"Anything that can go wrong will go wrong."
- Murphy's Law
"Anything that can go wrong, will—at the worst possible moment."
-Finagle's corollary to Murphy's Law
When I first decided I no longer wanted to live in an apartment I had a set of requirements that I applied to each candidate house. First and foremost in my mind was ease of maintenance. I wanted a decent sized yard but not so big that it would be a major chore to maintain. I wanted at least two bedrooms to account for the possibility of a future boarder. I wanted at least 1 3/4 baths so that two people could have their own bathing facilities. I did not want carpet because wood/tile was easier to clean and I have a Roomba which does an excellent job on these surfaces.
I finally found a place that fit all these criteria (see previous posts). It was a foreclosure so it was cheap. The interior was torn up but anything that needed replacing would have been replaced anyway in the remodeling. The yard was a decent sized though plagued by drainage issues. This was not a concern for me since a couple of retaining walls for the worst parts and some grass seed would clear that right up.
I easily won the auction for the house. Even though I bid well above the beginning bid it was still far below the average selling price of the neighborhood. The seller (HUD Homes) had a few rules I had to abide by. No repairs until after closing. They would not repair any damage, property sold as is. $1000 up front, I lose $500 if I back out unless some major defect is found in the mechanical systems. After looking over the cursory inspection of the house and seeing no major issues I agreed.
Not being a total fool I got my own inspection done. I chose an inspector that my realtor had used personally before. As she had assured me he was very thorough and did an excellent job. The first order of business was to get power and water turned on at the house for him to inspect the mechanical systems. HUD Homes stipulated that we could only have utilities on for 48 hours. I call Huntsville Utilities and set a date. I called the inspector and set a date for the day after the utilities are turned on. All parties agree and are ready to go.
At nine o'clock in the morning of the inspection date I get a call from the inspector saying that nothing is turned on at the property. I call the utility company and find out there is a problem with that property. I ask what the issue is but am told that only the seller is allowed to know what the problem is. Seeing as how the seller is a government organization we might have a problem here.
The realtor, acting as my liason, calls HUD homes to resolve the issue. I come to find out that apparently somehow the power was turned on illegally back in February and thus the entire power meter was yanked and the power line at the pole cut.
A deal is worked out between HUD and Huntsville Utilities. It takes a week for the check to make it from HUD and into Huntsville Utilities' computer systems.
Now that the issue is resolved I schedule the utilities to be turned on. Having been burned before, I check for any holds on the account, set the date and have it confirmed by Huntsville Utilities before calling the inspector. The next day I get a call from Huntsville Utilities confirming that I want to turn on the power a day later than I set and confirmed. This is obviously no good seeing as how the inspector would get there and there would be nothing to inspect. The more I protested the more the CS rep said that there was nothing she could do. At one point I even asked to speak to a manager and I was outright refused. The most I could do was get a "Maybe we'll get to it that day."
The inspection date rolled around and surprise of all surprises, the power was on. I was ecstatic... until I get a call. The power was on but the water was not. I call Huntsville Utilities. I am assured that the water is on, all we have to do it turn on the valve at the street. I relay the information and am told that there is a lock on the valve. Huntsville Utilities tells me they will send out a truck as soon as possible. Four hours later when the inspector had to leave the truck had never shown up. Of course I still had to pay the service charge and a $50 additional deposit.
I spent a while choosing who my lender would be. Interest rates are down and banks were looking for good customers. I finally settled with Redstone Federal Credit Union because they had a good reputation among my friends and a half percent lower interest rate than anyone else. I go in to one of their branches and sit down with a representative to fill out a mortgage application. I am told that I will know if I am approved or not by the next day. I go home and wait... one day.... two days... on the third day I got an answer: rejected. I call and find out why. Apparently when I was sitting with the bank rep there was an entire section we did not fill out. I gave the person on the phone all the info she needed and BAM, instant approval.
We set up a secure email system for communication. I am given a list of information they need. I compile all of the documents and fire it off over the email system. I wait... no reply. I wait a few days... no reply. The realtor calls the bank to find out what the holdup is. they say they are missing some documents. What documents they need they won't say. Just "We are missing some documents." After a week of going back and forth finally the supervisor of the loan officer calls me directly like I had been trying to get them to do. What documents do they need? All of them. Everything I had sent already. I resend them straight to the supervisor and everything is now in order.
Now for the appraisal. I transfer the $400 appraisal fee and am told that they should be ready in a couple days. A couple days go by, no word. I call, can only reach voicemail. Call the supervisor, she's out of town. A few days go by, call again. I am told that they are working on it. More days go by, still working on that appraisal. A two weeks has gone by and we are told the appraisal is done. Now everything is being evaluated by the underwriters. Again we are assured that it will only take a couple of days. Calls from both the realtor and I every day go to voicemail. In the mean time the lease on my apartment has run out. I didn't sign up for an additional month because after all, this was only going to take a short time, right?
Today I drive down to the real estate office of RFCU and ask to talk face-to-face to the loan officer. Though she is rather unhappy at having to deal with me I get the full story. The loan approval person saw the appraiser's notes about the damage and has judged it to be hazardous. Therefore they are deciding whether to base approval on getting the damage fixed. In other words, no closing until the damage is fixed. If you will recall HUD Homes' rules, no repairs may be done to the property until closing.
Where I am now
No closing until repairs, no repairs until closing. The best bet we have is to put money into escrow (2x-3x the cost of repairs done by a contractor) to cover the damage. This would mean an additional $3000-$5000. If this is the case then I have a few options:
1. Figure out where to get it and pay the damn money
2. Find another lender... which means 30 more days of couch surfing (no apartment, remember?) Plus I have a little over a week left before I am forced to pay HUD homes $25 a day in fines for going over the 60 day limit.
3. Forget everything and give up the house dream. I'll get back the $500 from HUD as the inspector found a problem in the HVAC system but I'll lose $450 to RFCU due to various nonrefundable fees. Not to mention the renovation materials already purchased and sitting in storage.
The bank, HUD Homes, and Huntsville Utilities can go to hell. This has not been worth the amount of stress and all the lost work hours. I just want to punch someone. While that would get me free room and board for a few years, I may not like my roommates. At least then someone would understand the huge amount of rage and frustration this has caused.
Learn from my mistakes, people. Get everything in writing, ride people's asses until they do what they are supposed to do, and above all find a realtor like mine who will tear into a problem like a starving pitbull.