Wednesday, March 28, 2007

What the hell is going on

I know I've left everyone in an uncomfortable state of suspense these past two weeks. I'd like to apologize. I just didn't want to say anything until everything was set.

These past two weeks have been awful. The Friday before our scheduled act of sale, we learned there may have been a problem. When the house was inspected, they noted that there were some foundations issues that were not a problem now, but would become one. When the appraisal went on, they noted this and said it COULD use leveling/shoring. It did not say it HAD to. Our loan officer, a very nice and helpful man named AJ (and that's honestly not sarcasm there...) told us that the bank was taking some issue here. Our plan had been to get my spider monkey brother Geoff and his equally lanky and excitable roommate, our friend Chris, to crawl under the house (it's a raised house) and to add some support to the piers. My uncle, who is an architect restoring a gorgeous shotgun double Uptown (he's been at it for like 15 years now), said he did it to his house, and it is a good solution, at least for a while.

That weekend, we were worried, but not terribly, based on what everyone was saying. Monday, March 12, the day before our act of sale, we found out that the bank was not signing off on the loan until we agreed and were under contract to shore the house. This was a major problem. We do not have the money to do it. My parents told us that they were planning to give us a good amount of money to help fix up the house. However, this was probably not going to cover it. My father had a contractor he's known for years look at the house. He said, without really looking at it, that it would cost $20-$30,000 to fix it, and then left. We think he didn't want the job in the first place.

I took down the countdown at that point. Well, posted to ignore it, as I was in such a deep state of despair.

"Why?" you ask. Because we do not have much money. We are going to deplete our savings with the down payment and closing costs and inspections and the sofa and recliner we bought. The money my parents are giving us was to buy furniture and appliances, the least of which is a refrigerator.

To lose this house is worse than you can imagine. As I said in another post, I've lost one house already. I am not prepared to lose another.

Back to us not having much money: the housing market is ridiculous here. People want more than $150,000 back in Lakeview for a house that isn't even gutted yet. It's selling for "land value only." There are thousands of houses like that in our former neighborhood. Our loan is for the bottom of the unflooded housing market here. It was extremely slim pickings. Each house we looked at was like walking through a fun house; the floors were slanted at dangerous angles and one became disoriented when walking.

ANY house in our price range had one of the following wrong with it: foundation trouble, one bathroom, shitty neighborhood, small bedrooms that wouldn't hold our queen-sized bed...I could go on. It wasn't just us being picky; one house had a crack house on the corner, and upon reading the police reports in the newspaper that night, we discovered countless arrests on that one street. Things were grim until we found this house on the Internet.

It may not be the most attractive home, but it has huge bedrooms, two bathrooms, a nice yard, and is in a neighborhood with million-dollar homes popping up every few houses. It's my brother's neighborhood, Old Metairie. This house, with all of its cosmetic flaws, was the wisest investment. A few coats of paint and some mortar would almost double its value instantly, to be honest.

To lose this house meant several things: losing our shot at freedom and regaining our independence, repairing our straining-due-to-spending-a-year-and-a-half-with-our-parents relationship, and losing our loan. By prequalifying for our loan, we had 90 days to use it. The first 45 had to attach a property to the loan. The next 45 covered all of the inspections and other crap that comes along with buying a house. By the time we had this bomb drop, we were 30 days left to the loan before we would have to endure that painful process all over again.

This is the reason for my explosive post. There was so much at stake on this house. It was more than just house-shopping. It destroyed me.

Mark called a shoring company that advertises with WWL and had them do an estimate. They gave us two scenarios; if it was one type of problem, it would cost $9,000. That we could do. But if it was the other type of problem, the estimate placed it at $34,500. That we could not do.

Everyone started bombarding us with other house ads. I guess it's like when a couple miscarries, and everyone says, "Well, you can always try for another one. By the way, look at this picture of Susie and Gregg's kid!!! Isn't he adorable???" This was a major loss. Another reason for the explosive post. But these ads were more of the same: bad neighborhoods, deserted neighborhoods, one bathroom, etc.

