'Tis the season for Santa...and the Easter Bunny...and the Tooth Fairy....and other nonsense like that.
This month has been a little challenging. Not so much because we bought a house and had the whole flood insurance fiasco to deal with. Not so much because my MIL keeps telling people, "They have a TON of space!" and we only have an 1,100 square foot house. It's empty, for goodness sake. Of course it looks like we have a ton of space! (I'm a little concerned people - a.k.a. his family - are going to try to buy things for us or give us stuff before we've had a chance to decide what our collective style is.)
No, the challenge, once again has been Santa. And this post was actually prompted by The Tooth Fairy but one myth at a time.
SPOILER: If you happen to be a believer in the "magic of Santa" and all these other "creatures," please leave now before I dash your beliefs on the ground and run over it with my car.
You see, earlier this month I took Daughter to get her hair done. I waited for her and watched as she talked with everyone around her. One woman - who I do not see regularly at the salon - said something to her that prompted Daughter to run to me. "Mommy, mommy! Can I go see Santa?!"
I looked at her, my eyes bugging out, then I looked up at the grinning culprit and asked her, "What IS your problem?!" Everyone laughed but you best believe I was not thrilled.
You see if you have not guessed by now, let me make myself perfectly clear: I DO NOT TEACH SANTA TO MY CHILDREN.
To make matters worse, the woman sitting next to me was waiting with her daughters. They were like 9 and 12 years old. She leans on her knee as she watches Daughter and says, "What's wrong?"
"I don't lie to my children."
"Ohhhh! Stop. Let's stop there." She looks back at her daughter and loudly whispers to me, "We still believe."
I just smile at her. It's not my problem, I want to say. Blame that grinning woman over there who thought it cute to tell my Daughter to come ask me to take her to see Santa. I only tell Daughter, "Daughter, daughter. What? What are you talking about? Don't you need to go back and get your hair done? We'll talk later."
It's quite simple actually. The world is full of marvelous things. Wondrous things. Things we don't understand. They are still discovering creatures under the sea. Do we need to make stuff up to give kids magic? I say no. As the woman sitting next to me continues to talk, I tell her something to this effect as I remind her that our Savior is supposed to be the focus. Helping others and being with family - that's part of the joy of this time. That is what I teach my babies. After all, have you seen the face of a kid who found out the truth after sincerely believing? Pretty heartwrenching. I saw it a couple of years ago when Husband's family thought it cute to do that Santa crap though I never gave them any indication that that was how I rolled. (Aside: Families. Take your cue from the parents. Please. Don't try to stuff your beliefs and fantasies down a kid's throat that YOU did not give birth to or adopt or what have you. You are just making work for the parents who have to live with this. It's NOT funny.)
So the in-laws tried to threaten Son with, "You'd better be good or Santa won't bring you anything." Ugh! I did not tell them to say such things. I had never planned to discuss the Santa thing until I felt I had to and now I had to. "Son, Christmas is about Jesus' birthday. It's about us celebrating the fact that God gave us a way out of our sins. It's about family and helping others. The presents you get? Mommy and daddy and other family members buy them because we love you and God gave us the ability to take care of you in this way. This is Christmas. Santa is just the face some people choose to put on it but he is not real. The people in the malls are in costume." He was sad. He wanted to believe. And the question was do I dash his faith now or later?
Mind you, I was not raised not to believe in Santa nor did anyone try to make it like he was real. I don't know how to explain it. My parents managed to make the time magical anyway because every Christmas I'd see those presents and wonder where the heck they came from. Could there be a Santa? But we don't have a chimney. Did my parents leave the door unlocked? Isn't that dangerous? Eventually I concluded it couldn't be and eventually I figured out how they were sneaking the presents in. That part of the mystery died and yes, that was too bad but I had years of fun trying to figure out how they did it because it HAD to be them. That much I knew. And my kids? Well, we wrap some stuff, put them under the tree and then hold on to some stuff to pull out after they go to sleep. They have been amazed at the overnight growth of the presents every year. I can imagine the thrill my parents got just sneaking around like that and now I get to do it for my own. I love it. This is Christmas to me. I love the lights. I love the cookies. I love how everyone is home a lot more. I love the kids bugging me to buy stuff as I ignore them and then seeing them so happy to get whatever they get. I don't need Santa to pull this off for me.
Son got past it and now Daughter will to. She had a moment where I was unsure. The presents weren't under the tree yet.
