L is now walking. He took his first steps just after Christmas. It took him a bit to get the balance thing down and he still often prefers to hold our hand(s) while walking, but he's been walking a LOT more recently. Apparently, at daycare, he walks and babbles to the other children and is much more interactive with them. His word count is still relatively low, but he still signs a lot and his comprehension seems good. If I tell him to pick up a toy and bring it to me, he will. Or if I ask if he wants to do some activity he will crawl/walk to where that activity takes place and point. He certainly doesn't say his ABCs or count or anything like that. He seems to be much more visual and observant. He plays with Duplos quite well and can built both towers and structures. He loves cars and balls. He is quite good at puzzles to the point, I'm thinking he needs more challenging ones. Quite frankly he acts like a little engineer. (Ha) He's becoming both more interactive and more exhausting. He is constantly moving. He loves music and dancing. He is also acting much more like a toddler - screaming when he doesn't get his way, screeching in general, and fighting back against things he used to be relatively calm about. I think a lot of the true tantrums are coming from his delay in communication and not being able to tell me what he wants. Although, sometimes I definitely know what he wants, but the answer is no.
Some of you on facebook are probably thinking we bought a new house. Short story: we didn't. Longer explanation: J and I had a plan that started last summer. J would buy a car, I would find a new job, and then we would get a new house this spring. The first 2 have already happened, so we're working on the third one. We want to move for a couple of reasons. One is we feel we are outgrowing the townhouse. L's room is pretty small and there is just a lot of stuff. Now, we could get rid of some of the stuff and try to make it work, but there's a few things that piss me off and just probably wouldn't change. And we really can't make our rooms larger. We also would like to have a garage. We have parking spaces, but it's getting old. Plus parking in our community is just a problem and will likely continue to be a problem. We are also close to an area where a lot of college students live. There is always noise, always someone honking their horn, having a party, shooting off fireworks. I think we are both just kind of tired of the whole situation and ready to move on. So, we started looking early in January. The problem of course is that inventory is low in January. Spring is when real estate starts moving so we were early to be looking. Our approach was to visit different areas and figure out which neighborhoods we would focus on. This worked out well during our last search because we had very little pressure to buy anything, but were able to get the everything in place so we could move quickly. Since not a lot was on the market, we visited a lot of new construction places to see what was out there. Most were above our price range so it was more for fun than anything. One place we visited on a whim was in our price range and had a gorgeous model home. We went through the process as far as making a deposit. But we had a 3 day contingency to back out. Enter 3 very stressful days. Once we added in everything we wanted into the house, the price was outside of what we said we were going to spend. It was close, but the reality of how much we would be cleaning out our savings really started to hit home. I also starting thinking about how new houses don't have a porch/deck, have to be painted (inside), and the lawn takes a lot of maintenance the first year. With the house at the top of our budget, I was worried. When I voiced my concerns to J, he was worried as well. We were up half the night discussing it, and we were both so on the fence, we decided to pull out. When we bought our current place we were 100% all in. This just wasn't the same. I still think it was the right decision. I'm seeing comparable houses in the same area for less money on the market. I think we would have overpaid. But it was a pretty house.
So, we are back to searching, but with a little more trepidation and a lower top price. We have also started to make some small improvements to our place (like new appliances) in order to prep for selling. We are using Redfin to search for places and I am loving the experience - low pressure, lower costs, but also knowledgeable agents. There is no hand holding, so I would say you have to be your own advocate a little more, but if you are willing to do the upfront work. it's great!
The Housing Market 2016
There's a couple of interesting differences between house searching in 2011 and now. In 2011, there was so much built up demand for houses due to the recession/housing market burst that decent houses sold quickly. Our house went on the market on a Friday, we saw it that day and had an offer in that night. By Sunday, they had 5 additional offers and we had to deal with a bidding war. And that wasn't an unusual situation. Now, it's a little different. Nice houses seemed to be overpriced (this is my opinion, but most list prices seem ridiculous to me). I think this is largely due to low interest rates pushing up sale prices as people can afford more house with a lower rate.
Another interesting difference is that houses are sitting on the market longer than in 2011. To me, that means demand is lower, which could put us in a good position to bargin with sellers to get a good price. Although, we may also have a harder time selling as well.
I found the following websites to be interesting (don't know how I got into the rabbit hole of housing market trends).
The uptick since 2012 has been concerning to me since it seems like housing prices are growing much faster than inflation and certainly more than people's salaries. I think as long as we are in the house long enough that shouldn't affect us too much.
So, we'll see. But, no we aren't buying a house. At least not yet.