Tuesday, April 22, 2008

My own little rollercoaster ride

I have a new fad diet. It's called the "Homebuyer Diet." Your stomach is in knots, so you definitely don't feel hungry. You get all kinds of energy from nerves and worry. I've lost five pounds in less than a week.

I've also been waking up with a jolt at four o'clock every [bleep]ing morning since Friday. Never the same reason but always the same result.

So here's what's been going on, as reconstructed from the emails I've been bombarding my sister and Mom with for days:

Saturday: My realtor tells me she couldn't get hold of the originator at the credit union, and she's not sure whether the townhouse is going to qualify for the FHA program. Something about its being part of an association and also about not knowing the tenant to live-in owner ratio. If it's mostly tenants I think property values go down. Also the FHA wants to make sure I'm buying this to live in, not to rent out. Fair enough. Anything I can sign to avow that's what I'm doing? She doesn't know, that's why we need the lady at the credit union. Apparently she's their FHA expert. We'll talk to her Monday.

Sunday: Fret, worry, try to put it out of my mind, and go shake my fanny at belly dance class. I'm okay until bedtime, when the same thoughts chase each other around and around in my head as the cat purrs on my chest.

Monday: My agent has received the numbers she needed, and they're not very good: 33 units, 19 tenanted, 14 with owner in residence. That's 58% tenant. I look it up online and find that anything over 10% is considered a risk. More bad news: the originator is going to be out of the office all day. No news 'til Tuesday.

Today: Originator is going to be out of the office until Thursday, for crying out loud. My agent calls the other one and says she can't wait until Thursday, could he please learn a bit more about the FHA today? He does, the FHA won't finance this townhouse. Crap. The PHFA will, though (that's Pennsylvania's version of the same program). My credit union doesn't do PHFA loans, though. Double crap. My realtor is on really good terms with someone at another bank, contacts her (after asking me if it was okay. I said, sure, go for it). She works the numbers out and also finds me a funky little loan from my county designed to help out with down payment and closing costs. It's a second mortgage, interest-free, and I don't have to pay it off until I either sell the house or refinance it. She asks for (and receives) a bunch of financial information from me to see if I qualify. I do, just barely.

After that, things start rocketing forward again. At four o'clock precisely (by the Big Ben chimes from the clock on campus) I have a completely executed contract in my hands, and some time during the next fifteen days I need to get the place inspected. I'm meeting with the mortgage originator at the new bank (just up the street from my credit union) on Friday. I am to bring with me a sheaf of papers, financial documents, and various pieces of proof that I do actually exist, live in this county, work, that the numbers I gave her today were accurate, and that I have good credit.

Good lord this has been an education. So far everyone I've dealt with has been eager to help me get me into a place of my own. My real estate agent has been wonderful, and never for a moment did I think she was working for anything other than my best interests. For example: the "dream" townhouse--the one that I knew was out of my league but was still tantalizingly just inside the range I'd been okayed for by the credit union--I'd looked at it wistfully from the driveway as we were pulling away. J. said, pleadingly, "Vee, I don't want you to be house-poor." That stuck with me. That told me more than anything whose side she was on, and that I could trust her. She'd have made a much better commission on that one than she's making on this one, but this one is a better fit for me and that's what is motivating her. I think she's as excited about this as I am.

My sister has said that first-time home buyers are her favorite clients. The excitement is infectious. I believe it.

Looks like another sleepless night, but for a good reason this time. Definitely time to start packing.


Just Me said...

Being "house poor" is an all-too-common problem. I see these monstrous half-million-dollar homes going up and I wonder who can possibly afford to buy them.

They eventually sell, and if you drive by at night you see the lights turned on and NOTHING inside.

Ten years ago I worked for the police department of a rather affluent municipality. On Thanksgiving, the PD was distributing turkey dinners to the "needy" in their jurisdiction. Huh? What? My first thought was, "What constitutes needy around here, fewer than four bedrooms?" I realized later that they were "house poor," all mortgage and landscaping on the outside to hide the struggling within.

All that being said, I'm glad you found a realtor who really has your best interests at heart, and I am so excited for you.

If you don't have a safe haven off-site for your kitty, talk to your veterinarian or an animal shelter about borrowing a large-sized collapsible dog crate for moving day. It needs to be big enough to hold your cat, a litter pan, and her food & water.

I don't know how much room you have in your apartment. Assuming that you'll need all your space to to maneuver furniture, it might be best to set up the crate in the room you'll disturb the least in your future house. See if they'll permit you to bring in the crate during the final walk-through before settlement to save a back-and-forth trip.

Before anyone sets a foot in your apartment to load the truck, stuff your unsuspecting cat into the carrier and take her to her temporary prison, and avoid as much traffic as possible in and out of that room. She'll be spazzy enough with the cage and the strange smell of the new place without bunches of feet stacking boxes around her.

No matter how much she complains, she needs to remain in the crate until the last item is moved in and the door won't be hanging open for her bewildered escape. That would be a horrid way to start off in your new house.
She'll be mad at you for a while, but maybe you can buy her forgiveness with a little Starkist.

Anonymous said...

Says Stacy:
That would be me, house poor. No impulse control. I've decided to never buy a house until John is out of the service anyway. No reason to buy one only to have to move after buying it. Even if we've been in one place for 6 years.

I hope you send pictures of your house soon!