"Is Santa going to bring us presents," she asked.
"Daughter...." I tried to warn her.
"Yes, Santa is going to bring us presents."
My kid is 3 and knows exactly what she is doing and saying at all times. She watched me as she said this. "Daughter, come one. Give me a break. You know there is no Santa."
"Yes, Santa," she decided as she went her merry way.
"Santa, Santa, Santa."
I had to laugh at her. A few days later as we picked out the paint colors for her room at the paint store, the woman asked her if Santa was going to bring her anything.
"Santa's not real!" she yelled at her. The woman gasped. That's my girl.
Now, what about the Tooth Fairy, you ask? Well, Son knew that was a myth before the Santa thing happened. But this week he lost 2 teeth. The first one came out a couple of days ago. Son woke me as I felt him crawling into bed with us.
"Son, what's going on," I asked groggily.
"Come here. I have to show you something." He moved to turn on the light.
"Don't you dare!" I hissed at him. I looked at the clock. "It's 3 in the morning! What do you want me to see?"
"Just come on," he waved at me. I refused to get up. "I have to get up soon. Just tell me."
"My tooth came out and I put it under my pillow but you didn't come." My word. Who knew that by killing the fake stuff, I was somehow increasing my own magical abilities in the mind of my child. "Honey, how can I come if I don't know?" I suppose it's my job to just somehow always know. Well, that's what mommy's do, right? Right.
Friday, December 29, 2006
'Tis the season for Santa...and the Easter Bunny...and the Tooth Fairy....and other nonsense like that.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
Bad, bad blogger!
"Where have you been, Monica," you ask. "How are we supposed to keep up with you if you don't blog?!"
Valid questions, my friends. You want to know what happened since I last blogged on the 15th? (My gosh, has it really been almost 2 weeks! I'm so sorry!)
Dec. 18 - I turned 36. They had bagels in my honor at work. The kids jumped me when I came home that night because I had a present - ice cream cake and the new BabyPhat perfume. I drove Mr. T's car that day and unfortunately he left the sample cards on the seat of his car so I wasn't shocked but I was happy to see it was bought for ME! :-)
Dec. 21 - We learned who our Secret Santas were at work. We had a $100 limit (don't gasp. There's a reason.) because our holiday dinner had to be postponed until Januaryu so the boss upped the limit and said to expense it. Sweet. So I received this lovely entertaining set - red tray, plates, canape knives, candles, it's really beautiful - and I guessed my SS on the first try. We had pizza, salad, chicken fingers and thick cheese sticks. It was fun.
Dec. 22 - Son sang a duet with a classmate for the holiday concert. Well, maybe it wasn't a duet per se. They were the leads. He sang a solo last time - a full-fledged solo - and listening to him again this time, hands in his pockets as he leaned into the mike to confidently sing his part, I'm amazed at how it makes me emotional. I couldn't be prouder of him. I wonder what it is that makes me so proud of who he is and yet not capable of telling him that enough. The older he gets, the harder it gets and yet he clearly craves it. The boy stood in front of my bedroom door on Sunday and counted. He didn't call me or come in. Just counted - out loud - for a long time. I woke up on 289. He still writes me love notes so I guess I'm still a good mommy overall.
Dec. 23 - Went to start cleaning the new house. Mr. T and I are still stopping each other saying, "Hey! We've got a house!" We're very much caught up in what color to paint all the rooms. Daughter gets yellow and lavender. We just don't know whether to make it lavender with yellow accents or the other way around. We're afraid all yellow will heighten her already vibrant personality but we think we really want to see it that way. Plus I'll find a butterfly stamp so I can stamp lavender butterflies at the top of her walls near the ceiling. Son wanted purple but I was afraid a boyish purple would be too dark. So he said blue. I told him I'd go for blue and try to create a purple and white stripe on the wall you see when you enter the room. Good luck to me. Could have been worse, though. He wanted a checkerboard pattern at first and knowing me, I would have tried it. My office/guest room will be a lovely harvest color - think a fall orange. That is the one room I had dreams about. We still don't know what to do with our room, the kitchen, the kids' bath, the family room or the living room we are currently calling the Sky Box. (It's a raised ranch and that room is upstairs on the same floor as the kitchen and bedrooms. The last owner used it as a dining room but it's hard to know what to do with it because makig it a designated dining room jsut seems like a waste.) In our room and our bathroom, I want something relaxing but Misted Green (See Pottery Barn color palette) keeps coming to me and I don't know if I want to be surrounded by green. I'm not actually too fond of that color. Anyhow, we had hoped to start painting that day but the store was closed early. So this weekend we get to work.
