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Hurry Up & Wait

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My experience with home-buying thus far can be summed up as follows:  hurry up & wait.

There have been a handful of times when I’ve received middle-of-the-day calls from the loan company like, “hey, we need X, Y, Z documents RIGHT NOW or else the world is going to explode!!!!!! AHHHHHHHH!!!!!!”

Okay, okay, maybe a bit of hyperbole there. But that’s how it’s felt. Like hair-on-fire emergency-status and they need these documents STAT!

But then I drop what I’m doing, find X, Y, Z documents, scan and send them over and….nothing. Crickets. A bunch of hurry up & wait.

We’ve already had our closing date pushed back once. Then we got this email on Monday (I’ve redacted identifying information):

I am waiting for the HOA to get me a copy of the Master Insurance Policy. I have been working with [insurance company] and they have to request a copy from the Servicing department. I have called a few times and they’re still working on it. My last call, [insurance representative] said they should have it by end of day on 10/26. It normally does not take this long to obtain this document. I have moved your closing date to 11/04 for now and once I receive the HOA document, we can look at closing earlier. I will call you once I have your loan back in Underwriting for final review.

Sigh.

So closing has been pushed back yet again. Thank GOODNESS we have a great relationship with our landlord and he’s cool with all of this! Our last month of our official lease was in August and we’ve been month-to-month since then (at no increased rate!!!) Our landlord knows we’re in the process of buying and has been so generous with allowing us to stay at our current rate until we are closed on the new house. It’s truly a blessing because otherwise we’d be homeless and living in an Extended Stay hotel right now!

I’ve had a couple people comment to ask about the house and the truth is that I’m feeling a little…not secretive…but maybe “private” is the right word?? I had a Tucson-local recognize me one day when I was out with my family (hi, friend!!!). It was fun to meet a reader but it was also a little….unsettling. I’ve posted lots of pictures and it’s not like I’ve bent over backward to hide my identity or be anonymous or anything (I’ve intentionally kept some things a little ambiguous, but I’ve mostly put myself out there). It was flattering and fun but also a little weird. I think I’m able to share so much personal information about myself so freely because I really feel like this is almost a journal. I love the readership and appreciate all your kind comments and constructive criticism but it still feels….kind of unreal. If that makes sense. Like I’m sending an email to a friend. Not like I’m really publishing information about our salary, our debts, our spending, etc. etc. etc. for the entire world to see and judge (though that’s exactly what I have done, heh).

Anywho ~ it freaked my hubs out a bit, too. And since then I’ve been posting fewer pics. Again – doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out who I am – but I’ve been intentionally adding in a little extra layer of privacy, at least for my kiddos’ sake. Soooooo, I’m not going to be posting any pictures of the house and will leave many of the details private.

BUT, BUT, BUT –

that doesn’t mean I’m not going to share anything!

Let me tell you a little about the house.

It’s just under 2,000 square feet (we’re currently living in 1,500 square feet so it’s definitely an upgrade in size). It’s four bedrooms (up from 3!), has two living areas, a dining room (and small breakfast nook), 2.5 baths, and a decent sized yard. It’s in our same general area (we love our current rental’s location) in a mature neighborhood with lots of nearby parks, hiking/biking/jogging trails, good schools & charter schools, and friendly neighbors (we’ve already met a couple of them)!

The house is nearly 30 years old, but has had lots of renovations. The current “owners” are a company that does flips. They’ve put in new floors, bath tubs, retiled the shower, put in new toilets, kitchen countertops, kitchen appliances, ceiling fans and fixtures, new paint, new water lines (to get rid of the old polybutylene), and many other upgrades. As part of our negotiations we also got them to do a new HVAC unit and new duct work, and new section of plumbing (where tree roots had grown into a pipe – shout out to our readers, a couple of whom suggested this might be a problem given the home’s age). There has been a LOT of work on this home in the past few months. We also feel like we’ve gotten it for a great deal. We know what they paid, we know what our offer was that was accepted, and hubs (as a flooring contractor) has guesstimated the amount of work that has been done, etc. and we think the owners can’t be making much off the property. It’s been sitting on the market for several months at this point so they’re probably just cutting their losses and moving onto the next property. But it’s worked out well for us.

I love the house but, even before moving in, I know it’s not our “forever home.” It doesn’t have space for a home office like I’d wanted, is not walking-distance from a jogging trail (it’s close, but not walking distance like our current rental house), and it’s kitchen isn’t the best design or configuration. The yard is a hot mess (I’m talking chest-high weeds all around. Zero in the way of landscaping or maintenance), it’s not in our ideal neighborhood, and the bedrooms and bathrooms are all a bit on the small side.

