Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Beginnings

First blog! Super exciting... well no not really, but I can pretend right? Coming up with a name for this blog was harder than expected. Who knew every clever name was already taken? Let's be honest, they probably aren't. I'm just not that creative. Though, I definitely have 'Love and Marriage' stuck in my head now (Al Bundy anyone?).

I'll be posting to document our journey of renovating our house (that will hopefully be ours soon, once the sellers get their sh*t together), and maybe a few other adventures along the way. For those of you that don't know already, its a tad bit of a fixer-upper. But its not your average fixer-upper that is falling apart at the seams. Its just old (105 years!). And out of date (lead pipes anyone?). But the bones of the house are gorgeous. Hardwood floors throughout, built-ins, stain glass windows, three bedrooms (all on the second floor!), extra wide lot (wait there's such thing as a side yard in Chicago?), two car garage... and I could go on and on. But I wont bore you with that now.

While we wait on our closing, I'll share the story of the house. Its been a long, bumpy ride over the last three months. We first visited this house on May 7. Yes, you heard me right. May. We went back for a second showing a few days later (May 10), bringing the mothers with for their "expert" opinions. Later that day we put in an offer. And then waited. I would say patiently, but it was not patient in the least. The following day, we got a counter offer from the sellers. They met us exactly half way between our offer and the listing price (which we later found out had been dropped multiple times while the house was on the market). Done. We'll take it.

Now onto the next step. Home inspection and to get a contractor in for things we wanted to do (and later adding things that needed to be done). Long story short, knob and tube wiring (which we knew was in the basement but weren't sure of the rest of the house). Just about everywhere except the kitchen. AKA, rewire the whole house. Well that's just lovely. Also, roof is pretty worn. It may only have a couple years left. Quality. And last but certainly not least, the lead pipes. Just what everyone wants in their drinking water. Well that all kind of put a damper on all the things we wanted to do. So we scaled back for now and will do more as the years go by. I mean its not like we're planning on moving from this house anytime soon.

So we accepted this *little* challenge and continued on with the buying process. Contractor documents and bids sent to the bank (I forgot to mention, our mortgage loan includes some of the renovation, so its a complicated process). Appraiser comes. At this point we're into July. Over a week after coming to the house, the appraisal finally comes back. Its well short of where we needed it to come in at. Which means we can't get the loan. Wonderful. Now what? So we went over the appraisal and see that he low-balled our house. Based on the comps, we should have been fine for the loan. So wait, why is our house so much lower? I thought comps meant they were comparable? So I call the appraiser (who put all his contact info on the appraisal). Apparently our house is in need of some love (well yeah, hence all the reno plans...) and the other houses were "immaculate perfection". Yes, I'm serious. That is what he said to me. I would love to see any home that isn't staged for magazines in immaculate perfection condition, let alone 5. Especially since all of these homes were 3-4 bedroom, meaning most probably had kids. Well he was refusing to budge on his appraisal and we're back to square one.

So after a few days of panicking about how we can't get a loan for this house, our realtor calls and says she's potentially found a new loan process. And to shorten the story again, we start our mortgage process all over. This one works similarly to the first, but doesn't require 20% down to avoid PMI until after the reno process. This gives us some extra cash to work with. I played with the numbers (so glad I'm good with numbers) and managed to find a way that even with the low-ball appraisal, we should be ok. Well starting the process over also requires a new appraisal (new bank has to order their own, there's another $400). Much to our surprise, this appraisal came in much higher than the first (more where the first should have come in). Perfect! We can get our loan! So we finish all the paperwork we need and sit and wait.

And we're still waiting. Turns out the sellers haven't done a few things on their end. In the meantime, Chicago had a crazy storm. I mentioned before that the roof wasn't in the best condition. We were planning on living with it for a few years, until we could save up some more money to replace it. But thanks to mother nature, the storm involved high winds, which lifted up some of the roof shingles. Nothing ripped off, but its still worse than when we went under contract. So while we wait for the sellers to finish their stuff, our lawyer is fighting theirs to get them to cover the new roof damage. Because nothing can just go smoothly.

But we're not discouraged yet. Actually the opposite. We can't wait to finally close (over 3 months after going under contract) to begin the reno process. So much so that when I don't want to do laundry anymore (who does?), I online "window" shop for decorating ideas. Even though the process has been anything but easy, I think it will make us appreciate our home even more. Now to just wait for closing. Like waiting after we put in our offer, its anything but patient. Oh, and to pack.

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