Thursday, September 22, 2011

What the Heck?!?!

As I mentioned way back in this post (yes, go read it! It was a long time ago, and most of you weren't here, yet), my wife and I have been trying to buy a house. This has been a long, arduous process. Really long. We started looking back in January, if that tells you anything. The fact that it's taken so long has had nothing to do with us and everything to do with the screwed up state of the real estate market and the fact that a bank is on the selling end more often than not.

We actually made an offer on the very first house we looked at. Yes, back in January. It wasn't a great house, but it had a huge back yard (HUGE) with several fruit trees, a work shop shed, and a storage shed. We were willing to overlook the deficiencies with the house because of the space for the kids (i.e. our daughter) to run around in. The real issue, though, was that it was a short sale (that's when the "owner" is trying to sell the house for less than what s/he owes on the mortgage (just in case any of you didn't know that)).

The home owner was in foreclosure proceedings and was trying to get out from under that by selling the property. The problem was that she really didn't want to be selling. At any rate, we put in an offer on the house. The short sale process sort of puts a halt on foreclosure proceedings, so the woman suddenly found herself living in a house mortgage-free. She did everything she could to slow down what is already an incredibly slow process. What the heck? I mean, I understand her position, but to just put up blocks at everything that needed to happen? It was ridiculous. Not to mention the fact that the two mortgage holders on the house couldn't stop bickering with each other. Over $3,000. Really. The banks were bickering over (what was probably) pocket change (to them).

We put in an offer on another house. So, then, we had offers open on two houses. I don't remember if the second house was a short sale or a foreclosure; it probably doesn't really matter. We made an offer that was too high. In a market with falling house prices, we made an offer of above what the bank was asking. Seriously. We did. There were a couple or few other offers as well. You want to know what the bank did? They came back with a response of "give us your highest and best" offer. What the heck? I wouldn't do it. I told our agent, basically, "screw that." I already didn't like the offer we were making, but my wife didn't want to spend six months looking for a house. >insert maniacal laughter here< We withdrew our offer.

Evidently, everyone else felt the same way about it that we did. A month later, that same house sold for $30,000 LESS than the offer we made. What the heck? Stupid bank. It was a good thing, though, as neither of us really wanted that house.

Eventually, because of the roadblocks the woman from the first house kept throwing up to the selling process, her agent quit. Seriously. In the middle of the deal. Because of the lack of progress on the whole thing, we would have had to start over once she got a new agent. I'm not exactly sure when that happened, but that house just came back on the market a couple of months ago at something like $20,000 less than our offer. The woman is still living in the house, because, I guess, the bank can't make her leave while she's trying to sell the house. What the heck? But it's a pretty sweet deal for her.

Somewhere in there, we made an offer on another house. Another short sale. It wasn't a house either of us liked, but it was a good price. It had no yard and no playground anywhere nearby, but the house was an adequate size, and, like I said, the price was good. But Oh! My! Gosh! (Eggs! (sorry, private joke. Okay, not private, but you have to read my book to get that one. I only say it, because anytime anyone says "oh my gosh" anywhere around my kids, they respond with "eggs!") the bank couldn't quit screwing around with it. Seriously. Every time we thought we were making progress, the selling bank would start the paperwork process over again. They re-appraised the house at least three times. It may have been more, but, honestly, I quit paying attention to all of it. And, again, we had made an offer that was too high. It was too high because we offered asking price although it needed something like $20,000 in repairs. And the bank couldn't decide to sell! What the heck?!

This went on for three or four months. Until we found the house that we're moving into. It's a little on the small side, and we offered too much (asking price), but my wife actually loved this one. See, it has a playground literally right next door. It's perfect for my daughter. The day they accepted our offer, the bank from the other house came back and said they were ready to go with the offer we'd made on that house. The very same day! What the heck?! We barely contained our laughter and told them "too bad." That house is now back on the market at something like $20,000 less than we offered for it. Stupid bank.

Yes, we're in  the process of moving. I know! Fun! Not really. I hate moving. But I'm glad to be moving. I just want the actual moving part to be over with. Anyway, this one didn't come without its moments, too.

This house we bought was a foreclosure. For a foreclosure, it's in remarkably good shape. We looked at a lot of houses. I think all but one of them was either a foreclosure or a short sale. In general, the foreclosures were a mess. You wouldn't believe some of the things people do with their houses. Especially their garages. Most of it illegal. Not necessarily in the "illegal" illegal sense, mostly just building rooms and stuff that they didn't get permits for. Although, we did see at least one house where the garage had been turned into a pot lab (all I can say about that is that they must not have been very good at it considering they got foreclosed on).

That's not to say that there weren't issues with this house we're moving into. The main living space had a horrible color scheme, but that didn't stand in the way of buying. In fact, we thought everything was going to be quick and easy, because the selling bank wanted it done now, basically. They'd already been in escrow twice with the house and had had issues with the buyers, so they wanted to make sure we were going to go with it and set some pretty quick deadlines on things. We were like, "yeah! We can do that!" The quicker the better, right? heh We got all of our stuff done on time and ended up having to wait at every corner for the bank to catch up, because they just wouldn't get the paperwork done on time. What the heck?

Then came the big issue. The appraiser pointed out some areas on the house that the lender wanted fixed before they would release the money. To put this into perspective, both the general home inspector and the pest inspector had pointed these areas out, but they had both said they were really just cosmetic issues and nothing to worry about. But the appraiser saw ugly spots on the house and wanted them fixed, and, as we found out, the appraiser is all powerful under the new system of home buying. If we wanted the house, we had to have these areas fixed first.