Mark worked with the sales staff at WWL. Apparently, over the years, on-air hosts have done what are called "live spots." A live spot is when the host just randomly starts talking about the nice people over at such and such a company and all of the great work they do. It's not a commercial, per se, but it kind of is. In the past, live spots were done on trade sometimes. One man had Lasic surgery on both eyes for free, another has almost built a house for free. Spud, our savior, agreed to do our live spots and give us the benefits.

But first, they had to get under the house and give us the verdict. The house is raised, yes, but the crawlspace is small. They had to dig a hole in the backyard to get under there. And, as is our luck, it was the $34,500 job.

There went all hope, unless we could get the trade. Then we learned that the trade has been declared illegal in the past couple of years. When Mark told me about it, I said it sounded illegal, but that I was willing to do whatever it took to get the house, and so if it wasn't illegal, well, there you go. Then we found out that it was. Not totally surprised, but crushed. There was only one option left.

We had already low-balled them on the house. They accepted the offer with a slightly higher counter-offer. We didn't think they would drop. Our agent, Jim, told us to try. We dropped the offer by $20,000. All of last week was agony.

Mark spoke with Jim on St. Patrick's Day. He said that the family still owed over $120,000 on the house, and that they were thinking that maybe it could be worked out with their lender. It was a tiny ray of hope. No more word until....

Thursday, Mark talked to Jim, who said he'd spoken to their agent. Apparently, the sellers were having a meeting the next day with their agent. The couple has divorced, and he lives in Texas but was in town for the weekend. We thought this could be a good sign. He wouldn't waste a trip here if the answer was a flat-out no. They met at 1:30. Around 5 p.m., Mark finally heard from our agent. Apparently, the lady was ready to accept the offer, the agent wanted them to accept the offer, and the guy was holding out. He thought they could get a better offer. The agent and ex-wife were trying to get him to understand that they probably wouldn't. The house had been on the market for over a year. They moved out on the 13th, so they were paying the mortgage and 2 rents. If they didn't accept our offer, they had to be up-front about the foundation trouble. Or, they could always fix it themselves. Apparently, there was also a chance of foreclosure if they didn't take our offer. That must have been some meeting.

The result of the meeting was that the guy wanted the weekend to think about it, and we would know on Monday. GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR...

But at 10 a.m. Saturday, Jim called to say that the guy had thought it over, and he was ready to agree. But they had to speak to their lenders first to work out a payment plan to cover the rest of what they owed outside of what we were offering.

Monday came, Monday went, not a single word was sent.

Tuesday afternoon, Mark got in touch with Jim. The sellers accepted our offer, and there was new paperwork to fill out. AGAIN. However, we have to wait until their lender agrees, which will be by the end of the week. Apparently, this is a small hurdle, and Jim is confident that we should finally get it.

The act of sale has moved to "on or before April 15." Beings as that is a Sunday, I'm guessing it will be before. Our loan runs out on April 18. We pushed our furniture delivery, which was scheduled for March 30, to April 21.

More on this story as it develops. As of now, it looks like we'll get it, but there is still a chance to not get it. I am staying very low-key on this in the meantime.

Thank you to everyone who worried and/or cared. I may not have responded to you, but I had good reason. Adding to the stress was our designing, giving, and grading 6 exams, then creating our massive report cards (10-12 pages per child!!!!) all last week. Now I'm catching up on the other things that have been turned in since then.

Is it June yet?

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

:::whew::::
and crossing my fingers....
from emi

shelly said...

*fingers crossed* *hugs*

DevS said...

I am praying for you guys...you deserve it. You need it. You've EARNED it. **sending good luck dust your way** (hey, its helped people get jobs and stuff, so it works)

Anonymous said...

Thinking positive thoughts and hoping for you. :)