Saturday, November 28, 2009

Housing Headaches

I promised a home-pursuing update, and while we watch the game, I figure I can at least update ya'll and bring us into the present.

After we found out that we were out of the underwriting and audit phase, we thought we'd be in the clear, right? Man, we were super duper wrong. Turns out that because of new rules in place with CPS and IHDA, we *might* make too much money to get the grant. This = NOT AWESOME. I really just about lost my $&!# when I heard that.

A friend took me out to dinner that night because, in her words, "Angie needs a drink." And that I did. While I was stuck in rubberneck traffic on the way to her home, I decided to call our lending agent and give him a big ole chunk of my mind. I had to leave a voicemail (two, actually, and that news is nothing to anyone who knows me and knows my voicemail habits) but I got my point accross.

I started my conversation with the lender by wishing him a happy weekend, because there was no way in hell I was going to have one. I let him know I was furious with the knowledge that we might make too much money to get this grant, because that's the first question they asked us to get pre-approved. They knew our income. They had our bank statements and even a copy of my contract and papers from my boss to prove that I was employed where I said I was employed. How much more does one need?

Then I said that if we didn't close before November 30th (not gonna happen now, but I yelled enough to get my point across) that we'd lose the $8,000 tax credit and the $6,000 grant and that was $14,000 we had trusted in him enough to count on. "So G---, who is gonna give me $14,000? That's a lot of money to lose!" Then I added that we went ahead and paid our rent for December so it was really $14,800 that we were owed because he promised me we'd close by the end of November. He actually promised me on two separate occassions that we'd close by mid-November but that didn't happen.

I ended by saying that it was simple addition to figure out if we made enough money or not to qualify for the grant--all you have to do is add our salaries together. I mentioned that if I was that bad at my job, I'd have been fired, and that we'd take the weekend to think about our options and see if we didn't pull the plug on the whole deal because all the stress and headaches and not sleeping and foot dragging weren't worth it in the end.

On Saturday, I got a phone call from the lender. He apologized and said he'd get in touch with us first thing Monday morning. On Monday, we got a call from his processor, Lynn, who said that our file had been pushed to the front of the line for the first round of IHDA review (being a &!%*# and throwing a tantrum sometimes pays off, my friends!) and we were in the secondary review. She couldn't make promises--she told me that a few times--but it "looks promising". That was Monday night. Based on the conversation I had with her and the way she repeated phrases like, "I can't make any promises" and "It was a really nice thing of her to push your file to the front of the line like that," I'm thinking that she probably heard about my tantrum with the lender, and I'm okay with that.

Graham and I have gone back and forth with this: do we be nice and patient or do we get squeaky? Well, we were nice. We were more than nice. We bent over backwards to get them paperwork and forms and just about everything they asked for. We did our job, so where the hell are our keys, huh? Like Graham told Brian and Robyn this week, "They could have had Good Cop Angie, but they didn't play nice, and now they get to deal with Bad Cop Angie." True business. And Graham knows all too well that Bad Cop Angie will rain down hell if she doesn't get her way. (And he married me anyway! Willingly! Someone get that boy a CAT scan!)

So on Monday I'll call and see what's what. I also need to all our realtor and see what the hold up is for the seller. She needed to dig up some power of attorney form to prove that she can actually sell the place. If all else fails, I'm calling OUR attorney and asking him to put the squeeze on the realtor to get the closing done, and I won't fail to mention that he knows my uncle well. My dad's twin has worked at a title company for decades and the minute we told him our attorney's name he nodded and said he knew him well, and said that he was a good guy. I don't always like having to play the "family name" to get things done, but if I have to you damn well better believe I'm gonna do it! (Did you like how I said "family name", like we're the friggin' Windsors of Chicago?)

Well, that's where we are. It's *possible* that we'll close this week, but I'm really tired of hoping that it will happen. Everyone told me at first that "a week doesn't matter" in the grand scheme of things, but it's been two weeks already, and now we're looking at three. So what....will a month count? This has made it impossible for us to paint or renovate the living room until at least March, possibly summer. Moving in December was in the top ten list of Things I Don't Want To Do Before Christmas. It's killing Graham that we can't decorate yet. This whole process is making me crazy....literally.

On Monday I will call. On Tuesday, I will call. So on and so forth. We've started packing, and we have non-essentials stashed away. Our bikes and fall decorations and summer clothes are hidden at my in-laws' home. We've put away some books and some kitchen items (like that large salad bowl I know we won't use before the move) and all our knick-knacks (they're ALL put away! Praise the lord!). I'm making a mental list of things I want to get done ASAP when we finally get the change the locks, clean the bathroom, hug the front door...the usual.

That's what's new. It's entirely possible that we'll close this week...and it's entirely possible we'll close the first night of Hannukah. Either way, I want those keys, and the crazy white chick in me is prepared to do whatever is necessary to get them!

