The Terrible, Horrible, all too Stressful, Buying of a House..and its resultant joy!
Deciding to buy a home in this horrible economy and with limited resources was a decision my husband and I did not take lightly. We had completed a class in May of 2009 for our state "key home loan program" and had found a source of financing that we felt would be able to put us into our own place after ten years of renting, moving, renting, moving....you get my drift!
We had a false start in the summer of 2009 when we found out we qualified for a mortgage that no one would ever be able to find a property to buy. Way too low. So we gave up on the idea and continued our lives. As the economy plummeted and rates took a nosedive, as decided to see how housing had fared this past summer. Most homes were the victims of foreclosure and/or the dreaded "short sale" whereby the bank puts homes on the market to see pre-forclosure and makes you bid against other bidders. But the process takes forever and the counter offer rarely is in the ballpark of the original sales price.
We looked within a 50 mile radius of our rental home, not too attached to any specific area or any kind of home. We did need a fenced yard for our three pets, RV parking and wanted at least two "toilets" so we would not suffer needlessly should "nature call". We found a nice lady affectionately called "Boots" who helped us and put up with our calls and e-mails. We subscribed to mailing lists for new homes marketed, we scoured neighborhoods and we started our mortgage loan process and the multitude of paperwork that is required was cheerfully sent.
Finding a nice little ranch style home at first, we placed a bid and awaited the "bank" to make its decision. Three weeks passed and when we heard from the bank (short sale) we were counter-offered by $20K more than the home was listed for! We refused to bargain with the lender, it seemed like the process was akin to entrapment! Searching again, we found another home, many months later, but the price was too high for the financing program we selected, so it went out the window.
In the meantime, I had to contact 4 lenders to suspend my student loans while I was in my PhD program, else we would not qualify for a loan. I had to find bank statements, pay stubs, W-2's and the like and we had to explain some blemishes on our credit report. One morning in September, in my email was a new home listed within the past 24 hours that caught my eye for the price and the place. The pictures were grand, it looked brand new, even though it was 32 years old. We contacted our Realtor and went to see it before the sign went up. It was a clear sale, not a short sale or a foreclosure. We bid on it the next day! And then we negotiated and were happy to find we were accepted by the seller. Stress over, right? Not by a longshot!
As time went on we found that verification of my income (four jobs I might add...for over 10 years now) made our income "too high" to qualify for the type of mortgage we sought. This meant we now needed a down payment to get into the house. Who had $6700 sitting around anyway? Not us. Then, to add insult to injury, my husband lost his job the week before we were due to close. Dead in the water? It might have been, had it not been for my quick action to help him apply for over 6 jobs that day. The next day he had an interview and within 3 days, a new job. The kicker? His income was now less, but I would not qualify on just mine, so we now needed to reverify this new job before closing. But he was not to start for over two weeks! We could not close without his paystub.
Holy lamentation! What a crock of crapola! He had to submit to a background check, which was no issue, except it backed us up yet another week for him to start his new job! As each day went by, another issue came up, compounding the stress. We were fortunate to have a friend offer to lend us some money we sorely needed, which led to another whole set of verification issues and on and on and on. I had been a loan officer in the 1980's but did not remember the invasive and horrific amount of nit-pickiness in the process!
Finally, on October 23, 2010, we went to escrow. But not without another hitch. Seems the company quoted us $1000 under that which we had to bring to the table, which meant another trip to the bank, into the city and through the traffic jams to the location. Would this whole ordeal never end? By October 25th, the house was ours. I got my blow up mattress and a few things to survive an plunked myself down into the house, refusing to return to the rental house until we got the truck and were on our way to moving day!
Bottom line: if you are buying a house, expect the unexpected at ALL times! Stress will be a day to day thing. If it might go wrong, it will.....
but....it is all worth it in the end. At 55 years young, I had no inkling I would ever own another home again. In fact, I would have bet anything it would never even be considered. Life has a way of changing for the good, just as much as it does the bad. Keep your eye on the prize. And remember....life is good.