Saturday, August 28, 2010

There are two things you should know today:

  1. I grow pimples better than you.  I mean, I am a champion at stress-fueled geysers.  I have two monsters on my face right now that don't seem to be going away.
  2. My current plan to get the cats to the vet (to be boarded while I move) involves starving them.  This makes me feel cruel and at the same time, like a dastardly genius.  It was loml's idea to get them used to the carriers by putting the food in them.  I will, in fact, take it to the next level and starve them so that they both enter the carriers at the same time to get said food.  I just tried it and it went more smoothly than I even hoped.  I am planning on torturing my cats to make life easier.  Someone call animal control.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

I feel like I've lost my steam with this story, I am done with it.  I'll finish up quickly here.

So it's closing day.  I asked loml to come with me, due to my irrational fear of the seller.  A couple of hours before the closing, the realtors, loml and I had the final walkthrough.  And happily, the seller was gone.  She wasn't staging any sort of hostile takeover.   It appeared she did most of the items she said she did, so we were all set to close.

At the closing, all was going well.  The seller didn't show.  Her lawyer was personable.  Mine was running me through the first round of paper work.  And then, somehow, it came up that my mortgage was entered as waiving escrow.  I never planned on waiving escrow - I always wanted my taxes and insurance to be rolled into my monthly payment.  The mortgage broker and I never even discussed changing this.  And here was my mortgage, no escrow.  I explained, in an angry voice, that this was NOT right.  She started to figure out what to do.  And then mortgage broker walked in.  I think it's unusual for these guys to show up at the closing.  There he was, all subdued shame due to the problems he had already caused.  In the end, he saved his own ass by showing up and he got the situation rectified, though I wouldn't say it happened quickly.

And so I own a house.  I own a house that is currently in a serious state of construction.  I now get to decide whether or not to lop off the back of the house due to a seriously unstable and dangerous enclosed porch situation.  I only have really terrible pictures of it so be warned.  The porch goes along the back of the house. Half of it is off of the kitchen and is a mudroom.  The other half is off of a bedroom and is a fabulous closet.  Here are the only terrible pictures I have.  Mudroom on left, closet on right.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Time for a shift.  Here's where I vilify my mortgage broker instead of the seller.  It's July 16.  The same day that I got the great news about the contractor.  I got a voicemail from the broker the night of the 15th.  It was confusing, basically he suggested that I get the mortgage without my Dad.  I knew I could qualify on my own but never considered it because then my Dad's down payment help would have to be taxed.  If he signs with me, he's not giving me the money as a gift, he's just putting money down for our mortgage.

So.  July 16th.  I call the broker back from work.  We no longer qualify for the loan.  Panic.  Rage.

Remember when my mortgage was pre-approved more than a month before this, the mortgage that included my Dad?  Yeah, the mortgage guy fucked up royally.  And in the terms of the contract, I had to have my loan secured by July 23rd.  And my Dad is in France.  The mortgage broker and his assistant somehow missed one of my Dad's debts.  Please consider that about a year before he had also done my sister's mortgage, with my Dad cosigning and at that time the debt existed as well.  Moral of this story:  records are important.  Filing.  Cross-referencing.  Look at the damned mortgage you did last year and start from there.

So basically the options, as mortgage broker (MB) saw them and emailed them to me that day:

  1. My dad would gift me the money and be taxed off of his ass. 
  2. I would have to just take a larger mortgage and in a year, pay down the mortgage with the lump sum from my dad.
If you could all take a second and very seriously analyze these options, I'll break down the very rude phone call I made to my MB.
  1. Unacceptable.  He'll be paying out the ass.
  2. I lose a full year of mortgage payments.  Because this option is essentially a refinance.  Also, my payments would be huge for that year.  And there's no guarantee that they would get smaller at the time of the lump sum payment.  Cluster.
My Dad's solution was to loan me the money.  "Loan".  Mortgage broker, on the phone, said that was not possible as I would no longer qualify on my own with the loan.  Here's where I went full on bitch.  It went something like this.

Mortgage broker:  No, you can't accept a loan as this would adversely affect your asset to debt ratio and you no longer would qualify.  Do you understand?
Me: No actually, I don't.  First, how did the debt get missed? (imagine full on dripping bitchiness)
MB: That was my fault, I apologize.
Me:  Second, you want me to take a full mortgage, right?  One which I qualify for on my own?  How is it possible that I no longer qualify for a mortgage if I take the loan?  Smaller mortgage + LOAN should equal bigger mortgage.  There are no missing variables here.  I would be borrowing the same amount of money in both cases, only from my Dad my interest rate is lower.  So technically, if I got a loan from my Dad, my asset to debt ratio is BETTER.
MB:  .................(long silence).  That makes sense.  I'm not at my desk.  Let me work on some things and call you back.

