We're building a house. Can't be that hard, right?

We're embarking on a home building expedition, and here's what we have to say about it!

Search This Blog

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....


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...


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!