We FINALLY closed on our house on March 2, 2012…
Talk about a weight off our shoulders
There were A LOT of things that we have learned along the way of having our townhome built, so much so that once we closed on our home we had to truly celebrate and get used to the fact that there wouldn’t be a phone call coming soon inquiring about something that we need to submit or someone asking us for … MORE MONEY!
So here are the lessons that we learned:
1. First step, read the HOA rules: If you are purchasing a home in a community that has a HOA, the best thing to do is to read the HOA rules. It may not seem that important however, after moving in and realizing how much you can not do is not the time to find out what your HOA rules are. In our neighborhood, our HOA is very strict. You can’t plant a flower without prior approval of your landscaping plans. You can’t install any type of walkway lighting, etc. at all… We actually read the HOA and was happy with it, however, for my neighbors who moved in and immediately installed walkway lighting and is now being asked to remove them… after you pay your first mortgage payment is not the time to find out that you can’t live as freely as you thought you could (even in your own home).
2. Check out your Commute: Buying a home is exciting, but a long commute to work can be very draining. After driving 1 hour every day, both ways for the last 18 months to get to work, I am VERY appreciative that my commute has been cut to half at the most! Sometimes it is worth it to investigate your commute before you purchase. Because the money you tried to save by moving out of the city is now being spent on gas that you are using to be in idle on the highway because the traffic is horrible! and gas is way too high for that.
3. You don’t have to accept what is always offered to you: When we were purchasing our home, the builder had a flyer made up of our home offering A, B, C, D.. when we placed a contract on it and selected our lot, we decided we really didn’t want C so we asked for A, B and D on Corner Lot 23 for the same price… its a buyers market.. you can ask for whatever you want. And of course we got it and actually ended up with a credit back for what we didn’t want on the house.
4. Be involved in the building process: I laughed at the time, but my husband spent almost every free day that he had at the home – watching it being built from the ground up. Now, I am thankful because when things were not being put in correctly, it could be immediately resolved without having to go back later and tear down walls.
5. Measure Twice, Cut Once: We had requested to have a bathroom linen closet removed to provide more usable space. Well, in watching the home being built we realized that with the piping that they had not made allowances. We brought it up to the builder as we were doing our weekly walk-thru’s of construction. They admitted that they were operating on auto-pilot and had to go back now and cut through the cement and move the pipe and cut out the linen closet from the framing.. it was not costly to make sure that your contractors measure twice and cut once.
6. The grass isn’t always greener: Make sure that you do not sign off on your landscape if you built in the winter until the spring. How can you know if your trees or grass is even alive if they were planted in the winter months. Keep this in mind when you are signing documents. Trust me, you would rather wait to sign off on this then having to pay to replant things later.
7. Too many Chiefs and unfortunately you are the ONLY Indian in this game: We started the mortgage process with the builders preferred mortgage broker who asked us for a ton of documentation. Then our file was transferred to the actual lender who then asked for more documentation. Then we were requested of even more from the underwriter and at times were sending stuff and emails to every person involved including now a forth souce, the settlement company… it was so overwhelming at times. But at the end of the day, unfortunately there are too many chiefs and we are the only Indian. Do what they say, or no house 😦
8. The Invisible Man: The Underwriter. They will make you want to seek them out and put a hit on them when they are done with you. They ask and re-ask some of the most violating questions it seems. They will also be the one you want at the settlement table but will NEVER meet.
9. Timeline? What timeline.. more importantly who’s timeline?: First you are given a tentative timeline as to when the house will be finished. Then once they start building that timeline goes out the window and it ends up just being finished when its finished. Luckily we had a mild winter where we didn’t face too much delay. But, then you are given a date for closing… then its going to get postponed. TRUST ME, it will get postponed at least once. Plan for that. In the mortgage lending game, a closing can get postponed just because the documents won’t be processed through the various departments fast enough and printed– not because of anything you have yet to do. It becomes a true waiting game. You become anxious because you really just want to get the keys to your new house!
10. Down to the Last Day, the Mortgage Company can and will ask you for something else: The day of the closing, they asked us to stop and get a cashiers check for even more money to bring to the table but was never given an exact number. We get to the settlement company.. and they give us a refund.
Most of the process seems like mind numbing running around… but luckily, the end result is a beautiful home. So all the gripes and frustration go out of the window when you hear “let me get your keys and cut you a check!”
We are truly blessed and thankful that God has allowed us to become first-time home owners this year.