Tuesday, December 20, 2016

House Shopping - Part 2

Recap: I decided to shop for houses that would accommodate me and my friends with their 3 boys.

I'm not sure what my real estate agent thought when we walked into the second house on my shopping list.  It was beautiful on the outside and absolutely decrepit on the inside.  Peeling paint, collapsing ceilings, not a functioning appliance or fixture in the place.  But you could tell that it had once been proud and grand.  Zaphod, Trillian and I wandered through, commenting on wood work and scraps of wallpaper.  But we agreed with very little discussion that the amount of money required to restore that house to anything like its original glory was more than we would ever have and more than I would ever get back if I sold the property.

We moved on to house candidate 3.  It had an official in-law apartment for guests or rental.  Zaphod liked the brick structure and slate roof.  Trillian and I admired the high ceilings of the double parlour and the perfectly balanced swinging door between the pantry and dining room.  There were lots of doors which meant that the main house could easily be subdivided into family space and single-with-dog space.  The house clearly had stories to tell about previous renovations; the front retained much of its original 1837 character while the kitchen and family room had a certain 50s appeal.  The upstairs bedrooms and bathrooms had a range of bright pink paint and blue shag carpet, but underneath were hardwood floors and there were a lot of closets and built in shelving.  Despite drafts and cracked windows and peeling paint, the house had clearly been well maintained even though it had been vacant for several years.

After this, I went on my own to see a two family with a "difficult tenant" upstairs, a  fully furnished B 'n B, and a variety of single family homes with recently (sloppily) painted interiors.

Of the options, Highlands (as I began to call it) was clearly our best option.

According to the experts (and anyone who's ever done it), buying a house is one of the most stressful things you can do in life.  I think I was reasonably calm, except for the appraisal process.

Zaphod and Trillian thought we had a reasonable chance of restoring Highlands to a beautiful condition but I wanted to see it one more time before making a final decision and putting in an offer.  So I contacted my real estate agent's partner.  (My agent was out of town.)  I met the partner at Highlands and as we walked through together, I asked her what she thought a reasonable price for the house would be.  She told me and then asked me about my financing.  None of her business, I suppose, in retrospect.  But I answered the question and she told me with conviction "you'll never get financing for this house".  I assured her I had spoken to the mortgage officer and wasn't getting an FHA mortgage so I didn't think there was anything about the property that would be a problem.  The partner inquired again about my expected down payment and interest rate and after I told her she again insisted "you will never get financing for this house".

I think I cried on my way home.  This woman was an experienced professional and I didn't understand why she wouldn't be more supportive of my desire to spend LOTS of money with her partner - unless she was right and the house wouldn't pass an appraisal and it was all just a waste of time.  I went straight to bed when I got home and woke up to discover that through my own fault or her nosiness, my dog had gotten out of the apartment and relieved herself inappropriately in our neighbor's space.  Kind of like the canine version of insult to injury.

By the time my agent came back to town, I had spoken to the bank again and been reassured that there was no obvious reason why I would be denied a loan.  I picked a price and made an offer.  There was a counter offer.  And a counter-counter.  And an agreement.   And a very detailed inspection.  And then the appraisal was scheduled.  And Zaphod and Trillian made plans to move.  (The offer was made in mid August.)

But then the appraiser refused the job because he was sent to appraise a one family home and the in-law apartment made it two family.  And the appraisal was rescheduled.  But the new appraiser changed her mind because there weren't comparable properties in the neighborhood.  The closing date was postponed by 4 weeks.  Zaphod and Trillian put their things in storage.  The bank made calls and the second appraiser was convinced to take the job again.  Only to turn around 3 1/2 weeks later and once again refuse to complete the appraisal.

And that's when I got very, very angry.

There were many calls to the bank.  The closing was extended again.  And the fourth appraiser completed the paperwork in time for me to close three months after the original offer was made.

I took the day off work, arrived at the lawyer's office for 9 am and left not long after with a fistful of keys.

Highlands was ours.

Posted by Fenchurch.


  1. Victory !

    Although I don't understand what the appraisal process is all about. I don't think we have that in France. Thw bank decide to loan you the money or not, and I think that is that.

    1. First the bank decides if you can be trusted to pay back the money. Then they appraise the property to determine if it is worth how much you are borrowing. (So, if you don't pay your loan, they can sell the house and get the money back.)
      ~~ Fenchurch

  2. Buying & selling is never easy but in the long run you now have a great fixer-upper that will be beautiful in the future! I love the old style charm!

  3. Thanks for episode 2. Don't usually like series but, I'll be patient and hang in for the next part, and the next and the next etc.


Thanks for commenting.