Thursday, March 17, 2011

Banks are Evil

Like we didn't already know that.

I'm NOT going to go on a rant.  I'm NOT going to go on a rant.  I promise.  So to keep that (extreme, boiling over) rage to a minimum, I will keep this short.

I got pre-approved with Bank of America back in December.  If you don't know already, lenders are really big on "two consecutive years of work history" thing.  It's a primary prereq for home purchases.  But since, prior to my current position, I was technically "unemployed" while writing a novel, I don't have that two years of consecutive work experience.  Still, BoA said, "oh no problem!  I mean, it may be an issue to the underwriter, but we can just write a letter of explanation and everything should be alright."  I was even offered by one of the Big Bosses of the company to write a letter on my behalf, and the bank was like, "OMG! Okay!!".

So we get the offer, submit everything, do the inspection, and I send everything in to the bank.  For two days, the loan officer dodges me.  Doesn't respond to emails.  Then suddenly he writes me back 1.4 minutes (no joke) before he leaves for the day, and says, "Sorry, there's little- to no-chance we can approve you without two years work history."


It doesn't matter that I've been working in a similar industry for years upon years.  It doesn't matter that writing a novel is technically an asset, as it has the potential (if published) to net you future money.  it doesn't matter that I EXPLAINED ALL OF THIS THREE MONTHS AGO, and he was like "Thumbs up!!!!!!  Yay!!!!".  Now?  "No way, dudette.  You're screwed."

So, after a fit of rage, and cursing, and arguing that, you know, why does work history fall at the top of the list?  Shouldn't my credit history, rental history, or you know, my debt to income ratio be the most important things?  If these are all great, shouldn't work history (especially with a letter from Company Big Wig saying, "we will hunt this girl down if she tries to leave because we love her and will never let her go away") be kind of a wash?

But whatever.  So I call our realtor, verging on tears.  She's like, "call a mortgage broker.  I know this guy."

Y'all?  This guy is awesome.  He asked for everything except for drawn blood, but he's getting the job done.  (I hope.)  And while the interest rate is a teensy bit higher (dude's gotta make his money), it works out to less than $4/mo more than the other mortgage payment with BoA.  And I'm willing to pay that to actually get approved by someone who has a lick of sense.

Maybe if I get like four people from the company to vouch for me that I'm never leaving my current employer because they are awesome and they're like family to me, that it'll help?

So, wish me luck. Here's hoping we actually get financed.  WE WANT THIS HOUSE.  Must have.  No kidding.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Inspections and Insights

So, a little backstory.

When we put the offer on the house, we did a total low-ball offer.  I mean, we offered list price, contingent on the fact that they fixed the AC unit (a few grand) and replaced all the rotted wood around the entire house (another few grand, and endless hours of labor by doing it outside), and repainted all the wood the same color.

We expected them to come back with "y'all are out of your minds", but they actually said okay.  We were shocked.

We went over to check out the progress Friday evening.  The inspector had just come, and we got a mostly-green light on the house.  Most of the damage he detected, we already knew about (doors not on hinges, window screens not on their windows, insulation installed backward in the attic, no gutters, the AC (which hasn't been fixed yet), etc.  The only thing that wasn't cosmetic or easy/cheap to fix was an electrical port problem that I don't quite understand, and we don't know the scope of the cost to fix it yet, if it even needs to be fixed immediately.  That's being investigated at present, so we'll see.

Anyway, onward to the pictures of updates!  I don't have many 'before' pics of the outside where we can do a side-by-side comparison, but I will say that, even though they weren't finished painting when we came over, it looks SO much better.  Like, they basically ended up repainting and refinishing the whole house.

Before, clearly.
And now...
Yes, that's our motorcycle!

You probably can't tell the difference, but in person it just looks so much better.  The wood is fresh and new and the paint is all shiny.  :)

Midway through the paint process.  Time for some blue trim!
Brand new, all the way around.
 Here's my one good before and after photo, though this hanging-down part was kind of a theme throughout the lining of the house:

And after!
That side-by-side shows you the newness of the paint in the after-photo.  That blue is richer and deeper now, and looks great!

The painters destroyed most of this plant, so it's probably gonna have to go.

We didn't even take a picture of this area before, because it had the busted-up mailbox and a whole bunch of trash laying out.  I guess the bonus of painters was that they doubled as trash-collectors!  I'm already envisioning a nice potted plant here (there's not enough room for a bench).

And some flowers here:
And here:

There's not a lot of work done around the back, but I took pictures, so you will look at them!

Husband inspecting the wood work.  Please note the patio door into our master bath...
Thanks for breaking the half-fence...

The backyard tree situation isn't that amazing, but it's at least promising.  There's one corner full of dead palm trees that we'll have to dig up, and the above tree that's starting to flower.  Our initial thought was that it was a Dogwood, but upon further inspection from looking at the flowers, my research tells me it's a Washington Hawthorne.
The name sounds very presidential.
I will spare you the twelve pictures of the porch (which will also eventually have to go, particularly since it's resident to Carpenter Bees).

