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Home Ownership: Please Try Again

May 10, 2011

This story starts way back in August of aught-ten when Steve looked over at me and said, "Now that we're gettin' hitched, I s'pose I should get you a place to live that's right and proper." Then he spat some chaw onto the dirt floor of our rented hovel. I'm marrying to improve my social status.

We spoke with a lender and got pre-approvals, where the lending agent looked at my spotless debt-free-for-years record and promptly informed me that my credit score was a big fat N/A and they wouldn't dream of lending me any money. I was pissed, but then took action to get debt so I could get... more debt. Which makes perfect sense.

We took an AHFC class to learn more about the home-buying process. We polled the internet for realtor recommendations and interviewed a bunch before deciding on the first one we met. She sent us lists of homes within our budget and we drove all over town.

The homes and condos were small or crappy or had current owners who packed their bedrooms to the brim with boxes and put the master bed in the living room and sprayed the house with two cans of Lysol to cut the smell of drugs. There were a few places that we liked, one that was gone by the time we stopped being wish-washy enough to decide we wanted it, but nothing really stood out.

In December we saw one that was in pretty decent shape considering it was a foreclosure. It was larger than the other available places in our price range and had a little back yard for some gardening and to throw the dog out into. So we put a bid in on it the day after Christmas.

Here begins the story of how much we hate the federal government.

The HUD office responded to our bid with So Close Please Try Again and we raised our bid $5k. Almost There Please Try Again and we raised our bid another $5k. After the last Please Try Again we gave up in hopes that they would lower their reserve price.

And in January they did just that. HUD lowered the price of the house to less than our original bid. Our agent was a ninja and swooped in with our bid before anyone else noticed it was back on the market and our bid was accepted! Yay!

Only HUD couldn't officially accept our bid package because that would start the maximum 45-days-to-close limit and their contract with their title company had expired and they wouldn't be able to close on anything. And instead of renewing that contract or extending that contract or, I don't know, ensuring they had another contract in place when the old one expired, they put it out to bid.

I work with the State government bidding process all the time. I understand how slow it is, how long it takes. And I understand that my office has measures in place to make sure there is never, ever, EVER a break in a contract.

So basically HUD should hire me.

After a number of weeks of HUD telling us Next Week For Reals This Time, they offered to let us use our own title company. Then rescinded that offer because Next Week. Really. Next Week.

This whole time we would drive by the new house and wave to it, hoping that one day we would be in it. It had been so long since we had seen the house (in December) that I had forgotten what it had looked inside.

Finally at the end of March they awarded the contract and officially signed their approval of our offer. Big breath of relief that we could FINALLY move forward with this house, GAWD.

But then not really, because when de-winterizing the house the contractor discovered that after he had winterized it the previous winter, HUD's management company from California came in and did a complete system-wide shutdown without draining the pipes.

Dear Californian Management Company: Alaska gets cold. Real cold. If you turn off the entire system without draining pipes, then the pipes freeze and split and things break and it's all your fault.

No one wanted to take responsibility for the broken pipes: HUD continued repeating that the property was As-Is Where-Is like a stupid broken record. The management company continued not returning calls. And we were not prepared to take ownership with a guestimated $6000 worth of damage.

After all of this time waiting for this stupid place, we were prepared to walk away from it. We saw some other houses. We stewed in our ire against HUD. The feds threatened a government shutdown. Steve slit his wrists. Olive wrote bad poetry.

It was a dark time.

Then the management company spoke up, took responsibility, and sent someone in to fix it. We had the inspection within a week which went exactly as expected: no surprises! Yay!

Paperwork was signed last Thursday and then we waited for the paperwork to be FedExed to HUD for execution then back to the title company for recording, which finally happened this morning.

Our agent called HUD to arrange getting the keys when HUD decided that it wasn't done with us. Oh no, it needed to throw us one last zinger: Keys? There Are No Keys.

Of course there are no keys.

We have a locksmith scheduled to break in for us and replace all of the locks tomorrow. Then we will get to start tackling our plans for fixing and painting and it will finally start to feel like ours.

Until then we are procrastinating packing up our current place. Because moving sucks, amirite?


You know I will help you move because I love you.

Wow. It was actually worse than my house buying experience. I'm glad you are a homeowner now. Also, a word on paint: it never dries the same color as the swatch. Get samples.

You both get an 'A' for perseverance. There would have been headlines had it been me. "prospective homeowner takes hostages..."

Congrats to you both!

You have overcome so much to get into your new home. What a hassle but the ending was happy. Much good luck to you, Steve and Olive! I would offer to be of help but am no good at home improvements, other than hiring contractors to do the work. Best wishes and congratulations!

Congratulations (and lol at your story, though I'm sure it wasn't so funny living through all that hassle)

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Hi, I'm Valette

I'm a photographer based out of Anchorage, Alaska. I've recently become a wife, a stepmother, and a homeowner. Life is pretty awesome. You can email me anytime. Learn more...

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