New Floors

Before I moved in, I really wanted to repaint the whole place and have new floors installed. In the end, I could only afford to do one. I figured painting would be easier to do myself, later, so I opted to have the floors professionally done. I think they came out great. They look beautiful. I get so many compliments on them.

The old carpet was so bad. I think it was the original carpet the builders put in. It was well worn, ripped up on the stairs, and there were holes in one of the bedrooms. You can't really tell from quick photos I snapped and the bad lighting upstairs, but it really is so much brighter now. 

I want to stain the banister so that it matches the floor downstairs. One day.

Buying A Pre-Foreclosure House

That beautiful home with the cosmetic problems I wrote about previously? I bought it. After seeing it and dismissing it and then thinking about it over a weekend, I took a second look and, ultimately, bought it.

Turns out, it was a pre-foreclosure house. The bank was thisclose to taking the home back. I had my realtor find out what the seller’s floor price was. It was about $10,000 less than the original list price. And it was more in line with what I wanted to spend on a house. I wondered why no one else wanted the house though. Was it really just the cosmetic stuff? I know I dismissed it because of the cosmetics, but is everyone as shallow as me?

I put in an offer for their floor price. They accepted it. The selling agent contacted the bank to put a hold on the foreclosure, etc.. That’s when the frustration set in. 

Because it was pre-foreclosure and the seller was over it and not getting anything out of it, the seller refused to do anything. I extended my option period twice because I had to wait for them to turn the power and water on so I could get it inspected. After the second extension, when they went into breach of contract, I said this is ridiculous. One Monday morning, I called the power company and had the power turned on, the city and had the water turned on, and an inspection scheduled for Wednesday. I emailed my realtor and said, “I just did x, y, and z. The inspector will be sending out a confirmation email shortly. I want anyone who needs to be there for the inspection there on Wednesday at noon.” All of that took 20 minutes.

The inspection went just fine. Nothing major. Great. Let’s move forward. Appraisal went fine. It appraised for more than I’m paying. Fab.

Then, a few days later, the title company sent me a bunch of documents and among them was a document showing a $17,000 bill. A lien. My jaw hit the floor. What is this for? What is this? Do I have to pay this? Is this the seller’s responsibility? I called the number on the bill and the woman I spoke to couldn’t tell me a lot because I wasn’t the owner of the house. I wrote an email to my realtor and CC’d my lender and basically told them all, “If I’m responsible for this $17,000, we can pull the plug on this right now.”

My lender called me immediately to talk me off a ledge. I was so upset. I just spent all this money on the inspection and appraisal and getting the utilities turned on. This house is a great deal. I don’t want to lose it. And I feel like I’m about to because of this lien. My lender explained to me that it’s fine. The lien is going to be paid by the seller, it has to be paid them, they can’t sell the house with a lien on it, so don’t worry. It’s going to be fine. I still had my doubts. The seller had been doing nothing to make the process easier. How do I know this person is going to deal with this lien? They haven’t dealt with anything else. “Stop. Worrying. About it. It’s going to be fine,” he said.

Alright. Fine. I won’t worry about it anymore. 

I’d submitted all of my documents, pay stubs, W2s, tax returns, bank account statements, liquid assets. I closed a week early. 

I’m officially a homeowner now!

Aside from the frustrating seller, the process was pretty painless. As soon as the contract was signed and my realtor sent it to the lender, my lender called me immediately and said he was taking care of everything. And he did. There were never any real problems, just minor frustrations with the seller.

I love this house. I didn’t at first. I passed when I first saw it. No thanks, not for me. It wasn’t in the location I wanted to live, it was bigger than what I’d been looking at previously, but it had all of my limited number of must-haves and a lot of great little would-like-to-haves. The location has its cons (distance), but it has better pros (much nicer area). The cosmetic issues are just that - cosmetic. They’re for things I’d want to redo to be my own anyway (the walls, the floors). I call it my faux fixer-upper. 

Second Offer Accepted

When we last left off, I was scheduled to view two homes that recently went on the market. Both of these homes are outside the geographic location I really have my heart set on living in, but not too far outside.

The first home we looked at I liked a lot, but there are all of these little things that, when combined with its location and the slightly high HOA, make it easy to pass. It really is a beautiful home, I love the kitchen. But it was as if a family moved into a beautiful brand new home and then treated it like garbage. You could tell they tried a little - very little - to get it ready to be sold, but there are still a lot of problems with it. All cosmetic though, nothing that can't be fixed. I just don't want to spend the money to fix it all when it's not even in a location I want to live anyway. A broken pantry door, torn up carpet with holes in it, a poorly done paint job, holes in the walls as if they’d just ripped the TV off the wall, among other things. If it was move-in ready, I would’ve put in an offer for sure. The price is right at the max I can afford. I can't afford it AND still have enough left over to fix up even the basics.

