Well Grounded

After freaking out about the non-grounded outlets yesterday and talking with two certified electricians on how to remedy the situation I made an appointment to meet with my Realtor over at the new house to make sure that the outlets were in fact not grounded. Luckily, even though the existing 3-prong outlets weren’t wired properly, there was a ground wire hiding in the back of the receptacle box, so I can easily have safely grounded outlets throughout the house without a rewire. The only outlet that I checked that didn’t have a ground in sight was the bathroom, but that may be hiding in the wall. Even if I do have to run a ground to that outlet, that’s one outlet instead of a few dozen.

While the electrical situation turned out to be better than expected thanks to double-checking with better information, it was confirmed that the wrapping on the HVAC lines in the crawl space and laundry room was asbestos. I got a quote from a contractor for proper removal and will be asking the seller for a credit to cover the cost of remediation and disposal.

Now that “issues” the home inspection turned up were confirmed and a fix for the asbestos was quoted my Realtor completed the Response to Inspection paperwork. I signed it and it will be on its way to the seller so they can either accept my request for a credit, reject it, or counter offer. Since any buyer would have to deal with the asbestos issue, hopefully the seller will give me the credit.

Tomorrow is a big day. I’ll be officially applying for my mortgage and getting a check cut for my second deposit. Things continue to move along pretty smoothly and unless my Realtor gets sick of me and decides to wring my neck, I should still be closing on September 30.

The Home Inspection

This afternoon I had a home inspection done on the house I’m looking to buy and for the most part things checked out fine. There are two areas of concern that I’m consulting with professionals on as they could turn into a can of worms, depending on how bad they really are.

The first thing is that the house has a number of ungrounded 3-prong outlets. Most of the house has 2-prong outlets, but pulling a few outlets showed that there were only two conductors, not three, so instead of just replacing the outlets with new 3-prong ones which would be cheap and quick, it may require rewiring. I’m also going to talk to a second electrician to get another opinion.

Another issue is that there are some HVAC lines that are wrapped with a suspect substance and have some unknown debris on them which may or may not be alive. It doesn’t appear to be mold, but it’s most likely not just dirt. My Realtor is contacting a contractor to see what he thinks about the pipe wrapping and whatever appears to be on the wrapping.

Both issues could potentially be a can of worms, which is not a good thing. Aside from those two problems, the house checked out to be in very good shape with the only other “defect” being that the toilet didn’t appear to be bolted down to the floor properly, which can’t be a big deal because it doesn’t appear to be leaking in any way.

I really like the house, but if the two problems turned up by the home inspection are too expensive to fix, I can’t go forward. We’ll see what the pros say. I’m still hopeful that it won’t be as big of a deal as it might be. I don’t want to spend a ton to fix an issue, but I do want things to be correct, not just rigged up so they’ll technically pass a code inspection.

I’m glad I got the home inspection, because I’d rather know about these two potentially very expensive problems before buying a house than afterward.

Relief Over Something That Was Never An Issue

After getting worried about how I was going to get a bank check cut without transferring money to my checking account yesterday, it apparently bothered me so badly that I ended up waking up at 2:40 am. I tried reading a bit, watching some TV, and no matter what, I couldn’t fall back to sleep. I had this terrible feeling that for some reason it just wouldn’t work out. Either I would have to transfer money and somehow that would jeopardize my mortgage, or I would only be able to transfer the money after applying for a mortgage and then the timing of getting the check cut would end up making the deposit late, nullifying the contract.

I was told by a few people that the bank should be able to issue a check by doing a withdrawal from my savings, so there would be no need for me to transfer any money. It sounded reasonable, but with the bank’s website having almost no information on getting a cashier’s check cut other than the fee for it, I was still uneasy. This morning I called the local branch and spoke with someone who told me it was absolutely no problem and that all I needed to do was bring the account number, who the check was to be made out to and my driver’s license. That five minute phone call instantly made me feel better.

With that out of the way, I still had to schedule my home inspection and my mortgage application. The preferred inspector that my Realtor told me about wasn’t picking up his phone and with a tight timeline for an inspection I had to schedule something soon, with someone, or I could miss my opportunity to get concessions from the seller if there was a problem. Luckily my Realtor was able to get in touch with him and my appointment for an inspection is tomorrow afternoon. My dad will be coming along since, whether he realizes it or not, I’ll be enlisting his help with whatever repairs the house will need.

That timing works out well as it will give me a full day to get in touch with the seller if there’s a problem before I’m scheduled to apply for my mortgage, which is scheduled for Thursday around lunch time. That’s important because if for some reason I wouldn’t want to go forward with the deal, if I’d paid the mortgage application fee, it’s non-refundable.

Everything seems to be falling into place, even though I continue to get overly worried about apparently the stuff that isn’t as important and am completely ok with the major decisions. I can’t thank my Realtor enough for putting up with my ridiculosity and for ensuring this process is as smooth as possible.

