Saturday, March 31, 2007

Nobody Likes Surprises

Especially when you're trying to buy a house. Like the surprise I got yesterday when our realtor called to tell us that our seller had neglected to mention that he was delinquent on his mortgage. In fact he hasn't made ANY payments, which makes me wonder how he got approved in the first place and what he's doing with his money. He's in default, which means this will probably turn into a short sale, which in turn means that the lender will have to approve any offer and this property will probably be sold "as is". Not good, and definitely not something I want to hear with an already signed contract sitting in front of me. The seller obviously had no intention of fixing anything or being upfront about his financial situation, was probably going to commit mortgage fraud. And it won't do me any good to sue for specific performance if the lender is involved, so that option is out. It just makes me really mad that we've gone through all this just to get pushed back to square one. I still really want the house, but if we have to take on additional financing to fix it up that will really put a lot of pressure on us. I guess first we have to find out the minimum that lender will accept as payoff, then add the repairs on top and try for a 203k loan. Urggghh! It's this type of person that I could cheerfully take out with no remorse. A pox on you, home seller!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Odd Phenomenon

My oldest son pointed this one out to me. The afternoon sun had made a very decent fascimile of Utah on our kitchen linoleum. Sign of approval, or just that we need darker mini-blinds? You decide.

Furnace, and Plumbing, and Wiring, Oh My!

Yesterday we had the home inspection on our home-to-be, and all was not well. Apparently the sellers had disconnected the water and gas lines, which turned out to be a blessing since the furnace was shot and there were MANY water leaks throughout the house. We were also apprised that there was still knob & tube wiring visible in the basement (so probably in the rest of the house as well), and that it is live. The inspector couldn't even fit in the attic (entrance blocked w/fluorescent light, and about 18-20" high), but he did take a picture of a quarter-size hole in the roof. And apparently between now and when our realtor first walked through, a cat(s) decided to make her home on the first floor, so now a urine smell is present. We did already know about the surface mold in the basement (most likely caused by the water leaks!) so that wasn't a surprise. And structurally the house does seem to be ok, so at least that's a sigh of relief. Now we just have to confront the sellers with the ugly truth about their nice little fixer-upper, and see how badly they want to stay in escrow. At the very least we will need them to replace the furnace, fix the plumbing, unblock the attic, have the premises thoroughly cleaned/disinfected, and put some money from escrow into an account for the replacement of the electrical jumble. And of course, with all of this we will no longer be looking at a closing date of April 12th. At least the nice people at USAA have assured me that they will definitely issue us a policy since we are going to replace the knob & tube. I just hope this doesn't turn into the year-long escrow. Oy vey, people!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


We've been scrambling to come up with an exterior paint scheme, just in case VA requires the house to be painted. I don't want to have it painted & then get there and have to strip it all off again before I paint. So a general direction sort of thing would be nice, in case they need to put up 1 or 2 colors. We do plan on eventually going with a 5-color scheme, but are still working that out. So for now, here are the candidates:

my favorites, from Olympic(Lowes)

R's favorites, also from Olympic, and Laura Ashley Home(Lowes) oop, sorry about the rotation!

And remember, this is all in addition to the gray asphalt roof and red brick. Please tell us which one you like better!

It's Inspection Day

So keep your fingers crossed, people!

Moving With Fish

This is a topic that has worried me since we first started talking about a big move. I really love my reef setup, and don't want to lose any of the inhabitants. Luckily for me, I am not the first to try moving tropicals long distance! Some pioneering soul outlined a specific plan involving a construction-type water cooler, air stone, heater, 12-V adapter for your car, and precise water changing guidelines. I was thoroughly impressed by the method, and can't wait to use it myself. the link to his directions is as follows:

I believe it's the fourth comment from the top.

Monday, March 26, 2007

It's Official, We Have A Deal!