Dec. 24 - I had bought all I intended to buy for my immediate people - Hubby and 2 kids - and wrapped them all up so this day, I just watched movies with Mr. T. My Super Ex-Girlfriend - Eh. OK. Twin Towers - better than I expected. The kids watched Over the Hedge and Ant Bully, both of which they saw in the theater but had to see again. Of the two, I'd probably recommend Ant Bully over the other one. I think it's because so many cartoons these days aren't as scenic as they used to be - remember The Prince of Egypt? - and at least I felt like I was going to different places in that movie even though it was the same house and same front yard. Just from a very different perspective.
Dec. 25 - Breakfast at the sister- and brother-in-law's house. They do it every year and it's nice. His son and daughter come with their families and we're from her side and it's one big, happy United Colors of Benetton ad that day. Well, OK, just 3 colors, but close enough. Then we go home so the kids can tear through their stuff and I can hopelessly try to keep up with all the wrapping being strewn about that I so carefully put on the boxes the days before. But they felt like it was a neverending bounty of gifts. I'm happy they were happy. And oh, by the way, yes I am eating. I'm just trying to maintain weight but dieting right now is just insane.
Dec. 26th - Ugh. Back to work. Still love my job. Don't get me wrong. But why don't we all just take this week off? I know the grocery stores have to be open and places like that but really, who wants to work right now?
Dec. 28th - TODAY! Got to get home to take Daughter to get her hair done. We both had appointments for Saturday but my girl would be doing us both because her girl is on vacation this week and this girl just didn't want to face it. Besides, the cable guy is coming on Saturday and both of us in the hairdresser is sure to keep us in there all day. I want to be able to be there when the cable/internet/phone is hooked up. We're going for the triple package so I'm very excited to finally have cable internet plus I opted to get their DVR system so I can finally tape all the shows I like to watch but I'm often too tired to stay up for.
The new year is shaping up quite nicely so far. And this is my life.
Friday, December 15, 2006
You're probably wondering what's going on. I asked my mortgage broker yesterday at 4:45 p.m. what was going to happen after an entire day of not hearing from her but instead getting calls from her office asking for information I had already given them days ago. Were we going to close or not, I asked. She laughed. "You're jumpy, aren't you?"
"Hey, man. I need to know what to tell my job. Will I be in or not?"
"You don't have to take the day off," she said. "We will be closing about 4 o'clock."
So of course I didn't listen. I took the vacation day. I could go pay for the homeowner's insurance and do some other errands while we waited. Plus I didn't know when we were going to do the final walkthrough and there needed to be time for that.
So I got up this morning and told MIL we needed a final walkthrough. That's right. No one said, "Hey Monica, this is when your walkthrough will be." No. I had to ask for it.
I gave her my cell number and went off to drop Daughter at school and commence the errand run. MIL called at 11 to say we could do the walkthrough at noon. By then I had completed what I had to do and was doing what I wanted to do - look for my birthday present to myself and get a couple of other Christmas gifts I needed to buy in person. (I've been doing my thing online. I highly recommend it.)
At 11:30 the MB calls. "Monica. We just found out you DO need flood insurance."
I won't go into the feelings on this. I had asked this question of my insurance guy and I suppose he didn't really think it necessary to check into it because papers from the mortgage company were already saying we didn't need it. The papers I signed for the loan said it too. Today, hours before closing, we find out I do. Why do I bother to ask?
I'm already in the city my agent is in so I go back to their office (because I paid them this morning already) and tell them the issue. "It's a 24 to 48 hour process," I'm told.
"Jesus Christ" I pray out loud. I call the MB and tell her. She talks to the girl. The girl has to find out if they already have some info they need to speed up the process so I leave until she calls me because I need to do the walkthrough. A few blocks away she calls. "Can you come back?"
"I'm on my way." I do a U and head back. The girl points me to the licensed agent I had dealt with that morning, Tracy. Poor Tracy hasn't eaten yet but she knows the situation. So we sit and talk. She fills out paperwork and I cross my fingers as well as pray because I'm told flood insurance is VERY expensive and we are down to what we need for the closing with a little padding. This insurance would eat that padding for sure. Tracy has errors and finds out she needs the elevation certificate. How do I get that? "You're going to have to hire someone to go out and survey the land so you can get one." I stare at her in disbelief and call the MB again. In the meanwhile, Tracy says maybe the seller's insurance agent can help us out. I tell her, "oh yes, maybe (the seller) has it!"