Before we decided this was “the one” we looked at a LOT of houses. Some that were right around our target price range (mid 100’s) and some that were on the higher end (high 100’s/low 200’s). We talked about the trade-offs of buying a little bit cheaper home that doesn’t quite have everything we want versus buying a more expensive home with all the wish list items. Ultimately, we decided that this was best for our family. It suits all of our immediate needs and has lots of great perks plus some added bonuses we hadn’t even considered (e.g., it has a wood-burning fireplace, which will be fun in winter; and it’s in a gated community, which is nice for safety/security). But probably the biggest decision factor was the price-point of the home.

Our goal is to continue pushing forward with debt-payoff. But now my sights aren’t just solely focused on the student loan debts. Now I’m considering the possibility of paying off a home mortgage. Living fully debt free. Wild, right?

I’ve done some basic calculations and I think it could be possible….within 5 or 6 years time. Yeah.  100% debt freedom. For real.

I don’t want to get ahead of ourselves (we don’t even own this home yet and I’m already fantasizing about paying it off – what is wrong with me!? lol!). But blogging here has changed me. Working so hard toward this awesome goal has changed me. It’s changed us as a family. And it just seems so plain to me. The way to financial independence is by being fully debt-free. With a home in the high 100’s or low 200s that would be further from our reach. But this home makes it possible. We would be living within our means. Nay, we’d be living below our means, really. Our mortgage would be such a small percentage of our monthly income that it’d still be easy to continue making big debt payments. And after the student loan debt is gone, we would snowball that money into the mortgage payments. And then into savings and retirement. And into travel and gift-giving and charity work. And on and on and the sky is the limit!

We have some pretty big dreams. Pretty lofty goals. And we see this house as part of that puzzle. A piece that is going to help us live a comfortable lifestyle and continue making progress toward our larger goals.

And we’ve definitely fallen for it. So there’s that.

Now let’s just cross our fingers that nothing falls through and it becomes ours in…oh a week or so, I suppose. : )

How long was your home-buying process? Ours has been ridiculously long, but my mom (a real estate broker) thinks a lot of that has been due to our jobs. I’ve only been in my current position one year and, prior to that, hubs and I were both self-employed/working contract-based jobs. That’s caused us to need a LOT of extra paperwork to prove our income, show that deposits in our accounts were due to business transactions (and not drug money I guess? I don’t know!), etc. Plus the negotiations, themselves, took forever. Lots of back-and-forth initially and again after the home inspection. Almost walked away a couple times in the process and ended up sticking it out after coming to terms. It’s felt like a total roller coaster (and it’s been a solid 2 months at this point since our first offer was submitted). I hope it’s all worth it in the end!!! : )


26 Comments

  • Reply Mindy |

    Thanks for the update! So excited for you and your family as you start this new chapter in your lives. ?

  • Reply Angie |

    So exciting!

    I think you’re smart to not post too many details on the house. One or two pictures and a few specific clues on the house and its pretty easy to track down an address.

  • Reply Jay |

    Are you able to put 20% down? If so you’ll save a ton on PMI. Also try going with the 15 yr fixed since you are going to be paying it off before then anyway. Good luck!

  • Reply Jen From Boston |

    Let’s see… My offer was accepted in late March and I closed in early May. I probably could have closed earlier, but I was trying to time it with my lease ending. However, that was 2006 BEFORE the housing/CDO/toxic debt/recession crisis. Since then I’ve refinanced about 4 times, and each time the paperwork requirements got worse. Underwriters began tightening requirements to avoid granting bad mortgages. And I have a salaried job that I’ve held for many years. So I’m not surprised you’re getting all these “we need these documents YESTERDAY!!” requests. It stinks, but you’ll make it through.

    Once you do close I would hold off on aggressively paying down the mortgage. Your budget is going to go haywire for the first year or two as you adjust to your new home. When I bought my condo an older friend wisely warned me that where I lived (apartment) everything “worked,” but once I moved everything would change. What she meant was I’d have to make adjustments for both large things (property tax, water bill), and stupid, silly things (not enough small trash cans, need to figure out where to put the recycling). I was at Target or Lowe’s every weekend to pick up something I discovered I needed in my new home. So, keep some cash on hand. Plus, it sounds like you’ll need a weed whacker and a lawnmower…

  • Reply Walnut |

    Ugh…I’ve bought/sold/brought/refinanced way too many times since in the past eight years. The most ridiculous thing I’ve had to provide is a photocopy of my college diploma. I also rolled my eyes at needing to sign and date my paystubs. Exactly what did that provide you that wasn’t already there? It has my name, date, SSN and all sorts of identifying information. Why on earth did you need me to also sign?

