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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Busy Busy

I had no idea it's been almost a month since I wrote a post. We've been SO busy with the house and it's going great. So far we've:
  • Replaced the pink carpets upstairs
  • Painted the kitchen, family room and bathroom
  • Had Kyle's room redone (it's definitely the best room in the house with it's new white trim, lattice work, and decor!)
  • Had a painter come in and do the living room and all the trim. The room is totally transformed with white trim vs the old oak that is everywhere, we love it!
  • Bought new appliances
  • Installed the radon unit
  • Bought a new washer and dryer
  • Bought a new kitchen table
  • Put up curtains and pictures
  • Had the place professionally cleaned...twice
  • Had a landscaper do a fall clean up
  • Added some Christmas decorations!
It's a lot, but totally worth it. It's feeling more like home every day. The last thing that needs to be done from the original purchase and sale is the window install and that's happening tomorrow. I promise I'll put up some before and after pictures this weekend once things settle down a bit!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

We live in a house!

It's been 3 official days since we actually moved into our house after everything we've been through. It's great so far!

Boxes are still everywhere, but the majority of our stuff is put away. We have the essentials either put away, or out within reach and hope to spend some time soon putting up things like curtains and pictures.

We did so much work last week, that it's change so much we can't help but feel at home already. We painted the family room, kitchen, upstairs hallway and half of the upstairs bathroom. The mauve carpet was replaced (thank god) and our amazing cleaning lady came and thoroughly scrubbed, mopped, sponged, bleached, scoured and windexed the place. It actually looked clean. And we felt good getting into the place. It still needs some updating, but the spiderwebs, dust bunnies, floor stains and counter crumbs are all gone.

The best surprise we got was from my Dad, he totally re-did Kyle's new room with a friend of his. It's amazing! We just got the furniture in last night so I haven't had a chance to take many pictures. I will though, it's a total transformation!

Kyle just LOVES his new house. He has so much room to play and to run around in and the floors are so soft with new carpet that he's always rolling around playing trains and having fun. There's a nice little loop from family room, to living room, through the hall, into the kitchen and back to the dining room that Kyle is practically wearing away the floors he's been running it so much. And he will tell you when it's your turn to run and which way to go and you better run fast!

Our furniture fits nicely in some places and other rooms look pretty bare! That's to be expected when you double your square footage from condo to house!

We still have a lot of work to do, but I promise, before and after pictures are coming soon!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Big week!

One week ago, we ACTUALLY signed all the papers and officially own the house. It's been a crazy hectic week and I've barely had time to write much! We couldn't get in until Sunday since Old Friend's new place wasn't ready until Saturday.

We drove by Saturday and he happened to be taking his last load so he waved us over to give us a few updates. His son had a few things left, the garage door openers were on the kitchen counter, the windows were to be delivered this week and he 'cleaned as best as he could'.

It's still filthy. But...he did vacuum and the counter tops and surfaces were wiped clean. We still have our own cleaners coming on Friday morning.

Sunday afternoon, we started painting! Kyle's room, the hallway, the bathroom all got some paint. Monday night the carpet guys came to measure for the new upstairs carpet, Tuesday night we painted the family room and got the radon unit install scheduled for next week and this morning a painter came to help us with the living room which is a two-story, so it's WAY too high for us to do.

The movers come on Friday, and we should be officially in the house by Saturday night. yay!

I can't wait to start posting before and after pictures!!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Homeowners!!

It finally happened. We signed. Signed, sealed and almost delivered.

This morning, we actually closed on the house. The air conditioning unit has been fixed, the gas fireplace is fully fixed, inspected and permitted, the house has been painted and Old Friend is almost out. The only two things left are the windows (they have been ordered and paid for but probably won't be installed for another week) and for Old Friend to actually move out.

Because of his rental situation, we closed today, but he has until Sunday, Oct 31 to move out. Happy Halloween to us! He thinks he'll be out by Friday or Saturday morning and will let us know. We did get one set of keys, but not both yet. We also get a nice little 'rent' check in a week or so for the few extra days he's staying. Funny, it's just about enough for new curtains for the bedroom and family room! ;)

There's still a dumpster out in the driveway and that will be there until Monday, Nov 1 since they can't pick it up on the weekend, but that's OK with us!

For once, in this WHOLE process, we actually had a funny thing happen that was in our favor.

We went to the bank this morning to get our cashiers check for the closing cost, and a separate check for Margot the Agent's commission. We decided to pay out the commission separately because it lowered our monthly payments by about $50 and we didn't want to be paying commission for 30 years. So we got two checks.

At the end of the closing we handed Margot her check and the lawyer had a funny look on her face. What's that for? We told her it was her commission...she said, oh no, that's already included in the closing costs.

What?

We were told by the bank that our closing costs were X amount, and that DIDN'T include commission. (this was yesterday)

There was a mixup somehow and this morning, we found out that we didn't need a separate check. AND...this is amazing...the bank over estimated our closing costs and actually owed us money!

When does that ever happen?? Never!

So we walked out of the closing with a new house, and a check that should cover not only the carpets we are having installed next week, but possibly the hard wood throughout the first floor that we orignally were going to install until we had to install the radon unit, fix the toilets and a do a few other little things in the house that Old Friend refused to negotiate on.

Thanks TD Bank! We'll take your bank error in our favor any day!!
This weekend, Lowes and Home Depot become our best friends...Let the upgrading begin!

Friday, October 22, 2010

You would think we'd be excited...

Next Wednesday we should be closing on our new house. Notice how I said "should be".

You may remember all the issue with had with Old Friend refusing to really do much (if anything) on the house by way of repairs that we thought fell under the 'standard home maintenence' category. And, how we finally got him to agree to fix the windows, paint the house, fix the AC, and repermit and fix the gas fireplace.

Guess how many are done-only 4 days from closing?

None.

That's right. Nothing is done.

Last week, Old Friend invited us over to see if there was any old furniture we might want to keep and to give us an update on the repairs. Kind of odd, but this whole thing has been pretty strange so we figured, why not? At least we can see the house again, especially since we've started thinking about colors and carpets and wanted to visualize a bit. Plus, there was a big picture mirror in the basement I spotted during the home inspection that I want!

So we went by (with Margot the Agent's number on speed dial just in case things got weird). Old Friend's son and daughter were there helping clean out, which made it a lot easier. We thought it could get weird if it was only us and him. At least we had someone else to talk to!

He showed us what he thought was wrong with the AC unit and said he would be making a call to get it fixed. We still aren't sure if that was fixed or not yet.

The painters had some and cleaned and powerwashed the house, but hadn't actually painted yet. They were supposed to come by and finish on Monday. As of last night - 4 days later-...-4 SUNNY days later- it was still not done.

We went inside and checked out the gas fireplace that we still think was installed without permits. According to Old Friend, they need to take out the damper and repermit due to 'new regulations' (riiight, sounds to me like you couldn't produce the permit we requested because you didn't have it so you had to get it redone...)
Old Friend told us he would get the damper removed and a new permit OR...we could replace the whole thing for a couple hundred bucks! No way! We couldn't believe he was trying to pass ANOTHER thing off onto us just to save $25.  We both said no thanks, you need to get it done yourself, since you did sign the P&S saying you would...

He was supposed to make a call on that this week, we hope it's been done.

Lastly, the 5 windows we argued about for weeks. According to Old Friend, they have been ordered and pre-paid for, including labor. But...they won't arrive for another week or two, which means it might be after he moves out. Of course, now we're really worried that the costs will be more and we'll get stuck with it. So we have our lawyer drawing up a document that says whatever happens, it's on Old Friend.

