Saturday, February 26, 2011

House Hunting: Contract #5- Closing the Deal

After we finally made a decision to go with the new house, we put in a call to the builder's agent. We called, our realtor called and we got no response for several days. We were SO frustrated but we just assumed that the house was under contract and he would not be returning our calls.

Just when we decided to wait for a few months to start looking again, the guy finally called back. He told Mike that the other buyers that were supposed to sign papers that morning had stood him up so if we wanted to go to the house and pick up their contract that it was waiting in the kitchen cabinet. We got in the car and went.

We were kind of surprised that their "contract" was one sheet of legal paper with some numbers on it and a final sales price (that didn't even add up to the right number). We took the paper, signed it and called their finance company to set up our pre-approval before we signed our paperwork.

Because of the very attractive incentives that they had offered through their lender, we knew we would need to stick with them. Now we had loved our lender on the house before. He was super informative and always returned phone calls promptly and was so kind to us so we were so sad to have to move on from him.

We had worked with many lenders in the past couple of months with different Officer Next Door houses (HUD requires that you use certain lenders for specific houses), and then different lenders with the first home we were going to build and the latest contract that we had been under.

We had never had any problems with a pre-approval. We had just come out of a contract for almost exactly the same sales price so we knew financing wouldn't be an issue. I called their financing people immediately after we picked up the contract and gave them all of our info for the pre-approval. It was early in the day so I figured they would have plenty of time to get the pre-approval done before we went in to sign documents that night and give them our earnest money. The longest we'd ever waited for a pre-approval was a couple of hours. Huh.

I called the lender several times throughout the day and she kept saying she was working on it. I called the sales guy to tell him that we wouldn't be handing over our earnest money without a pre-approval letter. He didn't seem concerned. So that evening, with no pre-approval letter, we
drove over to the sales office.

This was our first meeting with their sales rep. Since the sales office was just minutes away from our apartment, we took separate cars and Mike took the kids to Chick-Fil-A while I did the first signing and then we would switch and I would take the kids home.

In the first couple of minutes of meeting us, the sales agent starts telling the realtor and me cop stories. Now our realtor is a police officer and I'm married to a police officer so you would think these stories would be favorable toward cops but no, no. Not this guy. He starts asking our realtor to try and get him out of some tickets he got in another city. I was leery but we moved on.

When we sat down I started asking him questions about the neighborhood. He said he wasn't the original agent for the neighborhood so he didn't know anything about it. There was no offering to call and check on it. Just a flat, "I don't know".

We got through about three pages of the paperwork (out of about forty) and I asked him a couple of questions about the energy efficiency of the house. We had been to visit enough builders throughout the process that I knew that they usually hand you some type of folder or pamphlet that tells you all about how they go above and beyond the government expectations for efficiency. I had gone to their website and wasn't able to pull up anything about that house or the neighborhood (all homes were done by the same builder) as far as energy efficiency. So here I am to ask the sales guy about this house and nothing. No pamphlet, no folder, nothing. This builder's salesman knew nothing about the energy efficiency of the house.

At this point I say, "Okay, well then sell it to me. Tell me why I should buy this house." His response: "Well, it's a little late now, isn't it??" Not really. I had only signed three papers and Mike hadn't signed anything. We hadn't given them a check or anything else. The guy was a total smart mouth and completely arrogant. I had been pretty patient through all of the home buying up until then but he was talking to someone who was VERY done with buying houses and had NO patience left (and Mike was feeling the same way).

We got to the end of the signing and they asked for our earnest money check. I reiterated that we didn't want to hand over our earnest money without a pre-approval. He said that was fine and we could bring it in the morning. I wasn't sure what was going on with the pre-approval and I asked him if he thought the deal was secure. His response, "I might have to do a little dance in front of my superiors but (pointing to the wall of awards behind him) I'm pretty good at dancing." Like I said, arrogant.

The next morning rolled around and still no pre-approval. Mike and I decided that we were done looking at houses and we wanted to try and make this work. Since they said it should be fine and we had signed paperwork stating we would get our check back if the pre-approval didn't work, we just decided to take them the check and hope for the best.

The next couple of weeks were brutal. For the first week, each day I would call and ask the lender about the pre-approval and each day her response was the same, "I'm working on it but can you send me..." I sent her every piece of financial paperwork from my whole life and Mike's in the first two days.

She did tell me that there had been three other buyers who had tried to get approval for the same house in the last week but they had all been denied. It explained all of the people who were in the house each time we were there but I can't say that gave me much hope. There was nothing more to send paperwork-wise but she would come up with one more reason why she couldn't get the pre-approval done. It was the end of the month so it was busy, then it was the beginning of the month so it was busy, she had too many projects, they had given her too many loans to complete and every other excuse you could think of.

