First off, let me apologize for being MIA so long. Cold/flu season in the great state of Wyoming is NOT exactly the easiest to get through unscathed. The last month, I’m either hacking/coughing/aching/sneezing, or my children are, and once that particular bug gets out of our systems, here comes another one to wreak havoc. Also, the weather has been absolutely crazy the last few weeks. 60 degree weather one day--10 below the next, accompanied by that lovely ice and snow. Pretty to look at, but hell to drive in. Especially in my little Plymouth Neon, lol.
Secondly, I just wanted to say thank you to all those who have written with suggestions on home-buying. I truly appreciate it! Many of you have requested an update on how it’s going, so here it is...
I’d like to go on record as saying that buying a house is an incredible pain in the ass. I knew it was going to be stressful, but I didn’t know it was going to annoy the hell out of me.
For instance, the bank where we‘re getting our loan did the whole credit check thing, and a few accounts came up as being unpaid, when I knew we had paid them.. The bank said that they just needed confirmation that the balances on them were zero. These accounts are from 1998 and 2000. Whatever receipts I’d had that showed we paid it, I threw out like 3 years after the fact.
So, instead, I have the pleasure to call these places. And, of course, my luck being the way it is, all my calls were either answered by young, entirely clueless children, with names like Zeenyth, Bambi, or “Carri, without the ‘e’”, or I got the really cold, impersonal, interruptive old hag of the office, who has 3 minutes to lunch time, and rushes through it all because she doesn’t want her McNuggets to get cold.
at the offices would listen
without making a sound, other
than the occasional popping of
their Hubba Bubba bubbles, and
then after I get done telling
them what I need, reply with
something along the lines of,
“Um…Like, can I put you on
hold so’s I can talk to my
manager because I really don’t
know what I have to do to do
that, because my brain hurts
from forming the sentences
coming out of my mouth…Is
that, like, okay with you?”
The “Hags” of the offices, conversely, know exactly what paperwork needs to be done, because they’ve worked there for 11 years at the same pay rate, and have “seen it all”. They always know exactly what I’m calling for, and what I need to do…before I even begin speaking..
Me: “Hi, my name is Sarah Rodriguez. I’m calling in ref-”
Hag: “And your
Hag: “Address and last four digits of your social security number?”
Me: “blah blah blah, zip code, 0000. What I’m calling ab-”
Now, this, of course, is where the conversation goes either one of two ways. It’s either:
Hag: “I’m showing here that you’ve already paid this.”
Me: “Well, I know, I just need to get verifi-”
Hag: “It was to ABC Company for $xxx.xx. It was paid on xx/xx/xx.”
Me: “Well, I know that. I’m trying to buy a house and this case came up as saying it was unpaid, and I just need to fax something to my bank to show-”
Hag: “I can mail a copy of it to you, by postal mail. Otherwise, I can’t fax anything unless you fill out Form 123, giving us permission to fax your information to other outside sources, and then you’ll need to fax it to us, at 123-123-1234, stating exactly which case number it is that you are allowing the release of information for.”
Me: “Uh…okay, where can I get a-”
Hag: “Your lender should have some. Just fill it out and fax it to us, and we’ll fax that information back to them, okay?”
Me: “Okay, and what-”
Hag: “Bye!” *click*
Hag: “Can you hold while I try and bring this up?”
---five minutes later---
Are you there?”
Hag: “This case is from 7 years ago, and we don’t even have that on file here. You need to call 123-456-7890, in reference to case #2468, okay?”
Me: “Okay, but my case number isn’t 2468, it’s A12-“
Hag: “I know that, ma’am. But, you have to reference case #2468 in order for them to bring up the information on the case number you’re calling about, okay? You have a nice day, now.”
Even when I call the number they gave me, I still run into the same shmeil as the first…”I’m sorry, but we can’t send that information until you fax a Release of Blah-Blah-Blah to 555-555-5555...” ARGH!!
Next, as if that wasn't quite pain in the ass enough, came what I’ve coined as the “Fast Cash Fiasco”. We had a judgment out against us in 2000, to one of those "Fast Cash" places. It was when Ruben had lost his job, and we fell behind on bills, and couldn‘t pay them. But we did pay it late, and actually, it was in that “interim” period--- after they had turned our case over to collections, but before the judgment came out. Anyhoo, that came up on Ms. Bank Lady’s report, and so we set off to get proof from this “Fast Cash” company to show that we’d paid it. Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it?
So, we call "Fast Cash", and the lady there is like "I'm not even finding your name or that account on our computers, so it's probably paid. But I can't verify it until I know for sure. I'll have to talk to the manager when she gets back from lunch, and I'll call you back." Well, of course, no one called back that whole day.