"Oh, you know the seller?"
"This is a family affair, Tracy. My MB was her MB for her mortgage. She may even have the info."
"Oh, that's lucky. Most people don't know the seller."
That's not luck, Tracy. That's God. I call the MB, she thinks she actually has the elevation certificate and faxes it over. But it isn't it. MB takes the charge. She calls the other insurance agent and sees what she can find. "As much as we want your business," Tracy tells me, "It may be easier for you to let that agent insure you for now and you can come back here and put it all together when it expires."
Sounds like a plan, though it may be an expensive one since I don't have a relationship with those people already. More phone calls, more confusion and finally MB tells me what Tracy just said. "Monica, go somewhere where you can talk. I'll have that agent call you."
Tracy is already with anohter customer now but she sees me packing up. I tell her the deal and she wishes me luck.
Off I go to the house at last to maybe get a shot at walking through. MB calls on my way there and tells me she is calling the town now to see about getting that much sought after elevation certificate. After I get to the house she calls. "Monica, where are you?"
"I'm at the house now."
"Guess what I have?"
She asked a favor of the zoning guy who approved us buying this house and he came through like a champ. "Go back to the office," she tells me. "I am faxing it back to your agent now."
"I'm on my way." My gas is almsot on E and I am one town away at about 1:15 p.m. As I find a place to park I thank God again because the meter has 38 minutes on it. I have no quarters so I thank God for once again paving the way.
I run to the office and the younger agent points me to Tracy who is already on the phone working out my stuff. She hangs up. "I have to hurry. If they don't have this by 1:30, you can't close today."
Tracy moves and her fingers fly. She talks to her underwriters to ask how to fill something out and the clock says 1:24. My MB calls to ask what is going on. "Tell her 4 minutes!" MB says. Poor Tracy holds her head while I do NOT relay the message. "OK, OK. We're moving," I respond.
Tracy gives me papers to sign and asks the younger agent to start faxing while she finishes the rest. $518 dollars, one signature later it is 1:30 and the last fax is going through.
I call MB. "I love you! I love you! I love you!" she yells. I laugh and we hang up.
I don't know what to do for Tracy but SOMETHING major is getting delivered to her office next week. Like a good neighbor, State Farm was there for me. I love these people.
It is 3:50 now. Husband has picked up Son and I took him to get the last of the money we needed. I got Daughter and dropped them both off to the sitter because Husband and I have a holiday event to attend tonight for my business group.
Now we wait. The closing is scheduled for 5 now. In the midst of all the insurance madness, a potential puzzle customer called me. Now I need to return his call.
I didn't need to take the day off, she said. Yeah right!
It took until about 8 tonight. We missed the party we were supposed to go to. But we closed.
We are homeowners for the first time.
We are tired.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Well, I did it. I signed loan papers today. It was not perfect. We had to do an 80/20; I wanted a fixed rate but an ARM was the best deal she could get because the interest rate was great so we will have to refinance in 2 years to get a fixed, 30-year mortgage. I knew there might be an issue because my credit is not great. It's good but not as good as they would like to get the best rate, though it's a heck of a lot better than this time last year when I was getting old stuff caught up after getting a break from the financial pressures we had at that time.
Since then I've gotten an awesome job and make better money - and so does Mr. T. the longer he stays where he is - so we're in a better place overall, but credit doesn't repair that quickly and since I'm buying the house alone, everything depended on me. Mr. T. has perfect credit and for the next house, HE is getting the mortgage and we'll take advantage of that. By then, however, mine will be just as good so we should be in a great place no matter what.
Anyway, I knew there would be an issue but the interest rate is 6.3% and I can accept that. I'm actually quite happy about it because ultimately, I did this on my own. Yes, his money went into it too but on paper this is all me and I actually like this opportunity to have property in my own name, even if it's just on paper because you can best be sure I assured the husband that we was on the hook as much as I am. I had to school him a little about the whole what's-yours-is-mine thing. "In the end, my dear, if I leave them high and dry on this mortgage and disappear on you all, they are coming after YOU." Wouldn't want him to feel too relaxed here.
So I initialed and signed on the straight lines and the mortgage broker explained before hand that at the closing, I will be signing twice as many papers - about 50 odd - but many of them would be like what I was signing with her at that moment. She would be my translator for the rest of it because the lawyer will be whipping through but she is a lawyer too (I didn't know that until today) and she'll be able to explain it all.