Today, we emailed our lawyer and asked 2 questions:
1. Can we have the documentation that the repairs that might happen after the close will be paid for by Old Friend?
2. What if not everything is done yet?

You know what he said?

Sorry guys, but if all repairs aren't completed by the close...there IS no close.

Yup, after all this, we STILL might not get to own this house next week.

Margot the Agent is on her way over right not to ask Old Friend what the heck is going on. Hopefully we'll hear back that the AC and fireplace were done this week, the painters are coming tomorrow and the windows miraculously arrived a week early and will be installed by the close.

I doubt it, our luck has not been at all like that throughout this entire process, but I can still hope.  I didn't even get the mirror! It was gone. :(

We think that at the very least, we can still close if the windows aren't done yet, because they have already been ordered, so the process has started. If we need wording in the closing docs to support that, we're fine with it, as long as we don't have to pay for anything.

Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Done deal?

Finally, after many hoops courtesy of TD Bank, we secured our mortgage!

We had to provide boatloads of paperwork and then we were away for a few days and then the girl handing our case (who's not that great...) was out, and then the lawyers started to get antsy so we had to put some pressure on the bank, but after all that, it's done.

Nothing has been easy, so we aren't surprised with our 11th hour trip to Bank of America yesterday for one last form that we needed to prove we had the downpayment money in our account. Luckily, it was very easy to get, so we faxed it over and found out this morning that everything finally checked out.

Looks like nothing is going to stop us now!

Two weeks from today we close on our new house!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Three more weeks to go!

The appraisal was last week and we passed! It actually came in a little higher than our purchase price, but according to our agent, that's not a problem for us. It can in fact help us in the future if we wanted to refinance or something because now, according to the bank, the home is worth just a little more than we settled on. yay!

Yesterday we got our cashiers check for the rest of the down payment, and are just waiting on our new home owner's policy to come though. After that, all paperwork should be done with and we just have to wait until the close!

I went out on a limb this weekend and got some paint samples and checked out carpet prices for the upstairs. We're sticking with warm neutrals for the downstairs since it's so light and open and I'm leaning toward a lighter shade of cobalt blue for our bedroom.

I have been checking out all sorts of home decor blogs and am getting so many ideas! Once I figure out how to post all the 'cut and pasted' images I'm stealing from them all, I'll do it (with proper credit, of course!).

Some of my favorites are:

Thrifty Decor Chick
Emily A Clark
Centsational Girl
Honey We're Home

These ladies really know their stuff and their homes are beautiful! I'm getting lots of inspiration from them.

Friday, September 24, 2010

One step to go...

We officially have a signed purchase & sale from both parties! All that's left now is the appraisal which should be sometime in the next week or so. Pending a horrible appraisal (which could actually happen) we will be closing as originally planned on October 27!

I'm not sure what happens when a house appraises below the asking - and agreed upon -- price. I know that if it's over the agreed upon amount, either the seller pays the difference, the buyer pays the difference, you split the middle, or the deal is off. I'm not sure if that goes for when the appraised value is below.

We'll find out!

I think it might actually be safe to get to Lowes, or Home Depot and check out some paint and carpet samples. I've been dying to do that!!

Happy Weekend! (finally!)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Home Update

I had to take a break from the home stuff. We had so much going on, so many decisions to make, so many options to consider, it was getting overwhelming. We needed a few days to think things over, drive by the house a few times, see how we felt toward it without worrying about the repairs, and to talk with our family to see if they REALLY mean it when they say they'll help us in any way we might need it (like manual labor?) :)

We went back to Old Friend one more time for two things. We gave up on the paint thing. We'll repaint the house a decent color next summer. The biggest issue was that there was mold and some pieces that needed to be replaced because they were rotting. We got Old Friend to agree to fully clean and scrape the house, fix anything rotted, and do one coat of paint in the old color. It's ugly, but fine. At least it will be fresh and without mold, stains or rotting wood.

We asked lawyers to clarify something. This whole time, we've been asking Old Friend to replace the window because it's rotting. He keeps saying, no, he'll replace the sash but not the window. A few days ago, he finally said he'd replace the rotting wood AND sash, but not the whole frame. The problem is, the frame IS the rotting wood. He's been saying "sure, I'll replace the rotting wood, but not the frame", while we've been saying, "but the rotting wood IS the frame", so what is he replacing?

We got clarification that Old Friend would replace anything that's rotted on the bottom, but not the actual window glass. (We got him to sign off on that, too, so that way if they get in there and can't replace the frame without the glass he has to pay for that too, and can't stick that bill to us.) We are still pretty sure there will be rotting wood on the top and they'll have to do the whole thing, but now, it's officially back on Old Friend's plate.

Lastly, we found out that radon mitigation systems are between $900 and $1200. I got a verbal quote (they didn't actually see the house, but I gave them some measurements and square footages so it was a guess) and it was only about $950. Both of our parents have offered to help us out with that, but since it's way less than we thought, I think we can handle it. So, we let that go, too.

Here's where we scored a little victory for us. Old Friend couldn't find a place to live for Oct 15 like he had hoped, so he wanted us to move the close date to Nov 2. His new place is ready Nov 1. We said no for a host of different reasons, one of which was if we closed during the beginning of the money we have to pay forward the interest on the mortgage and since Old Friend refused to fix practically anything in the house, we can't spend MORE money at close and still get the stuff done that absolutely needs to be done. And, we really want to be in before Kyle's second birthday (November 9) since John's parents are coming and they want to help us unpack, paint, fix, move, etc.

What is going to happen, is we will still close on Oct 27 like planned.  Old Friend will have to rent the house back to us for a week. For about $500, and he still has to pay utilities. That's more than half of the radon mitigation unit he refused to pay for!

Ahhh, small victories.

This also means we won't actually move until that weekend of the 5th-7th, which is one more paycheck for both John and I. That also makes things easier for us. We can still get the radon thing in, some of the rooms painted and the carpets in the upstairs. And...I might even get to buy some curtains!

Since I pay for our storage unit on the 9th of every month, I won't have to pay extra for that as long as we are out by that Sunday, November 7.

That's where we are at now, we've done the whole mortgage application, and have sent the P&S over to the lawyers today to see if Old Friend will finally actually say yes to something we have proposed.

If he does, and he signs the P&S today...we will officially own the home in 34 days!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Black Cloud Returns

We FINALLY (after 5 days) heard back from our lawyer about the list of improvements we wanted made based on the home inspection.

Basically, Old Friend said no. To everything.

He offered to paint the house before we even bought it. That was put into the offer that we both signed. But, now, he's saying that he only wants to paint one coat and we have to pay the rest. Not sure why he thinks that second coat is a luxury rather than a necessity, but he does. He is refusing to fully paint the house even though he told us he would, and signed the offer saying the house would be painted.

We asked him to fix the burner on the gas stove that doesn't work. He said it does, there's just a trick to it. Great, so while I am trying to figure out how this trick works, I'm filling my house with gas. He won't get it looked at or even cleaned.

We asked him to provide permits for the gas insert in the fire place, which we know he can't because we checked with the town and no permit was ever filed. We want it out since it was installed without a permit or an inspection, and figured if we asked him to provide the permits, he'd either get it checked and permitted (at least then we'd know it's safe) or just take it out. He said he'd produce a permit. Not sure how he's going to do that, but we assume it will be checked and permitted. Sort of a win for us.

We asked him to replace the big picture window in the living room that is rotting. The inspector wouldn't even touch it for fear that if he opened the window the glass would slide right out and shatter, and he said no. He said he'd replace the sash, but not the frame. Thanks. What good is a new sash on an old rotten frame? One bad storm and it will probably fall out.

