Wednesday, December 26, 2012


Just realized I never finished up the story of our house purchase. Thing's got a little snafu'd at the end. The lady who did our closing was kinda ticked off about it, and asked for me to summarize events and e-mail them to her. I did -- 4 months later. Below is the e-mail I sent in December 2011. I've decided to be coy about the numbers; y'all don't need to know EVERYTHING about me.


When we first contracted to purchase this house, the agreed-upon price was $XXX, with $7000 rolled in for closing costs: $XX7,000 total. We received a GFE and all other docs geared for that price on 7/15/11, pending the appraisal. The appraisal, dated 8/2/11, came back at $XX3,000, so that's the max the lender would allow (essentially we lost $4K in closing cost assistance). We received an addendum on 8/6/11 and signed and returned it the same day. The closing was set for 8/25/11.

Time passed and I had heard nothing back. I contacted the mortgage broker on 8/21/11, curious as to if we were going to receive a new GFE because of the change to the initial contract; we wanted to make sure we had enough cash to bring to the closing table. He responded in the positive, but I still didn't receive anything.

On 8/22/11 I started to assemble all the docs I needed: insurance, closing costs, etc - you entered the picture at this point, as your office notified the brokers as to the time and place the closing would occur. I started asking around about the amount and method of paying the closing fees, but couldn't receive any hard answers -- more than likely because that final paperwork based upon the Addendum to the Contract had never been processed.

On the 25th, I spent a lot of time waiting by the phone, put off the closing by an hour - and finally was told what we needed to bring to Closing about 1/2 hour before the scheduled time. And, as you may recall, we ended up waiting in your office for all the paperwork.


Yeah, it didn't go well. And since the whole thing was wrapped up very late in the day, we couldn't even be given the keys to the house until the following day, and even then I had to play phone tag. Once I got the keys, then started the process of visiting the house officially as the new owners, rolling around on the floor bleating MINE MINE MINE, locking myself out and having to call a locksmith who only charged me $20 to show me that the door was simply a little tight in the frame and that I wasn't really locked out at all, and painting the bedroom.

So that's it. We had a little upset with the insurance this year: seems we were underinsured by about $35K, and the lender ended up purchasing an ancillary policy to cover the shortfall.

Monday, August 22, 2011


Another Sunday, another entry. This week was all about insurance and the gaining thereof. We got the inspection reports: the 4-point showed no defects, which was good, but the Wind Mitigation ... well, that was a little underwhelming, frankly. There are storm shutters installed over all the windows, but none of them are rated. That is to say, they haven't been certified as being up to the Miami-Dade code standards that were set in place after Hurricane Andrew. The roof isn't hurricane-resistant, and none of the doors are rated, either. So our discount wasn't big. Know what was big, though? The insurance quotes we got!

Part of the paperwork we received earlier included a Good Faith Estimate (GFE) which gave an estimate of all the charges that we can expect to see at Closing time. One of the estimates was the cost of a full year's worth of insurance that needs to be paid up front, and it was around $1,000 less than most of the quotes we received. Only one agent produced something that was in line with what I expected to see, and that was accomplished by choosing a higher deductible in the event of hurricane damage. Everyone else quoted a 2% deductible, but we're going for a 5%. That means if the house is damaged, we have to pay 5% of the total cost of the rebuild (I think; I'm admittedly a little foggy on that point). So that means if we get hit, we're 3% more screwed. That's going to be the first thing that we're going to upgrade, but we can't do that until it's time to renew the policy: next August. So fingers crossed that there are no major storms for the remained of this hurricane season. I'm looking at YOU, Hurricane Irene. Just stay the hell away from us, okay?

This whole insurance-buying thing has been very confusing. We received something from the lender stipulating what it needs to see before final approval will be tendered, and one of the items was a receipt showing that, at the closing table, insurance has been purchased; a bond will not be accepted. So does that mean that we need to finish everything up beforehand? Or will the insurance be paid at closing by funds out of escrow and that will act as the receipt? Tomorrow, I have to call the Title company at whose offices the Closing will be held to verify. Our insurance agent-elect has vouchsafed that that's what's going to happen, but I want to make sure.

My greatest fear is that I'm going to have forgotten something and everything's going to stall at the table because of my omission. I'm going to have a room full of people looking at me with sneers on their lips and I'm going to have egg on my face. Hell, if I'm going to be neurotic about this, I'm going to imagine my fly's down as well. So there I'll be, all egg-y and breezy, stammering "But I didn't know!" and the keys to the house are going to be yanked from the table and eyes will be rolling, and soon, heads will be as well. Make that singular: a head will be rolling: mine. Because, honestly, I have no experience with this stuff at all, and I can't find any solid answers from my old buddy, the intarwebs. Some things I've looked at say yes, insurance is factored into the Closing costs, while others say that you may need to purchase beforehand.