The issue then was closing on the 15th. I told her earlier this week that the bid was turned into a contract and the other lawyer - probably at the behest of the seller - changed the closing date to "on or before Dec. 25." All this time it's been the 15th. It was that date when I signed the bid back in November. It was that date when the seller decided to sell it to someone else. It was still that date when her buyer fell through and she came crawling back to us. (I told you I thought it was personal choice not to sell to us in the first place.) It stayed that date until, oh, last Thursday or Friday. But my broker (hereby known as the MB) was determined to stick to her original date.
After I signed the papers, as I talked to the MB about the rest of the money needed to close this, a call came in. The seller would not be ready by the 15th. This is the same seller who originally wanted to close by Thanksgiving. Apparently her sister is ill. In my mind I wonder, "What has that got to do with this?" I know it sounds hard and I'm not THAT hard. I knew her mother was sick (I THOUGHT her mother was sick so maybe it was the sister instead) but she's the one who wanted to sell this house quickly and since she actually got a month more than she was originally going for, you'd think she'd be chomping at the bit even more than I am and she'd get her stuff out. A lot of it was still there when we did the inspection last week. The guy who took the message was sitting one desk over from us and after hanging up, he tells us this. My MB sits back. "You get back on the phone," she says. "Tell them this. We either close on Friday or we close in February." About 3 hours after I left, the seller called her personally and assured her she would be in town on Thursday.
So the deal isn't done until it's done. But I must admit, that MB plays hardball and if she's on your side, then thank goodness. After all this uncertainty and ambiguity, right now I can say I'm feeling like she did a good job for us overall. Will we work with her again? It honestly depends on who can offer us the best rate when it comes time to refinance. She admitted that she knew she had me in the dark and she knew I hated it but she didn't want to say an amount and have it keep changing on me since she hadn't locked in a rate yet. Understandable. I'm still leery of her but I may be more relieved now than anything else. The 15th isn't here yet so we'll see how that goes but it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Tired of my house talk? Me too. Imagine a little Jeopardy music right now because that's what we're doing anyway - waiting.
Waiting for tomorrow when Mr. T. and I finally go talk about the loan terms with the mortgage folk.
Waiting for the zoning guy to give his seal of approval because currently no one has been able to find him.
And IF he says yes, I can go pay the homeowner's insurance because my insurance guy is waiting for that as well.
Waiting until this whole thing is over one way or the other so I can SLEEP IN PEACE!
But until either tomorrow or Friday when I have something new to report, here's a little something else, courtesy of a friend and former co-worker.
HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHOM TO MARRY? (Written by kids)
You got to find somebody who likes the same stuff. Like, if you like sports, she should like it that you like sports, and she should keep the chips and dip coming.
-- Alan, age 10
No person really decides before they grow up who they're going to marry. God decides it all way before, and you get to find out later who you're stuck with.
-- Kristen, age 10
WHAT IS THE RIGHT AGE TO GET MARRIED?
Twenty-three is the best age because you know the person FOREVER by then.
-- Camille, age 10
HOW CAN A STRANGER TELL IF TWO PEOPLE ARE MARRIED?
You might have to guess, based on whether they seem to be yelling at the same kids.
-- Derrick, age 8
WHAT DO YOU THINK YOUR MOM AND DAD HAVE IN COMMON?
Both don't want any more kids.
-- Lori, age 8
WHAT DO MOST PEOPLE DO ON A DATE?
Dates are for having fun, and people should use them to get to know each other. Even boys have something to say if you listen long enough.
-- Ly nnette, age 8 (isn't she a treasure)
On the first date, they just tell each other lies and that Usually gets them interested enough to go for a second date.
-- Martin, age 10
WHEN IS IT OKAY TO KISS SOMEONE?
When they're rich.
-- Pam, age 7
The law says you have to be eighteen, so I wouldn't want to mess with that.
- - Curt, age 7
The rule goes like this: If you kiss someone, then you should marry them and have kids with them. It's the right thing to do.
-- Howard, age 8
IS IT BETTER TO BE SINGLE OR MARRIED?
It's better for girls to be single but not for boys. Boys need someone to clean up after them.
-- Anita, age 9 (bless you child)
HOW WOULD THE WORLD BE DIFFERENT IF PEOPLE DIDN'T GET MARRIED?
