So here it is, we did it, finally, we own a home and we’re not even thirty yet, as my grandmother so astutely pointed out yesterday.  We have officially arrived as adults and now we can begin stressing out about mortgage payments, refinancing, neighborhood watch and whatever is wrong with the roof at this point in time.  I have to say I am feeling pretty good almost a week into it- the stressful part is not the moving and getting settled, it’s the constant fog of confusion before closing where you aren’t sure if the power of attorney has arrived at the title company four hours before the scheduled paper signing session.  Not that I’m keeping track of the heart attack causing periods of the last month (gift letter issues, miscalculation of closing costs vs. total money in bank accounts and last minute homeowners insurance changes, I’m looking at YOU).

The living room, after at least three sweeps and mops a piece.

The living room, after at least three sweeps and mops a piece.

Thursday
Closing day started out just as any other: Matthew and I slept in… until like 7am!… as we had already gotten word on Wednesday night that the closing would need to be delayed a few hours due to problems with the P of A (see above) so we decided to make the most of our additional time during the day to mill around the apartment feeling anxious and not really packing anything.  James emailed at about 3:00 asking us to meet him at the house for the final walkthrough at 4:30 and off we went. It was raining pretty steadily but we had already packed/lost both umbrellas and had to concede to only wearing our hoodies.  We made it there early and decided to use the code (this is probably illegal in some way, but would not be in a matter of about 3 1/2 hours, so what the heck) to go on into what would very soon be our new home.  Nothing had collapsed/burned/exploded/been stolen so the walk through was quick and easy.  Matt and I stared with disdain at the mess that was the basement and crossed our fingers we could make it liveable and rentable in as few weeks as possible.  We headed out to the title company’s office for closing (which was again delayed by thirty minutes while they finished up the paperwork for us), making a quick stop at the liquor store so James could get us a celebratory bottle of rum and a six of Sam Adams seasonal.  I was feeling warm and excited by the time the paperwork was ready for the extensive signing session (incidentally, this was not as arduous as people had told me).  Happy surprise of the evening: our mortgage broker and close family (Matt’s) friend and his assistant came to the closing and we all got to meet face to face for the first time.  We headed over to the house immediately after (ok, we stopped for more alcohol and copied another set of the keys) to set straight to work on the carpets upstairs.  After about an hour of filthy, disgusting horrible work (albeit easy) we had several rolls of disgusting beige berber carpet sitting smelly, moldy and dusty, on our new front porch.

The dining room, which has not been cleaned as well as I would have liked but at least we aren't tracking filth through the house because of it.

The dining room, which has not been cleaned as well as I would have liked but at least we aren't tracking filth through the house because of it.

Friday
Matt insisted on setting the alarm for 6am even though his dad was not supposed to meet him until 7 and wouldn’t you know, Pete showed up at about 6:15, as Matt predicted.  I begrudgingly got up and started throwing toothbrushes, dog bowls, last nights pjs and various other miscellany into whatever bag or box I could find and the movers showed shortly after sunrise at about 7:20.  They were two very nice Latino men who got the whole job done in less than three hours (although at one point I doubted they would be able to fit all the CRAP plus the couch and our dressers into their truck but it all worked out anyway).  Meanwhile, Matthew and Pete headed to the house to get started on the basement with nothing but excellent results- it turns out there was not a burst pipe but a problem with leaky valves on every single toilet, sink and bathtub in the house. Ridiculous, but easy to tighten and easy to stop; we were relieved.  They continued on, handling various plumbing-related issues with only an impressive two trips to the Home Depot.  Regrettably, the rest of a the day is a blur.  I recall a trip to McDonalds and possibly Target. At one point there was a long walk to the nearest police station to request a guest parking permit since Pete had already gotten a $30 ticket (the circumstances surrounding the ticket were questionable).  I also made a trip to Washington Gas because PLEASE TURN ON OUR HEAT BECAUSE IT’S STILL REALLY COLD AT NIGHT OK.  We cleaned most of the afternoon in order to make the air quality in the bedroom at least moderately acceptable for sleep the first night.  This entailed about five rounds of sweeping and four of mopping as well as crawling around on hands and knees disinfecting the baseboards and corners.  That night we learned about the lightpost aimed directly at the bedroom window and vowed to buy curtains first thing tomorrow.

