my fiancée) and I were attempting to buy a townhouse to be closer to our jobs in the D.C. area. We needed relief from our two-hour commutes from Ellicott City.

Through three months, we had submitted four offers and been rejected four times. The fifth time worked, or so it seemed.

Continue reading "Dispatch: Home buyers walk away" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Dispatches, Housing market experiences

December 2, 2009

Dispatches from the home-buying front: Part III

You might expect that a home listed for sale can legally be sold. But as Peter Arrabal and girlfriend Karen Parlee discovered after they signed a contract on a foreclosure, that's not always so.

Here's Part III of Arrabal's home-buying tale, the final dispatch -- thus far -- of a head-spinning experience:

Continue reading "Dispatches from the home-buying front: Part III" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Dispatches, Housing market experiences

December 1, 2009

Dispatches from the home-buying front: Part II

Ellicott City resident Peter Arrabal, 22, is trying to buy a house with girlfriend Karen Parlee. And as he related for us all on Monday, getting something for $206,000 or less in Montgomery County hasn't been easy.

Today he shares Part II of his tale, which picks up after they'd made several offers -- most on foreclosures -- to no avail.

Continue reading "Dispatches from the home-buying front: Part II" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Dispatches, Housing market experiences

November 30, 2009

Dispatches from the home-buying front

Reporters can relay home-buying story after home-buying story, but sometimes it's better to hear them directly from the people doing the buying. So I recently asked if any of you would like to write some dispatches about your experiences.

Peter Arrabal, 22, answered the call. The Ellicott City resident, a health-care worker, is trying to buy a house with girlfriend Karen Parlee, 24.

"Trying" is the operative word. But here, let him tell you about it:

Continue reading "Dispatches from the home-buying front" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Dispatches, Housing market experiences

November 13, 2009

Searching for a home? Tell your story

We're looking for a buyer to write dispatches from the home-buying front, starting with the search and ending with move in, with lots of updates in between. Take us with you on your treks to open houses, share your observations about conditions and prices, show us contract negotiation, tell us about all the paperwork -- you get the idea.

You'll be helping demystify the process for other would-be buyers. Better yet, you get to weigh in on what works and what drives you up a wall.

We're specifically looking for a first-time home buyer or someone who wants a foreclosure or short sale to live in. (Or you could fit into both categories.)

If this is you, and you're fairly early in the process, drop me a line at jamie.smith.hopkins(at)

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 12:10 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Dispatches, Your name in lights (well, newsprint)
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About Jamie Smith Hopkins
Jamie Smith Hopkins, a Baltimore Sun reporter since 1999, writes about the regional economy. Her reporting on the housing market has won national and local awards. Hopkins is a Columbia native and has lived in Maryland all her life, save for 10 months spent covering schools in Ames, Iowa.
She trained to become a wonk by spending large chunks of time as a geek and an insufferable know-it-all.
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