Monday, June 17, 2013

The Housing Saga: Episode IV: A New Home [part one]

Note: So many people ask us all the time what's going on with our housing situation Well.... it's such a long story. Most of you have either heard bits and pieces of it all along the way, or you've heard the condensed version. Well, I figured it would be good to have the whole long story written out. For us and for others... so here goes!

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Just like Star Wars: A New Hope, the beginning a of greatness is slow, tedious, and sometimes hard to understand for first-timers.

It all started back in late summer/early fall 2011. 
We started looking for houses with a realtor. We started realizing what we definitely wanted and what we definitely wanted to avoid. We began picking up on the details of homes, the tell-tale signs of damage, and a general understanding of the home buying process.

It took a pause in late fall/winter of 2012 when we realized we'd be in our apartment until September '12 and then moving in with my grandmother.

Then we picked it all back up again in the summer of 2012.

We looked at house after house after house.

We moved in with my grandmother in September. We're still currently there. The plan always being . . . buy . . . a . . . house.

Nothing got really really serious until the 2012 taxes were done in 2013. Then we could start the financial process of home buying... and so we did.

We found our very first definite "this could be ours" in March. We put an offer on it. The seller chose another offer (I was crushed about this one. It had perfectly spaced trees in the backyard for a hammock. I wanted those hammock trees!).

We found another home a couple weeks later. We put an offer on it, the seller chose another offer (Jason was crushed about this one. Two car garage and so much room to grow).

We found another home in April. We put an offer on it. It was a short sale (which is code for: it's anything BUT a short sale)... we found out there was a lot of strings tied to this property - it could be up to a year to close on it. We decided we couldn't wait that long, we walked. You could say, we had a bad feeling about this.

The plan was to get a VA Loan because Jason's in the military. We did all our homework, all the paperwork... did everything the VA website told us to do. Then we were told Jason wasn't eligible for a VA Loan.


Yes. That's right. Even though he had been in for 5 years at that point, even though their own website said he qualified for one, their fine print (which is not on their website... you only know about it when you call and find out why the crap you're not eligible) says he didn't. He will be eligible for the loan next year. They wouldn't even consider a waiver (the military often does waivers for certain cases).

We weren't happy about that to put it lightly.

It felt like we had a door closed on us. With our fingers in it. *crunch*

So we began exploring the other possibilities. And we kept searching for the house.

We came upon a good bunch around the end of April. Several strong candidates, we almost put an offer on one... just before a certain house came up in our MLS search.

We saw it the very day it came up on the search. We both loved it. It's a foreclosure that's 20K below assessment. It had everything we needed and wanted in a house.

We got our friend who is a contractor to come inspect it (which he had done in the past for other houses we were interested in) - he gave it a clean bill of health. 

We put in an offer. We knew there would be other offers. We had to be aggressive with our offer. We're gonna have company!

At first the seller (which is a bank in this case since it is a foreclosure) only wanted to deal with us. Then more offers started coming in. We were now third in line for offers. They had strange requests and contingencies. We decided to comply.

Jason went to Wisconsin for annual training (2 weeks) at the beginning of May. I had to get power of attorney in case any documents needed to be signed. We didn't hear from the seller in those two weeks... aside from that we were third in line. I was semi-relieved to not have to move forward and make serious decisions without Jason there.

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Meanwhile - this whole time since September 2012 we have been living with my grandmother. It's been very stressful for us. We don't feel like we can really relax, we're confined to two rooms and a bathroom. The kitchen is the most stressful room in the house (for me, and I think for Jason too). While I love my grandmother, it is extremely difficult to deal with her hoarding. She keeps everything. She will even take things out of the trash that we have thrown away and wash and reuse them. She buys everything she doesn't need (she goes grocery shopping once a week and always comes home with 20-25 bags filled with "bargains"). Hardly anything is ever clean because she's losing her eyesight and never really caught onto kitchen hygiene (her infamous words: "a little dirt never hurt"). During this time period, we often eat out because there's really no room for us to store groceries. We get four shelves in one kitchen cabinet, two half-shelves in the refrigerator, and a quarter of the freezer. Everything else is packed to the brim with her things, and they often spill over into our shelves.

It's been difficult dealing with the stress of the home buying process while living with her to say the least. I am terribly grateful to have a place to live and I love her very much, don't get me wrong. It's just been a stress on our individual lives as well as our marriage. It has made us stronger, however. And we wouldn't be able to buy a house without this season of saving money.

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During the two weeks of Jason being in Wisconsin - I really broke down (down down) about this issue for the first time. I felt hopeless. We have looked at literally hundreds, almost a thousand houses... I didn't think I could keep searching if this house fell through. I also felt like we would never get out of grandma's house. It was a miniature prison of hopelessness (so it felt in the time of my breakdown). If this house fell through, we decided we would take time off from searching. We would finally take our long awaited honeymoon to Scotland. Half of me wanted this to happen.

Jason returns from annual training. We find out that the other offers have walked because they did not want to meet the seller's strange requests. They are moving forward with us solely at this point.

A contract is drawn up and signed. We fill out a loan application (you'd think we would have already done this, but you can't until you have a contract; pre-approval doesn't mean you actually have a loan already set up). 

We find out that banks do not want to lend to us because we don't currently have any debt.

That's right. We live within our means. We regularly pay off our credit card. We don't like debt

Again. It felt like a larger door had just closed on our fingers. *crunch crunch*

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This whole time we've tried to keep our faith strong. We would keep saying, "well, I guess that house wasn't the one, guess that means God has an even better one in store for us" ... "well, I guess the timing on that wasn't right, guess it'll fall in place when the time is right"

But I gotta tell you (I'm being vulnerable here) - I've had trouble keeping my faith strong in this time over this issue. Some of my thoughts from time to time:
"God if you're the one who called Jason into the military, how come it never seems to ever work for our good or anyone else's?"
"God do you even want us to have a house?"
"God if you want us to have a loan why were we just turned down for doing the right thing by not having debt?"

It was so hard to continually ask for prayer on this issue. Especially when no one really understands. Having to continually explain what's going on and people asking questions about the parts they don't understand and then having to explain that... it got really old. It also got old hearing people say what they think God is doing for us in our situation. I know they mean well, but good grief... Just pray for us. Okay?

Each night before we go to bed, Jason and I pray together. Every night we pray over this housing issue. Every night. Some nights I would cry. Some nights I would just mutter the words and wonder if God was even listening. Some days I knew He was. Other days I'd give up hope. It's been a long road.

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Thus concludes The Housing Saga: A New Home [part one] tune in next time [or click here] to see photos of the house we have a contract on as well as updates on the saga.

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