I am kicking back with a Diet Coke: my one allowed caffeinated drink of the week. Yup, it is a wild night to end the week, here Chez Frazier-Wood. But what a week. Deserving of said indulgence I think.
We are finally in our own home. Huzzah. The road to this point was not easy, and went a little something like this:
In mid-April we came house-hunting. Previously we had considered a short term let, or looking at some suburbs, but 6 days after verbally accepting the position at UT, I discovered I was (somewhat unexpectedly… I mean, I know my biology, so how unexpected can it really be?) pregnant. Much joy and happiness: but a few reconsiderations. We knew I would not want to be commuting over an hour each way with a new baby… and that I would not want the disruption of both a new baby, and a house move in my first year of faculty. So, we decided to buy outright (a decision that made my husband much happier) and live as close as possible to work (a decision that made him less happy), while also getting a 3-bedroom house with yard. We knew we could not dilly-dally. Wes spent hours and hours trawling the internet and making short list after short list of houses. I must confess: I did not. We booked a trip (courtesy of UT) and made sure our first day house-hunting was perfectly set-up: houses available, keys at the ready and so on… and we made sure we were pre-approved for a mortgage… and that we only looked at things at about 50-60% of our maximum approval, to minimize last minute problems with finance.
Out we came to Houston. Despite horrible morning sickness and tiredness, Wes wisely made me look at fourteen, yes, FOURTEEN houses the first day. It paid off: despite puking in a gutter, we made a top 3 and saw them again the next day. From there, we made a first choice and put an offer in that night, putting down a grand of ‘earnest money’ – money that was returnable to us within 2 weeks if either party could not reach an agreement, but we lost if we went over the 2 weeks (standard practice here). Within a week we had received a counter offer, which we accepted after deciding not to haggle further so that we could keep the process moving. We were slightly concerned that the realtor texted the acceptance of our offer with “Off to H-town to clear up” [the junk left from the renovation in the yard]. But hey – the offer was accepted.
The house inspection was rapidly completed, and there were, of course, several issues. We made our offer dependent on fixing a certain number of these issues: and heard nothing for a week. Nothing. I was chilling at the beach, or was supposed to be, but actually having kittens (and not the good kind) because the realtor for the sellers was not contactable by phone, text email or carrier pigeon – he seemed to have completely disappeared. With 12 hours to go (and we are talking 8pm – 8 am) husband and I had a decision to make: did we (a) withdraw completely, keep our $1,000 and be homeless when we moved, facing a short term let or (b) hang on, hoping they would agree to fixing the issues. If they did – awesome, we could proceed. If not, well, we’d lose our house and our $1,000. We’re risk takers. Or I am: we proceeded with the offer and actually, just before bed, the final offer was accepted. The mortgage company assured us we would be closing mid-May and boom: we were on our way to being home owners.
Only we weren’t. There was a final inspection to be completed (for mandatory insurance purposes), and due to a typo on the zip code, made by the mortgage company, the inspectors were sent to OKLAHOMA (although this is not exactly what they told us… having some flexibility with the truth, dear mortgage company that they were). Good grief. But still, they promised all the paperwork would be ready, and we could close just before we left… in like, the two days between when I returned from giving a talk at ACSM (which went surprisingly well, all things considered) and when we left. And no, just FYI, I don’t advise people to travel in the week the move house (except that it means their ther half will have to do most of the work, tee hee). Okey doke, when I returned from San Fransisco, the paperwork was all ready, apparently. The inspection was in. The insurance set-up. All signed by everyone but us. The mortgage company just couldn’t get it to us before we left on June 1st. Apparently.
So – as the delay was their fault they set-up and paid for a short term lease. From June 1st – June 7th. During which time we would sign the (apparently completed) paperwork. Ok… OK… starting to get nervous, but OK. On June 1st, the day we left, the mortgage company emailed us and said there was a problem: Wes’ employer had ticked 2 boxes for one question on some darn form, and so they couldn’t proceed. But, I hear you say, the paperwork was completed, right? Well… apparently this another ‘flexible’ truth. Luckily, we could get the house on my salary alone, so we had Wes’ salary taken off the mortgage, which (as were still eligible for the house) meant the paperwork was simple, and they promised we could sign on Monday 4th. Which came and went with no paperwork. As did the 5th… and 6th… and 7th…. finally on the 11th the insurance company called us: our quote had expired. We needed a new one, which was $200/year higher. Not impressed, but really FINE. WHATEVER.
We called the mortgage company…. they said we were not approved for this extra amount (of $17/month !!) so the paperwork had to be redone, but they would call us in 15 mins. Every hour we called them… no dice. And no hint of movement from them either. Now, now I hear you say: hadn’t your lease run out at this point? Well… yes, and we did not have the sellers’ confidential details so WE could not renew… and the mortgage company just ‘did think it was important’ to do so. Seriously. No word of a lie, no exaggeration. Most of our stuff was unpacked… things were on the wall… vegetables were planted… we didn’t feel we could get out (heck, with 4 animals, we had no where to go). Which is why, when I was at work on the 12th, the owner (rightfully) appeared and told Wes that he had contacted the police to get us evicted. Holy Moly.
A furious Wes ordered me home from work, and we went and sat, at the solicitors, and told them we would remain in their office until the damn thing was done. Mainly because we couldn’t really go home, as we no longer had a home, but also to put pressure on. And angry Wes = much pressure. 3.5 (very boring, angry-bird-filled) hours later the paperwork arrived. It was not great… instead of getting $900 back, as we should, we ended up PAYING another $350 in recalculated escrow. We felt we had no choice but to sign, and are still working to get it back. But… hey… the house is ours.
*NB to self: never squish your arm into your side for photos. It will only look enormous and make people wonder why you are bothering with diet coke.