There sure would be a lot of kids to explain, wouldn't there?
-- Kelvin, age 8
And the #1 Favorite is........
HOW WOULD ! YOU MAKE A MARRIAGE WORK?
Tell your wife that she looks pretty, even if she looks like a truck.
-- Ricky, age 10
Thursday, December 07, 2006
I am so sleepy right now. I'm having dreams, folks. Will this or won't this work out? I'm pretty sure I dreamed of Daughter painting her room last night but that may have been brought on by the number of times she kicked me in my sleep. She was obviously determined to get into my subconscious, even if she literally had to karate kick her way in.
Still, this whole thing is making it harder to fall to sleep, that's for sure. My mind won't stop going, which is normal for me but this is a little past normal. The hurdle I was expecting to be the big hurdle isn't the hurdle that is currently on my mind. It's the loan. It was not as I expected it to be and it looked like we were going to be paying more for a mortgage than we were expecting and yet we can't be sure because our mortgage broker has yet to sit down with us and explain everything. When I called the broker to tell her about it she said to throw all that paperwork away. She wasn't done. Great day. I should have taken a picture of how much paper there was but I was only too happy to get rid of it, so I shredded it. Hmm. Maybe I'll take a photo of all the shredded paper tonight if Mr. T. hasn't tossed it out by now. In the meanwhile I do feel a little better because I got my insurance guy involved in this to do the homeowner's insurance. (If you are looking to buy, this is one of the things you may have to do for yourself, be aware.)
Overall, I still feel there is a lack of communication and generally too much, "Don't worry, be happy" being thrown about. So me being me, I take matters into my own hands. The broker gets a shot at doing this deal, mainly because it was already in the works anyway, but I spoke to a banker I know personally to see what she thinks and to see if she can do better. We have one week until closing. All we can do is see what happens.
Now, the reason I am writing this today is to share what I already knew (and got confirmation on) and to share what I've learned. If you are looking to buy a house for the first time ever (or if your first deal was a bad one), please take heed but be sure to go get your own answers.
Here are some of my thoughts on this:
1 - Get someone like you to represent you. I told you who our RE is and it was just part of the deal, as far as I am concerned. She had her own people that she deals with as well so that took away a lot of choices initially.
2 - Know it's ALMOST never too late. When you sign your bid, ask about the contract. Will this be turned into a contract, or will there be one later to sign? That contract should give you the drop dead date for securing whatever you need so if you go. Mine got changed last night from Dec. 15th to "on or before Dec. 25th" but the broker is determined to stick to the 15th. At this point, we just have to keep going but I still have to get clarification as to whether or not we can call this quits if we don't like the loan that comes our way, or at least if we can put it off another few weeks to try another company. Frankly, I'm praying this woman gets it right, despite my leeriness of her because we all want to be done but we want it to be done right.
3 - Go to a first-time homebuyer's class if you can. I've learned a lot of things over the years and over the past few weeks. I know who to ask but if I could have done this, I would just to see what else I should know. It doesn't hurt to have the knowledge. You can't ask the right questions if you don't know what to ask and as my experience can tell you, not everyone will volunteer the information for whatever reasons of their own.
4 - Get an attorney as early as possible. If your RE or banker is handling it, cool, but make sure one is in their somewhere. You need someone neutral.
5 - Inspection/Appraisal/et al. You may be footing these bills and it's highly unlikely you will get this money back if you don't go through with the deal so make sure you really want this. As I told you before the inspection guy has proven to be the most helpful of all. If you live in CT and need a referral, I'll pass his name to you. I loved him. Speaking of bills, I mentioned finding your own insurance earlier? Well, that's something you not only have to do before closing but you pay for the whole year's worth of insurance beforehand as well, at closing. Be prepared.
6 - Shop around. Get that banker or broker to tell you upfront what kind of deal they are working out. Shop that around. You have to be honest with yourself, however. If your credit isn't the greatest, don't expect an awesome deal. Know your credit score so you can know what to expect. Down the road you can always refinance but you'll have to keep on top of your credit until that point because you still will need the best score you can get to get the best rate. And speaking of credit...
7 - Don't pull it too often. According to a financial expert I know, you have 2 weeks to shop around for bug ticket items like a car or mortgage. That means they can pull like crazy in that time and not have it affect your score. But after that, if they pull it you run the risk of getting hit in the credit score. Now, if you are using a broker (and I still don't think it's the best way to go but you do what you must), the possibility exists that they will pull your score to preapprove you. There is also the chance that the company they will deal with may do the same. Stay on top of them. Be sure you know your score prior to all this and be sure you are continuing to pay things as normal so you can know where to look if things go awry.
