We sign the lease.
We sign the lease.
I was excited all day about bringing Beloved to see the apartment. All day long.
At approximately 2:30, I received a call on my cell phone from the mortgage broker I had spoken with previously, “following up.” It went like this:
I got off the phone feeling okay. I had made the decision to rent for another two years with some pain and discomfort. But I have come around to accept it and be content.
Then my work phone rang. I recognized the number and felt a little worried – J’s best friend’s mom. Is J okay? She shouldn’t be there, did something happen? Are the girls in a fight? What’s going on.
“Hey, Z, don’t freak out, everything’s okay, but I just heard from that woman across the street, and they’re ready to sell. She wants you to call her.”
It’s an old house, having been owned for years and years by an old man. He passed away last May, I think, and Beloved and I have been dreaming since. The house is relatively small (1400 sf), and the kitchen is far from modern. It has 3 bedrooms, but from the outside and the square footage listed with the assessor’s office, they’re very small bedrooms, and there is no space for an office/study.
But it has potential, and it is a single family (hard to come by in this town). If we got it at a good price, we could fix it up in phases, and live there forever.
We’ve been waiting for this house to come on the market for 6 months.
And now, just as we decide to be renters for another 2 years — it comes on the market.
Or rather, not on the market. But instead privately offered to US.
I’m calling the owner tonight.
It was a busy weekend.
And that is what happened on yet another weekend where Zuska brought her work computer home just to leave in her bag all. weekend. long.
Fortunately, there are no deadlines until Wednesday.
I don’t blow off deadlines.
The news from the mortgage broker was 1/2 good and 1/2 bad. I have cleared up my credit mess sufficiently so that I can borrow pretty much as much money as I want ($4800/mo payments, she said), and qualify for the best interest rates.
That, I must say, took a lot of work. I am proud of my diligent efforts to clean up the mess created by divorce and single motherhood in one of the most expensive parts of the country. I am not proud that I had the mess, but I know that many, many women go through similar things when they make the transition from stay-at-home mom to divorced single mother of small children. So rather than dwelling on the mess, I will dwell on the cleaning of the mess. And I will be proud.
The problem that remains: I chose yet another “most expensive parts of the country” and it is difficult to get even a 2 bedroom condo for less than $417,000, let alone a 3 or 4 bedroom house. Or condo.
Who cares, you may ask? Since I stated above that I could, in fact, get approval for a $650,000 mortgage? What’s up with the $417,000?
Jumbo mortgage, baby.
Can’t get one of those puppies with less than 20% down.
On the house I want, that 20% = $150,000.
Which I do not have.
I could likely find a lender, says the broker, who would take 10%.
Nope. Don’t have that, either.
But due to the current mess-o-rama, nothing less will do.
Which is really okay, and likely the more responsible thing to do. You know, wait until I have a down-payment before I buy a house. Have some real equity in the place from day one, rather than bills that keep me stuck to my job, regardless of whether things go south on that front (which there is no sign of happening thus far).
My biggest worry is that we’re going to miss out on this current dip in home prices. That by the time we accumulate $70,000+, the homes we want will end up being over a million again, instead of the 3/4ths that they’re currently at.
I read this article today, though, that made me feel more optimistic that our timing is fine, and perhaps even fortuitous. If things bottom out in the middle of next year, then perhaps by then – considering what we save and the lower still prices – we’ll be ready to buy before the uphill climb begins again.
In the meantime, we need to move. That means a bigger rental.
After visiting condos for sale, visiting apartments is ridiculously depressing.
painted 2×4’s subbing as kitchen shelves; moldy bathtubs; fucking coin-op laundry machines …. they’re just horrible. Horrible.
rental agents are assholes, and I hate them all.
I also resent the fact that my quest to own a place is going to be set back by quite a few thousand dollars because of first/last/security and potentially (although I’m doing all in my power to avoid it) a broker’s fee, which equals a month’s rent.
Now, the financial aspect was cleaned up a bit today with the news that my tax refund is pretty freaking big (for me). I feared that I owed.
But I still have to figure out how to find a good deal, and how to rid myself of the gnatty presence of the rental agents and their stupid fees.
I may have an inside beat on a very good apartment – one with real cabinets, one with laundry in the unit (no fucking quarters needed), one with a deck, and one with a ton of space. But it is far from a sure thing (current occupants have to move out, and not just have everyone in the neighborhood talk about how they’re going to).
But I think that’s what I need. An inside connection. A way to just sidle up to an owner and neatly close their gap in rents collected without the headache of advertising for and vetting prospective renters.
And we may – just may – be moving within the next few (yeah, that’s 3) months.
Phew. I can’t wait to stretch.
I spoke with a mortgage broker today. I did not look forward to this. I had to worry about all my negatives:
This is balanced out by good things:
My score, as investigated by the mortgage broker, is higher than when I look it up myself. I’m talking 40 points higher.
Which is potentially higher enough for me to make a semi-decent offer on my condo. Potentially. Not definitely. I will know tomorrow (deep breaths, Z; deep breaths.) Pessimism reigns.