The second home we looked at was just a no. The pictures of the interior look nice, but it lacks major curb appeal and the location is even further out than I want to be. A quick no from me.

Three days later, the first house we looked at is still on the market (a market where houses are under contract the day they go on the market) and I’m looking at it again, trying to see if I could see myself living there. I asked for more information from my realtor and found out that the house is pre-foreclosure. He finds out seller wants to sell it ASAP. Their floor price - or so they say - is more in line with what I’d like to a buy house for. This is when I start getting excited. I mentally go through all of the pros. It’s really a pretty house. The living room has windows all around it (natural light!). The kitchen and bathrooms have beautiful tile work. It’s really not in the worst location (for me and where I work). And with their floor price, I have a little left over to do some of the repairs. It’s actually a pretty sweet deal. I'm falling in love.

I put in an offer.

They accepted it.

It hasn't sunk in yet.

!!!

First Offer Rejected

I put in an offer on what really was the perfect home. Initially, I submitted an offer for asking price. When my realtor inquired what other types of offers they were receiving, he was told they had a lot of really strong offers. This is, it seems, code for offers over asking price. Ouch. I went back to my lender and ran some new numbers with him. I resubmitted an offer 3.5% over asking price. I thought it was a really strong offer and my realtor thought so too.

It still wasn’t enough. How crazy. I don’t know what offer they accepted, if it was higher or the same or lower and included some compelling, heart string tugging note. I just don’t know. But they said no to me. And they said no to having a back up offer. That’s alright. I didn’t want that perfect house anyway! 

If I’m being honest, really, 2% of me was kinda hoping they’d say no. My second offer was just completely maxing out my budget. I didn’t want to live above my means or end up in a house I’d “grow into.” If they’d said yes, I would’ve managed, but they didn’t. 

I’ve since found two other homes that may be promising, so we’ll see. Fingers crossed.

carnival

First Offer

I’ll get my hopes up, I don’t care. I put it an offer on a house. It’s perfect for me. It hits all of my “must haves” and an extensive list of “nice to haves.” And it’s in my price range, albeit my max price range. 

I’ve spoken to my realtor and my lender and they’ve both assured me they’re going to do everything they can to get my offer accepted. So we’ll see what happens. I’m just waiting now.

Approved

My initial experience securing a home loan was atypical, according to all of my homeowner friends who’ve gone through the process. The first lender I spoke with, via email, was incredibly condescending and, frankly, rude. I can overlook a level of curtness in emails because I understand it’s hard to convey tone, but the things he was writing and then not explaining when I would ask pointed follow ups baffled even my realtor and subsequent lenders I spoke with.

Over four days, we emailed back and forth and I was trying to give him an idea of where I’m at financially (in addition to sending him all of my personal financial documents) and explaining to him how fluid my financial situation is since I will have a sizable gift from my mother toward the downpayment. Depending on the cost of the house, my mom may give me a bigger or smaller gift. The lender emails me to say, “I can’t approve you with hypotheticals, I need exact figures.”

How can I give you exact figures for a house that isn’t even on the market yet? The whole point of getting pre-approved is so that I know what I can afford and I can go find a house based on that. He was incredibly frustrating to work with. “You can only buy a house you’re approved for.” I mean, I know I can only buy a house I can afford, but if I have to give you an address… ? I requested three times that he refer me to another loan officer. The referral was equally annoying and, in the end, I withdrew my application. 

Meanwhile, in those four days sending frustrating emails back and forth with my preferred banking institution that I would’ve really liked to have had a 30 year mortgage with (this one irritating employee aside), I spoke with five other lenders. Every single one of them picked up the phone to call me. They were all very nice, would offer up suggestions, and would run different numbers through to give me an idea of what payments would be like at different home values. I have three pre-approval letters that I have forwarded to my realtor and I am ready to buy the next house I fall in love with.

While I wait, I’m packing, picking out wall paint and furniture, and considering if I should cut the cord and ditch cable.

Unrelated: I continue not to understand aisle people.

Mortgage Approval Prep

Spent the evening collecting and printing out documents to take to the bank tomorrow. I've filled out loan applications with two recommended lenders and they're in pending status now. I need to get a pre-approval for a mortgage, like, yesterday. I've got a stack of of tax returns, W-2s, bank account print outs, stock and liquid asset whatnots. (Edit: Turns out, all of this can be done online once a lender gets back to you. I just turned everything into a PDF and emailed it in. Decision pending.)

I have a few days off this week to go look at some homes that are on the market. I left a message with my realtor, but it's late, so I probably won't speak to him until tomorrow. 

I'm so nervous. Excited nervous. Buying a house is a big deal and it's kinda scary to think, oh my god, I'm going to have a 30 year mortgage; but it's also exciting because I'll get to do whatever I want to it - freedom.

Here's a picture from this weekend in Vancouver - birds flying over Coal Harbor:

birdscoalharbor.jpg