Let's go, Marist!

Graham's alma mater (high school) is competing tonight in the state championship (class 8A) against Maine South. Marist is 11-2 and Maine South is 13-0. The game is certain to be a good one, and it's a little exciting to see Marist on prime time television (UPN-Power 50, yo!) against a powerhouse school.

The last time Marist was in a state championship game was in 1986 where they lost to Buffalo Grove, and the last time Maine South went to a state championship game was....last year. Maine South hasn't lost a game since 2007. They've won 27 games in a row. Wow.

Marist took down Fremd high school in the previous game to clinch their trip downstate, and Fremd was undefeated as well, so that was really exciting. Graham and his dad went to one of their playoff games and had a great time, so Graham is really excited to see this game tonight.

While we're not joining the crowds at 115 Bourbon Street, we're enjoying the game while we pack and throw non-essentials into boxes. (We were actually able to empty out some of the kitchen today! Squee!) We'll pack here and there between halves and during commercials, so hopefully the last few boxes will be essentials like clothes and bathroom stuff. But for now, let's go Redhawks!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

The G's are sitting in the living room right now enjoying the National Dog Show on television. We watched the parade on TV like every year and I'm proud to say that I haven't missed a Macy's Thanksgiving parade in years. It's my favorite Thanksgiving tradition, just like mashed potatoes and Uncle Festus.

I'll be sure to post a house update later (it's a good story, I tell ya) but since today is our national day of giving thanks, it's only appropriate I make sure I show my appreciation and thanks for all the good, wonderful things in my life.

I'm thankful for my God, who reminds me everyday that even in my darkest hours, there's hope.

I'm thankful for my husband who has been so strong for me in the last few weeks. He's been strong for me when I couldn't be, and he's an incredible partner in crime and in life.

I'm thankful that we have a place to live today. No, it's not our house, but it's safe and warm and filled with love.

I'm thankful for my friends who will drop anything they're doing to listen to me whine and complain about the silliest, most minute of complaints and will--for whatever reason--still love me in the morning.

I'm thankful for my job. Both of us are blessed to be employed right now, especially when so many are struggling financially.

I'm thankful for my family. Even when I have nowhere to go and no one to turn to, I'll find support and strength with them.

I'm thankful for my in-laws, who have taken me in as one of their own and made me a part of the family.

I hope you stop and give your family members and loved ones a hug today! Give thanks for the greatness that you see in your life.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Just kidding..

Well, we're clear with FHA, so we can stop holding our breath there. They like everything they see, so realistically we'd be able to close, right? Wrong. Now IHDA wants more information. We need to give them our most recent paystubs AND a copy of my contract so I can prove how much I'm making this year. And the kicker is that we might make too much for them to approve it.

Figures. The reason we started working with IHDA is because they work closely with CPS teachers to help them own a home. What I want to know is how in the hell they can possibly think that 2 teachers in the city of Chicago make too MUCH for them to help out? Really? Never in my life have I looked at my pay stub and said, "Wow...I'm making far too much. Really, I'm overpaid."

Dang it. And I really thought that this might just be it. Naturally, we wouldn't be turned away for having bad credit or no credit at all, or because our debt to income ratio is too high. We won't be turned away because we have 4 cars and defaulted on our credit cards. No. There's a chance that we could be turned down for making too much money. Unfrigginbelievable.

Getting closer?

We got a call the other day that we are out of the underwriting/audit phase, so that's a big help to my frame of mind these days. We also got an email from our realtor asking if we were ready to close next week. I'm a little hopeful, but it's Friday and we've gotten word that there's ANOTHER form we have to sign and initial, blah blah blah. So we CAN potentially close sometime next week, but I'm so tired of hoping that we will and being told, "No, not yet." One of my favorite quotes in the entire world ends with the phrase, "Do flowers in spring say, 'Not yet'?" and that's exactly how I feel right now.

On the other hand, I'm feeling a lot better these days. The last few weeks have been rough, to say the least. I'm so grateful for the good friends in my life who have been more than understanding throughout all my crazy mood swings. Speaking of mood swings...Graham has been beyond patient with me throughout. I'm completely amazed by his patience and strength.

So that's where we are. Nothing completely new to report, but also nothing bad. But like I've been saying all along, there's no way I'll be resting or completely at ease until we're at the closing with those keys in my hand.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


I worked from home today, and I'm glad I did. I really needed the break from the office and everything there. I was productive here and made some necessary changes to one of our school websites (a scholarship site, of sorts) and caught up on some paperwork and got myself ready for conferences tomorrow (boo). I'm glad I was HERE, because if I was THERE I probably would have been sent home or committed. Perhaps both?

