It was an adventure, to be sure. The real estate process was eye-opening. I expected everything to go smoothly. I expected that this would be all "business as usual"- that we would be ushered through the process of getting a mortgage and all the steps preceding and following that, until closing. I suppose that we circumvented the system a little bit by not having a realtor and buying the house from friends. If we weren't friends with the sellers (and, by the way, we still are! we're helping them move this weekend!) I think the process would have been even more painful and confusing. As it was, it wasn't so bad, I'm just glad its done. Here's what happened:
- We decided on a price with our friends. Rather, they gave us a price based on their Comparative Market Analyses from realtors, to avoid messy negotiations and keep our friendship. The price they came up with was less than what Josh & I had decided we'd pay for their house, and within our budget, so we agreed. Everyone was happy.
- We made a purchase agreement. A realtor helped us with this, and handed us papers to sign. This went smoothly, and, because we were friends, we were able to leave things like the closing or possession date vague, until they found a house.
- We got a mortgage. We went with a mortgage guy recommended to us by the realtor that showed us homes. The mortgage guy told us about a special state program for first home buyers, and we were delighted to get such a low interest rate (because, in the long run, that's what matters.) But! There were things that needed to happen before the mortgage application could be submitted!
- We had an inspection on the house. This is very standard. Our insurance company required it because the house is 100+ years old. The inspector made the comment at the end "I didn't find anything I wouldn't expect in a hundred-year-old house, and I didn't find as much as I'd expect in a hundred-year-old house." I took this as good news.
- We had an appraisal. The inspection happened Sept. 4th. The mortgage guy was responsible for setting up & communicating with the appraiser, and we heard from our friends that the appraiser came Sept 14th. On the 19th, we still hadn't heard a peep from the appraiser or mortgage guy, and I was pretty sure we signed something saying we were supposed to get a copy of the appraisal. After bugging the mortgage guy, a day or so later, we get word that the appraiser wasn't completing the appraisal because he the asking price is higher than what he thinks it should appraise for. I appreciated his honesty, though I was disappointed about the snag. We had to talk to our mortgage guy and our friends and find another price that it would appraise for, so our mortgage would get approved. Luckily, it wasn't so different.
- We got insurance. This was the least-eventful part of the whole process, and the insurance lady was the most helpful person we worked with. She said at the end of our meeting "So, everything's set for closing now!" She knew more than we did- we hadn't even heard that the appraisal had been completed, nevertheless that the mortgage had been sent off, approved, & returned. We ended up getting a copy of the appraisal from her rather than the mortgage guy, because he didn't send us one (or even tell us it was completed.)
- Apparently, without our knowing, the mortgage application was sent off and approved by both the loaning bank and by the state program.
- A week ago Wednesday, we closed at the title company. We had to hear about the time/place of closing from our friends, since the mortgage guy hadn't told us. The closing process involved signing a lot of papers, all of which seemed to be almost identical to the ones we signed when applying for the mortgage.
- Did I mention the mortgage guy hadn't been very communicative? The closing meeting ended with the title company attorney saying "So, now all need from you is X and Y." Josh and I looked at each other, mouths agape. "We weren't told to bring X and Y, we were told to bring ourselves and a down payment/closing costs certified check, and that you would provide the pens. That was it" Confusion ensued. We went out to lunch with our friends, back to our apartment to get X and Y, then back to the title company to deliver the papers. We breathed a sigh of relief. It was done. We had a house. Or did we?
- This Tuesday, we got an email from a lady at the mortgage company. There were three papers that weren't signed at closing, and we needed to scan or fax them promptly. At this point, the surprises just became funny. My favorite part was the way she ended her email:
Your promptness in this matter is greatly appreciated.This is not an occasion for an emoticon. But I laughed at the formality of the phrases and then the casual smiley face. And signed the papers. And scanned them and emailed them, because their fax machine wasn't working. Finally, done! (and, when she responded to our email, she did the same thing- formal phrasing and silly clip-art. I laughed again.)
Thank you for your time and consideration.
The conclusion of the matter: We start moving in next week!