8 - Don't get emotional. Buying and selling a house is emotional stuff, no doubt about it. Buyers have to have a poker face and sellers need to grow some steel around their hearts. I am blessed to have smart friends and truly supportive family. I turn to them to help me think things through and not to let myself be ruled by emotions because I know I am an emotional person but I am OK with that. When things get tense, you need a cooler head. Someone neutral, like that lawyer. But if not the lawyer, then someone who will be HONEST with you about what they see and if they have real experience to add to the mix, then all the better. Just like the seller in this case who was allegedly insulted by my saying the carpets would have to go, you can lose out if you aren't careful. You have to keep your eyes on the prize but at the same time you can't be a doormat. If you're a go-along-to-get-along kind of person, you may have a hard time here so be honest about who you are (at least to yourself) and make sure someone tough is with you.
9 - Where's the proof? In case you didn't know, eventually you may have to prove you have the money. In the bank or somewhere that has your name on it. If you are expecting help, get it secured beforehand and stick it in the bank so it looks like you've had it awhile. Don't ask me. It just seems to be the way it is.
10 - Keep family out. I said it before and I stick by this. Try not to let your uncle the real estate agent do this job for you. Not unless you REALLY work well together. I know it's possible some relationships can handle this but why risk it? Unless you know for sure Aunt Mitzy the lawyer is going to do the job and not treat you differently or even worse because you are family, then take the chance if you care to. But I just think if you can skip them, do.
This is all I've got for you for now but if I think of anything else, I'll let you know.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Well, we had the house inspected today. The inspector was there way ahead of time and the last person to show - though only 1 minute late - was the seller's real estate agent. The man explained what he would be doing and told me it would take a couple of hours. He gave me a pad and pencil, "in case you want to write anything down."
This was to be the first time we saw the house sans children, mine or hers (the other RE agent) and I was thrilled with that. It's enough wrangling my two without her kid added to the mix - for the third time. Just because I'm a mom does not mean I want your child around while we're trying to think about a major purchase like this, thank you very much.
Of course, the seller's agent said she absolutely had to leave by 2:30. I was already peeved with her and now she may be cutting my expensive time short on top of it? She'd better pray we don't find anything wrong or that we can't finish. I was going to be too through. But the inspector was professional to the end. His name was Ken. I'd tell you his company but I don't have the paperwork in front of me at the moment. But I am highly recommending them because of this guy. He explained what he was doing and why. He recommended fixes and most times the things he said she be fixed were minor. He was awesome. I felt comfortable about what he was saying and how he did his job, despite the rush placed on him and all that crazy chatter the REs were doing.
Too much chatter. Can everybody PLEASE be quiet? I'm a talker and I don't mind chatting up folk but take it somewhere else right now. It's just bugging me.
If you've never bought a house and you're going to do so soon, the cost of the appraisal plus the inspection was $620. If something happens and we can't get this house, I'm pretty sure I lose my money and if we don't get this house due to the big hurdle I have yet to explain here, I will blame ALLLLL the people who kept saying, "Oh it's no problem! It's no problem!" You know they won't be itching to give me that money back though, right? Hmm. I wonder if I can sue in a case like that. It wouldn't be for the money but the principle.
So, now it's a waiting game. The house is in great shape and the things we'd like to do to it are really minimal so we can just enjoy doing what we want to it appearance wise IF we get it.
It's been nice to go there and start thinking of it as home but one must be careful with the emotions until the deal is done. I've got a lot of annoying peopl mucking up the works too but at least I met one very nice appraiser and inspector. Let me know if you need a recommendation. They were great. They are 2 of the few in this little game who get MY seal of approval.
Monday, December 04, 2006
Yesterday I went to church alone. I do that every now and again when the kids don’t have youth church and I don’t feel like being their referee as they sit with me. The choir sang a song and I couldn’t catch all the words but one part of the refrain was that God keeps His promises. “It’s already done,” they sang. It went along with the message from which I reclaimed the understanding that what is mine is mine despite the misaligned will of other people.
Last night Mr. T, Daughter and I watched Superman Returns. (Son was in bed already and since Daughter sleeps with us, she gets these perks for now.) If you haven't seen it, that is one long movie yet not bad. Not bad at all.
