"Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. " -Helen Keller

Monday, August 22, 2011

How Not To Buy A House: a lesson in comedy, futility, and madness (part 1)

When I was about 2 months pregnant with Joey, Vic and I were living in a little bitty apartment with one dog, 2 cats, and a toddler. This apartment had delusions of grandeur and claimed to be 1000 sq ft...and, if you went by external wall measurements it might have made that size. But, this apartment was in a real brick building and that meant walls that were between 18 and 24 inches deep. That meant some serious square footage lost to the walls. During one of my stir crazy pregnant days, when I was tired and hormonal and more than a little pissed off we weren't in our house yet, I calculated the square footage we actually had and it was a lot closer to only 750 sq ft...not enough room.

Even back in the day, we lived on a budget. So, money was a concern when we started talking about buying a house. We wanted the most house and land we could get for our money. We did a quite a bit of research and found out a bunch of the mobile home companies made houses that were pretty phenomenal buys and, in NC, they had to be built to higher standards than site built homes. They may not have been our dream house but they were structurally sound, had lots of square footage, and the monetary outlay was minimal. And, if you had land lined up, the turn around time from purchase to move in time could be as little as 2 to 3 months. Our course was set. I was so excited. We would be in our new home before our second baby was born...or so I thought.

Vic and I went looking for land and found a fabulous piece of land out in the country. It was 5 acres, backed onto protected forest (owned by a local university), and had a stream running through it.  We were sold. The price was right and the owner only required $100 earnest money. One contract and $100 later, we were set and ready to pick our home. Here was mistake number 1...my brother-in-law (now ex-bil) happened to manage a mobile home dealership and promised us the BEST DEAL POSSIBLE. What a fucking joke.
  • Never, ever make a deal with a family member...especially if it's a family member you aren't sure you like.
B's (now ex-bil) dealership was a couple of counties away but he assured us it would be NO problem to get the home delivered to our land and his crew would have no trouble getting it set up. We thought we had done due diligence and asked him all the questions you're suppose to ask going into a deal like this. Our mistake was believing his answers. Now, when you get a home through a modular or mobile home dealership, you often arrange the financing through them since you have to get a loan that will roll from a construction loan into a mortgage. They handle the payments on the land and once the house is set on the land it all rolls into the mortgage. B got us all set and we were excited because our credit was good enough to qualify for an FHA loan.

We visited the dealership, picked out our house (2200 glorious sq ft), picked all the colors and counters for the inside, and paid our down payment. It was less than a month after we started and we felt that left us plenty of time to get moved in before I delivered. After all, I would probably deliver late since I had delivered my first baby a full 9 days late...mistake #2.
  • Never, ever think you know how a pregnancy will go. Just because one baby is late doesn't mean another will. Thinking you can count on ANYTHING while pregnant is pure comedy.
Now the real problems began. It took over a month for B to get the land deal closed. Then he started throwing excuse after excuse about not being able to find local people to clear the land and pour the foundation and drill the well. Well, fuck me...these were questions we had asked and he had sworn it wouldn't be a problem. We begged, we pleaded, we called weekly and then daily. It got to the point where my sister thought we were persecuting her husband (she knows better now). Things finally got going when we contacted a friend who knows everybody and she was able to put us in contact with local companies who could complete all these tasks that had to be done before the house was delivered. We passed on the info to B and it still took a couple of weeks to get things moving. Mistake #3...
  • If this ever happens to you, kiss your $100 earnest money (on the land) goodbye, demand your down payment back, and run far, far away.
Join us tomorrow to find out what happened when they finally started doing work on our land.


    ramona said...

    Hi! I can't wait to read the rest of the story!

    Thanks for your comment on my blog! I really do apprecaite it!

    Tracey said...

    Can't wait for the rest of the story. The only thing I bet that's worse than an ex-bil is an ex-sil!
    Hi. I’m Tracey from the Fertility Daily (ICLW # 56).
    I’m an IVF mom of two, who blogs for my old RE as my way of giving back. I’m on a quest to help others TTC, especially those who can’t afford IVF. East Coast Fertility’s giving away a free Micro-IVF cycle and you can enter to win thru 8/28 at http://www.eastcoastfertility.com/about/blog/blog-entry/archive/2011/august/article/ecfs-extreme-family-building-makeover-video-contest/?tx_ttnews%5Bday%5D=01&cHash=a6f7a8f9f3d38be671d74bd524251f81
    Good luck and I hope your baby dreams come true.

    Mrs. Gamgee said...

    Fabulous! I could add a few of my own lessons learned in the crazy ass world of home buying. Like when your real estate agent tells you that you don't need home inspection on a condo so long as their condo board paperwork is in order. Live and learn I guess...

    Can't wait to hear the rest of the story!