Sometimes The Train Is Cool And Comfortable And Speeds Along At A Nice Clip; Sometimes The Train Resembles Something You See On The National Geographic Channel, Complete With Farm Animals And People Hanging On For Dear Life

Have you ever heard someone use the idea of a train as a metaphor? Like as in, say, "there are two trains in this budget process"? Perhaps something along the lines of "traditional software projects are like a train leaving the station". Maybe even The Leaving Trains.

When we bought the house, we also had two trains. One was the mortgage train. The other was the details-in-purchasing-the-house train. At times these trains resembled 110-mile-per-hour Amtrak locomotives rumbling through Lancaster, PA on the high-speed stretches of the Keystone Corridor. Other times it seemed like something out of Unstoppable, the 2010 film starring Denzel Washington as the Veteran Allegheny and West Virginia Railroad (AWVR) engineer Frank Barnes, who is merely doing his job to the best of his abilities despite the best efforts of heartless penny-pinching executives to screw him out of his retirement. I'll never forget Denzel's words to Chris Pine as they are barreling toward "Stanton" — they're a prime example of Denzel's acting style in which he makes something sound really dramatic by repeating key parts of preceding sentences. In this case, Denzel says: "I'm not doing this for you" [smiles and slightly shakes head] "Not for you."

Other times the trains looked like something hobos sleep in in a railyard somewhere out in Plains.

In the middle of January we learned that there was a slight formality that would have to be resolved before we could buy the house. After we were in contract, we discovered that the house was, in essence, an estate sale. Our understanding was that the family members who inherited the house had it for some time until they decided they no longer wanted to deal with it; normally this works in the buyer's favor but we didn't know this fact going in; in retrospect, it probably accounted for the relatively smooth negotiation. (I just Googled the previous owner and it seems that he died in March 2010 at the age of 90, so the heirs were basically unloading the house.)

Some years before, the original owner had moved to Florida and rented out the house's two units. After he passed away, ownership of the house was transferred to his nephews and nieces (not totally sure how many, but my impression was that it was at least two and perhaps three), who continued renting out the house.

Now Florida has a lot of older people living there, and a lot of older people who move there from other places, so the Florida probate courts are attuned to issues with estate sales, and thus pay close attention to such sales. In our case, it meant that the Florida courts would have to approve the sale of the house. This was something that the realtor was unaware of. This was something that the seller's attorney said he was unaware of. You'd think it would be a formality, but sometimes nothing is a formality.

By March, we had a "CTC" from the bank — that's "clear to close" — but we still hadn't heard from the Florida courts. According to the seller's attorney, this was because the judge assigned to the case had retired. Not to worry, however! The attorney's sense was that the judge just wanted to see a list of comparable sales so he or she would be satisfied that the sale was on the up and up. The seller's attorney assured us that all was going well and that we should be on target to close at the end of March. We were still hoping to close just before the end of March.

And now on to the other train: So that brings us to the middle of March, ten days before we were supposed to close. All through the process, the underwriters want to see everything about your finances, for obvious reasons. That means that they want paystubs, more paystubs, tax returns and updated tax returns and bank statements and updated bank statements. At some point after we initially submitted our bank statements and before we submitted our updated bank statements, Jen's mom found a bunch of savings bonds that Jen received as a child. That was fortuitous, because we could use the money for the closing costs. Jen's mom cashed them and sent her the money. But when the underwriters saw the extra money in Jen's account, they needed to know where it came from.

Since the money looked like a gift from Jen's parents, we had to fill out and have Jen's mom sign a gift letter, as well as furnish the underwriters with a copy of the canceled check. The problem was that the first several versions of the scanned canceled check were too illegible for the underwriters. We had to submit and resubmit copies of that check. Eventually they determined that the scan was good enough. I'm not sure what the issue was.

The more pressing issue that materialized in the middle of March was the termite damage the housing inspector found. It wasn't a lot of damage — just ("just!") some soft beams in the basement — and the inspector had no way of knowing how long ago it happened, but he noted it on the report. We thought this was to our advantage because rather than do a treatment or fix ("sister") the beam in question, we got a small concession from the seller on the closing costs.

Now we had the inspector out in December, just days after we agreed on the price, and the underwriters had the inspection report since early February, but it wasn't until ten days before the scheduled closing date that they made it an issue. Some blamed the stringent requirements of a FHA loan; I'm not sure what the issue was, but suffice it to say, the underwriters wanted proof that the seller took care of the termite situation before they would issue us the loan. But the seller had no idea when the damage happened, or whether it had ever been treated, much less any documentation thereof, so we were stuck. And since we already got a concession from the seller for the termites, they were unwilling to do a treatment. Which meant that we would have to pay for a termite treatment on a house we did not yet own.

You know what happened? The realtor passed along names of some exterminators he worked with, set up the appointment with one of them and we paid for a termite treatment on a house we did not yet own. As Jen put it, "The upside is we can get a mortgage." The downside was that we would be out $1000 if for some reason the deal fell through. But of course we paid for the treatment; we had no other option. I'm just amazed it got taken care of as quickly as it did; it was taken care of in a matter of days.

Meanwhile, back to the other train: The Florida court finally approved the sale. Although it appeared to be a formality — and really, why would a court want to hold up a sale? — apparently those involved were somewhat concerned that the approval wouldn't happen. Which brought us to the last wrinkle in the mad rush to close on this house: The upstairs tenant was still there.

And that became a whole separate issue.

Posted: December 15th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: The Cult Of Domesticity | Tags: , , , ,