People pay money to reproduce that kind of exposed brick/plaster combination in their Italian restaurants.

People pay money to reproduce that kind of exposed brick/plaster combination in their Italian restaurants.

Saturday
Cleaning. Meeting with contractors about the basement remodel. Cleaning. Going to Target. Mopping. Going to Home Depot. Dusting. Unpacking. Sweeping. Going back to Target. Cleaning. Mopping. Dusting. Scrubbing. Cleaning. (The house was way dirtier than we noticed, to the point of disgusting.)

I can't even begin to think how bad of an idea it is for us to temporarily keep our trash in the basement.

I can't even begin to think how bad of an idea it is for us to temporarily keep our trash in the basement.

Sunday
Matt scheduled cable installation for that morning but obviously there was a hangup and they couldn’t do it.  According to the tech that came out, his ladder wouldn’t reach to our roof (apparently we have the largest two-story attached row house in the entire city) and someone would be out later that day.  As you could probably guess, as is the case with every cable company in the whole world, they didn’t show and rescheduled for the following day.  We made significant progress on unpacking and finally started to feel somewhat comfortable about the level of cleanliness in the upstairs.  The size of the kitchen was made apparent by the cursing as I attempted to cram pots, pans, coffepots and pantry items into five cupboards.

While the paint colors may be considered "creative" they're going. Seriously.

While the paint colors may be considered "creative" they're going. Seriously.

Monday
Another day off for both of us and we were very close to being ready for Matt’s sister and her boyfriend to come over that evening.  We had decided to hire the Italian dude to do our basement, and more importantly address the leaky gutter/roof/window problem.  Dave the Contractor worked steadily for 9 hours yesterday and I paid him $450 to come back and finish tiling our shower and putting on a ceiling and etc. etc.  The cable guys also finally showed and after using the same ladder the first guy should have used and something like 500 hours of work, they finished installation around 7:00pm (I estimate they arrived at about 2:30).  We vacuumed (yes, we got to that point) mopped and generally narrowed our stuff down to about 6 boxes just in time for the Brinks guy to show up and the cable dudes to leave.

Our refridgerator is housed in it's own little cubby, which used to be the door to the dining room!

Our refridgerator is housed in it's own little cubby, which used to be the door to the dining room!

Tuesday
After a sleepless night worrying about paying rent (I will summarize our landlord experience in a separate post once the ordeal is over) Brinks, cable and Dave the Contractor, I settled in on the couch for an unproductive day of finally blogging updates for my friends and family on what has happened over the past few days and wondering if Matt could leave work early enough for it to make sense for me to go into the office.  Dave came down a couple of hours ago and while the gutter is fixed and the roof looks good, there still seems to be some sort of water leak up there as there is a slow and constant drip (which is no longer going in the window, but is still a problem) and he’s leaving to go to Lowe’s for more materials.  At least the shower is tiled.

I’m watching last night’s (I assume) Colbert Report and sitting with the dogs listening to sirens and children (why aren’t they in school??) and trying to think of something productive to do next.  Twiddling my thumbs is not going so great actually, but there will be things to do, an unending list of things to do. Once we have money again. If ever.

The rest of the photo tour of the house is here.

A number of interesting, but only if you were really wondering, things have happened since we last spoke.  I will outline them here, if you are good.

