Monday, September 12, 2016

The Idiot's Guide to Buying a House

This is definitely not our house.

My wife and I (and pup dog) bought a house. Buying a house sounds like an easy thing to do. You give someone money; they give you a house. We're a little late to the game on this, but we've moved around quite a bit, and there has never been a place where we wanted to stay. I'm from Davenport, Iowa, but we certainly weren't going to live through those cold ass winters. Then we moved to Bradenton, Florida and it was fine, but people drive like 20 MPH below the speed limit at all times. I think it's because they're close to death, and they're just trying to bring everyone else a little bit closer with them.

Finally, we moved to Clearwater, Florida. It's where Hulk Hogan lives, and if it's good enough for the most awesome power in the world, Hulkamania, then it's certainly good enough for us.

Still, that does not mean this was a quick and easy process. We rented for a year so we could better discover whether the Hulkster had it right. I mean, what if Ultimate Warrior had it right and we needed to move to Middle of Nowhere, New Mexico? But although Hogan hasn't mastered his opinion on race relations, after a year, we knew that he had some pretty damn good ideas on real estate.

So the search began for us, and really, it began for my wife. She was my pitbull, which was necessary, since my dog, as a Weimaraner, is not a pitbull in any way. She was searching all of the information, and she was going to open houses every weekend to see what neighborhoods she liked and didn't like. She made me sit down with her to decide what our "must-haves" and "wish lists" were so we could be fully prepared when our lease w was set to expire. She had a full printed out sheet of all of these things as well as pictures of design items that she liked in houses. Our realtor told her she was the most prepared person he had ever dealt with.

But even with this sort of preparation on our (really, her) part, this was by no means a smooth process when we finally got to the part of looking at houses. We went to about a half dozen houses early on, but all of those had major drawbacks that didn't excite us. After that, we got more picky about what we were going to check out, and we really didn't look at houses for a few weeks. It was also at this point where we started to make irrational decisions.

You know that "must-have" list that we came up with together. During this dark period, my wife was willing to bend on half of the things that we supposedly must have. That dumb broad beautiful angel wanted a house.

I was not innocent in this matter either, as I would casually say that we should start looking at houses in different areas or because she wanted to bend in one aspect of the house, maybe we could bend on a different aspect, even though I did no research, and I was just throwing ideas out of my ass, because my thought is always that doing something is better than nothing. This is not the case when that something drives your wife crazy and makes her want to smack you.

So, yeah, the dark period was not a great time in house hunting.

But then, late on a Thursday night, it happened. A house popped up. A nice house. A really nice house. It was slightly more than we would have liked to spend, but certainly not something that we couldn't afford. Also, it was just down the road from the park where Casey The Dog and I drive to so we can throw her ball and play basketball together (Air Bud is a glory pup who is all about offense; Casey is a gritty defender who does what it takes to win, just sayin'). This house had a lot of appealing characteristics.

We took a tour, and we knew. This was the house for us, but we also knew that it was priced high. We sent in an offer that night, they barely countered. We sent another counter offer, they decided to wait on it. Finally, they gave another offer, and we decided that a few thousand dollars shouldn't stop us from getting this house, especially since every month we pay our monthly rent, that's just thousands of dollars that could be going into a house. We got it for less than it was listed, so we felt good, especially because we finally had a house.

Well, not exactly.

Buying a house ain't easy, so now you've got a ton of paperwork to do. The bank will not just hand you six figures and be cool about you paying them back when you have a chance. Instead, they make you fill out form after form and send in every bit of personal information. Even though we got pre-approved, we needed to update everything that we had sent them a month and a half earlier. Since I watch too much television, I constantly think people are trying to screw us over in some way, so I question everything. I know I question way too much, because the people we got our loan from had no idea how to explain things that I was questioning. On top of that, our realtor gave us a bunch of things to sign. My bank could easily steal my identity, but now my identity is tied to a giant debt to the bank, so I think I'm safe.

