Saturday, September 20, 2008

Buying a House? Don't forget the Valium.

In the grand scheme of things, with all that is going on in the world, there is little need for more drama. As I write this there are stories playing out on TV of horrible things that have happened: floods, deaths, war, loss. But please bear with me for a moment while I tell you a little story about buying a house.

Do you remember the post about buying a house?

Well. We KNEW it would inspect well. We KNEW it. And sure enough, the inspector kept saying "wow" and "they wrote the book on pride of ownership" and "this is a GOOD house". He was happy to be teaching me these little tidbits about a good house with a good example in front of him. Normally he'd be showing someone a problem and saying "now it should look like . . . "

Now, we'd been pre-approved for about $40K more than the accepted offer, so we figured we were golden, right?

Um, wrong. See, we were doing the "zero down" thing that they are taking away as of October 15th. We were fitting in under the wire. Except that last week was probably the worst week in the last five years to try and get a mortgage. The US was imploding; stock markets were roller coasters; companies were being bailed out by governments. We could NOT have timed it worse.

The lender decided that they wanted an appraisal done to make sure that what we were paying for the house was what the house was worth. That way if we default on the mortgage the day after we sign, they can turn around and sell it. This makes NO sense to me because it's the buyer and the buying market that determines the worth and value of a house. The answer to "what's it worth" is always "what someone will pay". The bank doesn't factor in "one block from Army Boy's school" or "across the street from where soccer is held each spring". No, they look at theoretically more concrete things. (What they are, I don't know..)

It wasn't enough that the city's tax assessment put the house's value at almost $100K more than what we paid (I'm going to have a chat with the city tax department about this one, let me tell you) because that has more to do with what it will cost the city to maintain your street/community/alley etc...

There were miscommunications with the appraisers, they had to come back to appraise it (I think they only did a 'drive by' the first time) and they promised a 24 hour turnaround on the report when it took much longer than that... I feel bad that the realtors and the mortgage broker had to do so much work - whatever kind of commission they get, they earned every single penny just having to deal with me. I'm not patient. Factor in that I was sick (fever, ear infection, headache...) and you have a very cranky client.

We were told that yes, we'd been approved for the dollars, just not necessarily on THAT HOUSE. Because the appraisal came by under the purchase price, suddenly the bank didn't want to insure that mortgage. Or, um, the insurer didn't want to insure it and so the bank wouldn't lend it. Something like that. We were qualified to buy, just not any house. The bank wanted their say. In other words, pre-approval means sweet tweet.

The mortgage broker (who I'm sure had better things to do on a Friday night) spent hours on the phone with managers from BC to ON trying to find out how much the silly property had appraised at. Were we talking a difference of $500, $5000 or what?

Finally we heard that it appraised at $5K under the purchase price. Ah, for the wont of $5000. We found the extra $5000 and I signed the paper at 7:55 pm. Just an hour and five minutes before the 9 pm deadline.

And about three hours after I'd lost my mind. I was literally sitting in a chair, staring at the roof and almost not caring which direction this deal would go as long as it would be over soon. Actually, now that I think about it, that reminds me a lot of childbirth. "I can't do this any more, make it stop, make it go away, get it out."

If you are in Calgary and need a home buying team, please let me recommend Kari & Mark Ashlee as well as Debbie Weiss with ProLink Mortgage. Bar none, the best team you ever want to have.

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