But we didn't own the house, and, when banks sell foreclosed homes, they sell them as-is. They wouldn't allow the repairs to happen. We were in a "what the heck?" situation. And we were running out of time. Serious negotiations started. Estimates from some contractors were requested. The selling bank seemed like they were considering it, but the lending bank decided they would make an exception and allow the repairs to happen after escrow closed as long as we made the repairs within 21 days of the close of escrow. We got a date for that set up about a week after the scheduled closing of escrow. 

That day came and went. Yeah... the selling bank, the bank that was pushing for a quick close, couldn't get their act together. The guy who was supposed to sign all the papers for the selling bank had gone on vacation and the guy  that was supposed to be taking care of his duties was... well, I have no words for what he was. Incompetent comes to mind, but I don't know him, so I don't really know. What I know is that the papers didn't get signed, and we had to cancel the contractor because escrow still hadn't closed. And we'd turned in notice at our apartment complex, so we were losing moving time. What the heck?

Finally, the selling bank got its act together (I think the guy got back from vacation) and got everything signed and sent to the title company. The day this happened, the lender decided... wait... we went through three weeks of negotiations and getting estimates and all this stuff to have these repairs done, right? These repairs that were completely necessary before the lender would agree to release the money for our loan. It was a huge deal, and we had scampered and fretted and all sorts of things to make sure that this was going to happen. The day that all of the papers were finally going through and the lender was releasing the money, they decided, "oh, never mind. We don't actually care if you have those repairs done. They're not significant enough." WHAT THE HECK?!?! Seriously! WHAT THE HECK?!?!

I mean, fine, that's great, but WHAT THE HECK?!?! It's like in high school when I did an assignment (early) but because most of the class was having trouble with it and hadn't done it, the teacher decided to un-assign it. I was the only one, the only one that had already done it. What the heck? This whole thing with the house was like that. Pain. in. the. butt.

But we have a house, now. And we're getting moved in. Painting. We have a new refrigerator coming tomorrow. So, I guess, it's all good.
And there's a park right next door.


  1. Seriously, Andrew, what the heck?! Sounds like quite the process. Ugh. Glad to hear you're (finally!) getting moved in and settled. :)

  2. With competence like that it's hard to imagine how the housing crisis ever happened...sarcasm evident.

    Makes me glad I've never really wanted a house.

  3. I have never bought a house because my income could not get me a loan for one that was not a hovel. Rather than live in a hovel, I choose to live in an apartment. I know it's throwing my money away but I'm a single guy with no kids and they take care of everything.

    Someday I would like to own a home, but stories like this terrify me as do huge numbers when it comes to money.

  4. That sounds extremely stressful. Good Luck with the move!

  5. Ergggg...I can relate to some of your pain. We put in a great offer on a bank-owned home-- a little over asking price because we were up against someone else. The bank came back to both of us with the claim that it was worth more now, so they weren't selling. Then we had a reeeeeaaallly bad experience with a short sale. We've been renting for the last three years now. I'm actually glad we didn't end up getting those other places, though. Glad you made it into a house :)

  6. Ugh! But congratulations! I'm on the other side, waiting for our house to sell. But it's not in foreclosure, we mostly own it, we just want to move to Arizona. The house sold last month, but the buyer backed out of the deal when she found out the homeowners association wouldn't let her have a residential neighborhood! It's been six months and we're ready to go. Guess it's tough no matter which side of the fence you're on.

  7. I've finally come to terms with the fact that I will never ever own a house. Reading this post *almost* makes me glad.

  8. My dad lives in California and bought a house during the boom and that had it's own set of incompetence that had him pulling his hair out.

    My purchase was pretty painless. We found a place that had huge yard which we wanted for the kids. But it had sat unsold for more than a year and it had a few issues that required some attention, but we took care of it and it was fine.

    The upkeep of a house though, especially an older one just kind of wears on me.

  9. You know, I'm not a home owner, but any itty, bitty ounce of desire I may have had, has completely dissolved. :D

    Glad you've got one now, though, so it wasn't a tragedy. *pulls out hair* SO Sorry.

    YEA for the park!

  10. Okay, I hate house buying (and selling...that's even worse), but I'm glad I've never had that situation! Sounds craptacular. I'm glad you guys are in now, though; have fun improving it to your liking!

  11. Hey - fellow campaigner here - we're in the same YA group too. I spotlighted you over on my blog.

  12. J: Oh, man, the settling has hardly started, because we're still packing and getting things moved. Thanks, though! :)

    Mutt: Yeah, no kidding. You know, there's this book you should read, except I can't remember the name of it, right now, and it's packed, so I can't go look. However, I did do a post about it a while back. It's all about the lie of positive thinking.

    Michael: I have to say one of the main reasons we're buying a house, other than the whole dog for the kids thing, is that, right now, it's going to bring our monthly expenses down. It makes it more than worth it.

    Jennifer: Thanks! And it is.

    Jess: Yeah, the whole home buying process is overly complicated at the moment.

    Angelina: Oh, I really wouldn't want to be trying to sell, right now; although, I've heard, it's a lot easier to sell if your actually a person rather than a bank. Good luck!

    Sarah P: We thought we'd never own a home again for a long time. Don't give up!

    Rusty: Yeah, I definitely understand that! There are already things we've discovered in the new house that we need to take care of. And don't even get me started on my parents' house; it's over 100 years old!

    Barbara: Ack! I didn't mean to dissolve your desire! It's (probably) worth it.

    Shannon: Um... I'm not much on house improvement. Really, I just want it to be the way I want it. I'm more of a "live it" with kind of guy when it comes to houses (and cars).

    K.M.: Thanks! I'm honored :)