Superman’s arch nemesis, Lex Luthor, has created a new land mass which threatens the United States and promises certain devastation as it continues to grow. There is one point in the movie (skip to the next graph if you want to see this movie) where Superman goes into space then plunges down, down, down into the very core of the earth beneath the foundation of the kryptonite-based land mass and he pushes, pushes, pushes it up, up and away into space, hurling it away forever, I suppose to become an asteroid. (Sounds like the making of a plot for another movie to me; that and Lois Lane’s son but I won’t go there.)
I woke up this morning and that scene popped back into my mind. It was my second confirmation. Superman reached to the core of evil to reclaim the good and though it weakened him for long enough to become hospitalized, he did get his strength back and righted the wrongs once again.
This morning I got my third confirmation. I am reading and editing a devotional my friend – my pastor’s admin – is putting together. She was sent a replacement lesson to put in the book and she forwarded that to me. The scripture that is part of that replacement?
Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
So we wait. Saturday morning Mr. T. and I watched Daughter sleep and wondered what we do with that weird part of the house that wasn’t quite a room but it’s serving as the foyer so it can’t be ignored either. I corrected him about where my computer would go should we get the house. (He was under the misimpression that we’d put it in that foyer area. I had to correct that immediately.) Saturday afternoon the house was appraised. It’s OK to fork over $300 for a house that will be ours. It’s not OK if we don’t get this house. Mr. T. took pictures. Saturday night we looked at the pictures as we waited for things to get under way at the retirement party we attended.
Tomorrow the house gets inspected. Another $250. Again, OK to spend on a house that will be yours but I still can’t be sure. But God reminded me yet again that despite all the nonsense and confusion and sidestepped questions, He works ALL things together for my good. These people involved may or may not be trying to be underhanded. They may not even realize that that is what it looks like when you say things like, “Well, it depends on what you tell them.” But ultimately, God dives to the core of this mess and the good is revealed, destroying the bad. If this is our house, it shall be and these people will likely take the credit but Mr. T. and I will know the truth and tell our children that as well.
One of the blessings in all this is that the whole thing has served to unite Mr. T and I more than ever. It made me feel good to hear him insisting that his mother look into some things so that we know we getting the best deal. He didn’t just accept her word for it. I was thrilled to see him giving her odd looks when something she was saying didn’t make sense and it wasn’t just me having to point it out to him. I’m happy he’s as annoyed with it all as I am and even though his mother was getting a headache from all his questions last Friday, my heart was doing a happy dance because I didn’t have to speak up first. I just wanted to hug him. Had to wait until later to do that.
If the house is mine, we shall all know before the end of the month. In the meanwhile, my little family still has its peace because we know what’s ours is ours and my marriage has grown a little more because Husband and I are fighting this fight together.
I suppose it’s just one of those things you grow to expect from this time of year – love, peace and harmony. So nice to know we have all that.
Friday, December 01, 2006
If it's December, it must be the fastest month in the year.
I love this month. The way it feels, the way the word looks, the potential of the new year. But forget the shortness of February, it's the month of December that flies by and this December is shaping up to be a blur. Normally December means:
Holiday parties - at his job and mine, business holiday events, etc.
Angel Tree - the Prison Ministry program at my church where we buy gifts for children whose parents are incarcerated
My birthday - the only time of year I buy myself something that costs three figures without considering what else I need to do.
Christmas (and all the shopping associated with it) - I have 2 children, you know what this means already.
Kwanzaa - while we don't celebrate earnestly, we do acknowledge it, maybe attend a celebration at church.
This year it also means maybe we'll buy a house. There is still no certainty as to whether it will go through. Not the loan, mind you. For once the financial aspect is not my concern. There are some other factors involved that I don't control, hurdles to clear. If that happens, then everyone - realtors, banker, seller - is trying to get this deal signed, sealed, delivered before the year ends. I'm just cautiously optimistic, unwilling to get too excited too soon. Mainly because I have to do way more babysitting of the "professionals" involved than I should need to do. I'm so busy going over their actions with a magnifying glass, that I can't enjoy the potential bigger picture - we may be able to clear out of here completely by spring.
The good timing of everything indirectly connected to this house buy makes me think, "maybe," but frankly, I'm really hoping it works out just to get all these people out of my life so I can have some quiet once again.
Well, tonight there is a holiday dinner to go to and a retirement party tomorrow night. Tomorrow afternoon the house is appraised. I'll keep you posted.