Contract To Closing Timeline

Today I met with my Realtor to initial the changes the seller and I agreed to and to discuss the timeline from now until closing on the house. There isn’t a ton of stuff that needs to get done, but all of it is important. Luckily my Realtor is very organized and is going to make sure all of the necessary parties do their part so this deal will happen.

The next step for me is to get a home inspection. I’m hoping to have that happen no later than Wednesday. Since the contract says it has to happen within ten days I need to get it done or I waive my right to negotiate for the seller to address the issues.

After I get a home inspection that I’m OK with, the next step is to apply for a mortgage. I’m hoping to do this Thursday or Friday at the latest. I don’t think I’ll have a problem getting the mortgage approved based on my income or assets, but I do still have a concern with regard to moving money around.

I have to get a cashier’s check for a significant amount to give to the seller’s Realtor no later than Monday. The trouble is that the money for that check is sitting in my savings account. I was told by just about everyone under the sun not to move any money around before you apply for the mortgage. This is a problem. How the heck can I get a cashier’s check cut if the money is in a savings account, not my checking account? I need to transfer the money from my savings to my checking, which takes a day. Then I need to get the check cut. If I do that on a Saturday, will they date the check for Saturday? Most of the time when I bank on a Saturday they date things for Monday, but Monday is Labor Day, so will they date the check for Tuesday? If they do that, and it’s a day late, does that mean the contract will fall apart? My Realtor says I’ll be OK, but I’m really nervous about it.

I want to talk to the loan officer at the bank when I speak to him to schedule my appointment to apply for the mortgage to ask him about this issue. Since I’ll be applying for the mortgage at the same bank that I have my savings and checking account at, would it be OK to move that money before I apply for the mortgage since he’d be able to see the paper trail? I certainly hope so. Ugh, I’m seriously freaking out over that.

Assuming I get past the mortgage approval process and am able to cut the deposit check without issue the next step will be to shop for homeowner’s insurance. I have a few leads on that, and I don’t think it will be too hard to get a few quotes and choose someone.

After I secure insurance, I’ll need to call utility companies to let them know when I’ll be closing on the house so they can switch everything over to my name and ensure services will be connected.

The day of the closing I’ll need to get one more bank check for the final amount of closing costs, take a final walk through of the house and then sign the papers!

I think if I get past the whole “move money into my checking account so I can get a cashier’s check cut” problem, the rest will fall into place, but right now, that has me beyond paranoid.

My Offer Was Accepted!

Even though I’ve only been working with a Realtor for a short time, I’ve been preparing to buy a house for YEARS. It started back in 2008 when I got on a written budget and began paying off my debt. While all of that was going on I was lucky enough to meet with a friend of mine who is a Realtor, though not in this area, to talk a bit about the process and set up an automated email search of houses “in my price range” so I could get a feel for what houses were going for. Getting out of debt took a LONG time and it was not easy, so having the reminder that I was doing this so I could buy a house was motivating.

I must have looked at hundreds of houses online because of those emails that would show up at 7:48 pm every day. I saw a lot of junk, a lot that were great but too far away, and some that were nice, but I didn’t have the money to act at the time. Doing all of that research helped me refine what I wanted in a house long before I had enough saved for a down payment. Being the conscientious person that I am, when I finally did choose a Realtor I expected a long and arduous home search. When I was given a list of houses that were targeted to my list of wants and needs I saw a lot of stinkers and a few that had potential. Armed with that list of candidates I took a few days and drove around to look at those houses and to reinvestigate the neighborhoods I’d casually looked at before.

Out of the potential candidates, some were OK, some were definitely not for me after seeing them in person and there was one house that I saw that I just had a great feeling about. It had a decent sized lot, it looked roomy, oh, and it’s two doors down from some friends of mine. For the life of me I couldn’t figure out why it was priced so low. Talking with my Realtor she told me that we should take a look at it once I got my mortgage pre-approval. In the mean time I looked at more candidates, but every time I did, I kept coming back to this one house. I can’t explain it, but it just felt right.

This past Thursday I got to drive around with my Realtor to a few houses she thought fit my criteria along with the house she sent me earlier that I was enamored with. As we walked up to “the house” I noticed that the brick was in great shape, and my Realtor pointed out the new door and that the front porch had recently been redone. Entering the house it was pretty much the house I’d been talking about on Twitter for years with “shag carpet and green appliances.”

Well, not quite. The living room carpet is pink (OK, mauve), but it has hardwood floors under the carpet. The kitchen is a bit dated with its linoleum floor and olive green formica countertops, but the appliances are relatively new. The den has some funky high pile carpet, but I can live with it. It’s got an attached one car garage which wouldn’t be great for doing a ton of maintenance, but it would keep me from scraping windows in the Winter. There’s a covered patio out back and a shed-ish structure built along side of the patio.

