I’ve chosen to leave this post in its present tense even though I wrote it a week ago (on August 21) because I wanted to preserve the feelings I was experiencing at the time.  Sorry if it’s a little confusing.

moving truck speeding away

With all our belongings driving away in the moving truck, I felt a little lost.

Wow, what a weekend.  We’ve been officially homeless for two days now.  We were supposed to complete the purchase of our house on Wednesday of last week, and by Friday afternoon, when all our belongings had been packed and loaded into a moving truck, we still didn’t have a home to move into.  I sent the truck and its crew back to the warehouse with all our possessions, sat down on the floor of our empty apartment, and cried.

This is not the first time we’ve bought a house.  In fact, this is real estate purchase number three for us.  We bought our first home together when we got married.  It was a leasehold townhouse in a less-than-desirable complex, but it was $63,000 and it was all ours – well at least the inside of the townhouse was all ours…some construction company owned the actual building and grounds.

The process of selling our townhouse was challenging, because it was a leasehold – not many banks will finance a leasehold mortgage, and when we bought it, we assumed the existing mortgage.  When we sold, it took a while to find a buyer who could get a leasehold mortgage.  But when we found that buyer, the rest of the process was pretty darn smooth.  Finding a house to buy was also fairly easy, and the timing worked out perfectly.  Our second purchase was a single-family detached home a few blocks away from the townhouse.  It was on a cul-de-sac in a family neighbourhood, and was where we planned on raising our family.

Then, we gave up our 5 bedroom house on a 7000 square foot lot (in its increasingly gang-infested, no longer family-oriented neighbourhood) to move to California (from British Columbia, in case you don’t already know).  Gone was our good credit rating; gone was our relationship with our bank; gone was our ability to buy a house.  We figured it would take a while to build up the necessary credit and down payment to buy, so we rented, and then rented again.

Ten months after the move into our second apartment in Marin County, our lease was coming due.  Sixty days before our lease was due, the property manager of the apartment complex sent us our options for renewing.  If we jumped at the chance to renew, our rent increase would only be $500 per month!  ONLY an additional $500 per month more to rent the same 850 square foot, 2-bedroom apartment with lots of stairs up to the front door and very little storage for another seven to twelve months!  What a deal!  How could we possibly pass it up?  When we didn’t respond right away, they sent us our next option – an increase of $800 per month – we still had a chance to renew!

We decided we needed to see if buying was an option yet.  Sure enough, based on our credit rating (which we’d been working to build) and Devin’s salary, we were pre-approved for a much more expensive mortgage than we needed.  The house-hunting started immediately, and within a week of the first outing with our realtor, we’d made an offer and it was accepted.  So far, so good!

The sellers turned out to be amazing.  They fixed all of the major concerns brought up by the inspectors, and most of the minor ones.  The hot tub broke down after we’d made our offer, and when the repair guy told them it was too old to be worth fixing, they arranged to pay for a replacement hot tub for us.  They left us their outdoor furniture, a bunch of tools and gardening books, the entertainment system they had wired into the covered deck, a bar (also on the deck), and various small items and cleaning supplies.

In the course of the inspections and repairs, we got to know the sellers quite well and we all became very fond of each other.  They were selling because they planned to travel in their 5th-wheel for a while before settling in Palm Springs for their retirement.  The house had been a part of their family since it was built in 1955, and they wanted to be sure that it went to a family that they felt a connection to.  We fit the bill, apparently.  Before their belongings got packed by the movers, they hosted a meet-and-greet so we could get to know the neighbours.  What a beautiful gift that was!  On the day before they vacated the house, the five of us went out to dinner and vowed to keep in touch.  We told them the house would always be theirs whenever they were in town, and they shouldn’t hesitate to come stay with us.  They invited us down to visit them in Palm Springs after they buy a new house.  They call us “the kids”, and have confused their friends who thought they were talking about their own kids.

With everything going right with the pre-approval, a wonderful realtor, a resourceful mortgage broker, and kind, generous sellers, we expected things to go well.  Now, to give you some background on the situation, it is important to know that we didn’t put a large down payment on the house.  We were applying for an FHA loan, which is similar to a CMHC mortgage, for my Canadian readers.  We were warned ahead of time that all the I’s would need to be dotted and all the T’s crossed, because the FHA is very picky.  Okay, fine – we can handle that.  What we weren’t expecting was to be investigated for fraud!

To be continued…

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