Gargantuan Homebuying Diving Board of Doom

We’ve been looking to buy a house for the last two and a half years. Actually, it was more like dreaming of buying a house. We knew it wasn’t in the cards for us, but every few months or so one of us (usually me) would hop on a real estate listing website and peruse the local market. It was always a time filled with wishful thinking and re-committing to our household budget so that we could save a down payment. “Someday” was always on the brain. “Someday. Someday we’ll have a house, too. But not now.”

Well, the more we’ve been looking lately, and the more the prices have come down, and the more the mortgage rates have gone down, and the better the government benefits of buying a home get, the more it looks like the time is nigh. We’ve scoured all of the websites, we’ve got it all charted out, we’ve got files on the houses we like. The next step is going to see them in person.
The problem therein is that before we get a buyer’s agent to show us these homes, we’ve decided that we should get pre-approved for a home loan. It’s a big step. A big honkin’ huge step. It’s easy to eye-fondle house porn in the privacy of my own home, but to take a step and see a professional dude and say, “Hey, we want to make a big honkin’ huge purchase, can we borrow a couple hundred G’s from you?” There’s so much finality in that; I feel like once we take this step, there’s no going back. We must commit.  
It’s not like we have anything to worry about. We’ve got very clean credit, and our debt to income ratio falls within guidelines. The only thing is that we have a small-ish down payment (between 5-10%), which I hear is a big no-no nowadays. On the bright side, I’m pretty sure we qualify for a USDA guaranteed loan, which has a slew of perks, including being able to finance 100% of the purchase price if we wanted.
We’re going to do drive-by’s tomorrow of the houses on our short list and see what we feel like from there. If all systems are go, we’ve got the name of a recommended mortgage broker, and we’ll climb the giant ladder for the Gargantuan Homebuying Diving Board of Doom.

Wishful Thinking

I want this house. Does anybody have an extra $100,000 so I can buy it tomorrow?

also
We here in the der Anderson Haushalt (that’s the Anderson Household for those of you who care not to speak the coolest language on the planet, GERMAN) are lookin’ to buy a home in the next few months. So I’ve been kind of obsessed with the local market. 
We live in the southwest Portland (Oregon) Metro area, and I have…peculiar interests. Just imagine what kind of modern hippy would live in the aforementioned Most Awesome-ist House. (Seriously. Can we talk about that house for a minute? I LOVE THAT HOUSE. I love A-frames. I love that it’s half an acre. I love that it already has raised beds to put in a vegetable garden. I love the inside. I love the trees. I love the koi pond. I love the jet tub. I’ve never seen a house I’ve wanted so badly.) Anyway, the part of town we’re living in right now is best described as the most stereotypical suburb to ever exist. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with oversized, practically identical and quickly (poorly?)-built houses crammed together on undersized lots which are inundated with Chemlawn and are professionally and overly-landscaped, if you’re into that kind of thing. I’m not. I want a practical house on a normal (to me, I’m from North Dakota) sized lot that hasn’t been poisoned with chemicals and where I have the freedom to plant a vegetable garden in my front lawn and the HOA isn’t all up in arms over it. Around here, there’s only one place to have this.
Newberg. Wonderful, old Newberg. Further away from all the wonderful things Portland has to offer, but a small sacrifice for not feeling like a conforming robot Hausfrau. Newberg is great for us, because mein Mann (my husband…see, you’re learning!) works there, and quite frankly this North Dakota girl is a bit uneasy about moving closer to P-town, which theoretically would also be conducive to my peculiar interests. I need to be able to see fields, like some kind of freakish macro-claustrophobia. So Newberg it is.
We have been extremely fortunate in a silver-lining kind of way that the economy is going down like a frat boy who’s played two too many games of beer pong. At the height of it mein Mann was able to find a great, stable job out here in Oregon, and then it tanked *before* we started looking for a house to buy. Which mean that while the housing prices are still pretty high, historically speaking, they’re going down like that frat boy and mortgage rates are pretty good, too. To add icing to the cake, it’s looking pretty good that the government is going to loan us $15,000 interest-free in the form of a home-buyer’s tax credit (from this vilified Stimulus Bill) that is going to make up the last of our down payment.