People have been asking about the whole house buying process, so I thought I'd post a short review of our realtor/lender/etc.
First of all, I wanted to say that I am glad that we waited and saved our money for a larger down payment rather than buying right away, even though that meant we had to rent longer. This way, we were able to afford a house that we can stay in for the rest of our lives (if we want), and get something we can grow into rather than grow out of. I also did not want to live in anything that had an HOA, which we found were characteristic of most newer developments. Anyway, it just worked for us to wait, and I feel we got a great deal because our insurance rates/interest rates were lower because of our bigger down payment.
For our realtor, we used Darren Mansell of Mansell Real Estate. He was recommended by a friend. For the most part we liked him. He was very knowledgeable about the south SL Valley. He has a great, user-friendly website and daily email that was helpful for online searching. When it came time to do all the paperwork, his staff was awesome. I felt like everything went really smoothly and they really took care of everything for us. He also has a moving truck that you can use for free if you buy or sell with him.
I only had 2 complaints. The first was that he has a few different people on his staff, and I didn't like being shuffled around among them. I would have rather just worked with one person. It was confusing to know who I was supposed to be communicating with. My second complaint was that I felt like he should have been more proactive in the finding process. His website does let you enter in your criteria and then it gives you everything that fits into that criteria, and then sends you daily emails if anything new comes up. That was helpful, but it's all automated, and I wanted him to personally point things out.
For our mortgage lender, we used Brent Crockett from Security Home Mortgage. He was recommended by my cousin. We really liked him. A lot. He was EXTREMELY helpful and on top of things. He was always available to discuss different scenarios of payments and estimate how much the monthly costs would be depending on our offer, the taxes, insurance, etc. I felt he was fair and honest. And I honestly felt like he really cared about us and getting us the best possible option...he wasn't just doing his job. He's kind of a talker, so don't expect to have a super short conversation with him, but it wasn't unreasonable or anything. Anyway, I would highly recommend using him.
Anyway, there you have it. Now we just have to figure out all the ins and outs of home ownership. :) And here are a few funny pics of Em during packing time.