Just got off the phone with our realtor, and we are now officially in escrow! Which is a good thing seeing as our home inspection is scheduled for tomorrow. Yikes! Now I just have to figure out how to get us out there by closing, seems the date is set at the 12th for now. So actually a 21-day escrow, instead of a 30-day one. Which may be a problem if the VA appraiser decides not to play ball, but I guess we'll tackle these issues in the order they arise. First things first, I need to reserve a moving truck and send a letter to our landlord. Everybody keep your fingers crossed that things proceed in a timely and kosher manner. I am so relieved that we are this close to being in our new house. Yippee!!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Our (maybe?) home

Now that things are finally starting to gel, let me share some pics of the house. Here's the front porch
A view of the dining room and kitchen entry from the living room. The gorgeous door on the left leads to a den/bedroom.
The remuddled but livable kitchen. I think that window is calling to me, "Save me, save me!".
This is the back porch, I think the enclosure was probably a later addition.
And one out of 3 full baths in this house. Unfortunately, it's also the only one that isn't totally screwed up!

Holding our collective breath

We may soon be in escrow! Our offer was countered with a very slight price hike to cover the seller's butt ( he still owes quite a bit on his mortgage) but all other terms were accepted. We have a fully signed contract ready to go, and for once things are looking up! Our realtor is optimistic about the deal holding, she already had me schedule the radon/lead/home inspection for next week (pricey, eeek!). so now I just have to figure out how R is going to accept/sign his part, as he is currently on duty. Hmmm. I will just have to appeal to his command, I guess. If all else fails I can always drive to the base w/kids in tow and get his John Hancock. Time is of the essence, so I don't want to leave anything to chance. Also I really want to get escrow rolling so that I can take a slight break from the craziness. I've promised the boys that we'll take a trip to Ocracoke Island soon, to recover from all this moving madness. I need to do something mindless, like collecting shells or building sandcastles. And our boys are very keen on the whole pirate theme, so it will be a perfect escape. I just have to get through some (or a lot) of paperwork first!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

"I left my siiiink, in San Francisco......"

Actually, I left it in the Buffalo area. In my in-laws garage, to be exact. Back when we thought we were going to move there, a whole other topic entirely. Which has me wondering to myself, "Self, how am I going to transport this most lovely of antique kitchen sinks from upstate NY to Utah without incurring major shipping fees?" This thing is 100 lbs. HEAVY, cast iron with that beautiful oil-slick sheen on the porcelain. Such a good deal too, Ebayed it for $10 b/c I was the only bidder. The owner took it out of his 1925 bungalow, he was nice enough to hold it for me until I could make the drive to NY and leave it with the in-laws. Who probably thought I was out of my mind, since we still didn't have a house. So I am really loth to part with the thing, after all we've been through together. Maybe I can wheedle R into driving up there to pick it up when he visits his daughter, then toting it with him next year when he joins us for good. That's a lot of wheedling to do.

Nail-biting time

R and I finally found a house we agree on, that won't stretch us beyond breaking and will be enough space inside and out. The offer has gone out to the seller, we've signed the first of the paperwork, and now the wait begins. Just like the last house we loved, there are multiple offers in play here so things are very tense. I still have the lovely poem i wrote for the first "dream" bungalow we tried to buy, but I'm hesitant to send it since it was written for another house. Is that considered a faux pas in the property realm? Hard to know since i've never done this before. Hopefully things will be relatively painless, and the sellers will accept the offer on the first try. Then of course we will have to wait for the home inspection and appraisals to be performed. It's the VA appraisal that's really got me sleepless. I mean, how do we know they won't just dismiss the house out of pocket because it is old and needs so much work? And what if they use an appraiser that has absolutely no appreciation for old houses? I've heard horror stories about the hoops that homebuyers are made to jump through to please a third party. I don't want to become one of them! Has anyone else out there gone through this kind of nerve-wracking second-guessing? please commiserate! I DON'T want to be grinding my teeth in bed every night for the next month. ACK!!