That being said, with the exception of the insurance question, everything else seems like it's in line. I'm confident that we have enough cash on hand to cover the closing costs, once the seller ponies up that three grand. I just wish I had a better handle on the insurance. It feels like someone should have told me explicitly what we need to do, but that hasn't happened yet.

I had a dream last night. In it, we moved into the new house which has now magically become an old house on North Main in East Hampton, New York, my home town. And it's dilapidated. And there are squatters in the back yard. There's water damage everywhere - the floors are rotten and the cabinets in the kitchen are swollen. And the old owners didn't take their furniture, so there's no place for our stuff. Aren't dreams fun?

Ah, well, there's still another four days to go. We've received confirmation: 11 am on August 25th! Did I happen to mention that Irene is projected to go over Boca Raton at that time?

In other news, Naomi had her tooth extracted on Monday. It put up a hell of a fight and they had to threaten its family before it vacated, but the deed 'tis done and herself feels a lot better, thank heavens. Currently her boss is on vacation so she's looking at the possibility of working 10 days in a row, each one starting at 5 am. Additionally, she was not approved to have Thursday off, but she has been allowed to take some time to attend the closing. Isn't that nice?

Ok, that's it for now. It's 6 am on Monday. Dishes need to be washed and the cats need to be scooped. And so begins another week.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


What an exciting week it's been, cats and kittens! Actually, wait, strike that -- no it hasn't. It's been a week full of phone calls and waiting. The foofaraw that occurred last weekend is passed; after an e-mail to Lorri full of hurt feelings and gentle recrimination, the full story was made clear: The lender balked at writing a loan for anything above the appraised value (X+$3K, remember?) and the seller balked at selling for anything lower than the original agreed-upon price (X). So the only place that some ducats could be shaved were off the costs that were rolled in for the closing (that's the $3K). When it was finally explained, the course of action was obvious: sign the addendum or forego the house entirely. The "forego" option was understressed (to the point of not being mentioned at all, really) and probably wouldn't have been considered but it would have been nice at the time to know our available paths of action.

I took the loan from my 401k this week. Submitted the request on Tuesday and was supposed to receive a document to sign and return via Fax on Wednesday. Nothing arrived and so I phoned on Thursday. "Oh, isn't that funny?" they said. "It should have been faxed. Here, we'll do it again." And lo, it came to pass that 4 hours later, I faxed back a fully-signed promissory note. By Friday, the money had been removed from my account and it had been given to FedEx for delivery. The lender must be monitoring my accounts, because by Friday evening, I had an e-mail from Joe, our mortgage guy. The lack of funds had been noted as being missing from the 401k, and they needed to see it available in a liquid-funds account. I had asked if Suntrust (keepers of my old age solvency) could do a direct-transfer into our checking account, but no, that option isn't available for loans. Go figure.

We're all ready for the close that is scheduled - in theory - for 8/25. The last document we need to provide is a Bondage Letter from an insurance company. No, wait, that doesn't sound right. Something like that, anyway. And so we've been shopping around for insurance quotes. Turns out we need a 4-point inspection because our house is an older one. We also need a Wind Mitigation inspection. Actually that one's optional, but it can save us hundreds, and only costs $75. This lets the insurance company know if the roof is hurricane-ready, if the windows are impact-resistant, if there are storm shutters installed, and so on. And so, after passing $150 to a complete stranger and watching him wiggle into the space between roof and ceiling --

We wait. That was done on Thursday, but we didn't receive a copy of the report on Friday. I know that the inspector is going to send a copy directly to the insurance guy who recommended him (how cozy!), but we've got another couple of agents lined up who are eager to give us quotes.

Without those reports, our annual cost for insurance is going to run $4,400 as a worst-case scenario. That's with a minimal deductible and with full content replacement, etc. Once we get the reports back, we're going to be looking for a quote with a $2500 deductible, standard content replacement, a discount for having a monitored alarm system (there's already one in the house, which helps), et cetera.

And so it goes. Hopefully on Monday, we'll get the reports, bounce them to the other agents, get quotes on Tuesday, make a decision on Wednesday, get the necessary docs by Friday ... And wait for the weekend! Of course, there's many a slip 'twixt cup and lip ...