    I have also found that the loan officer for the bank can make ALL the difference. I’ve worked with two and the second person was so efficient. He was a straight shooter and had an excellent relationship with his underwriting department whereas the first lady was a hot mess who didn’t seem to know up from down.

    • Reply Jen From Boston |

      I feel your pain. It got to the point where I knew more than the loan processor. I didn’t have to sign my paystubs, but I did have to provide copies of my last two tax returns even though I’d filled out the form giving them permission to pull the returns from the IRS. Smh.

      I could understand much of the increased scrutiny if I was applying as someone who’s self-employed or for an abnormal mortgage. Nope – plain vanilla 30 year fixed, had the same job for ten years. In the meantime I’ve heard that lenders have started up again with the predatory lending and bad applicant screening.

  • Reply Christine |

    Congrats! Hope that you get to close soon. We bought in 2014 – offer accepted beginning of June (about 2 weeks after our wedding 🙂 ) and closed on 8/7.

    I agree to keep more cash on hand than you think you might possibly need for moving in – we were at Home Depot so much we joked we should have bought stock in it beforehand! Things will break, probably within a month or two (Murphy’s law?) and you’ll want to get settled in and may need some money to get the few necessities for the house.

    I love your enthusiasm for paying off the house early! We have the same goal, although I doubt it will be 6-7 years (I’m still paying law school student loans – but hopefully not too much longer than that!)

    • Reply Ashley |

      Great point. I think it’s a really good idea to keep some cash on hand – especially for the first couple of months – as things will inevitably come up!

  • Reply Jasmine |

    We just closed on our house last month. It seemed like a really quick process to us (a month and a half from contract signing to closing). I do totally understand the paperwork woes though. We were asked for something new every 2-3 days and then we’d hear nothing until they asked for something else. The most frustrating part for us was when they wouldn’t take a down payment gift given to us by DH’s parents because they gave us cash instead of taking it out of their bank account. Fortunately, it all worked out.

    Hope yours works out soon too! I look forward to following your journey as a new homeowner while undergoing my own.

    • Reply Ashley |

      Oh yeah, we’re getting a gift from my Mom to help us get to the 20% mark so we don’t have to have any mortgage insurance. Fortunately, my Mom knew this would be a “sticky” situation so before any transfer of funds were made we reached out to the loan company in advance to find out exactly how to make the transfer, provide records/proof, and a letter from my mom regarding her intent (money is a gift/not needing to be repaid, etc.). So many hoops to jump through!!!

      • Reply Jen From Boston |

        Omg – that just reminded me of another piece of paper I had to file during one of my refinances. I had made a transfer from my savings to my checking account. The credit union needed me to write a letter explaining where the deposit to my checking came from. Um, the savings account that is tied to the checking account? Which you could trace since both are at your credit union…

  • Reply Theresa |

    There are so many pieces to the puzzle of a mortgage loan that the hurry up and wait is not uncommon. Add in any self employment and boom. They probably have to confirm that the deposits were in fact your income. Irregular income (not direct deposited every 2 weeks from a payroll department) has to be verified. And they (probably) want to make sure that any deposits weren’t any funny business from a realtor or seller in the transaction. I am glad that you had a good living situation in the meantime. I will keep my fingers crossed that it all goes smoothly here on out.

  • Reply Sarah |

    Maybe even a 20% off everything at Bed Bath and Beyond. If you need to buy things, try to wait til those arrive.

    • Reply Ashley |

      Maybe, but we’ll have to see how it works out when we get there. We’re thinking of separating the girls so they will each have their own room (right now they’re together). Right now we have our home office in the guest bedroom but it really isn’t my favorite. We’ll have to figure out how to make it work.