So now, we just have to get a reasonable estimate from the inspector on what he thinks it'll cost to fix the electrical box-or-whatever problem.  Once we determine that, we have to either renegotiate the cost and do A WHOLE NEW CONTRACT, sigh....or we can just proceed as planned.  If we don't push asking for more things to be repaired (and I'm not inclined to push since they're already fixing other stuff and probably won't fix anything else), we can move forward with having the appraiser come.  If s/he gives the thumbs up, the process moves along.  If the appraiser demands repairs, we'll have to either eat the cost, get the sellers to fix it, or walk.

Can't wait for THAT.  Whoo.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

And we're off to the races!

So the process is officially kicked off, and things are already in motion!

We signed the contract on Monday. After being told that it wouldn't be provided to us until Wednesday, they came back in like an hour with the addendums to sign.  We turned in the contract/addenda and the earnest money Tuesday morning, and after the realtor told us they should only take a day to sign the papers, she suggested we start calling inspectors and such.  The power and water was already turned on, so we wouldn't have to worry about that part of the process.  Yes!

So our inspector is scheduled for Friday.  We got our insurance guy shopping around for homeowners insurance. I called our bank about initiating the lending process, gathered up all my w-2s and paystubs and bank statements, so all I need to kick the lenders in gear is to get the fully-signed copy of the sales contract.  Easy enough, right?

Yesterday morning, I got a call from the realtor saying that the bank (it's a foreclosure) still hadn't signed the papers, and if they didn't sign it by this evening (Thurs), we'd have to reschedule the inspector.  Frack.

Yesterday evening, I got a call from husband saying that the realtor notified him that the utilities had been shut off in the house.  The inspector can't inspect a property if the utilities are off!  Frack.

Thankfully, as of this morning, we've got one bug down - the utilities are back on.  Now we have to go and reschedule our inspection for Tuesday, because suddenly the bank is dragging their heels.  I am glad I'm already privy to the "hurry up and wait" syndrome that bureaucratic companies love to afflict us with.

Next on the list:
1) After contract is in-hand, I can send off all ninety-bagillion pages of required documents to the lender to get started on that. 
2) Prepare for headache ensuing from underwriters of said lendor.
3) Insurance rates will be provided and (hopefully) set up on Monday
4) Inspection set for Tuesday, including termite inspector.
5) After lenders start working the process through, apparently there's also an appraiser that has to come out (which I'm hearing is around 300-400 bucks.  Yikes), and then a surveyor (also 300-400 bucks).  Really?  A surveyor?  Sigh.  I guess if these people went to school and got a degree in surveying, they gotta utilitize that talent somewhere, despite that nothing has changed on the house in over ten years to warrant a new survey.  People gotta make money, and somebody's gotta pay.  Apparently.
6) If inspection/appraisal/initial stages of underwriting go well, we have to give notice to our apartment and break contract.  That's not going to be fun, or cheap.  But oh, will it be rewarding!  (More on that in another post)

And I'm sure that list will grow as things begin to move forward.

The technical closing date is May 9th, but provided everything moves forward at a rapid pace, the realtor suspects we could move in by mid- to late-April.  We still plan to have overlap in our rental agreement just to be on the safe side, but the earlier we close, the better!

So you know, wish us luck and yell into the ether to get this bank to sign our contract already!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Before Photos - Upstairs

And finally, we venture upstairs.

...or downstairs, from this angle!
The carpet's in good shape, and I dig the open layout here, especially as we turn toward the upstairs hall:

Tiniest. Ceiling Fan. Ever!
Pay no attention to the wall-unit.  That (theoretically) will be gone by the time we move in.

From this view, the door immediately to the left is the guest bedroom.

Guest bedroom!
 It's got a great view of treeline, so you can't see the neighbors at all unless you're really trying.  It's good a good-sized closet with mirrored sliding-door, and we all know how mirrors open up a room.  It's not a huge room, but while the specs say it's 10x10, it feels a good deal bigger. 

I don't really understand why they have a locked mini-door to the attic, though...
Between the guest bedroom and the upstairs bathroom is a big linen closet that's in just as urgent a need for paint job as the kitchen pantry.  It's like they spilled coke all over it and then couldn't be bothered to clean it up.

Next door in the hallway is the upstairs bathroom.

I was actually surprised how good a shape this room was in.  Other than a fresh paint job, it really doesn't need any work. 

And finally, from the hallway, headed straight we go into the room that made me glee when I walked into it.  I call it the nursery room, but really it'll likely be the office.  For awhile.

I officially drool all over these bay windows.
Plus it has these pretty cool built-in shelves on both sides and it's a good closet size as well. 

The carpet's not in the best shape up here.  I'm hoping that all it needs is a solid carpet cleaning, but it'll last us through when we flip it, unless we decide to stay in it for ever.