And then there's the inspection. Do I need to get the 4-point inspection? What about wind inspection? Termites? Shit, man, give me the deluxe package, because I'd rather get screwed out of an extra $50 than find out we have four-pointed wind termites later on. After all of that, apparently, I should have gone cheap, because all that was found was a few outlets that weren't working. That was not a dealbreaker for us.

After that, there's a damn appraisal, and appraisals are a very big deal. An appraiser comes in the house and sets a valuation. If it's high, no big deal, everything is good to go, but if it's low, that creates major drama. The bank will only give a loan to cover what the house is appraised at, so if you agreed to pay a million for the house (Note: We are nowhere near baller enough to consider this pricing option), but it only gets appraised at $900,000, you either have to come up with $100,000 cash, or you need to renegotiate with the seller where you can compromise on a price. The latter seems to be the easier thing to do, as if the house only gets appraised for a certain price, then that is what the seller would have to sell for since it will only get appraised at that price down the road if they want to put it back on the market.

Oh, but that is only if appraisals make sense, and appraisals do not need to make sense. Appraisals can vary wildly from one appraiser to another, because there does not seem to be any actual method of appraising homes. In my imaginary scenario, they can vary by hundreds of thousands of dollars, and even in my price range, they can vary by five figures. Oh, and the owners are there for the appraisal, and they can influence what the appraiser thinks on the price. It's kind of insane.

We were kind of hoping for slightly lower than our asking price, to maybe save some cash but not too low and have the whole deal blow up in our faces. But, probably fortunately, the appraisal came right in at our offer price, so we would not be getting any deal, but we also wouldn't have to deal with any drama.

Finally, we had all of the big stuff done. All that was necessary was to sign the final papers, oh, and for the people to move their shit out of our house, which apparently took them three weeks. They already had another house that they were primarily living in, but they were just lazy and took their sweet time in actually moving their stuff out.

We finally got to just a few days before closing and nobody communicated anything to us about wiring the money for the down payment. That was odd, so I followed up. No response. Finally, our mortgage lender gave me a super high number that I could wire to the title company but said they would have the final number the day before the closing. The day before the closing they completely went dark again and gave me no information. Finally, our realtor found out the final costs and where to send it that night.

Of course this would come back to bite us in the ass. We signed the paperwork at 11:00 AM. The owners of the house did not show up, so we literally had zero interaction with the people that we bought the house from. We got the paperwork all done, but still no wire transfer since nobody told me what to do in the days before the transfer, which was neat. The movers called and said they could be ready early. The internet guy called and said he could be ready early, but since we couldn't get a wire transfer, we couldn't be ready.

So we went back to our shithole rental and waited. We should have been ready to go by 1:00 PM. Instead, we waited, hour after hour, for the damn wire to clear. It was especially home when one of the ladies at the title company told me that she didn't want to wait around until 5:00 (you know, and do her job), because she wanted to go back to her home. I assured her that I wanted to go to my new home just as badly as she wanted to cut out of work early.

Finally, after three hours of waiting, I saw the money leave my bank account and started driving towards the title place so I can get the keys and we could move in. At that point, I had only seen the house for about 10-15 minutes 40 days ago. It was just our quick walk through, and then my wife saw it a few other times, but I didn't. I made the biggest purchase of my life off of a 10-minute walkthrough, and then hoped for the best from then on. I was really hoping it didn't suck, and luckily it did not. I was anxious to get our stuff inside. Of course, since nothing can move quickly, the movers turned out to be the slowest movers ever, as it took them nearly five hours when the last moving company we hired only took three hours to move us, and there was an hour drive in between as opposed to 15 minutes.

By the time everything got moved in, I didn't even have the energy to jump in the pool, but at least Casey The Dog did as she was busy doing dive bombs after her toys and then not understanding the value of stairs when exiting the pool.

The next morning, I woke up at 4:30 AM to fly across the country for work for four days. By the time I got back there was a family of four squatters living in our house (my wife's friend and her family). I like them all, but man was I happy to see them leave so I could finally walk around naked in my house without having to worry about scarring small children with a traumatic dong sighting.

Honestly, house buying isn't exciting; it's more of a relief. I really like the house, which is good, because I really don't want to do this again. 

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