Yes, that's right, I schooled my mortgage broker in finance.  I HATE THAT DUDE.

Eventually we worked it out and I got a loan from my dad for the down payment, which is technically a second lien on the house.  But don't worry, mortgage broker fucks up again, at the closing.  See you next time.

As a complete side note, I got an email on July 21st that my closing was scheduled for August 5th.  If you'll remember, it took us weeks to settle on August 16th.  I had a brief panic attack when I got that email and imagined the seller engaged in some kind of hostile takeover of the house - living in it for free for 11 days.  Truth is, she just didn't want to pay the fees.

Not sure what to share, so here's the tiny yard patch.  Garage on the right.  

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Brief interlude:  I just want to say that I cannot wait to move into the house.  Writing these posts has actually been a bit of a bummer.  Re-living the insanity.  But I do want it all here as a record of these past few months, so I'll soldier on.  Only three more to go until the house is mine.

This is the part of the story where I brew a bubbling pot of hatred for the seller.  I was leery at the inspection.  I was angry and full of dislike at the closing date business.

The day after the agreement was set, all the earnest money was down and we were just waiting for closing, I contacted my realtor to arrange a time to get some contractors into the house.  There was a lot to be done at the house - pathetic head room on the stairs to the basement, all the worst from the inspection, and I wanted to create a great finished basement.  So my realtor asked me when I wanted to go.  I told him a couple of times.  And this is the response he got from the seller's realtor:

Sorry, but my client does not want to allow any contractors to come through prior to closing. She is in the process of packing and her children are at home during the day. She would prefer that Katie wait until they move out. I'm sorry. I did try.

And now I'm holding a pot of hate stew.  This was a month and a half before closing.  And apparently, something my realtor had never had happen.  NEVER.  HATE.

The next post happens before this next bit, but this bit fits here.  Two weeks later, I got an email from my realtor.  All it said was "The seller reconsidered and is offering these times" with a forwarded message from her realtor complete with two dates to choose from.  I was astonished.  So I chose one of the dates and flat out asked my realtor what happened.  This is his response:

Yeah, I kind of embarrassed [the realtor] into it.  Here is my email I sent yesterday: Would you please ask the seller to reconsider allowing Katie in to meet contractors.  In my 15 years of selling real estate I have never once seen this courtesy denied by a seller.  It will help Katie a great deal if she can line up her workers so she can get work started faster after Closing.  Thank you.

Seriously guys, you should use my realtor.  He is the best.

Since I'm so excited about what is going on in my house right now, here's a before and after with the basement.  There's a slight perspective error here, I'm a bit farther back in the before.  But, go with it.

Edit: the new blogger editor is a POS that creates the ugliest HTML ever. As a developer I OBJECT.

Monday, August 16, 2010

I caved. $1200 credit it was.

Also, from here on out you should assume that I'm crying.

Ok, so it's June 23 now. I don't know how to recreate the next 7 days chronologically, so I'll just scrap that and say that the inspection/attorney approval period lasted for 7 more days. And the reason why is NUTS.

As I said before, my mortgage rate was already well locked. I had a 60 day rate lock. It was set to expire on August 5th. There is a daily fee for closing later than that expiry. As I also said, I wanted to honor the agreed upon July 30th closing date.

The seller decided that "the period" had been too long and she needed extra time. She wanted to move on the weekend of August 14-15. However she did not want to pay the fee for the extension. Her desired solution was that we close on August 5th and she live in the house for 10 more days free of charge.

Yes, that's right. She thought it within her rights, logical and perfectly sane to request to live in what would legally be my house for 10 days for free.

I was already leery. She had already lost me with her taking my expensive inspection, reading it, fixing superficial stuff and saying, eh, fuck off I'll find another offer. Now she's asking to live in the house I own for 10 days free of charge? Basically she wanted me to pay the fee for the extension or to pay for 10 days of mortgage. NO WAY.

So for seven days I sat and waited while lawyers went back and forth. I tried to figure out if I was being unreasonable (I was not. I was willing to honor the original signed contract so I should not be financially punished). Eventually someone talked sense into her (I believe it may have been her realtor) and on June 30th "the period" was finally over. She agreed to close on August 16th and pay the fee for the mortgage extension.

Today one of my coworkers told me he was reading this and that he hoped the house was worth it. I had to laugh because little did he know there were at least four more posts of insanity and tears ahead. Now, three more.