So...that was the official tour!  What do you think?

Before Photos - The Master Suite

Onward to the master suite.

I like to call this shade, "Hooker Red."
This room is huge...I mean LARGE.  (And look at that vaulted ceiling!)  Which, essentially, means we're going to spend three cans of Kilz trying to cover this color up. :)

But at least the carpet's in good shape!  But before I progress to my favorite room in the house, I will preamble:

One of the things we loved most about this place was the amount of storage.  Big pantry in the kitchen, lots of storage space in the laundry room (I only have one blurry shot at present), big coat closet and aforementioned stair-closet.  Which brings me to...

The master closet.
I'm not going to post 20 pics of the closet, because I tried from five different angles to accurately illustrate how enormous this thing is, and every picture just made it look like a normal closet.  Suffice to say, you could fit a king size bed in this closet and it would fit.  It's HUGE.  This pic only comprises like, 30% of the closet.

From the second master-bedroom pic (I won't ask you to go back and look, because I understand that the red is probably making your eyes bleed), you'll see that it leads you to the master bath. 

Let me say before I post pics, that the master bathroom and the kitchen are going to be the two largest remodeling jobs we do.  These remodeling ideas will be fully addressed in future posts, so I'll just say that the bathroom is likely going to undergo a complete overhaul.  I think only the tile, the half-bath cabinet and mirror, and the main bath cabinets are going to stay...and that's only an "I think" statement.  The elusive-animal-which-we-think-was-a-dog has torn up the edges of the cabinets in such a way that they may need to be replaced, and if they get replaced, so does the tile.  :\  But that's a post for another time!  Pictures!

The master-bath counter/cabinets/lack-of-mirror area.
It needs more work than you can see from the photos. The master tub is disgusting.  I don't believe we'll be using it until it's replaced.

It's not supposed to be that color.
To the left of this photo, you can see light streaming in.  That's from a patio door.  No, I'm not kidding.  Thank goodness the door falls behind the gate. 

To the right of the above photo, you can see a badly-beaten folding door.  That is going to be heading to the junkyard very quickly.  If you head through the beaten door, you will come to this half-bath location:

Other than paint and a new toilet, this area doesn't really need any work.  But wait!  If this is the half-bath...then that means....yep!  You guessed it!  Our master bath also doubles as a guest bath.  It may sound bad, but it's positioned in a way that really works.  I actually kind of dig this setup.

Before Photos - Downstairs

You see now why I love this house, right?  Because, wow.  And it looks great from far away!
Looking toward the kitchen and, theoretically, dining area.
It definitely needs a new paint job, though.  These kind of scratches are seen throughout the home.  We suspect a dog shared the home with the previous owners.
Love the window seat-esque area.  Don't love the view, and the hanging light's gotta go.
Looking from the living room toward the front door. 
 We're lucky that the living room floors have been recently laid with wood laminate, and it's in great shape, despite our suspicion of dog.  There are only a few spots in the corners where it looks like the installer didn't quite know what to do with the extra space, and didn't have the time/ability to cut a tiny piece of laminate to seal that spot.  It's definitely not noticeable unless you're a perfectionist (husband), or looking for imperfections. 

The tile in the kitchen and bathrooms is in good shape as well, but there are a few "interesting" tiling options in less-conspicuous areas.  Witness the tile in the back corner of the under-stairs storage space.


Onward to the kitchen!


 Yep.  That's magenta.  Yep, that's 1978-era fake-wood countertops.  No, you aren't having a nightmare.

I kid you not, that light?  Comes to my chest.
The pantry is visible in the above photo, and it's actually quite large...

It's also kind of gross.  Please to paint now!

The pics don't even do it justice.

Before Photos - Outdoors/Garage

So, after much request (already!), here are the current photos of the home, in its present condition.

You already saw the front, so we'll move on to the rest of the outside and garage photos!

Sad, neglected palm tree along the front walkway

The official entrance to the backyard from the front.  I think it needs a shrub or tree or something.
Back porch is covered, which is a plus!

Needs some landscaping, but a good base!
Um, the garage needs a good once-over with some paint.  And bonus, there's leftover paint right there!  Too bad that it's magenta and neon red...

Plenty of room for motorcycle and husband-tools!

Monday, March 7, 2011

We bought a house!

So I can't believe I'm about to say this, but...we bought a house! We literally just finished signing the contract, so we're in the early stages, but here it is...

Tada! See, it totally looks like a castle. :)

I'm totally joining the bandwagon of DIY-homeowners who blog out their frustrations, excitements, and inspirations. We have so many friends and family members who live outside the city (and state), who can't join us in watching this home transform from its current in-pretty-good-condition-but-needs-work state, to the modern-awesome-amazing-home-that-only-the-Clarks-could-live.

I'll post more about our home purchase process (as well as throw up a few preemptive inspirational photos and pics of the home in its current state) throughout this week, as we continue through the process.

So, you know, more to come!