  • We had the FHA appraiser through and it went well.  Conservative appraisal, but I’m told this is not surprising as FHA is usually conservative and they are also realistic with the market.  We think that if we had the same person come in three years from now, it would be much higher, even if the house were in the exact same condition.  Regardless, the appraisal is above what we’re paying, so we’re all good.
  • The city appraiser (or however you classify this person- the non-FHA dude?) is apparently an idiot.  And so is the other agent, possibly.  Some how PEPCO turned off the electric between the time we had the inspection and the following week when the regular appraiser was in.  This was apparently and oversight (what else is new, PEPCO) and no one’s fault but the elecctric company’s.  Except then there is the issue of the water, which WASA says has not been turned off and is active since the 3rd.  The appraiser claims there is no water and he can’t do his inspection.  Well sir, did you try turning it on at the main valve?  I know I’m new at this, but even I am aware of the existence of the little lever that is currently preventing the busted pipe in the basement from spewing expensive H2O throughout the house.  Seriously?  Seriously?
  • Finally, the tidal wave of paperwork has moved into a steady trickle (just like the faucet in the bathroom upstairs!) which has me exponentially less freaked out.  We should find out from the broker what bank we are going with (and the interest rate!) later today and I got confirmation my bonus check will be deposited in time for closing.  AND we have a bunch of people coming to check out the apartment in the next few days.  Sigh of relief, drinks all around!

At this point, the Realtor is relieved my Type A-ness is coming towards a more relaxed middle ground and she can focus more on her work and less on my sudden questions over text message.  And I can start packing these infernal boxes…

The past three days have happened so fast!  No in fact, it seems like last Sunday was just a few days ago (ok, it was a few days ago).  We went out with our Realtor, Lisa, on Sunday with the idea of looking for a back up in case the Gresham offer did not go through (for those playing along at home, Gresham was offer number 263. I’m kidding, but it’s close) and ended up finding one “something to consider” and one “really viable alternative” and we were thrilled with that.  As we drove away from the house on Jefferson we decided that it would be a good idea to go ahead and make the offer.  The Gresham place, after all, was too good to be true and plus we had recently found out they had already received other (read: better) offers.

So onward and upward, Lisa started to do whatever it is she does when we randomly say we want to make an offer on something.  We finished up the initial paperwork on Monday afternoon and our offer was in.  We had hopes for this place for two major reasons: 1) the bank that owned the property was the same bank that Lisa always worked with on her own foreclosure listings and 2) the house was two doors down from a strip club.  Not ideal of course and in fact, Matt and I had a screaming fight about what would happen in six or eight years when we were ready for resale.  Ultimately, we both don’t have strong feelings against strip clubs to begin with and we really liked the house.  Plus there was already a city plan for redevelopment on that street and we felt relatively confident it would be a non-issue in due time.  We didn’t hear anything more from the other agent or the bank that night.

Tuesday was nerve wracking.  Matt did not have to work but I did and all day we didn’t hear anything.  We texted and emailed each other periodically “just to be sure”.  As if one of us would have heard something and then not told the other.  Matt IM’ed me around 2:30: “Can we call Lisa now?”  Not right now, she will call us if she has something to tell us, let’s not pester her.  But ok, we can call her after 5 when the bank is closed.  We never heard from the bank or the other agent that day and I think we both slept a total of 4 hours that night.

Wednesday came and I was swamped with work all morning.  The house did not cross my mind but after talking to Lisa the night before, we felt pretty confident that we would hear something today.  Fortunately I was juggling vice presidents and didn’t have time to stress about it.  That evening the call came from Lisa: we got a counter offer!  What exactly does that mean? my dad asked.  Well, they weren’t completely averse to our offer…

The rest is history, as they say.  We pushed back a little bit, but later heard the bank had another offer and conceded completely to their counter.  We couldn’t stand to lose again and we decided to fight this time.  The afternoon was filled with more anxiety as we continued to not hear anything immediately.  I looked forward to last night because I had a distraction planned for that evening: co-worker’s husband’s concert at the Black Cat. It should do nicely to forget everything for a few hours.  We got home and ate some quick dinner while Matt broke it to me that he had to be at work early the next day.  We decided to skip the show after all (and I totally owe you, yw, I promise we will go next time), and anyway, we might get a call from Lisa.  Our energy quickly drained and we were laying on the couch watching DVRs of Dog Whisperer when Matt’s phone rang.  It was Lisa.

