A week ago today, the beau and I were *suppose* to close on our first home. Say what?!
I know, I’ve been absent but the days have been flying by and this whole home buying process is a crazy one. Oh, and in the retail world, it’s our busiest time of the year. Which by the way, doesn’t make any sense to me because I feel like people should be slowing down and doing fun things, creating memories, not running around like madmen, trying to find the perfect gift. End rant.
Back to the house business. Yes, it all happened so quickly and out of the blue and then just like that, it was over. We’ve learned a ton and I’d like to share what I’ve gathered – feel free to chime in to make our next attempt even easier.
But first the story: on a random Friday (October 30th) I found a random house listing on Zillow that looked absolutely perfect. I sent the link over to my mom and she immediately replied, “buy that house!” By 4PM, I hit that button SEND ME MORE INFO and instantly became obsessed. The beau and I couldn’t believe we were even entertaining this idea but got super excited about the possibility. That night, I of course couldn’t sleep and stalked it in the wee hours of Saturday. Price reduced by $5k! I MUST see this house!
Saturday morning we woke up with the sun and actually decided to drive by the home to check out the neighborhood = super cute! The wheels were officially turning and all of those episodes of My First House came rushing back into my head. A random realtor responded to my click for more information and gave us a call Saturday morning during the market; he was going to call the other realtor to set up a time to get in to see it. Within 30 minutes it was set: showing on Sunday (the next day) at 11AM.
Sunday morning: “Holy crap! We’re going to look at a house!” And goodness, we both fell in love instantly. Small but bigger than what I’ve been living in over the past 12 years, room to grow and most importantly, move in ready! Fenced in yard for a future greyhound and compost: check! Washer and dryer: check! Charm: check! We had no clue what to do next because we hadn’t been pre-approved, so we decided Monday morning to waltz into our researched bank of choice when they opened…. oh yeah, we researched our little hearts out in between work and the showing.
Surprisingly the pre-approval process was quick and we got the low down on costs. All day I think we were in shock, “should we do this? Are we ready to own a house? There are going to have to be some sacrifices…” but our minds were pretty made up: we loved the house and were ready to make an offer by 5PM Monday evening. And by 7:30PM that same evening, we had a counter offer. At that point, we took the evening to make our best and final offer (fully knowing what she wanted) and made our offer Tuesday morning… and it was accepted within the hour.
The process continued to proceed at lightening speed: appraisal, locking our interest rate (3.5%!), submitting paperwork to the bank for the underwriting, and the home inspection all happened within a week. Our parents all seemed to love this little gem just as much as we did after giving them a tour (the day of inspection), and our hearts sunk a little the morning of the inspection: asbestos was found in the attic. Our realtor didn’t seem to think this was an issue and pressed us to move forward. But the beau and I are researchers and golly am I thankful we took the time to research this topic…
… asbestos can be pretty serious and can cost A LOT of money to remove. And in this case, it had to be removed. I reached out to a friend on FB who recently dealt with asbestos and started making phone calls… oh, and I think it’s also important to note that the seller agreed to pay for the removal! Hot dog, we were feeling on top of the world…
… until I researched what company the seller was hiring. We all agreed that we couldn’t tell the seller who to hire, but we did require documentation to prove that things were being done up to NYS regulation. About a week later, we received a phone call from our attorney that the situation had changed: the seller was no longer going to hire a company, but remove the asbestos on their own. Okay, people do this all the time and yes, it’s legal. But not hiring an air quality management team is shady and doesn’t make me feel comfortable moving in. We thought about it all weekend and it came down to this: we didn’t and still don’t have the money to remove asbestos (it can cost thousands and thousands of dollars). We didn’t feel comfortable giving notice to our landlord and then paying a chunk of change to inspect the air quality because realistically, if the results came back negative, we wouldn’t have a house or apartment to live in at the end of December. Whomp whomp.
So, we decided to exercise our right to walk away from the contract. The seller was NOT happy (obviously, neither was I, there were plenty of crocodile tears Monday morning) and decided to threaten us if we didn’t close last week.
Which leads me into sharing what I’ve learned during this process:
- Hire a trusted attorney. We got super lucky with ours – he use to work with my mom and was available whenever we needed him. We truly felt like he was on our “side” 100% and after his strongly worded letter in response to their threat, everything was dropped and our deposit will be returned. Worth every penny and even a Christmas card.
- Take the time to find a realtor that you click with and knows exactly what you’re looking for. In our case, I literally clicked a button and got stuck with someone. And that someone, well, he wasn’t for us. After receiving our intent to walk letter, he called me and for thirty minutes tried to convince me to buy this house. He even suggested that I borrow money from my parents! Umm, no and how dare you! He insisted that we don’t “drop him” and that he’ll help us find another house, maybe not as nice as this one, but another worth living in. Ummm, get lost pal.
- Take a homebuyers class prior to starting your search. The beau and I took the TRIP classes last summer which really helped with this entire process. They cover budgeting, the costs associated with purchasing a home (it’s more than just saving up for a down payment) and also offer how-to-fix-it courses once you purchase a home or how-to-be-a-landlord course should you buy something other than a single family unit. Tons of knowledge and we called them for a recommendation during the whole asbestos research time period.
- Hire a good inspector. We used someone who came highly recommended and it was worth every penny. He was thorough, professional, and very candid about the asbestos. Got my dad’s seal of approval!
- Oh, and get your past taxes in order. Confession, not all of my taxes were filed in a neat folder ready to be used. In fact, I had to hunt down a missing W2 from a previous employer. The longer it takes you to submit information to the bank, the more it’ll delay the underwriting process.
While I’m super bummed I still won’t have a washer and dryer in my home/apartment, I know good things come to those who wait. There’s no rush for us to move and will probably resume looking Spring 2016. I feel like we’ve dealt with a lot this first time around and it can only get easier, right?