So the next day, Rube calls again, and this time, the office Hag answers, and after asking her about it, goes off on us for about 3 minutes…"I'm showing on my computer that you never paid, sir! You owe us $250.00.…I don’t care if you think you’ve paid! You still owe us that money! I have the proof right in front of me, and you’d better come in and pay your debt, or I will be taking your first born from you until you do!” blah blah blah…
After Rube got off the phone, both of us sat there in confusion, talking about: “I KNOW we paid this....Didn't we pay this??...I'm pretty sure we paid this…” So, just to make sure either way, Ruben calls the District Court.. After getting transferred twice, we’re finally told that, according to their computer, that case had never been satisfied…I.e.: we never paid it. So, even though Rube and I are relatively sure that we paid it, here we are---going for a house, and if this is standing in the way, we've got to take care of it now. So, we go to the bank, take the money out, and debate on WHERE to pay the money----Do we pay it to "Fast Cash" or pay it to the court where the judgment went through?
Eventually, we decided to take it to the court. We get there, go where we’re supposed to go, tell the lady at the window the judgment case number and info, and we tell her we're here to pay it in full. So, she tells us to wait a second while she looks it up on her computer, so she can get a final cost, to include the interest accrued on it.
Well, well, well…She comes back and tells us, "Good news! I'm showing that that judgment has already been fully satisfied." After a brief moment of thanking the Gods that Rube and I really weren’t so delusional after all, we both told her that that’s what we had thought, and we went into the whole story with the poor window lady. She goes to check again, and even pulls the paper files on it, and brings them to the window.
Sure enough---there it is, showing the copies of the papers, our names, everything----AND showing literally that we had paid the judgment off on Oct. 13, 2000.
So, we ask her if she can give us a copy of that to take to the bank to show that we'd paid it off, and she tells us that she can't, until "Fast Cash" signs some "release from judgment" form or something like that. So, she herself calls the place, to prove to the manager that the judgment had indeed been satisfied by us, and to have her fax the release form for us. Well, of course, she got the exact same shmeil we did the first time--about the manager not being in. But, instead of dropping it like she could have, the nice window lady held fast, and eventually, got hold of the manager, told her what was going on, reminded her it was unlawful to collect money for a debt that had already been satisfied…interestingly enough, the manager suddenly “found her records” that showed the judgment to be satisfied. *eye roll*
So, although I am thankful that we didn't have to pay a debt twice, I was SO angry that my whole morning had been shot to hell by incompetent people who apparently don‘t bother to keep records of what‘s been paid, and what hasn‘t. I didn’t keep my record of having paid it off, but I’m not getting paid for it, either! *I’m* not the one whose job actually INCLUDES keeping track of things like these.
And another thing that chaps my ass: what if we had decided to go pay it down at the "Fast Cash" place instead of the court?? I'm sure those “lost records” wouldn’t have ever just “popped up”, and they would have happily accepted the money, and we would be out an extra $250 for a debt that we‘d already paid. ARGH!
Anyhoo, on to the part of house buying that’s the easiest: finding and recognizing “the one”.
When looking for houses in the paper, we just scanned through ads until we saw the set of numbers that were in our price range. Once we saw that, we’d actually read the rest of the ad, to see if it had at least the 3 bedrooms/2 baths/garage that we wouldn’t back down from.
Also, I wanted something older. No offense to new homes, because I’m sure that they’re cheaper to maintain, and there would be a sense of pride in knowing that your home was more modern than some others in the area. But, for me, an older house holds a certain character to it, you know? They were built back in the days when houses were built to last, when men built houses with pride, with the best materials of that time period. No cutting corners to save money, no slapping on of dry wall, paint, and calling it good. Everything was done precisely, with pride and care, from making sure of the integrity of the frame of the house, to the time spent in carving elaborate door frames to embellish each doorway inside the house. Older homes have stood solid and proud through the years, withstanding time and the harsh elements, watching children being born, families being reared, tears being shed, and laughter being rung underneath its roof. There’s a warmth, a charm, and a respect to the house itself that comes with living in an older home, something that no new home can ever replicate exactly.
One day, Rube’s reading the paper and tells me, “Here’s a ‘For Sale by Owner’ that’s $ xx,xxx.” Me: “What’s it say?” Him: “uh…6 bedrooms, 2 baths, oversized garage, no owner finance available.” Me: “What the hell are we going to do with 6 bedrooms?” Him: “I dunno, but they only want $ xx,xxx for it. We should go check it out.” Well, considering that some of the 3 bedrooms we’d been looking at had been considerably higher priced than this 6 bedroom, I thought, meh…what the hey. Rube called the number in the paper, and off we went.
At first glance outside, I'm thinking....mmm, it's okay, but...mmm..not so much. Not terrible by any means, but an older home, yard needs work, although looked to be some nice garden plots, but outside of the house needs new paint, etc... But, I'm already thinking that because it's an older house, that the inside is going to be really cruddy or something, with leaky pipes, smoking electrical outlets, etc…. But, since we'd already told the people we were going to be there to check it out, and here we were, might as well finish up, you know?
I walked in and lost all train of thought aside from a big resounding WOW.
That's all I can say. Wow. NOTHING like I thought I was going to find inside. I mean, absolutely NOTHING. I walked into that front room, and had that immediate sense of “Oh, my Gods. This is it. I‘m home.” Just that feeling you know?