We went upstairs and the bathroom is pink. Really pink. Pink tile on the walls, pink bathtub, pink sink, pink toilet, even a pink tile floor. Clearly the zenith of 1950s style. If HGTV built a dream home in 1956, this would be its bathroom. The bedrooms had a more neutral color scheme and after a closer inspection, they also appeared to have hardwood floors like the living room. This house clearly set the bar very high for what was available in my price range, but there was another person waiting to view the house while I was there with my Realtor so off we went to check out the other houses on the list.

One house that looked decent on the Internet aside from a questionable roof was clearly not for me as soon as we got to the driveway. We didn’t even bother getting out of the car. Another house that we looked at was at the lower end of the price range I was looking at, and while the outside of the house was gorgeous, the inside needed a lot of work. Another house had a great lot, was in really good shape, but was further from downtown Bethlehem than I would have liked, it only had two bedrooms and the taxes were significantly higher than any of the other houses I looked at.

As we drove back to my Realtor’s office she and I talked about the houses we saw and I mentioned how I really liked the first house we looked at. I asked what I should do. Should I keep looking? It seemed like a deal that was almost too good to be true, and with so many duds showing up at my price point, was it worth it to keep looking hoping that maybe something better would show up? This is the point where you just have to trust your Realtor. She told me that she’d seen many houses and that the asking price was really a fantastic deal for that house in that area. It also hit on just about every single one of my needs and wants. I’d been looking at houses online for a long time and I knew it was a great deal. Sure, it had some issues that I’d want to address, some sooner than later, but I went with my gut and told my Realtor that I thought I wanted to make an offer on it.

She told me that she thought it was a really good decision, but before I did anything, I should sleep on it. She called the listing agent and asked if it had any known issues and he mentioned that there were a few minor things, and that he would send over the city inspector’s report. My Realtor gave me a blank copy of the “Standard Agreement For The Sale Of Real Estate,” a 23 page document which is used to formally make an offer on a property. With a lot of reading to do and all night to think about it I called my friend who lives in the house two doors down from the one I was considering purchasing and asked if she would talk with me about the neighborhood, because while it may have looked nice the few times I’d visited the area, they would know the good and bad about living on that street.

I was expecting a phone call, but she said to come over. I had a great chat with her and her husband where we talked about all kinds of things I wouldn’t have thought of and when it came down to it, there really was nothing bad about living on that street, not even the garbage woes that another friend of mine has been struggling with for years at her house across town. An hour and a half later it was time for their kids to go to bed and I didn’t want to overstay my welcome so I went home to read.

Contracts are dry, boring and filled with repetitive clauses that make you want to poke your eye out with number two pencil, but they’re necessary and it doesn’t make sense to sign something you haven’t read and understand. Luckily, nothing in the offer contract was hard to understand, so even though it took a while to read, I didn’t have to go look anything up or ask my Realtor what a particular section meant.

I woke up on Friday morning and had some documents from my Realtor: a copy of the city inspector’s report, a list of estimated closing costs and a list of comparable houses sold that backed up the dollar amount we had discussed me offering on the house. After reading all of those documents and having slept on it the night before, at no point did I feel like it was a bad decision, or something i shouldn’t do, so I sent her an email saying I wanted to move forward with putting in an offer.

We met at her office and filled out all of the necessary paperwork, which basically entailed me initialing and/or signing my name about 35 times. She gave me a copy of all of the documents I’d completed and told me that she would send the offer over to the seller’s agent and there was nothing for me to do but wait. She told me to try to find a way to occupy my time because the waiting could drive me nuts. She was absolutely right.

The time stamp on the email she sent to the seller’s agent that I was carbon copied on was 11:01 am. The following nine hours were some of the most stressful that I can ever remember, and it was all my own doing. My mind filled with ridiculous questions: Would the seller accept my offer? Would they throw it out completely? Would they counter offer with something I couldn’t agree to? The doomsday scenarios were many and creative. Then I got a phone call from my agent a little after 8 pm. They had a counter offer.

I talked it over with my agent and while I felt that my initial offer was reasonable, the counter offer from the seller was also very fair and instead of entering into a back and forth over a few thousand dollars that could result in the deal falling through I agreed to the counter offer. My Realtor called the seller’s Realtor back with the information and within a few minutes I got another call from my Realtor saying that the seller would be signing the paperwork the following day (today). While it was essentially a “done deal,” nothing was considered final until the seller signed the offer and I signed a document accepting their revised selling price.

I got a text message from my Realtor this afternoon letting me know that she had a copy of the signed contract and that in light of the pending hurricane they would give me a few days to sign the document with the revisions on it. Since I already know that I agree with the price the seller proposed, it’s official, I’m buying a house!