Front entryway. Hard to tell what's happening here. A little ways forward on the right is the front door, taken from the living room through some french doors...

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Roughly the next day we got a response from the seller. She agreed to handle items 1, 6 (just remove ivy), 7 (her answer was to call ComEd), 9 (recontact electricians who did the work initially), 13, 15, 16 (just clean the pipe), 17, 18 and 19. It also stated that due to the lengthy inspection period, she wanted closing moved up from our signed contracted date of July 30th. It is currently June 17th.

Seems like she agreed to do a lot, though as far as I can tell, she did not handle very many of those things. But I didn't know that until the final walk-through and by then I was so tired of the whole process I just let it slide.

Anyway, that left 12 items she said would "remain as is." Most of which were very expensive projects. I worked my butt off getting quotes for the bigger items (tuckpointing, chimney liner, asbestos). I handed over what I thought was a very reasonable offer for a $4000 credit. I also responded that I preferred to stick with July 30th. I had locked my mortgage rate already and that lock expired on August 5th. If the closing is after that date, there are fees.

She countered with a $1200 credit. Here's the the thing. This all happened on Monday the 21st. I don't have any documentation of her original counter-offer (that $1200). However, I know I then offered to split the difference (sort of) and go for a credit of $2000.

June 22nd. Day 12 of the period. Her response was forwarded to my lawyer courtesy of hers. Here is where the tears start. Her email to her lawyer for your viewing pleasure:

I already sent you the receipts from the plumber's visit and Orkin. We took off the ivy and installed the toilet kit ourselves. The electrician already came out to assess the inspector's claim that the wiring was wrong. He fixed a few minor things on the list but their is no receipt. I can try to get him to put something in writing. ComEd came out and looked at the tree and said it is a low voltage wire and it is not impacting service so they would not trim the tree, maybe they would later after they finish their emergency storm work? The tree is on my neighbor's property and I cannot trim it anymore than I already have from my garage roof. I will paint the rest of the exposed tile in the basement.

We could not find any red tape where the inspector stated he marked gas leaks. the boiler was just serviced in March and no leaks were detected.

____, I apologize for this going on so long without an agreement but I am not going to accept her counter. I said $1200 was my final offer. Let the buyer know, I thank her for her interest in my home.

I will clean the house and do some of the work left and try again for another offer.

$800. And she's putting the house back on the market. At this point, I already had almost $3,500 sunk into the house (earnest money and inspections of various kinds, etc). June 22, that was not a good day.

Something to cheer us all up, built-in:

Friday, August 13, 2010

It is really hard to write these posts, concerning 2 months ago, when so much is happening right now. Rooms painted! Basement gutted! Stairs gone! But we'll get to that. For now, let's get on with the inspection.

The inspection/attorney approval period (herein referred to as "the period") was ill timed - my sister's wedding was at the end of that week. Therefore the lawyers agreed to extend it to 7 days instead of 5.

My realtor recommended the inspector, who was fabulous. This is another person that I would be happy to recommend. He went everywhere in the house (including the attic, only accessible by a tiny square hole in a closet). He took pictures of everything. My report ended up being thirty pages.* Thirty pages of old house rickety money-pit wonder. To be fair, it was not unexpected. Old house = issues. I went in hoping for no major structural issues. And there were none.

*I met my neighbor on Tuesday night. She is fantastically nice and has the coolest garage - a brick wonder with a beautiful deck on top. It sounds like my street has a lot of of very friendly, busy body types. This will ultimately be great and annoying. Anyway, I digressed from my original digression. She mentioned that the whole neighborhood was impressed with my inspector/inspection report. They all saw it and feared the magnificence that was my inspector. The seller was amazed by all the things wrong/the thoroughness.

In the end, we (realtor + me + loml) narrowed it down to 22 items that were of concern. Yeah, 22 items was narrowed down from a billion. For your viewing pleasure, I've transcribed my realtors notes below. These are in order that they appeared in the report. This list was sent, on or around day 8 of the period, to the seller's lawyer...
  1. Aluminum capping or wood replacement
  2. Chimney liner
  3. Tuckpoint Chimney
  4. Seal at base of north wall along gangway
  5. Seal all open areas around exterior
  6. Ivy has deteriorated frame walls (rotted) on garage
  7. Trees trimmed
  8. GFCI's throughout
  9. Address all electrical issues
  10. Replace cracked vent stack
  11. Replace copper to galvanized connections with proper fittings
  12. Shower in basement has no waste lines
  13. Gas leaks
  14. Water pressure
  15. Leaking main bathroom cleanout
  16. Improper plumbing under kitchen sink & at dishwasher
  17. Toilet problems
  18. Where are missing storms & screens?
  19. Rodent control - mice
  20. Smoke & carbon monoxide detectors
  21. Asbestos floor tiles
  22. Porch construction poor
Here are two lovely, kitschy examples of number 21:

Monday, August 09, 2010

Right before loml and I went back to those two houses, I got pre-approved for a mortgage. Being a single lady with a sizable donation being made by my father, I assumed my dad would need to co-sign. So what I should say is that we got pre-approved. For a mortgage almost twice the size of what I ended up with. Please remember this fact for later posts. It becomes infuriatingly important.