We asked him to get the AC fixed (there's a leak) and to get a new air filter. He doesn't think there's anything wrong, but he is going to get someone to come out and look at it. If it needs to be fixed (which we know it does) he will ask us to split the cost with him.

Last but certainly not least... we had our radon test last week. Radon is a fun little chemical element that is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. The EPA says that anything below 4 pCi/L (no, I don't know what that means) is safe. Anything above is not. Anything above 10 pCi/L is really unsafe and you shouldn't live there.

Ours was 7.9. That's DOUBLE what is the high threshold for safe. Closer to 'you can't live here' unsafe than safe.

Those results were forwarded to Old Friend and his lawyer. We believe that something like radon is the responsibility of the seller (legally, like they HAVE to take care of it) but we are not sure so we're looking into it. A radon unit can cost about $1,500, so Old Friend should be able to afford it. And frankly, if I were Old Friend, I'd be calling my doctor for a lung screening after finding out the radon levels in the house!

Old Friend and his lawyer are "discussing" the radon unit. We think this means they know they have to install the unit, but they don't want to pay for it, so they'll find a cheap quote and force us to split it.

No way.

And before you think, "wow, that's a lot of demands, take it easy!', here are the things that need to be done that we didn't ask for:

new garage doors (they are warped, heavy, and do not have child safety sensors)
railings on the back door and deck (not originally installed but codes have changed and we need them now)
bathroom repair (the master and half bath toilets are not sealed properly, and there is serious eroding of the tiles in the master bath)
new driveway (it's cracked, and our inspector said it only had a few more years left before it got dangerous)
bolts in the deck (currently the deck is only nailed to the house, not bolted. Old code again, we need to update it.)

And these are the things we didn't ask for but are needed more along the cosmetic line:

new kitchen flooring (it's ugly, dirty, old and chipping)
new carpet (it's 15 years old, faded, stained and flat)
new doors (not insulated, old and scratched)
new frames for all windows and doors (same thing, all just old and in need of updating)
new light fixtures in all bathrooms (half of them barely worked, could be as easy as some light bulbs, could be a replacement fixture)
serious landscaping (our inspector said too many bushes were overgrown and brushing up against the house, this can cause molding so we needed them pared back)
painting (not new painting, but just painting. The walls are white and full of scratches and marks. They haven't been painted in 15 years!)

It's a lot. And we knew that, but we THOUGHT that if we were reasonable and asked Old Friend to replace the things that we felt were general home maintenance that he should be doing anyway, he'd see that we were taking on a lot ourselves too. Kind of a 'meet me halfway' thing. You know, a compromise, like grown ups are known to do?

Needless to say, this is crushingly frustrating and pessimistically expected. Margot the Agent said she is not surprised because "he is cheap" and will try to get out of anything. And Margot the Agent has known Old Friend for 30 years...

We have 3 options.

1. Go back to the lawyer with the repairs that are deal breakers for us (the paint, the radon and the window) and hope Old Friend realizes that these are going to have to be fixed no matter who he sells to and just says yes.

2. Accept that he's going to pay for NOTHING and ask him to pay our closing costs so we have some extra money immediately to do the repairs that are essential to live safely in the house.

3. Walk away. And continue to troll the stagnant real estate market listings every day (every hour, really) while pretending it's OK to live in my parents' basement. No ill will toward the 'rents for being there for us, we couldn't do this without them and appreciate the open arms, but it's a 300 square foot basement room and we are cramped! Two extremely independent people only last for so long in someone else's home.

We have solicited advice from both sets of parents and are trying to cool down enough to discuss what's really important so we can chose one of the above options.

Hopefully we'll have a plan tonight.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Before Pictures

We've been talking a lot about how this is a total bachelor pad. Nothing on the walls, barely a curtain anywhere, nothing matches and boxes of stuff are overflowing from most rooms. That's OK though, becuase it's like a blank slate for me, I get to redo pretty much every room with paint and furniture and art and all that fun stuff. I took some pictures today at our home inspection. Let's consider these the 'before' pictures. I can't wait for my post one year from move in day when I do a bunch of before and after comparisons! :)

Here are the outside pictures, with the old paint job and overgrown bushes:




Not bad. You can't really tell but the side/back yard is HUGE. I think there's almost 80 yards before the next house on the left.

The basement was too cluttered for a picture, and it's not finished anyway. We'll do that someday! Our project list grows more and more every time we see the place!

The kitchen and family room are connected and very roomy and open.This is the view from when you come in the garage. And here is the other view:

This is the family room: Needs some decorating help!

Here's the best part of the house, the open living room and 2-story foyer. Not sure if these pictures do it justice, it's so open and light!


The dining room is the room you can see behind the stairs. It's not pretty. Old Friend called it his 'junk room'. Yikes.

The upstairs is a mess too, but you can see the two bedrooms here:


Keep in mind, we bought this place from Old Friend, who never put it on the market. It was never cleaned out, staged, prepped or anything by an agent. So this really is how they live! Two guys, a man and his 24-year-old son. It's in pretty good shape considering! :)

The master bedroom is pretty big, and has great vaulted ceilings.


The best part is the view from the hallway upstairs. Here's what you see when you walk out of the master bedroom:

Fun!

And yes, there really are forest green counter tops in the bathrooms:

I really can't wait to get started on projects!

Home Inspection

Today, we completed yet another step in the home buying process. Each step closer to the close date makes me think that this is actually going to happen. However, it's not without some doubt and what will end up being some tough negotiation.

We knew this house was going to need a lot of cosmetic work and some structural work. We found a little more than we thought today, and will have to have Old Friend the seller do some work that we know he is not going to want to do.

The good news is that Inspector R told us that structurally, the house is in good shape. There are no major faults, cracks, molds, crumbles, or anything like that. But...we have quite the list of things that need to be done either before or immediately after we move in.

We started by walking the yard, and he told us about the paint job that needs to be done (which we knew, and Old Friend is supposed to be doing that for us), some places where the bushes are too overgrown and brushing up against the house which can cause mold, and how old and heavy the garage doors are. All do-able projects. Nothing that was totally urgent, and all things we had thought about anyway.

We did run into a slight issue with the exterior paint though. Old Friend told us he'd repaint the outside because he knew it needed to be done. Great! It's in our offer (which he accepted) that the 4 window sashes that he knew needed to be fixed will be fixed, the exterior will be painted and the roof will be done. The roof is done, and he picked architectural shingles that have a life of about 30 years. Awesome. But...he's now arguing the painting. He's saying that because we are changing the color, it needs 2 coats and he only wants to pay for one. What?? He said he'd pay for the first coat and we could pay for the second. No way. Sorry Old Friend, but you accepted the written offer that just said "paint exterior", it didn't stipulate a price or how many coats, or whether or not it would need to be scraped and power washed (which it will according to Inspector R). Margot the Agent will argue that for us. We're not paying for something he already agreed to.

Inspector R also found out that one of our big picture windows in the living room is totally erroded and he was actually afraid that if he opened the window, the glass would slide right out and crash down on the lawn below. Yikes. That wasn't one of Old Friend's 4 windows that he agreed to, but it's so bad that Inspector R is listing it as 'defective' which means Old Friend is going to have to replace it himself.

We found out that the AC unit needs to be serviced, there's a leak. It's not too bad, and probably only leaks when it's really humid, but come on. It's New England. It's humid all the time. That's just a service call, so we don't think that will be a problem.

Inspector R then found some water marks on the ceiling in the first floor that are below the main bathroom. But, they are dry, so he thinks it was nothing more than an overflow bath or something. He suggested we take a look under the floor, but he really thought it was just a mark and we could probably paint over it.