We went in at one point to talk to the sales guy and ask him what he could do to move the situation along. After telling us some more fun cop stories about how he likes to be rude to officers who pull him over (he freely admits that he doesn't have a front license plate and likes to go over 100), he told us "I can't just go tap-dance on her desk and make her do work." I was having a really hard time holding my tongue. He was totally rude and never willing to do anything to move the deal along at all.

We had already canceled our contract with the other house so this was the only house we were working with. It was this one or no house for a few months. We were just at a point where we wanted to get some answers so we could move on.

Our closing was set 1 month from the day we signed the paperwork and it had already been a week with no pre-approval (again, the longest we had ever waited was a couple of hours). I just wasn't sure whether this company would ever be able to get their act together long enough to make our loan go through if they couldn't even get a simple pre-approval done.

At that point, I scheduled our trip to Great Wolf Lodge. We were so burned out on the house stuff and I just wanted to get away with the kids and not feel like I was sitting by the phone waiting for it to ring. I was hoping that maybe if I just gave the lender a couple of days with no phone calls that maybe she could get it all wrapped up. I'm so, so glad we did that trip. It was such a great decision to go and we came back rejuvenated.

While we were away, they finally got the pre-approval letter for us. It had been two weeks. That meant we still had several other things to take care of. The sales guy threw a huge fit for Mike about wanting to have an inspection done. "It's a brand-new house! Why would you want to waste your money inspecting a brand-new house??"

It got to the point where we would only talk to him through our realtor. Mike's normally pretty passive but at one point he told me that he's arrested people who were more cooperative than the sales guy. I believe it. Between the sales guy and the lender, there was a lot of stress in our apartment in those weeks.

The inspector came and (big surprise!) there were some things that needed to be fixed before we moved in. Our a/c had been run with no filters for a couple of months and the system needed to be cleaned out, plus some cracked brick and some outlets that needed to be fixed. We were glad to have "wasted" our money on an inspector.

So now that our pre-approval had been done and the inspection had been done, we still had to wait for the final approval. We were supposed to close in 1 month and it had already been 3 weeks. I really, really tried to be patient and not call the lender every day but our closing date was a week away and I had not packed one box.

I had scheduled the kids to make a trip to Mike's parents when we set our closing date originally so that I could take some time and pack without helpers. The trip came and the kids left but we still had no word on a final approval. We were so frustrated and overwhelmed.

Our closing date was set for Friday, October 30. Monday came but we had decided the week before that we were done playing on their terms. We had told them from day one that both Mike and our realtor had to work late that Friday and that we would need to reschedule closing but it really seemed pointless to reschedule since we didn't have the final approval yet anyway. And still, no boxes were packed.

Tuesday and Wednesday came with no word and finally on Thursday we heard from the lender. The loan was approved! We were so done at that point and we told them that there was no way we were closing the next day and they would have to wait until Monday (when Mike and our realtor were off from work).

Mike and our realtor got one call after another from the sales guy who was suddenly interested in our business. Even though it would have been entirely possible for Mike to go to the firm for closing right after work (it was just a couple of miles away), we still wanted to wait until Monday when we could get someone to look after the kids and we could focus on our paperwork. But it was the end of the month and the sales guy needed to make numbers. It was time to make a deal.

I have to admit I was still a little torn knowing the sales guy's numbers would benefit from us closing in October but when he offered us an oversized stainless steel refrigerator that matched our other appliances, I was ready to be done and sign those papers!

Our closing was at 6:30 and we had our two little companions to keep us company. The people doing the closing were very nice and very gracious about the kids. Before we left we were cleaning up a whole thing of paperclips on the floor, a bag of goldfish (crumbs and all) on the floor, a crazy amount of Dum-Dum wrappers, the coffee that came out when Clay put his hand up to the coffee maker and so,so many more messes. It was a long night (3 hours) and we were all so ready for it all to be over so we could have our keys.

Even now thinking back, it was so much fun getting those keys. The homebuying process was tough- so much tougher than I ever expected. There were so many times when we were ready to throw in the towel but I am so glad we stuck it out and stuck to what we wanted.

We totally feel that this is the house God wanted us to have from the beginning. We know that He used the process to help make our marriage stronger, our finances better and to help us grow as a family. We know He was faithful to us each step of the way and we praise Him daily for the blessing that we finally can call HOME.

1 comment:

Jamie Skloss said...

God is good all the time! We are glad for your joy and growth and excited you have found a home that fits you just right.