Figuring things out with my mom: We need 1650 square feet. That’s how much it takes for us to have enough space.
Yet 3 bedrooms are 1500; and 4 (or 5) bedrooms are 2000.
There’s rarely anything in the middle.
I am 100% obsessed.
It is now official.
I am obsessed with the local real estate market.
I am obsessed with owning a home.
[and with E having her own room]
Wish me luck, as the spring selling/buying season rolls along.
I need it.
Of course, Beloved and I made up last night, said our sorries and talked about ways to make our arguments a bit less … argue-ey. I suppose we should be grateful that we argue over dusting, and not over the biggies – like money or whether or not to have another kid or stuff like that.
The girls are home. J is sleeping on me right now. Which is probably the first time she has done this is 5 years or something. She left with a new cold a week ago, and it’s still got her feeling like shit today.
Since we were given stories of midnight bed times, trips to water parks, and frozen pizza for both lunch and dinner days in a row – I shouldn’t be surprised that her cold has lingered.
I went to two open houses today. Both condos close to home and in the girls’ school district. One is likely out of my price range, and of course perfect. The other is probably right in our range, and itty bitty. For us.
The perfect one was really close to perfect. It was around 1900 square feet (1200 more than we have now), and on top of three bedrooms, has a study and what I keep calling a “family room.” Eat in kitchen and a dining room. Two full baths.
It’s also 3 doors down from the high school. Which, in just over 2 years, will be extremely convenient and hopefully will preclude E from ever being late to school.
Did I really just say “just over 2 years”? Is that right? Next winter, she’s in 7th, and the next, 8th. Which is pre-high school.
So, yeah. Just over 2 years. Or rather “less than 3 years.”
Anyway, it’s a bit high for us. I think if the seller is inflexible, then we’re just gonna have to walk away. If we find that offers are accepted, we will be a little thinly stretched for the rest of this year, but will be fine next year. An August or September closing date would make it all easier.
No work would be required upon walking in the door, but we eventually have some projects already in mind in order to increase the flow of the rooms. We would have an office. And a dining room. And a laundry room. And a gas stove. And a screened porch – perfect for the kitty litter and a summer-time table big enough to hold a bottle of wine and two glasses. And a park across the street where the kids could (and likely would anyway) congregate with their friends. And E (and eventually J) would have no reason to be late coming home from the dances, and I could watch them for their entire walk home to be sure that they weren’t sneaking smooches or trips behind the gym for any inappropriate activity.
he he he.
That alone makes the stretching worth it – doesn’t it?
They likely won’t mind the spy opportunities, since it will be balanced out by the fact that they will have their own suite on their own floor with their 2 bedrooms, their own bathroom, and my laundry room – that’s it.
Which is really hysterical to me, because when I was 9, I moved to my parents’ downstairs, and soon after, my dad redid the whole downstairs, and it became a place for just me and my sister – our two bedrooms, a bathroom, and my mom’s laundry room.
It would be very funny if my girls got the same. Only theirs wouldn’t be a basement, but a lovely second story in a beautiful building overlooking (out very pretty bay windows) the park. And their bedrooms would be bigger. A little ridiculously big. I think bigger than mine and Beloved’s, but ours is fancier and is right next to our own study and library, respectively. So there.
The other condo is less exciting and more settling, and I don’t think we need to think about it too much until we see what the spring brings to the market.
Both of them, though, are in ideal locations. With friends and parks and walking distance to present and future schools. Oh, and also my train. And still Beloved’s work. Probably closer for all of us.
Time to shake the dreams out of my head, and go watch the Oscars. We saw less contenders this year than we have in the past, which is sad. I tried so hard to see Juno with a friend, and if Beloved and I hadn’t caught J’s cold before she left for the Middle of the county, we likely would have seen There Will Be Blood. But as it stands, we’re stuck having seen only Michael Clayton and No Country for Old Men.
It’s 11:38. I have scrubbed (and purged) the kitchen. I have scrubbed the hardwood floors (hand and knees). I have bought 5 bottles of wine (white), and somehow had a friend agree to bring 6 more (red). I made Beloved bring home 2 six packs of beer. I have had dinner with the girls. I have attended the girls’ performance. I have realized that I forgot to sign J up for Girl Scouts. I have been at work all day ….
Tomorrow is the day of the meeting. The house is in really good shape. I’m proud of how good it looks compared to a year ago. We’ve thrown so much crap out, and worked so hard to make it more livable (without major expenditures), and I think I’m feeling the results.
This is good, since I spent my day looking at whether or not I can buy a house with less than 20% down, and the answer seems to be “definitely.” It appears that our bigger hurdle will be avoiding a “jumbo mortgage,” which is definitely hard to do in this very high-priced market.
Why can’t a “jumbo mortgage” be defined in relation to income, rather than just a “$415,000” mark? Or in relation to the local housing market. I mean … that basically means that a first home in this town MUST be a one bedroom.
I still think it might be do-able.
And if it is. I’m not wasting $10,000 on moving to another rental. I’ll put it toward a down payment and lowering my mortgage payments.
I am a human roller coaster.
A tired human roller coaster.