But...in the master bathroom...the toilet was loose! It was just moving around the bathroom. And the grout and tiles from the shower are seriously old and moldy. We were planning on re-doing the bathrooms anyway, so we might just tell Old Friend that we'll re-do the master bath, if he takes care of the big picture window and servicing the AC (and painting like he already said he would!).

That way we can just totally re-do the bathroom right away and it's all ours. No need for him to come in and re-do part of it however he wants it done and have us rip it up sometime next year.

There were a lot of little things, but all stuff we can do. It's REALLY dirty, the walls are full of scrapes and scuffs, the tile is old and ugly and there is stuff EVERYWHERE. But, we'll get a cleaning service when we move in, we're planning on re-doing the floors and carpets immediately, we'll paint right away, and it's on Old Friend to get the crap out of there! :)

We still really like it, it's nice and open and has a ton of potential. Aside from the few things Inspector R found, he was pretty satisfied with it and felt good telling us it was a structurally sound place. He mentioned it needed some love, but we knew that. He also did mention that Old Friend had a gas insert installed in the fireplace, but he's pretty sure it was done with no permit because he said it didn't look like it was done right. So we have to call the town hall and see if there was ever a permit for that and if not, we might have to have Old Friend get that fixed to. If there was, it was just done poorly and that will need to be fixed in time. It's working, and won't blow up or anything, but it just could have been done a lot better!

We should get the report from Inspector R tonight and have until Friday to write up our list of 'demands'. We hope that either we'll get everything done, or we'll negotiate and take on some things ourselves (like the master bathroom) but drop the overall price a little. We'll see!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

WE OWN A HOUSE!

Seriously. We actually own a house. Exactly 3 months from the day we put our condo on the market, we had an offer accepted on a home. After the condo battle, the sale at a loss, the 3 other homes we offered on, the home we tried to build, out stuff being in storage and living in the basement in my parents house....we own a home.

We close on October 27. Happy Halloween! And just in time for Kyle's second birthday and the holidays.

What a relief.

Last night, we went to Old Friend's house to see it again, just to make sure we really liked it. We met Margot the Agent and my parents there and let Kyle run around the yard. What a great sight, to see Kyle and John playing in a YARD. That will be ours!

We both felt after walking through it again that we actually liked it more than the first time. It was a little easier the second time around to look past the mauve carpets and the wood frames and the old counters and see the bones of the house. The rooms are big, the downstairs is really open and light and everything is in good condition. Outdated, but good condition.

We spent about 20 minutes going through and asking a few more questions and then headed straight for Margot the Agent's office to make an offer. Margot is awesome and since technically we found this house all on her own, she's only taking a 1.5% commission. We've decide to just pay it out rather than tacking it on to the mortgage. It saves us about $50 a month!

Margot the Agent told us what Old Friend had in mind for a listing price (it was what the house was assessed for, which NO homes are going at assessed value right now). She told him no way. She brought up all the stuff that needs to be updated and if she was his agent, she'd list it for $20K less right off the bat....and hope for an offer between $5-15K less than that.

We offered $10K less than what she recommended he list it at, which we thought was totally reasonable considering all the updates the house will need.

Margot also brought over 6 or 7 comprable homes (size, bedrooms, lots, neighborhoods, etc) and what they've sold for in the last few months. All were within $10-15K from what she would list at (not what he wanted to list at).

They went over that and talked for almost an hour while John and I sat at home going crazy. She called us and told us he wasn't sure and wanted to think about it.

Of course, our first thought was, great, here we go again. ANOTHER house is going to fall through.

Margot was encouraged though, because he was very receptive to the homes she brought to compare, and he was asking a lot of questions about the closing process, like when the inspectors would come, what the radon test was, etc. She told us not to worry too much and that if worse comes to worse, he'd counter and we'd have to decide how much higher we'd want to go.

Old Friend promised to call Margot the Agent sometime today.

This morning, around 10 am, she called us and told us we were home owners! No counter offer, he just accepted our offer as is! Not only that, but he's still going to replace the few windows that he needs to, and will be painting the exterior. And, we get to pick the paint color!

YAYAYAYAYAYAY!

We close eight weeks from today, pending P&S and inspection.

The best part is that with such low interest rates, we are only paying about $450 more a month than we did in our condo for a place that's twice the size on actual land!

It's so great to have an end in sight. We will be settled and cozy by the holidays. :)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Shhhh....we found a house...

...MAYBE! Don't scare it away.

We actually saw a house last week that we really liked but I didn't say anything about it. After all we've been through, I didn't want to jinx it! I didn't want this to be the 4th house that we liked, commmitted to and then didn't get. That's just deflating.

We've also been giving each other a heavy dose of "if it's meant to be, it will happen", and "our house will find us", and "when the time is right" blah blah blah. Whatever gets you through the day, right?

Last week, my Dad went downtown to run an errand (or perhaps to get out of the house since we ALL live there now!!) and ran into a guy he was friendly with when my brother and I were in school. His daughters were me and my brothers ages, and we all went to the same church. They got to talking and Dad mentioned that John, Kyle and I were living back at home again since we were having some really bad real estate luck.

Old Friend says, hey, I'm thinking of selling my house, I'll give them first look before I put it on the market if they want. He told Dad his address and Dad told us. 

What?? Did a house just find us?

John almost had a heart attack. It's on this road that he runs on in Ashland that he LOOOOVES. Good neighborhood, well-built homes, nice street, easy location, close to my parents, etc. He was SO EXCITED. We drove by the house immediately. Dad didn't really have any idea what the house was like, or how big or where, but John knows that street so well and knew that all the homes are pretty nice and good sizes so we felt pretty confident.

We did a drive-by and it's a contemporary house. Not too crazy, but not quite the open colonials we'd been looking at. If we saw this online, we'd probably debate whether or not we wanted to see it at all. Here's what it looks like now:

See? Kind of funky looking. But not bad!

The next day, we called Old Friend and went to see the house. It's a TOTAL bachelor pad. It's just Old Friend and his 24-year-old son. And has been for the last 10-15 years. They have done nothing to update it much at all. They use the dining room for all their boxed junk and the kitchen table is a fold-out card table! There are hardly any curtains anywhere, nothing on the walls and the wiring for a security system that they ended up not installing is just sticking out of the walls. haha, Old Friend laughed about it with us and told us he knows he is not 'real estate show' ready. No kidding.

They did add AC a few years ago (yay!) and that was it. He told us he was going to have the roof redone, some of the windows replaced and was going to repaint the outside. Those things will make it look a lot better. The yard is a bit overgrown, too, but that's just a good long weekend in the spring project.

It's a a 3 bedroom (we were hoping for 4, but the basement is not finished so that's high on our list of things to do. That will give us the extra space we are looking for when John's LA family comes to town), but has almost 2300 total square feet. When you walk in the front door, you are in a gorgeous 2-story foyer which opens to a 2-story living room. Very pretty and light! There are two huge picture windows in the living room, one on the front and one one the side and a skylight above the front door. The dining room (or as Old Friend likes to call it, his 'junk room') is to the left and has a great little prep area/pantry that joins it with the kitchen.

The kitchen has tons of cabinets and a space for a table (which we never had in the condo!) and leads out to the deck. It also looks into a nice sized family room with a real fireplace! I am BIG on the kitchen that looks into the family room! I want to be able to cook dinner and watch Kyle at the same time!

There's a half bath downstairs and lots of coat closet space. The best part, is the laundry room is on the first floor, right where you walk in from the garage. Awesome.

Here's a really rough layout of the first floor:

I don't think I can make it any bigger so sorry if you can't read it very well! You get the idea, though. We really like the flow of the house and the openness in the foyer and front room.