Sunday, August 07, 2011


As those who pay any attention to the pearls of wisdom that I regularly excrete onto Facebook know, our Appraisal came through this past week. I've been pretty coy about stating explicitly how much the house is costing us, and I see no reason to discontinue that mealy-mouthed policy. Suffice to say, the appraised value was pretty darn close to what we had contracted to pay for it.

Kind of.

Let's say that the selling price of the house was X. As I think I previously mentioned, the seller had agreed to roll $7K of closing costs into the purchase price: they would front the money, and we'd pay them back through the purchase price of the house. And so the total contract was for X+7K.

The appraised value came in at X+3K. So in one sense, we were purchasing the house for $3K less than it was objectively worth. A good thing, right? Not so much, it seems. Friday evening, we get a call from our broker, Lorri - several calls, actually. She had sent us an addendum to the contract but her e-mail was acting up and so we weren't even aware that anything required our signatures. I talked to her after 10 pm and we agreed that if by the following morning she was still having trouble with the mail, we'd make arrangements to meet and sign a hardcopy (UGH -- stupid meatspace protocols!).

By the following morning, there was a copy in my inbox, so there was no need to meet. Accompanying the addendum was reminder stressing the urgency to get this signed and back. Essentially, it stated that the contract price had been dropped to X+3K in keeping with the appraisal. So the seller isn't covering as much of the closing costs as before, but the loan's reduced. Great! Yay!

Except that's NOT great. We WANTED the closing fees & prepaids rolled so we could minimize our out-of-pocket expenses. Before, we only had to bring less than 2 grand to the closing table; now that number's jumped to around 6 grand, and that's going to hurt. Like, big-time hurt. We are not happy campers to say the least. The terms of the contract turned in a direction that was decidedly not in our favor, and I must confess: more fool me for allowing us to be pressurized to sign without exploring all the ramifications. I was concentrating on the "reduced loan" angle, and lost sight of the "cough up" factor. The seller is only covering 3K of closing costs, so now I'm probably going to have to take out a loan against my 401k. I contacted our mortgage guy, and he's confirmed that we can do that without affecting the loan terms. Prefer not to do it, of course, but at least it's doable. Still not happy, though, and I'll be telling Lorri about it, you bet.

While that's been happening, we've been trying to get insurance quotes. We'll need to get a Letter of Bondage or something like that to bring to closing. I've contacted a couple of insurance agents for quotes. I started with Geico - we've got our car and renters' insurance through them, so why not house insurance, hmm? Spoke to a very nice lady in Virginia who sounded honest-to-God disappointed when she reported back that none of the underwriters they deal with would carry our policy: they've covered the maximum number of homes in the area that they wish to carry, in an effort to limit their liability. So no go there. Another agent I called played phone tag with me a couple of times, but never followed up with an actual quote. Boo. There's still another couple of agents to go, so we're not stalled on that front, though.

And that's how things stand, then. Our closing date is coming up fast; hopefully we'll get everything sorted out in time. And through it all, constant reader, you'll be by my side, sharing the laughter and the tears, not to mention the blood and the sweat. Yeah, ok, that was kind of gross. Sorry.

Sunday, July 31, 2011


Dear Diary -
Like, nothing happened this week. Everything's totally boring. The appraisal company hit our credit card for $400 on the 27th, but no report. Maybe tomorrow. On a good note, we got things hammered out with the seller about the items brought to light in the inspection. They're going to take care of the spout (spigot?) and the exposed electrical wire, and are adding another $500 towards our closing costs.

We signed the Addendum to the contract that contained those terms and submitted for the counter-signature. It came back duly signed and stamped -- and that was the curious thing. The seller is the current homeowners' relocation company, and the seller's agent's stamp said "As agent ... subject to Seller becoming owner.” That's odd, I said to myself. Surely the seller is the owner? It turns out that there are actually two sales going on concurrently for the same house: the relocation company buying it from the residents, and us buying it from the relocation company. Seems convoluted, but it's standard operating procedure for relocation companies, according to the seller's agent.

My wife never did have her wisdom tooth pulled, by the way. Her dentist bobbled her appointment, giving her one too late in the day to allow for an extraction. And so in between getting another appointment with them and juggling her ever-changing work schedule, she's not due to have it yanked until 8/15 -- ten days before our expected closing date. Fortunately, she loves the taste of antibiotics.

So that's it until we get the appraisal results and can start getting insurance quotes. Apparently the homeowner's policy isn't going to be too bad -- it's the wind insurance that will hurt.