The house has been restored and renovated, and everything is just as I dreamed. No cracks in the walls to indicate structure damage, no nasty looking floors or carpets anywhere. No bending or bowing of floorboards to indicate water damage. They walked us through the house, telling us what was new on it, what they'd done to restore or renovate things in the house, etc...
Downstairs, we came across the room that their 5 year old daughter currently occupies, and Kaelan was absolutely SOLD at that moment, because the room is painted pink with a sponged on border of a castle and crown---VERY princess-y looking room.
The moment I was completely sold? The bathroom downstairs has one of those beautiful, old, deep, LOVELY claw foot tubs. No rust, no weird looking patch jobbies, it looks literally brand spanking new. I have a little fetish for those deep old tubs, and when I saw that, that was it.
Both Rube and I left with an awed sort of feeling. A house of our dreams and at a price that fits...and we're both slightly wondering, how the heck did that happen?? We hemmed and hawed for a while on whether or not to make a bid, wondering if maybe there was something wrong, something very detrimental about it that neither or our very inexperienced, naive eyes didn't see. So, I asked my brothers, one of them being a structural engineer, to take a good look at it, and see what they thought..
Just so you know, my two older brothers pretty much expect me to do stupid things, me being the baby and them being the older, much wiser brothers. After telling them how awesome this house seemed, I'm really quite sure that when they went with us to check the house out Sunday, they already had many preconceived notions that I was vastly exaggerating, and that us buying this “dream house” would turn out to be nothing more than Sarah thinking about doing something stupid---again.
But, after a THOROUGH check (Brother Engineer even snuck up into the attic to get a good look at the frame and structure of the house), even they had to admit it looked pretty damn good. The only major faults they could find was that, being as the house was built in 1917, they had built the roof frames with 2x4's back then because, as Brother Engineer put it, “They didn't know any better back then.” And although the roof itself had been rebuilt 4 years ago (plywood down PLUS new shingles), unless we put some more bracing up under the plywood, the roof was going to start sagging. He assured me that while it wouldn’t collapse or fall in by any means, that unless braces were put in, it’s just going to keep sagging lower and lower. To do that, since the space going into the attic is tiny, tiny, tiny (they made ‘em like that back then), he said they’d probably have to actually cut a hole on the outside of the attic, to move the wood through, and I was looking at about $2000 at least to get it all done.
The next other thing had to do with some insulation that had been wrapped around the bottom part of the house, on the outside. The current owners had wrapped it, and put that wire netting stuff on it, so it’s ready to have some stucco thrown on, but the owners haven‘t done it. To get someone to stucco it, I’m looking at $4 grand more.
The only other thing that was a little faulty was that the wood in the roof of the garage was just beginning to rot, so eventually we’d have to get that replaced, but it wasn’t anything that couldn’t wait.
Other than that, neither of them could find anything else that would signal something deathly wrong with the house. There IS an issue with the uh, interesting, blue, pearlized paint in one of the bedrooms downstairs, but aside from that, it’s ALL good!
Having that knowledge, now, that the house I’m in love with is also structurally safe and sound, we’re taking the leap. The current owners are the nicest people ever, and after we said we were putting a bid on it, they were so happy! They said that they’d had some rental companies looking at it, to buy it and lease it out, and neither of them wanted to see a house they’d loved so well and spent so much time on, end up as just another rental that someone wouldn’t love as much as they did.
So, Ms. Bank Lady is out of town for the week (of course, isn’t it always like that? I’m ready to go, and they’re gone), so I can’t do much more until she gets back. We let the house owners know, and they said they’d gladly patiently wait. Boo-yah!!
So, as of right now, all that looks really good.
However, with the loan we're getting from our bank, while we only have to put $500 down (which is great!), we DO have to come up with closing costs (@ $4,500). Even with our savings, we don't have that. So, I know I'm going to have to ask my parents for the money, and it is bugging the hell out of me. I HATE asking my parents for money, it makes me feel like such a whiney little LOSER.
I swear, my one biggest wish in the world right now---the thing that I want so bad that I can smell it? I wish some anonymous donor somewhere in the world would say, "Geez, these two are good people, they’ve worked hard, and deserve this house to raise their family in." He/She, wanting to do their good for the year, would just write a check out to me for a couple thousand, and pop it in the mail, lol. Of course, before this, I always wished that while I slept, the "house cleaning elves" would visit me for a night, and when I woke up the next morning, my house would be sparkling clean, lol. But I tell you, magical cleaning house fairies are NOTHING like the wish I have right now, to find those closing costs monies in my hands, somehow, someway BESIDES asking the folks. Blah.
I really want this. I very rarely ever want, I mean really, REALLY want material things.. Shoot, I have a hard enough time convincing myself to buy a pair of jeans, much less anything else. I'm just not that much into having tons of things, you know? And before this house, I've never really felt that pull to want to own something so badly, so deeply that you could cry. But this time, this house, I feel it. I want it so badly. And I'm hoping that somehow, someway, we can find the money for the closing costs. Because regardless of everything else I know, when I stepped through that front door, I knew I was home.
Will update as soon as anything new happens.