The second floor has a huge master bedroom with the 3 big windows you can see in the picture above. It has a walk-in closet and it's own enormous bathroom. There is a full bathroom and 2 more bedrooms upstairs and both are really good sizes.

The 'bones' are there. Definitely. But...there are some SERIOUS updates needed. Like:

The MAUVE carpet that coats the entire second floor has to go. Like immediately. The first floor is only carpet (all 3 rooms but the kitchen) and the foyer and kitchen are tile. Old, dirty, white tile. That has to go, too. We plan to do hardwood in the foyer, kitchen and dining room and leave the living room and family room carpets (for now...they are a nice neutral gray, so we can live with them.)

The doors are about 2 steps above plywood, so those will be replaced, along with the frames and trim. It's all wood now (which I hate!) so it will be replaced with white trim, frames and molding.

All of the bathrooms need to be redone. Not that I don't like the color forest green, but it's just not a good countertop color. AT ALL. The kitchen is liveable, the oak cabinets have stood up well, but the lamiante counter top is making me sad.

We also want to finish the basement, add some recessed lights in the family room, replace the glass and brass chandelier in the foyer (please, and quickly!) and replace more windows. And actually paint. I think all of the rooms are still the same off-white primer that comes with the house. haha

Old Friend is going to replace a few of the windows on his own. Some of the window panes and frames are starting to fall apart, but some are fine. There's also one with a crack in it that a bird flew into. ouch. And, they are all crank windows, so they only open about 6-10 inches from the side. We want to eventually replace them all with standard push up windows and update the picture windows in the downstairs.

I have no doubt this was a great house in 1995, but it's been 15 years! It needs a new wardrobe!

Almost all of those things (aside from finishing the basemenr) are weekend projects. And stuff we can do, or can get someone to do quickly. There's nothing major, just replacing some fixtures, doors, countertops, etc. The plumbing, wiring, structure, etc, that's all fine. We can do the little things.

Our plan now is to go back tonight to take a second look with our agent. Old Friend is selling without an agent, so we have a little room in the price without having to pay two agent commissions. And, since techincally we found the house, we don't need to involve our agent either. But, she knows the process, can get us the good inspectors, the good assessors, and can navigate the closing process for us. And Margot the Agent has done SO MUCH for us, that how could we box her out now? She told us she's cut her commission in half, too.

I am 99% sure we'll be making an offer tonight and hopefully can move before Kyle's birthday in November. If that all happens, we are taking our two months of no mortgage payments and replacing the carpet and adding the hardwood before we even move. That will be one project out of the way!

Hopefully, we'll have REALLY good news tomorrow!





Monday, August 30, 2010

Short and sweet

Good news, we officially closed on the condo on Friday. As of 9:30 am, Friday, August 27, we no longer own a condo!

Good thing...they broke ground on new construction last week! That was one of our fears, that if they started new construction, we'd never sell since people would be more likely to buy brand new if it's available rather than something that's almost 4 years old.

Made it out just in time! :)

We are pretty settled in to my parents house, and have had very little problems with being in each others way so far. Thanks to 2 full bathrooms and different morning departure times, we've been OK.

It's a little crowded, but Kyle is having the BEST TIME EVER with so many fun people to play with and tons more room to run around!

We definitely need a house with a yard, or Kyle will never want to leave Grammy and Grampas!

We're working on it!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Our days are numbered!

Officially, we have 4 more days in our little condo. Unofficially, we're out!

Last week we spent a ton of time at night packing as much as we could and sending it to the storage unit. My parents came by last Sunday and helped us by either watching Kyle, or packing, whichever was needed at that moment. We got a good amount of stuff done but had a long way to go.

Thursday and Friday, John took off work (I don't have enough vacation time to take work off right now) to do what he could on his own. He got a ton done but sometimes it feels like the more you do, the more there is to do!

Friday my Mom picked Kyle up from daycare and I left work a little early (yay for my manager leaving at 2!) to frantically pack before Kyle got home around 5:30. We had all 3 bathrooms clear, everything that was IN something in the living room/dining room, the coat closet, about 3/4 of our kitchen cabinets, my dresser and half of John's clothes. Not bad. So, we rewarded ourselves with a relaxing day at the lake.

Sunday, we got right back into it. That was supposed to be our last time in the condo. We have cleaners and movers and carpet people coming next week so we wanted to be gone by Sunday. Kyle...had other plans.

Poor little guy started throwing up (TMI, sorry) around 10 am and didn't stop until 4 pm. There must have been something in whatever he ate that didn't agree with him because it came on really suddenly, he had no fever, no messy diapers, no change in personality or appetite. He was still asking for food and milk, and still playing. He would just get sick every 30-45 minutes. It was really sad, so I took some time off packing to take care of Kyle.

Once we thought he was doing better, we brought him to my parent's house. I asked him in the car on the way out if he wanted to say goodbye to Kyle's house because someone else is going to live in it now. He said no. Then I asked him if he was OK with leaving Kyle's room to stay with Grammy for awhile. He said, "Pay (play) cars at Mimi's (grammy) house?" I said yes, and he replied, "OOHHH YEAH!". 

You can see where Kyle's loyalties lie.

We put him down for a nap at Grammy's house and then packed up his room. We had left everything visible as is (his closet was clear) as long as possible so Kyle didn't get confused or anything. When we got it all over to Grammy's house we set up his curtains, bumper, sheets and blankets just like home and he loved it.

In Kyle's 2 hour nap, we were able to get everything to my parent's house that we need to live on. Clothes, food, toys, etc. My guess is there's about 4 more boxes of glasses/dishware and our pots and pans left in the condo and that's it. We'll finish that tonight. The goal was to get it all done yesterday and I think we would have if Kyle wasn't sick. Luckily, he's been totally fine since around 4 pm yesterday, so we'll be able to leave him with my Mom for an hour or so and finish up the kitchen.

Tomorrow, John will take out our last load of trash (it's going to be a big one!), take apart Kyle's crib and our bed, and take our big mirror off the wall in the living room.

Movers come Wednesday to take our furniture to storage!

Not much has come on the market in the last week, we keep hearing there will be a bit more activity after Labor Day since a lot of people are finishing up their vacations this week and getting started in school. We hope so!

Our 2 prospects from last week both fell through. One was a good house with some updating needed but a horrible yard and shared driveway. It was almost a straight drop down to the street and the driveway was SO steep. We have no idea how anyone can navigate that in the winter! And it connects to another driveway so not only are you worried about the icy steep hill, but you'd be worried about skidding into your neighbor who is also trying to get out! No way.

The other was the one we mentioned a few times. We really liked it but were a little unsure about the yard. We asked for the lot plans so we could see if we could clear out some trees and make a bigger yard for Kyle.

Last Friday we still hadn't gotten them, so Monday, Margot the Agent called that agent to 'remind' him (re: bug the crap out of him) to get them to us. He said, oh, sorry, the house sold this weekend.

WHAT??

Chalk this up under 'we really can't catch a break'. The agent got another offer and without even bothering to tell our agent, presented it to the sellers and they accepted. He knew we were very interested and didn't even bother to tell Margot the Agent that he had another offer coming in. We had no chance to make our own offer.

What a jerk. Plus, he could have lost out on money for the sellers and commission for himself since he didn't know what we were planning to offer. Oh well, his loss.

Well, ours too, but we're not totally shocked that yet another home fell through. That's 3 now. We must be approaching some sort of record of homes lost by bad luck. haha

Now, we're at my parents house, and focusing on finding that perfect house. Or semi-perfect...whatever gets us some space! At least we have nothing to sell now, that makes our offer (when we decide to make one) more attractive since there will be no 'contigent upon sale of home' clause.

Crossing our fingers! Again!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Free and Clear

I hope this doesn't shock anyone, but we have more good news. I know, it's weird.

