Posted by: Michelle | September 21, 2008

we are moving!

All of a sudden, and I am still not sure how it happened so fast, we bought a house. A month ago (see my last post) moving into more space seemed kind of hopeless or of not hopeless definitely a little “maybe someday.. who knows” then all of a sudden the train kicked into gear and BOOM, we were signing a purchase and sale agreement.

It started back in March of ’07. I took a first time homebuyer’s HUD approved class from a housing authority/ redevelopment on the South Shore. I could see the home prices were starting to stabilize and with the information in the class it seemed that maybe we would be able to buy something. Ideally, we wanted to buy something farther away from the city and set Adam up with a telecommuting gig because if you get really far south house prices become much more affordable – but a daily commute to Newton is really not an option from Sandwich, for example. All the time I was in the class I vacillated between thinking, “we can do this!” and “hm, I don’t think this is feasible for us”. We spent the summer of ’07 in Greenfield to be closer to our back up hospital for Milly’s birth and during that time we rented a house. Having all that space and relative privacy (and most memorably, SPARSELY furnished rooms!) really made it difficult for us to back to 2 bedroom, 2nd floor living with our newly enlarged family. Of course right after Milly was born Adam lost his job BUT was hired again immediately at a new job for 50% more income, now it seemed the house dream was a little closer even if we now had too much annual income to qualify for HUD programs like Soft Second mortgage, etc. and not to mention his new job is not easily accessible from South Shore commuter lines (he is at the very tippy end of the green line) and telecommuting for this company is out of the question. Se, a year ago we had things in our favor and things against us too.

I think what happened is that last fall we never moved back in here, despite physically seeming to do so. I think mentally we had left this place, and the shape of things really shows it. So last winter, around February I think, I applied for the mortgage pre-approval and was devastated to discover our credit scores had actually gotten worse from the ones done a year before in the class. Even my “ok” score had fallen and I felt so discouraged I didn’t know what to do. I decided, with some good advice, to take whatever money I had saved and use it to pay down the bad debts we both had rather than try to save for a down payment. It wasn’t actually that I had saved the money but what happened was that when my mother died 2 years ago, she left her IRA unspent – in one offhand comment in the hospital on her last day, my dad asked her what to do with that money “should I split it between the kids [my brother and me]” and she nodded and said “yeah, do that”. So that was that. I asked my dad to withdraw the funds for me – there was a huge tax out of it – and I paid off all of our old debts except for Adam’s student loans (in retrospect I wish I had at least paid 1/2 of it or tried to because that ended up the worst marks on his report). Adam approached his family for help with that loan but then decided against my advice to try doing the “rehabilitation” and began payments on that. The problem with that is it takes 9 months for them to pull him out of default status (therefore 9 months before we can consider shopping for a loan) and there is still the bulk of the loan at the end, lowering the amount of mortgage we would qualify for. We moped around for a few months, looking at the home listings all the while and I could see that prices were coming down a bit but as we are a one-income family it seemed we would still need to buy a “dump” to break into the housing market and that was discouraging to us yet we totally accepted it. The need for space and privacy was enough that buying a home in shabby shape seemed OK. I knew going in that there was no way we would have a mortgage payment under 2000 so that was not a surprise.

In June I tried the mortgage pre-approval again and was thrilled to discover that my Fair Isaac score had come WAY up – my plan had worked – and now I was eligible for a loan. However, despite all the money I put into it, Adam’s credit score had not risen at all. It was because of his student loans which were divided into 4 loan and each had hit him with negative marks each month. Our adviser suggested he try for an FHA loan, so it took me a while but I got the paperwork together after about a month or so (I procrastinated for a long time but then when I saw a house I wanted sell immediately for 25k less than the asking price I kicked it into high gear). Right away he came back and said we were pre-approved with the condition that Adam get rid of that student loan debt. One can’t get a federal loan with a federal defaulted loan. Quickly I set up with our buyer’s agent to look at some homes in our price range and Adam went to work appealing to his family for help discharging the loan.

There was a house I was interested in last spring which came of the market but then came back on again late in the summer. I wanted to see that one right way and that week we looked at a total of 9 houses. Some of these – most of these – were really dumps. Two were foreclosed and unlivable – contractor specials only. A few were nice but one stood out (the house that came back on the market) as having not only move-in condition but s-p-a-c-e and privacy. Privacy was the most important thing to us, ideally we wanted a house out in the woods with no nearby neighbors and we didn’t quite get that but the home is nestled back in trees and fits the bill closely enough. There weren’t many houses in our price range in areas Adam could conceivably commute to in less than 1.5 hours each way so that narrowed it down to maybe 10. We immediately eliminated any that needed a lot of work, those under power lines and those too close to the street, etc. my first choice ended up being the best bet so we quickly made a low offer as the original price was out of our range, got a counter offer and accepted it. Just like that! We went from “I don’t know if we will be buying a house or when” to “hey we got one!”. We are very happy with the choice. We went into this thinking we would be getting a real dump, something small and crappy, but we are moving into a nice home. It is honestly more than I thought I could hope for!

Our new home:

has almost an acre
is totally fenced in with a discreet fence
has a horse barn and paddock
has a dry basement
has two full baths :^)
a dedicated office (4th bedroom on 1st floor) for both of us
a dedicated (but wee!) sewing and knitting room so no more yarn storage in the living room

It looks like I just missed the listing pictures (they were taken down recently) but I managed to grab a few and I made an album. Check it out! Keep in mind, these are the listing photos and the current owners are very neat so when we live there it will look a LOT different ;^)

We close on October 17th and will move probably over a period of several weeks, with one “heavy moving” day in which we need a truck and some movers.

I have dread about the move, my last few moves have gone HORRIBLY. I am totally overwhelmed with the idea of packing! My inclination is to let a lot of it go to the last minute since moving is horrible no matter what and why stretch it out? We don’t have to be out of here by a certain time so we can piddle things over there for a while after closing. I am also worried about the high monthly payment. Since we put so little down, we have to pay upfront for mortgage insurance and that is figured into the monthly payment as well as the town taxes and homeowners insurance. It is 40% of Adam’s take home pay. I am trying to keep a positive spin on it, after all every homeowning peer I know is paying about 40% of net income for mortgage plus insurances and taxes. I look at it like this – we will have the same income left over as we had for total income when Zella was born. We managed then (but barely!) so I think we can manage it now. The hardest thing will be planning for unplannable emergencies!

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Responses

  1. Your new house looks fantastic, especially the expanse of land around it, backyard, etc. Frankly, I’m jealous! If you don’t mind my asking, where is your new place located?

  2. Michelle, I am so happy for you all. The very first time we met, you told me you wanted this. So, congrats. I, personally, am glad you will be in our neck of the woods. I hope we get to see more of you.
    Let us knowif you need help with anything.
    Jean


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