Next step was an offer. I think you should realize that this was all in May. So long ago. My realtor believed the house was way overpriced. The one thing that I want to be clear is that my realtor is awesome - both loml and i are huge fans. I would recommend him to anyone in Chicago. He impressed us on the first outing by somehow owning the building that houses loml's corner store. And it seems like he's lived in every neighborhood or has a sibling in one now. Currently he lives in my sister's hood and his sister lives in my future hood. If you want a recommendation, I'd love to share.

Original offer: 15% less than the listing price. Here's where I lose the full trail of things. I think she came back at 5% less then the listing. That was still too high. We volleyed with a counter-offer of 11% less. And then we didn't hear anything for several days.

I finally heard back, saying that the lady had decided to relist the house at 5% less. The realtor suggested that if we came up just a little, 10% less than her original listing, he thought we'd get the deal. When we discussed the offer from the beginning, the realtor said he thought the house was not worthy of an offer over 10% less than the listing - so we were at the very top of what it was worth. I was already emotionally involved with the house so I said, yes please make the offer.

June 4. One year anniversary with loml. Out to dinner (which turned out to be really bad, foodwise). His phone rings. He says he has to get it. I make a joke about him being a really bad boyfriend for talking during our anniversary meal. It is the realtor. Offer accepted.

I feel like I've set a precedent, so here is a picture of the already trashed/deceased poker room. I think you should know that this poker room kind of sold the house - I loved its kitschy-ness. It was, to my dismay, made of asbestos. More about asbestos later.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

It's a little sad and amazing that I have no idea where to start. The beginning of this process was pretty normal. I had a realtor (I had briefly, at the start of 2009, looked at condos and completely chickened out). I asked him to start pulling stuff on MLS. At the start, I knew, because of the dead real estate market and the fact that I would now have a lodger (loml), that I could afford a building instead of a condo. So the listings were single families, two flats and three flats.

Loml accompanied me on all expeditions, even though it would be my mortgage, I wanted us to both like the place we chose.

After the first trip, it was fairly clear that while I could afford a multi-unit building, any building in my price point would need work. While I wasn't against that, I didn't want to buy a place that would require a ton of time, money and annoyance to get it right. At that point, single family seemed the way to go.

So we went out again, this time to a variety of single families. And on this trip, we saw the house for the first time. As we were walking around in it, I remember whispering to loml that I really liked this one. It was the only house that I did that. And it was allll downhill from there.

On our third trip out, we went back to two single families that we had really liked. And I pretty much settled on the fact that I wanted the whisper house. I wanted it even with this on the wall:

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Oh man, today I became a woman.

I am officially a homeowner. And wow, it has been a comedy of errors. Except most of the time I didn't find it very funny at all. I definitely cried far more often than I laughed. Over a few posts I'll tell you the whole sordid story. The offer! The never ending inspection/attorney approval period! The "goofy" seller! The contractors! The mortgage broker! And again, the mortgage broker! <shakes fist>THE MORTGAGE BROKER</shakes fist>.

I did not handle the process gracefully. I didn't even handle it all that well. But I came out on the other end with a house that I love completely.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Currently organizing my life. I've been weeding and getting ready to pack (need boxes before I can actually pack) this morning. I will tell you more about the move/process of finding a place to move sometime after Thursday. Let's hope I remember all the gory details. Anyway, two things I'm currently a bit stuck on:
  1. DVD collection. I think over the past six years here, I've probably watched only a quarter of them. With Netflix and streaming, I feel like the idea of a collection (especially one so woeful and crappy as mine) is obsolete. I kind of want to be ruthless and get rid of the majority...there's really no reason I'd regret this, right?
  2. Old schoolwork. Only grad work, which is relevant to my current occupation. I graduated 2 years ago though. I have, in fact, referenced it on a few occasions. Sometimes it has been helpful to others in the program. But it takes up almost a whole shelf in my fairly wide bookcase. Do I continue to lug it around? Weed it and only lug most of it? Or just trash it all?
Back to it.