Houston (Gay) Pride Festival 2010

Houston Gay Men's Chorus performing at the (Gay) Pride Festival 2010

Trekked into town around 1 PM to check out Houston (Gay–the word they don’t seem to want to put in the name) Pride Festival 2010.  I was surprised at how many people were already setting up lawn chairs and sun shades along Westheimer, apparently claimstaking their spots for the parade, which is to start at 8 PM this evening.

Pride Festival in the heart of Montrose

The number of booths appeared somewhat larger than last year, but the heat radiating from the asphalt from the burning Houston sun bore down just as fiercely as last year. It’s good to take a gander at the organizational booths, other community exhibits, and vendors, but under the noontime

Crowd venturing inside out of the sun to see the History and Art Exhibit

sun, about a half an hour is all that I’ll stand; this year proved a bit different because the entertainment on the stage was quite good.  One way to beat the heat was to get inside at the History and Art Exhibit.  In addition, special thanks definitely have to go out to Walgreen’s, who had people stationed around the festival handing out green bags with an icy bottle of water inside, not to mention a 15% coupon.  This is just my comment and not any kind of advertisement, but Walgreen’s and “Disco” Kroger have long been part of what makes Montrose unique.

Houston Pride Idol Winner Brittni Jackson

The Houston Gay Men’s Chorus did a couple of highly entertaining numbers, followed by contestants from Pride’s Gay Idol, the winner of which, Brittni Jackson, has a voice which could compete with most on TV’s American Idol.

The festival goers seemed in a celebratory mood, but when I looked

Radio host, Special K, (probably most well-known out Houstonian, second only to Mayor Parker) MCing part of the state events

Attendees groovin' to the stage entertainment

around at the people there in the heart of Montrose, a wave of nostalgia came over me of the long-since gone Westheimer Street Festival.

Today’s Houston Chronicle says the predictions for this evening’s parade might go as high as 250,000 attendees, partly owing to Houston having  Annise Parker, the recently elected, openly gay mayor.  Thinking about how early I might have to go back into town to find parking and the thunder booming outside,  I’ll have to make a decision, but the few times that I haven’t gone, I felt like I was missing something.

But hell, I bought a new shirt to wear.  Yep, I’m still gay.

(Check out post about Houston Gay Pride Parade here.)

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Lessons on Buying a House: The Latest Update, and Even Better–A Mortgage Calculator!

cartoon houseThis is going to be short; it’s past bedtime, but here’s where everything stands.  Last Thursday, the offer contract finally got the buyers’ signatures and my final signature on one point that I finally caved in on–the number of days on the termination option.  I wanted 14, but they only would go for 10.  As one of my friends said, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.”  It really wasn’t such a big deal, anyway so far.

Fortunately, I was able to get an inspector, who had been recommended by a colleague, to do that job on Saturday.  Also, fortunately, unlike the first agent I had, who had also been recommended by a friend, the inspector turned out to be great.  I went out and pretty much stayed by his side for most of the 3-hour inspection.  He was both informative and helpful, showing me not only problem areas, but also making suggestions for various types of maintenance to keep up the house.  He had no problem answering my questions, even, I suppose, as naive as some of them probably were.

There weren’t too many surprises because most of the problem areas I or my agent had spotted on two previous visits to the house.  A number of problems relate to electrical aspects, because the current owners seemed to have done a lot of jerry-rigging of various electrical lines and connections, especially in the garage and to some “ambient” lighting outside, but there inside electrical problems as well.  There were quite a variety of other issues, maybe the biggest one being the roof, which is getting toward the end of its life.  Even so, the inspector told me it wasn’t going to leak.  That means it’s something that I won’t have to do right away.

I was pretty beat (and feeling kind of beat up too) Saturday after the inspection; there was a lot of information to take in, and I seemed to be able to think about just the problems, even though there are so many things about this house that I really like, especially, the upstairs bedrooms and the 2 and 1/2 baths.  Yeah, one guy with 2 and 1/2 baths!  What a deal!

Today my agent called and wanted to talk about the inspection.  I thought, “Oh, no, there’s some problem.”  However, when I got to his office, he told me that the sellers’ agent had been pretty amenable to some of the things that we had previously wanted, so we made a list of repairs that I want to be done, and we made an addendum to the original paperwork.  Hopefully, the owners will agree to repair or pay for the repair of some of these, and that will be just that much less I will have to worry about doing or paying someone to do.

