You’ve noticed, no doubt, my general reluctance to discuss our house hunting and purchase beyond vague allusions to things not going too smoothly. I’m going to rectify that now.
Well, it is with a great amount of relief – satisfaction, I hope, will settle in later – that I can announce that my lovely spouse and I are finally, once again, homeowners.
The arduous road started in a fairly promising way when Natasha went to the States on her reconnaissance trip in June. Her main purpose was to find us a suitable house to buy. She visited nearly twenty different properties in four days. No property truly stood out, but one of them had pretty much everything that we were looking for in a house. We discussed it a bit and decided that not being in love with the house should not preclude us from buying something that we saw as perfectly suitable.
We made an offer, negotiated and entered into contract. When I went to NY/NJ myself later that month, I saw the house and appreciated what it could offer. House inspection highlighted a couple of non-trivial problems, but the sellers agreed to take steps to fix some and others were not of the deal-breaking kind.
The deal was scheduled to close on August 4th, less than a week after we were to land back in America.
On the third day of our holidays in Spain in July, I happened to check my BlackBerry and noticed an email from my mortgage officer. He advised me that the appraisal on the house came in considerably lower than the agreed purchase price. Since the bank’s rules were to lend based on the appraised price, if we wanted to stay at the same loan-to-value ratio, we would need to pony up a serious additional chunk of money. Or, alternatively, incur financial penalties in the form of PMI for staying with the initial borrowed amount which would now come to over 80% in loan-to-value ratio.
Or, renegotiate the price down. Which is what we tried to do, because other options were unattractive. Except, the sellers were unwilling to. We made them a couple of offers, but they wouldn’t budge by more than 5 grand. At some point, their lawyer intimated to our attorney that his clients felt conned because I worked for the bank where I was getting my mortgage and surely I arranged with the bank to have the appraisal come in very low so that we could drive the price down… After a week or so of such “negotiations” – they did affect our overall enjoyment of vacationing with friends on the Mediterranean – we had enough and cancelled the contract.
The sellers and their lawyer tried to play games with our deposit, but legally there was little they could do… That house, by the way, is still on the market, now listed very near to the final price that I was willing to pay above the appraisal. Basically, the sellers ended up with several more months – and counting – of owning it, with no current prospects of coming out better in any new deal than they would with us if they were slightly less obstinate.
We should thank them for being so. Seriously, I am contemplating sending them a bouquet.
The next day after our arrival in the States, we started another intensive round of house-hunting. There were several new nice houses on the market by that point, none ideal, but many suitable.
And then on Sunday afternoon, the last of the houses that we wanted to see, we saw our ideal one. It fit every single criterion on our list. And we did, to use that tired stamp, fell in love with it the moment we walked through the door. It helped greatly that it looked to be in immaculate condition: Move in, start living.
Long story short, that house is now ours. There were a few bureaucratic delays in the process that did little for my comportment, but all is now in the past. These sellers were the nicest people, ready to fix the smallest problem at their own expense. Not that we demanded much. There were literally nothing in the inspection report to raise as a concern…
And on the evening of September 18th, we finally found ourselves where we wanted to be.
The next few days will be taken up by deliveries and such. More headaches, but rather pleasant ones at that.