And so here we are.  We have signed more paperwork than I knew could exist today with As-Is addendum and and revisions to the contract and what not.  Matt even had his phone confiscated for all the house-related work he was doing in the middle of the day. I got a call from Lisa a few hours ago saying that we were finished with paperwork and the bank would deliver the contract tomorow, which gives us at least one more day on the clock.  I breathed a sigh of relief and started drawing up my to do list…

We have been house hunting.  There has not been a 3 month lapse between the first shithole we put an offer on and what we’re doing right now.  Rest assured, I spend a good majority of my time wasting at work on redfin.com.  Home ownership is an investment in our future, and we are trying to invest. Desperately, in fact.  Lisa and James (we upgraded to a better model of Realtor since we last spoke) are going to throw a party when we finally land on something.  We have possibly won the award for the people who have been hunting the longest/made the most unsucessful offers in their experience.  So to catch everyone up, a brief photo tour of where we’ve been.

This place had black mold and a pink bathroom.

This place had black mold and a pink bathroom.

We made an offer on this place, were out-offered, attempted to make another offer and were too late.

We made an offer on this place, were out-offered, attempted to make another offer and were too late.

I dont know what the fuck we were thinking here.

I don't know what the fuck we were thinking here.

We seem to be attracted to places with copius plywood.  I believe this went under contract before we could move.

We seem to be attracted to places with copius plywood. I believe this went under contract before we could move.

I honestly dont remember where this is from. Im sure we made an offer on it.

I honestly don't remember where this is from. I'm sure we made an offer on it.

And how could anyone forget the $500,000 in repairs???

And how could anyone forget the $500,000 in repairs???

It has been a long time. We’ve made offers and lost on them for one reason or another. We have not gotten depressed.  We’ve got an offer on a great place a couple of blocks north of where we live now, and while we aren’t hopeful that it will be accepted- it’s really priced way too low and there are other offers on it- but it has been good experience with a short sale (kill me now).  We came across another place this evening and are making an offer on that one too in the hopes that one or the other will eventually take.  One day we’ll get something, and it will be in our price range, and my credit score will be high enough and the dogs will have a yard.  It’s taking some time, but I’m pretty sure we’ll get there one day and I will finally be able to blog you all the details of failed projects, broken foundations and most likely temper tantrums in all their glorious technicolor.

More soon!

So we had our inspection on Monday and as you may be able to tell from the title- well, oh hell no.

We were prepared.  People keep saying sorry to me and looking at me like this horrible thing has happened and I’m going to need some time to get over it.  Um no.  We were aware from the beginning of the very real possibility that the Shithole was way, WAY over our heads.  It turns out we were right on about that.

Days before, Matthew and I had conversations about what exactly we were willing to put up with from the Shithole and what kinds of problems were we willing to stick our neck out for and get a bigger FHA loan.  I imagined the inspector telling us our repairs would cost a bit more than half of what we were offering for the thing in the first place.  That was my max- I would be willing to find a loan to make us whole on this project even if it went all the way up to around 100 grand (not the candy).  I was prepared to consider this offer from the Shithole through conversations with Matthew, our dads, the chihuahuas, random neighbors, co-workers and the Mexicans at the laundromat (although certainly not our mothers, oh god no).

As it turns out a crack in the foundation on three corners of the house, complete roof replacement, upgrades to the electrical and plumbing systems, a brand new HVAC system, securing the floor under the bathroom so the tub doesn’t fall through, replacing plaster, framing the basement, laying new floors and painting was going to cost us well over three times what our original offer on the house was going to be.  I can’t even fathom that amount of money.

So we aren’t buying a house then.  At least for another few days.  We’re going back to the “lets keep our eyes open” stage which is very comfortable for me.  We’ll look at houses, consider the possibility of another offer, imagine going on a cruise this spring instead of coming up with a down payment…  I’m fine with that, even if in 2 years we drive by the Shithole and it is has tranformed into a glorious mansion with a hot tub and gourmet kitchen, we now know for certain that we could not have been the ones to bring it to that point.  To me, I can breathe a sigh of relief.  We did not do something wrong, and to have that certified by a professional feels very, very good.

And their counter was not all that different from what we originally proposed! More later tonight, but yay!