International House Hunters, Cape Town Edition

I was starting to feel a little like I was starring in a Cape Town edition of my Mom’s favorite TV show, International House Hunters. Despite the fact that we don’t actually get HGTV, we did manage to follow the plot pretty well – we’ve recently moved to the country, don’t know much about the real estate market, our real estate agent found us three houses to view, and we made a decision to buy one of those! Though that wasn’t at all how we had seen it play out in our heads…

Since we didn’t know much about buying a house in South Africa, we used SA Homebuyers. A few days after we contacted them, our agent contacted us to show us a few properties. On that Friday we saw one that had all we wanted in terms of bedrooms, garden space (when they say garden here it doesn’t necessarily mean it has flowers…it can just be grass or a pool, basically what we call a yard), but it was a bit odd in that there seemed to be a second house tacked on to the first that you arrived at through a narrow, galley-like kitchen. The second was a ‘cottage’ just down the street where we are now – it seemed like it would be a great place if you were willing to do some major rehab, but it was a bit daunting to us first-time home buyers. We managed to see a third property on Saturday – this one wasn’t even on the market yet! We literally walked in and were sold. It has a really great open plan living room/kitchen/dining room area, two bedrooms downstairs plus an addition of a master bedroom upstairs, not to mention three baths. It has a big garden but it looks pretty low maintenance, has a back patio PLUS a deck off the upstairs bedroom. The best part might be the gorgeous mountain views from the bedroom deck – SO nice, or maybe that the living space is north facing so gets great light.  It is located in pretty much the same neighborhood we are in now, which we love. We’d expected we would have to look for quite some time to find something we loved in our price range, so we weren’t prepared – at first we thought we should hold off and look some more, but the more we thought about we realized we wouldn’t be able to find anything comparable. So we called up our guy, and said we wanted to make an offer. That was on Sunday.

After a tense few days of negotiations (how do they always manage to do it in just an hour on HGTV?!) our offer was finally accepted on Wednesday! It all happened so fast – I almost couldn’t believe we’d just bought a house! Well, in reality we hadn’t – they do things a bit backward here, so rather than being pre-approved for a loan of a certain amount, you can only apply once you’ve agreed to buy a place…so it took us another couple of very tense weeks to jump through all those hoops. Many of the banks didn’t want to give us the loan because I am a foreigner and apparently too much of a risk, or because I don’t have a credit rating here (well, duh – we just moved and plus they won’t give me a credit card here…). I’d given up hope of being able to finance this great house, when we found out today that luckily our own bank saw the sense of giving us the loan. So now we’re officially homeowners!!

I’ve added in a few pics we took – since the place wasn’t really on the market, the owners were nice enough to let us take some to share with you all, so pardon the laundry.

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More Lucy pics

Due to popular demand, I’ve added a few more pictures of Lucy! Nick has been giving me kitty updates while I’ve been gone – she got her vaccines, visited the Grandparents and met the other cats and dogs, and this morning apparently dove headfirst into the pond in our garden! Pretty funny stuff. I’m looking forward to getting back and witnessing her antics in person – though apparently she doesn’t let Nick get much sleep these days…

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Welcoming Lucy!

About a week ago we stopped by the Animal Welfare Society in Stellenbosch to see if they had any kittens (dangerous, I know). We’d been talking for quite awhile about getting a little fuzz-ball, and when we walked into the cattery and saw little Lucy we fell in love. She had climbed up the wall of the cage, meowing furiously, trying to stick her nose and paws through the holes to touch us. She has such a big personality!

Lucy and her litter-mates were found on the side of the highway with no mother cat, and the AWB bottle-fed and fostered them. Because of this she is extremely affectionate and used to people. She’s only 6 1/2 weeks old, but they wanted to adopt her out as soon as possible as the kennels are getting very cold at night and the foster mother was getting a bit fed up.  She was under observation for about a week, as they were worried that she wasn’t eating enough. When we called them yesterday they happily told us that the hunger strike was over, and that she was in fact now eating like a piggy! Lucy obviously misses her mom and the other kittens – she doesn’t seem to want to be away from us at all and has found a surrogate in one of our fleece blankets. She sleeps in the crook of your arm or any other warm place near you – right now she is curled up in the back of Nick’s sweatshirt hood while he works at his computer, in fact.

It was bitter-sweet getting a new kitty – while she is the cutest thing, she does make me miss my little Squeekers. But it is so nice to have a (very loudly) purring kitten in our house again. Not sure how Fang will take it when he next comes to visit, but he’ll just have to get used to her! At the moment she is so tiny she’s got to be far from threatening.

Ok, I’ll stop now – I don’t usually get this gushy, but she is so cute! I’ll let the pics speak for themselves.

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House Pictures

A few pics of our little house. It’s a semi-detached ‘cottage’ in an area called Harfield Village in the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town. We’re only about 10-15 minutes outside the city center, and are right near restaurants, shops and the train station. We’re still hoping to buy our own place, but it looks like it will have to wait until the 2010 madness subsides in August, so in the meantime we’re enjoying our little space.  As you can tell, we’re still living with some temporary furniture – some day we’ll have everything we need, but for the time being we’re making do with what we’ve got!

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