Shortly after noon I called our lending agent and after a brief altercation with a phone monkey at the bank, I finally got through to the agent. Apparently, part of the hold up is that we are being audited by the bank. One in file mortgage applications is being audited by the bank to be sure that the underwriters did their job right. It's completely random, and it's entirely possible we could have closed tomorrow or Monday if we were one folder above where we ended up on someone's desk. Everything is "great" according to the lending officer, but this audit "could take a few days" or "up to two weeks", or even more if someone really sucks at their job.

The lending agent said someone would call us by the end of the day Tuesday and let us know where we stand. We'll see if that actually happens, or if I have to start making calls around 4 p.m. on Tuesday. He promised me--PROMISED--that we'd be closed by the end of the month, and possibly by Thanksgiving, but "definitely by the end of the month." Oh great. I looked at the calendar. There are 10 days this month where we can close--9 if you don't count tomorrow. That's a really brief window of time.

I told the lending agent we had to be out of our apartment by November 30th. I asked who was going to pay our rent for the month of December because we won't be able to move in time for the closing and everything that comes after it. What the hell are they thinking? That we can close on the 30th and move that same day?

I'm really pissed off. I'm probably going to have to take a week off work to move, unpack, and paint, rip up carpet, and remove wood panels from the living room. Not that anyone doesn't like a week off work, but I'd much rather that week be spent in Cabo or Maui than scraping tar off plaster walls.

At least this was random and as cruel as random is, it's not that anyone made a mistake or dropped the ball. It's just really defeating to get so close and still have to wait. We're not buying a short sale. We're not trying to clean up our credit reports and hide bad credit scores. We didn't buy a car or a vacation home or do anything wrong, and we're still waiting. Still. Waiting.

Ugh. I so badly want this to be done with. I cannot wait until we have keys, and I'm really afraid that this auditor will step in and not like something and we'll have to start this process all over again. If I need to go to the doctor for the issues that are developing with me--physically and emotionally--I fully intend on billing the bank and sending them an invoice.

We most likely won't have anything new until next week, so if you're the praying sort, just keep our emotional well-being in your prayers more than anything else. We're really struggling with this, and any support we can get would mean more than keys or help painting.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

We are NOT closing tomorrow. Le sigh.

Well, that's basically all you need to know, but I've always been verbose and I've found that writing out what's going on keeps me from ripping out the reproductive organs of the next person who rubs me the wrong way. So luckily for get the full story!

Yesterday, the lending officer called Graham and said that the bank wanted their mortgage processing fee upfront, not wrapped into closing costs like we had planned, so "the sooner it gets to the processor, the better." He still sounded optimistic that we'd close this week, and said that everything was super duper, so we were still expecting to have our final walk-through this afternoon and close sometime Thursday. Awesome, right? Graham got the cashier's check from the bank on Tuesday afternoon and the banker said he'd pick it up sometime on Wednesday.

I made Graham promise me that he'd call or text or something and let me know what the banker said about closing. Well, he called, and what he had to say made me furious. Basically, it's like this: today is Veterans' Day, so the banks are all closed. The processor won't get the fee until tomorrow, and because the banks effed up so many applications over the last few years and just gave home loans to everyone, now they're trying to look like responsible adults in front of Congress. What it means for us is that they get to review all our paperwork AGAIN and give final approval over the underwriters and everyone else before we're clear to close.

I did not take this news well. Not at all. I started crying in my office and pulled myself together for a handful of minutes to take some photos of alums doing a lesson for the kids in our junior high, and then I decided to ask my boss if I could work at home tomorrow--I'd been trying to get to her all day, but her office door was closed and you can't just barge in when the door is shut. My original plan had been to work from home because it would have been easier for a closing date than trying to hustle home and fight traffic. After learning that we wouldn't be closing, I couldn't even accept the idea of trying to be at work tomorrow. I went into her office to let her know I'd be working at home and I had what can only be described as a minor mental breakdown. Hyperventilating, crying, and perhaps even a little cussing. She sent me home because I wasn't in any position to try and teach another class with just 15 minutes to calm myself down. Hell, she offered to drive me home because she was nervous I'd have a panic attack in the middle of traffic! So, I was home by 1:30 this afternoon because I was clearly not in any sort of stable emotional state to teach effectively.

I am so, so frustrated. We did everything right. We practically bent over backwards getting everyone the paperwork they needed. We attended friggin' homeownership counseling, for crying out loud! The bank had six weeks to get this crap together and the day before we're supposed to close we're told we can't because one more person wants to review our file "just in case." That's really the part that makes me nervous. It's gone smoothly so far and no one's found anything wrong with our paperwork--what if someone dislikes some blip on our paperwork, or they decide that the debt to income ratio isn't where they want it? What if they look at my student loans and decide that the $14,000+ I owe to Mohela for paying for my college degree is too much still? By the way, that is the most ironic part of all this crap--wasn't going to college supposed to help? Getting a friggin' degree was supposed to raise my income and help me become a homeowner. If they dislike my student loans or my oh-so-plentiful income, we're screwed.