We heard from Margot the Agent that the assessment matched the selling price. We have officially passed all tests and as of August 27, we are free and clear of this condo!

Get packing!

Two nights ago, I rented a storage unit in Ashland and last night started to pack up some boxes. John was not interested in helping me, he felt that we still had the assessment hurdle to cross and we shouldn't jinx ourselves by packing when it all might fall through. Valid point, but I was itching to get going. So, I just did easy stuff, my nightstand contents went in shoebox. My nail polish/care went in another shoebox and my jewelry boxes and a few other little things went in yet another shoebox.

At least I felt that I had done something, and that those things were easily undone if our luck hadn't changed.

John called me at my desk this morning and said that Margot had called him with the good news. My FIRST question was...are you going to start packing tonight?? haha, he said yes.

We have some boxes, and have a friend that just moved so we'll be taking over his boxes. I'm not sure where we are going to start, but we better get going! The biggest thing now is deciding what to put in storage (could be a month, could be 3), what to bring to my parent's house and what to throw away/donate.

So far I've booked movers, booked a carpet cleaner (seller's request), rented the storage unit, found some boxes, and we've started to talk to my parents about where all our stuff will go. I think we'll be OK!

Tonight we're visiting one house for the second time and Sunday is the first visit to the crazy blue house that we like but will need work. With some more luck (maybe I should treat our luck like a no-hitter and not talk about it anymore....) we might be in a house before October!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

More news

I bet you thought that since I haven't written in awhile I was storing up a bunch of good news and was going to rain down sunshine on you. Not. So. Much.

I appreciate any hope of good news, but that's just not the theme of this summer. We passed our inspection on the condo, but are still waiting for the assessment. If the assessment doesn't match the sale price we both agreed on, the deal is off. Well, we can pay the difference, but we've paid out enough just to get out of the place, we can't pay any more! The seller can make up the difference, but I am fairly sure that since she's only putting 3% down, she's not rolling in dollar bills either.

It's been a week since the assessment so we're getting nervous. Margot the Agent has been awesome, as usual, and is not only keeping us up to date on progress each day, but she's been helping us find a place, too.

About two weeks ago, we found what we thought was a pretty close to perfect house on Baker Lane in Hopkinton.
Four bedroom, a HUGE family room with a fireplace that you can see from the kitchen (one of my big requirements, I want to be able to cook dinner and still be able to keep an eye on the kid(s) while they play in the family room), a decent yard, a quiet cul-de-sac location in a good neighborhood, a finished basement and tons of little upgrades (like molding, hard wood, renovated kitchen, etc.) We JUMPED on it. It was on the market for 1 day and we scheduled an appointment to see it. We actually decided IN THE DRIVEWAY to make an offer immediately. We made one that night, and found out that another couple had also seen it an made an offer right away.

Guess what happened? They chose the other people. Well, not right away. First, they asked for our 'best offers'. Without knowing what the other couple is offering, it's hard to decide. We upped our offer to $100 over list price. We hoped that the other couple would think that list was good enough, and we'd beat them out by what would amount to pennies a month! Good thinking, right? It's all those sick days in elementary school when I got to watch the Price is Right. I learned a bit about bidding! :)

They still chose the other offer. The other couple had nothing to sell. Technically we didn't either, but because at that point we still needed the inspection and the assessment, they thought there was still a possibility the condo sale could fall through. Sigh. With our luck, I am not so sure they won't be right.

So, we lost Baker Lane (that's now the 3rd home we've tried to buy since May and have been rejected in one way or another).


Last weekend, we found another house that we really liked.  It's very similar to the home we lost out to, but a bit nicer. It's in Ashland, on Wadsworth Road. It's number 22. We think it's slightly overpriced, and so do other people apparently because they've already had to drop the price and they have not had much interest. We are a little gunshy now because of Baker Lane so we asked our agent to find out more and will be going back to see it tomorrow night. We found out that the couple is relocating soon and has to sell fast. We hope that we can get a good price because of that and the fact that they have not had much traffic!

There's also another house on the same street that came on the market today. One Wadsworth Road. It's a slightly smaller home (only by about 600 square feet), and not as well done inside, but it looks to be mostly cosmetic. It's like Grandma's house with the flowerly wallpaper, sea green living room, fake ivy around the doorways and copper tea kettles hanging from the ceilings (seriously, there are tea kettles hanging from the ceiling), but that is fixable. Oh and the exterior is this outrageous robin's egg blue... so that will have to be changed, too! See?

It will need a new kitchen in a few years, but that's what tax refunds are for! It's what we're calling our 'bones' house. It has the structure...the family room viewable from the kitchen, a full basement (not sure if it's totally finished or not) a really good yard (1.1 acres), four bedrooms, a nice deck and is in a cul-de-sac in a nice neighborhood that happens to run parallel to Ashland's second fire station. I like EMTs near by!

We are scheduled to see that house on Sunday. Both homes on that street were built in the mid 1990s, which means they have higher ceilings and door jams so John won't whack his head walking into the rooms, and they come standard with central air and things like larger walk-in closets and master baths that you won't see in houses that are 25-30 years old already.

We're feeling pretty good about both houses, so please think good thoughts. We need to catch a break!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The opposite of bad news

The opposite of bad news is not something you really get on this blog... But...prepare yourself....

WE SOLD OUR CONDO!

Thank you to Margot the Agent for working her butt off to try to understand the whole FHA thing, even though we didn't need it, and THANK YOU to rockstar New Agent who found a buyer, a buyer program (not FHA related) and a bank that would honor it.

We sold. WE SOLD! Without having to go to the condo association board with fists swinging and a lawyer, without having to drop the price, without having to pull it off the market and sit around and wait until the economy got better and without any more stress!

Yesterday we got the news that an offer was in the works via a St. Mary's Credit Union and the Mass Housing Program. A lot of things had to come together, and after this whole process, we had little faith. But... we got a call from Margot the Agent last night....AN OFFER!

It was about $10K under our asking price which was not doable for us. The most we could go was about $5K and that was pushing it. So, we countered and got away with about $4K less than our asking price. We're really happy with that. We know we priced our place reasonably, but it was the high end of reasonable. We ended up selling for just about exactly what we thought, expected and were prepared for.

We still have to use about 75% of our savings just to get out of the place, but that's OK. We knew that might happen and the most important thing was that we did finally sell. We needed to get out! The complex was bugging us, the condo board was jerking us around and we need at least a 3rd bedroom if we ever want a little brother or sister for Kyle.

The new buyer is in a hurry though... the closing is on Friday, August 27! One month from yesterday. Yikes! That really means that we need to be moved out the weekend before so we can clean anything that needs to be cleaned, fix anything that needs to be fixed, make sure all our stuff is out and get everything into storage since August 23-27 is mid-week. So really, our last day in our condo is Sunday, August 22.

We told Margot that we were not interested in re-opening a dialog with Steve the Builder. After how un-understanding (is that a word?) he was, and how he refused to work with us knowing it wasn't our fault the condo board was being lame; how he released our lot before we even fully decided what we were going to do; telling us he would never build without a guaranteed buyer and then building 4 homes on empty lots without buyers and using our house model for one of them, we are done with him. Bad customer service will lose you money, Steve-o.

We also have been looking around and finding that while a brand new custom built home is really great, the price Steve the Builder was asking was a bit high.

So where are we going to go? Well, furniture and unessentials will be living in a nice, climate controled storage unit. Good times! And the rest of us and our clothes will be knock-knocking on Mom and Dad's door! Five adults and a baby in a 3 BR with no air conditioning. Awesome. (really, it will be great!)

