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.