UGH. It shouldn't be this hard. It shouldn't be this stressful. I haven't been sleeping through the night. Now we have just one week to pack and move out and at least paint the rooms so we're not tripping over furniture trying to paint. And there are wood panels glued to the walls in the living room, so we have to get those taken off and get the walls sanded down and painted before we can move in or we'll have dust and black tar gunk all over our furniture. GREAT.

Honestly, I don't consider myself a "violent" person (though my kid sister would disagree, and I've threatened to throatpunch and cut and slash some tires...that probably doesn't help my cause!) but had I been the one to take that news this afternoon, I can't say I wouldn't have lost my $#!% and read someone the riot act while beating them in the face with a wooden spoon. At the very least, I'd call The Bank and demand to speak with someone in charge and clearly state that their employees need a few lessons in customer service. What if we had been locked in a lease? Or worse, what if we were supposed to close at the end of the month and now we're out of our lease and stuck without a place to live? I'd totally bring my tent and sleeping bag to the bank's lobby and set up shop until they got their crap together. I'd probably be kicked out, but it'd be worth it. In my not-worth-anything-to-them opinion, it's just poor business practice. You can't call even a few days before and keep us posted? You can't make a final push for our benefit over The Bank? I can say right now that I'll never ever bank with them. Sure, I owe them my soul for the next 30 years, but they won't be getting anymore of my money or my business. I'd rather walk a little further than deal with them and their crap.

Welp, one more week of sleeplessness, I suppose. One more week of pounding down another beer in the evening and being stressed out. Oh goody.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Maybe maybe?

Our "target close date" is Thursday. We have been incredibly compliant throughout this process (if you ask me) and really, aside from the counseling session we didn't know about, it's been a really smooth ride. The most frustrating part is how long it's taken us. Six weeks seemed like a long time to wait when we signed the contract, but with so many first-time homebuyers rushing to get in under the deadline--which hadn't been extended yet--our real estate agent and lending agent said that the process would take time. Seems the market was flooded with first-time applicants thanks to that $8k.

We went into underwriting on Wednesday last week. I kept checking my email every hour on the hour on Thursday and Friday, hoping that maybe we'd get lucky and we'd get a clear to close from the underwriter. Even on Monday I tried to be a little less crazy and remind myself that there were two whole days between Monday and Thursday, so with a little luck, we'd be okay by Thursday and ready to sign our names a billion times at the closing.

Today we heard from the lending agent and all he said was that we needed to get a money order for some funds he initially wrapped up into the closing costs, but it seems that the bank wants some of their money up front (they're so nice), but we'll get some of it back at the closing or shortly afterwards. He's coming by tomorrow to pick up the money order, and while I didn't speak to him on the phone (my pesky job gets in the way of me being home all day), Graham said he sounded optimistic and that it's "looking good" that we'll still close on Thursday.

I really can't wait to close. I'm more anxious now than I was at the start of this process--to get so close and have something go wrong now would really be defeating. I'm trying to stay positive, but it's been a rough few weeks at work so the nerves and lack of sleep are really getting me down.

So, by the weekend, we'll either be first-time homeowners (mortgage payers, really), or we'll still be waiting to close. Either way there will be some pretty crazy emotions 'round these parts.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Columbus Day Camping Trip a.k.a. G Family Palooza!

Over the Columbus Day weekend we went camping with Graham's parents and siblings and sibling-in-law. It was the first time the family had been on a vacation since before Graham went to college...8 years ago. And, it was the first time that Robyn or I had been invited along on a family trip/vacation (again, because 8 years ago Robyn wasn't part of the equation, and I was still Graham's high school girlfriend).

The "seed had been planted" months ago. Mary realized that her birthday would fall over the weekend and it was her first available birthday weekend since she entered college, so she was really hoping that the whole family would be able to go camping to celebrate, especially since she's graduating from college this year and who knows where she'll be next year? At the end of the summer, Clinton Lake was the chosen campground since it was between Mary, Brian, and Robyn in Jacksonville, and Graham, me, and parents-in-law in Chicago. We all made the effort to be there, and I'm so glad we went. It was a fun weekend, and I really hope that we can all do it again sometime. Since there are so many photos, I'll try and let them do the talking and interject as little as possible.

Obligatory photo of Graham driving.

Awesome sunset as we were leaving.

We finally arrived...

Nike is cold and confused.

"Yo Mary, this CD is good and I'm gonna let you enjoy it, but Beyonce had one of the best CDs of all time."

Graham likes to wake up early and take pictures of nature.

There were deer all over the campground that weekend.

All the spaces in our camping area were reserved, but we were the only ones brave enough to actually show up.

This is my preferred method of fishing.

The honeymoon suite.

Nike gave up on walking, so Graham carried her.