Since a lot of our savings will be paying for our condo to be sold, we need an opportunity to build some of it back up. No mortgage, condo fees or utilities for a month or two and we're right back where we started.

We are so lucky to have a place to go in this situation. If we didn't have my parents to help us, we'd either be headed to an apartment and not really saving much money, or we wouldn't have been able to accept that offer since the close was so fast.

We're going to actively look at homes (we already have an appointment to see one tomorrow night) but not put pressure on ourselves. We want our perfect home to find us and we can't rush that. Mom and Dad might have a different strategy, but we'll try not to overstay our welcome! :)

After two months of bad news and stressful limbo, I think things are finally turning around for us. We just needed a few things to fall into place and I think they finally are.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A shining beacon of optimism....wait, what's that?

I can't believe I'm actually going to type this right now but we can't really be jinxed much more than we already are...

We have a buyer.

We found out last night that we might be getting an offer on the condo. Seriously.

Margot the Agent called us last night with the almost good news. Last week we had a woman come in (by herself, I think) and love the place. But, when we didn't hear anything after a few days, we figured she either found someplace better, or just like the others, couldn't get a loan without FHA.

Turns out, we didn't hear from her because she was aware of the non-FHA thing and was trying to find another program to help her buy without 20% down. Her agent (who has shot to stardom level with this discovery) found a program called Mass Housing Program (check it out here) that allows for 1.5% or 3% down with the right qualifications.

FHA is a federal program, and MHP is the Massachusetts version. It's not as well known and not all banks will accept it, but New Agent not only found a buyer who qualified for MHP, but found a bank that will accept it as well! New Agent is a rock star.

This woman had everything right on paper: decent income, good savings, high credit score, low debt, but just didn't have 20% down. No kidding, she's a first time buyer. This is not a unique situation, a majority of first time, well-qualified buyers are the same as her. That's why there are programs like FHA and Mass Housing, to help out those that just need a little push.

Last night, Margot the Agent called us again and asked for a breakdown of the monthly heat/gas/electic for the past year to pass along to the soon-to-be owner. I assume that's a really good sign. If she's already budgeting to live there, she must want to make an offer, right? (pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease).

Margot said we should know within a few days. New Agent is on vacation in CA but is reachable by phone and has promised to stay in touch. (***random side note, New Agent is the step mom of a friend of mine from HS and the mother-in-law of a co-worker/friend who also happens to live across the street from us....And, she and Margot the Agent worked together for years. crazy small world)

I guess all we're waiting for now is this new person to decide if she really wants to make an offer. Our bills aren't that much per month (it's a small place!) so I hope that wasn't the tipping point.

Oh, and the offer needs to be something we can accept. We are listing for very close to what we owe on the mortgage, so anything under (plus commissions and closing costs) is out of pocket for us. We were very reasonable in our listing choice so her offer should be close. If it's not, we will counter, but if we can't get it to within a reasonable amount that doesn't cause us to throw all our savings into getting the heck out of this stupid complex, then we have to say no. But, at least now we know about MHP and St. Mary's and can direct future buyers to look into using that program and bank.

haha, I can't wait until the snobby condo board hears that people can buy through a low-moderate income housing program. They are going to be so mad that they can't block that like they are blocking FHA!!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Angry weekend update

I really am just a bundle of good news, aren't I??

Friday night on our way out to dinner with some friends, Margot the Agent called. Very briefly, she told us we might need to dig deeper into the whole Board/FHA thing because she was hearing 'things'. She was able to get in touch with Tracey the Rep at Sterling Services who did give her the rest of the forms she needed for FHA. All but one. This one form needs to be submitted by the condo board.

Rumor has it, the condo board has decided they DON'T want to be FHA approved...

Huh?

Needless to say, dinner was far less fun for us than it could have been. I did feel a bit better after my chocolate cake martini, but still.

Saturday morning, we piled in the car and headed to Webster to swim our troubles away. On the way there, Margot the Agent called to give us more details. We had to stop since we drive a lot of backroads to get there and John kept losing reception (Verizon!! Can't SOMEONE be on our side?? ha!)

Margot told us what she heard from the board. There is some 'discussion' going on that the board doesn't want to be FHA approved because they only want 'well-qualified' people. They don't want the "type of people that can't afford to live here".  Are you screaming "discrimination" yet? Because we are.

First (and we are pretty angry about this, so sorry if it's a rant), what do you mean "that type of people"??? WE are "that type of people". We have college degrees (2 of them!) jobs (3 of them!) savings (a decent amount!) and high credit scores (both over 745!!) and we couldn't have bought this place without a program that let us put less than 20% down! Are WE the type of people you don't want in your complex? A young, responsible, working family?? REALLY!?!?!?

Second, who in their right mind would save up $60K and then buy a TINY 1100 sq ft CONDO with only 2 BEDROOMS? NO ONE. We know because we've had at least 4 people try to make offers with different bank programs because they don't have 20% to put down. What first time buyer has that to put down?? And if you do, wouldn't you buy a nice little house instead of a tiny condo with a leaky roof??

Third, we already have affordable housing units in the condo. I don't know how many, or who they are, but we already have people in the place that would never have afforded their home if they didn't get some assistance. Are they bad people? No. You can't even tell who they are. They are friendly neighbors who don't cause trouble, just like the rest of us. Maybe those are the 'types of people' our board is discriminating against? They're probably thinking..."Get those filthy 'low-incomers' out. And block anyone who isn't independently wealthy from moving in! They really bring the value of this place down." Riiiiiight. That's a great way to think.

Fourth, FHA is a fully supported program that has low credit score minimums, low salary minimums and low debt to income ratio numbers so the buyers that go through FHA are fully qualified to buy according to the bank. You know, the bank...the institution that has the most to lose if someone defaults. Who cares, says the condo board! Just because a silly old bank says they can afford it doesn't mean WE want such riff-raff in our complex!!  Our condo board has a bit of a God complex if you ask me.

Fifth, by not going through with this application, they are essentially TRAPPING us in our condo. We can't sell (we have had 4 buyers try, so it's clearly not the unit) so we can't leave. We have no choice but to just sit around and hope and pray that the perfect buyer comes along. We want to try and rent it out, but only 30% of the complex can be rentals and we don't know how many there are now. Plus, the board would have to approve it and if they are 'above' FHA standards, there's no way they are going to let us rent to someone that can only afford to rent and not buy. Those people must be the dregs of society!

We are beyond frustrated. This is like a bad movie that should have ended a month ago. John is going to call a lawyer friend and see if we have any legal ground to stand on. The board can't pick and chose who moves in and who doesn't, but we don't know how strong that claim is. We are also going to try and find board members and talk to them about this and see if we can make them see how unreasonable they are being.

Do they know that NO one will be able to move if they don't apply for FHA status?

FHA doesn't mean poor people. It just means people that are trying really hard but need a little boost. Pretty much everyone in this economy.

We'll see. Nothing else has gone our way so this probably won't either.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

3 new pieces of information to digest.

Things are never quiet on the home front when you're in a battle like we are now!

A couple new things. Only some are sort of good. This really is the most depressing blog ever.

1. We had a couple come to see the condo on Sunday. Our agent explained to their agent that we were not FHA approved and they said that wasn't a problem. What??? They might actually HAVE 20% down and want to use it on a CONDO?? Apparently the sold a small condo in Newton and wanted something bigger and less "city". Here's the bad news (of course there's bad news!!) The husband was NOT ok living next to a cemetery. Seriously? Come on, grow up. You can barely see anything, the trees grow more and more each year and it's not like there's a lot of activity there! The wife thought it was great, but Wimpy McScaredy-Pants couldn't deal. Great. We finally get a financialy viable couple and the guy's a wuss.