Pepys said it best: And so to bed. That's not really applicable; once again, we're down at the Wishing Well, talking to Juan. Close enough, though. Good night, Diary.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


We know from our mortgage guy, Joe, that the loan application was received and submitted to the lender and that the Appraisal has been scheduled -- but he's not sure when it was for. Might have already been done, for all I know. We'll get the report 2 days after it's completed, according to Joe.

I asked Lorri about the repairs, whether they would be covered by the seller or not. She reminded me that the house was being sold in "as-is" condition, but she said she'd ask. Seller was amenable to including a "credit" towards the purchase price if we would handle the repairs ourselves.

Too bad, though -- the loan officer (I think that's who she is; right now, this person is just a name on an e-mail thread and at the top of the loan application paperwork) responded that no lender would agree to that provision, and that the sellers would either need to cover more of the closing costs (thus reducing our out-of-pocket expenditures) or just give us cash, away from the table.

And so we wait. Tomorrow Naomi gets a wisdom tooth extracted. Couldn't do it last week; she had a massive infection, hence all the pain. And so it goes: it's all about pulling teeth.

And now we're down at the Wishing Well, drinking. Turns out that one of our favorite bartenders, Juan, used to be in the mortgage business, and he's a veritable mine of information. And beer. Information and beer, beer and information. That's what makes the world go 'round.

Monday, July 18, 2011


Today, for the first time since we viewed the house several weekends ago, I got to re-see it, and I'm still pleased and excited. I was a little scared that I'd go back in and everything would now appear dingy and broken, or just a little less nice than my first impression allowed me to apprehend. Happily, I was wrong - I'm still taken with the place.

I was there for the home inspection. It's an entirely voluntary step, but everyone I've spoken to has stressed the importance of having it done, as any physical defects that might be there, hidden to a layman, will become our problem entirely once the closing takes place; the house is being sold in "as-is" condition. And so I wrote a check for $375 and had a licensed inspector go over the whole house, from top to bottom. He also called in a termite inspector and, thank God, that's an insect menace we are free of.

The inspection took well over an hour. The guy was on the roof, in the attic, flicking switches, flushing toilets, rooting around in the bushes, taking photos ... more like a neighborhood pervert's gig, but this guy has a business card, so I guess it's all right. Long story short, the house is in good shape! There are some cracks in a few of the tiles on the roof, the seams by the gutters need attention, and there are some very minor cracks in the walls and in a few windowsills. The most major repair is where the water comes into the house; the handle (knob? furl? I don't know this stuff, that's why I hired someone) need to be replaced, as there's signs of leakage, and it needs to be addressed. And that's it. The wiring looks old but good. The windows, the foundation, the roof generally -- it's in good shape. So that's a major relief. The stuff on the roof won't even need a roofer, the inspector said. Any competent handyman will be able to do the job. So it's really just the water spigot (spout? faucet?) that's an issue.

Earlier today, I had to head over to our credit union and withdraw many thousands of dollars and have them encapsulated in a cashier's check; this was turned over to Lorri, who, in turn, gave it to the Title agency who have set it up in an escrow account. So that's our down payment taken care of, as well as our savings account. Who needs a nest egg, amiright?

Today isn't over, friends. I'm actually typing this at my wife's dentist's office; one of her wisdom teeth is giving her a hard time. Once we're done here, I have to drop her home, I'll go to work for a couple of hours, then I have to pick the missus up and bring her to a chiropractor's appointment, and then - then! - we can get some real work done: we're going to the Wishing Well for a beer, and to sign, date, and initial 45 pages of fun: the formal loan application. Actually, I lied, it's 46 pages; the last page is an authorization form so that our mortgage guy can tap one of our credit cards for the cost of the House Appraisal, the next step in the process.

This appraisal will be looking at the cost of the house, the amount of the loan, the value of the house, the value of similar houses and what they recently sold for, the physical condition of the house, etc ... and then the lender will determine whether or not the house is worth what they're going to be lending us to buy it. I was going to start getting quotes for house insurance today, but apparently you need the appraisal first, so the insurance company knows how much it's insuring for.

Also, if the appraisal comes in too far below the cost of the house, the lender simply will not loan us the money. We either will have to make up the shortfall in cash, or the seller will have to lower the price.

And so, this brings us to the end of another entry in everyone's favorite blog. Tune in next time, when I'll have something important to say about the need to check the ink level in one's pen before one begins signing 45 pages.