  • Reply Shauna |

    I’ve been a part of buying 5 houses and selling 2. Everything from a house that was foreclosed on while we were trying to buy it, to selling our own place without a realtor. It’s taken anywhere from 1 week for a tax auction home, to 6 months (waiting on buyers to be able to sell their place.) The home we live in now had already been foreclosed on and we knew to get a formal mortgage it would take more repairs, etc since it had sat empty for 2-3 years. Luckily we were able to pull off paying for it in cash and sadly(or not) taking a 10k 401k loan to cover the difference. It saved months worth of hassle, back and forth with fixing things and we were able to get the place for a decent price. Once you get your place paid off you can find your forever place, pay cash for it and enjoy a much faster closing next time.

  • Reply Maureen |

    If you close in early November will you have to pay rent for the entitle month? If having to give actual 30 days notice will you have to pay December too? This likely depends on LL. At least the first mortgage payment is always a month later.

  • Reply Constance |

    I feel for you. Here’s my “closing story”. I put an offer on my house in March 2008. It had been seized in a drug raid and subsequently with the owner in jail, was foreclosed by his bank. They were asking $175,000. (Down from the first time it went on the market at $275,000). I offered full price with some concessions on closing costs and pool equipment that was missing. I was in love with the house but all the light fixtures, medicine cabinets, microwave, dishwasher and fireplace surround had been removed. I figured no big deal, I can do this. I actually start working on the house so that it can pass the inspections and the appraisal.
    Fast forward to early July. My offer is accepted and I’m told to get an appraisal. It comes in at $166,000. OK, we do an amendment to my offer lowering the price. 91 days later, they accept my revised offer. Except now, my appraisal has expired (only good for 90 days) and my appraiser says she can’t go any higher than $135,000. Part of me is jumping for joy, and the other part is going not again. But we do another amendment. And hear nothing. And more nothing. And more nothing. I’m ready to bail, but my realtor says give it a little longer. In early December, she calls and tells them that the price has now fallen to $100,000. Finally, they say “OK!! OK!! Sell it before it drops any further!!”. I closed in January 2009.
    So keep the faith. When it’s meant to be, it will be. 😉

    • Reply Ashley |

      Wow, that’s incredible! Probably the longest year of your life, but sounds like it was VERY worth it given the deal you got! Incredible!

  • Reply Kristina |

    I closed in 31 days. Longest 31 days of my life…but once those papers were signed and the keys were in hand, I went SHOPPING!

  • Reply Amber from Red Two Green |

    Congrats! How exciting! I hope you don’t have to hurry up and wait too much longer. We did something similar– we bought a house even though we are in a TON of student loan debt. Our monhtly mortgage payment ended up being exactly what we were paying in rent– so it just made sense to us! We plan to rent it out in a few years once we have more debt paid off (like you, this is not our dream home, by any means. just a good home). Best of luck!!

  • Reply Chantal |

    Things could be worse. We put in an offer for our present home in December 1999. Credit was good we had secured a VA loan with nothing down but then we thought a nightmare was about to begin. We had been flooded out of our rental house by Hurricane Floyd so…we had no papers, no bank statements no payment records no nothing. The university where we both worked lent us a faculty home that was normally used for visiting professors. We scuttled in with all our salvaged possessions and began the house search. We found the perfect one within 2 weeks, this was September.

    Then the trouble began, mentioned above. Also the house belonged to a young woman in South

    Africa, whi had inherited it from grandparents. She had been unable to sell it for 5 years
    previously because she was a minor. It had been rented snd turned into a ” student squat” –6
    living there at a time. Then the city had tightened regulations and the students had to go.

    We were given very good advice = find a GOOD attorney and spend money on him. Can you believe that on December 24th the house was ours and we moved in; absolutely unbelievable and in the interim the house was painted out throughout inside. We got it verycheaply because so much essentially cosmetic work was needed and the gardens were a wreck. Plus the owner only wanted to be rid of it. The attorney had even got pay records fro UT Austin where we had worked 16 years previously and all VA records of 2 previously bought and sold houses.

    We pain $155,000 for it and it is now valued at $310,000.Mind you since buying we have replaced the roof and the garage door, painted the exterior, replaced furnace and air-conditioning, replaced dishwasher and water heater and had bathrooms completely re-done and become debt free apart from mortgage, before we both were retired 4 years ago. We do feel complacent but began many years ago pretty much where you both are so don’t lose heart. You are well on the way. Setbacks will happen, as you know, but you will weather them, with your lovely children.

  • Reply Chantal |

    P.S. We had a lovely shopping spree at thrift stores buying some furniture as the flood had ruined all soft furnishings on the ground floor . It was our basement where all our papers were stored. Luckily it was a 2-story house.

So, what do you think ?