We had another guy come look yesterday. He also knew about the FHA thing and said it didn't matter for him either. He was going to finance through a credit union, so the FHA status wasn't as much of a problem for him. But...that was yesterday and we have heard nothing back. Maybe the ghosts got to him, too.

2. We were able to get someplace with the resident board member, Tye. Tye the Neighbor called Sterling Services (our management company) and had a long talk with our rep over there about the documents and a few other things. I got an email from Tye the Neighbor yesterday and he told me to tell Margot the Agent to call Tracey the Rep at Sterling and see if we can get the documents we need. Obviously, this is important to the whole place, since no one is going to be able to sell if we stay the way we are now: un-approved.

Margot the Agent was out all day yesterday, so she sent Tracey the Rep an email and said she'd get back to us when she heard from Tracey.  Of COURSE...we have heard nothing. I know it's not because Margot the Agent is dropping the ball, I'm sure it's because no one at Sterling Services cares.  Margot the Agent has been calling Sterling for weeks trying to get them to help us and they won't. So I hope now that Tye the Neighbor has forced the issue a bit we might get somewhere. I don't even know if Tracey the Rep was the one Margot was calling. She might have just been calling the wrong person. We'll see!

3. Steve the Builder is building. On what should have been our lot. WITHOUT A BUYER. Yup. Steve the Builder decided that he needed to get the last four lots built up so he can start phase 2 on time. So, he's just going to start building and hope people come in and buy a structure that's already almost up. This is the guy that could NOT build for us until he knew we had the condo sold. He would not wait for us, even after hearing about our situation, would not cut us any slack and swore it was bad business to start building without a guarantee that the house would be sold and paid for. Now, he's building WITHOUT BUYERS. And, not just one home, but FOUR HOMES. And the last little bit of salt in the wound is that one of the four last lots, IS OUR HOUSE MODEL.

What a jerk! Do you think he thought to ask John the Agent if we might still be interested? NO. Do you think he might have thought, "hey, maybe that really nice couple would like to come back in and do some negotiating and maybe I can still put them in their new house because I know they were really excited?"
Nope. Didn't think that either. I can't believe that he's just building away with no prospects but when he had a family VERY interested who happened to have some problems that were not their fault, he just turned them away.

Sadly, even if we happend to get this FHA thing done in record time (like the next few months) we wouldn't consider Ridgewood anymore. We're jaded now and pretty upset with Steve the Builder. I hope the homes don't sell right away and he has to have empty, unfinished homes for the whole winter!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A tiny update

Margot the Agent is really going to bat for us! Even though the interest has waned on the condo and the rumors around the real estate world are not to even bother with America Blvd because it's not FHA approved, she's still working hard.

Monday morning I went to give Kyle breakfast and what was on our front porch? A loaf of homemade bread from Margot! Talk about above and beyond as an agent! :)

Margot called us last week and said that since the condo management company is refusing to release some of the documents she needs, she's going to try and get some help from our resident board. She asked for the names of our representatives (there are 2) but we don't know who they are.

I did some research and finally found 2 names but no phone numbers or unit numbers. I also found out that we have a board meeting in August and will be voting on a new board member. Our board is made up of 3 people, originally all from Fafard (like that helps us out). As the complex grows, one resident at a time is voted to replace a Fafard person at the start of each new phase. The goal is to have a full resident populated board by the time they start the last phase. Looks like that will happen in August. I think that's also why we have been hearing rumors that more building is starting soon. Once that last person is voted on, the last phase is supposed to start.

Well, we think....that's how it was explained to us when we bought the place 3 years ago, and we're hesitant to believe anything anymore. Especially since we found out that the condo docs the management company gave us when we bought the unit were not complete. Margot found a complete set last week and was shocked to find out they withheld information from us. Sadly, we weren't that surprised. Nothing about this has been anything less than shady since we moved in May 19, 2007.

Back to the condo board representatives...Without numbers or units, I thought I might have to resort to google stalking until I could find a way to contact them and ask for help. But....one happens to be the husband of a girl I went to high school with so I was able to get his phone number for Margot. I hesitate to say it out loud, but was that actually a stroke of GOOD luck for us??

Something actually went in our favor. Weird.

That's all we know right now, hopefully Margot and our board rep can get somewhere with this. It really is in the best interest of the whole place to get the FHA approved. People are going to want to move someday!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Could it get any worse??

I hesitate to say that because I bet it could!

Margot the Agent called us the other night. The condo association and the original condo builder (stupid Fafard) are refusing to hand over certain forms needed to apply for FHA status. Not sure why, and I'm not sure that's totally legal, but they are.

We can't even APPLY for FHA status now. They won't release the contract that the association has with the builder and they won't release some other financial document. John the Agent actually personally knows Fafard from many years ago (yes, it's actually one person) and is going to try and call him this week and see if he can't get things going for us. As a personal favor to John. I seriously doubt it, but we'll see.

In the meantime, the condo is still on the market, but no interest in the last week.

We are totally and utterly stuck where we are.

:(

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Stick a fork in it...

It's done! :(

Not in a good way. We have officially cut ties with Steve the Builder. John the Agent met with him last week after he got back from his vacation to find out what was going on with the P&S on his end, and to give him an update on us.

Steve the Builder thought we were just dragging our feet and nit-picking at the P&S to get more time on our side! Seriously? We were so excited to come in and meet with him and get the plans going and he thought we had cold feet? No cold feet, just a host of other issues no amount of wooly socks can solve.

John explained to him the FHA issues we were having and how we have had a stream of people coming in to see our condo and loving it and then not getting financing. We would have sold this unit 4 times by now!

Steve was relatively disappointed for us, and did say that now he understood more. Did that change his mind on the dates, hold-hold backs, construction delay language or anything else? No. blah.

Steve and John agreed that it was time to cut ties (as we told John it was OK to say that) since we were having trouble. They did talk a lot about Phase 2, though...Summit Street.

Steve was pretty vague about a lot of things, but some things haven't been decided yet. He would love to see us return and try to get a new lot on the second street but he had no idea what the pricing was going to be like, or even if they would have the same house plans. He thought he could honor the original plans we made, but couldn't promise anything. He couldn't even tell John if the price range would be the same.  These are gorgeous, well made houses that sold fairly fast considering the market today, so Steve could probably get away with increasing the prices a little and then we'd be out of our range.

I hope he doesn't do that, but you never know. It's really all a business and there's no personal feelings in it for the builders. :(

For now, our condo is still on the market, but we're leaning toward taking it off until the FHA approval comes though. Margot the Agent is supposed to be getting an update on the process soon and will let us know what might be going on in the next few months. Or not going on....

It's a rough time of year for ANY of this, with the summer, holidays, long weekends and crazy heat waves so we are expecting things to be slow anyway.

The only thing we're really worried about now, is if we take the condo off the market, will Margot be upset? She's doing a TON of work for us to get this going and we don't want her to think all her efforts are going unnoticed, or will be in vain. She really is going above and beyond and is a fantastic agent (I'd be happy to refer her to anyone!) Once it goes through, we intend to sell ASAP and obviously Margot would be our listing agent again. But, it could take awhile... We really have no idea what is best right now!

We'll see Margot and John this Sunday at church when we get our little guy baptised. I'm sure we'll get a chance to chat with them both for a few minutes after. I know they both feel bad for us and have worked really hard to try and get us in this new house!

No matter what, we'll use them in the future. We even had our eye on a back up house just in case, and were going to ask Margot to take us to see it. But, it was taken off the market last week. We are officially the unluckiest home sellers on the planet!

I'll keep updating this blog as things come up, hopefully we'll have some less depressing news in the near future!