My agent recommended also doing a termite inspection, but he is also going to ask the other agent about what has been done previously.  Then the “biggie”–the appraisal.  The finance company has to get a VA-approved appraiser to do it, and, of course, that’s something I have to pay for.  If the appraisal all works out OK–meaning the house is valued at more or at least the amount of money I am borrowing to buy the house–then basically, everything will be a go.  The last thing will be a survey, something else I have to pay for, but which is required by the title company.

Sometime soon, my finance company will give me a “good faith estimate” of what my total loan will be, what remaining closing costs I’ll have, and what my monthly payment will be.  I’ve already got a quote for the homeowner’s insurance and it’s less than I had expected, so that will make my monthly payment a bit lower than I had thought.

If you’re new to this as I am, here’s what’s included in monthly payment:  payment on the actual loan (principal and interest), taxes on the property, including any Homeowners Association fees; homeowner’s insurance, and PMI (which is a type of loan insurance that lenders require).  However, with a VA loan, there is no PMI, because that is actually what the VA is doing–insuring your loan to the lender.  On the other hand, there is a VA funding fee, which is paid to the government and now is at 2 percent.

Here’s is the mortgage calculator that I have been using.  It has really come in handy!

Sorry I haven’t been posting much on here, but there’s too much mental and emotional energy being expended in all this to have much left over for blogging.

OK, so maybe that wasn’t so short.

Lessons in Buying a House: The Process Continues . . .

houseAcquiring a house takes up a lot of energy–mental energy that is.  There are emotional highs when you find a place that you really like, lows when barriers get in the way, and there’s lots of waiting, which gives you time to think even m0re, which can be almost all-consuming.

This coming week will be a big one I think.  We’ve agreed on a price and most everything else.  If the offer comes back signed from the sellers, then the finance company must give their first OK and let me know all the details of my closing costs and what my monthly payment will be.  The sellers also have to get the utilities turned back on, so I can get the inspector. They had someone in the house when I first looked at it, but they moved out and now the utilities are off.  The inspection is one of the biggies.  To the inexperienced eye, there doesn’t look to be many problems, but that is why you have an inspector check it all out.  Then if there are no major problems with the inspection, and I still want the house, there will have to be an appraisal done to ascertain if the place is worth what the finance company will be loaning me.  Also, the sellers don’t have a survey, so that will have to be done.  Finally, I have to get hazard insurance (home owners insurance) as the finance company requires that you pay for a year of insurance in advance.  That’s four fairly good chunks of money to pay.  Fortunately, the second one won’t have to be done and paid unless the first works out OK, and, of course, the third and fourth won’t need to be done unless the first two work out.

I hope it all works out.  I think the house makes “a good fit” for me.  It has all the main features that I was looking for: nice, but not too big outdoor space, a big, very usable kitchen, and a shower in the master bath.  Even though it’s located out just a bit further than I would have liked, I’m hoping the drive won’t be too bad, and the neighborhood has a nice feel to it.  It’s also close to stores and necessities: a Walgreen’s, a dry cleaners, and a vet, just up the street, barely a quarter mile away, and two of my other favorite destinations, Barnes and Noble and Petsmart are just a mile down the road.  I went to check out the Barnes and Noble yesterday, and, yes, it’s definitely out in suburbia: they have row after row of books relating to religion and tons of educational materials that make it look like there must be a lot of home schooling going on out there, but they have only two shelves of gay and lesbian books.  Oh, well, I’m sure that they can order anything I might want.

I guess now I’ll have to pay less attention to “House Hunters” and “My First Place” on HGTV and take a better look at the decorating shows.  In fact, I’ve already found several paint companies’ sites where you can play around with different paint colors in various rooms.  The master in this house feels like someone loved pumpkin pie; that’s the first one that is going to have to be changed.  Oh, well, that can happen after all the papers have been signed and I actually have the keys in my hand.

So if anyone who reads my blog has wondered what has happened to me, all I can say is this house-buying process is such a big thing that it outweighs almost everything else right at the moment.  I just haven’t had the energy to care much to write about politics, history, or even the weather.  I know that all that will come back, and there will be many other things about which to give my two cents.