If you missed part 1, you can find it here.
So where did I leave you? Oh, right. Scrambling to find a new house and trying to figure out what we’d do if our apartment complex needed us to move out.
House #3 was the dreamiest of them all. It was a short sale, but we decided to take a peek at it just in case (what can you expect – we were desperate at this point). It was way more house than we needed, but oh, the possibilities. Four giant bedrooms and the largest loft we’d ever seen (helloooo playroom), plus a full unfinished basement with built-in hookups for an additional bathroom. I could see our happy little family moving in and never leaving. Big enough for the half dozen kids I hope to have and, oh, did I mention the giant three-car garage? Our realtor warned us about what a short sale could mean for us, so we went in cautiously. And fell in love with the place. Our realtor discovered that there was only one lender involved with the short sale (best kind around) and we figured out how high our offer needed to be in order to get it considered by the bank. It took some time, but our offer was accepted and at last, we felt like we could breathe. When we showed up for the inspection, we found out that the owners, who were living elsewhere, had turned off the utilities and a recent rainfall had left a few inches of water in the basement. It was a good thing we showed up when we did, because we discovered it in time before any significant damage had been done. When the inspector came up the stairs to tell us, all I could do was laugh. Because at seven months pregnant, it was either that or burst into a pile of tears.
Phew, we felt like we dodged a bullet with that one. But then, our realtor called. Again. A lien had been found on the property from a third (a THIRD) title search. It hadn’t been missed by the previous searches – when things started moving on the sale, a nice little government agency put a lien on the property for an ex-spouse’s unpaid taxes, claiming that paperwork had been misfiled years ago when he was supposed to be removed from the mortgage. Turns out the paperwork was filed correctly and the lien was removed, but by then, our closing date had passed and we had already moved on to house #4.
I feel like I need to interject here before we move onto house #4. When J and I started looking for a house in April, we were the perfect example of responsible homebuyers – solid downpayment, the right mortgage payment to income ratio and perfect credit. We are big Dave Ramsey fans and have been debt-free, except for a mortgage, our entire marriage. We sold our Tennessee home nearly a year before this Ohio house search. Paying your mortgage on time on a previous home is great for your credit. Once you sell a home, it stops influencing your credit score because you’re no longer making mortgage payments. Make sense, right? What we didn’t know is that it will eventually come off your credit report completely (in our case, it was nine months, but sometimes it’s earlier or later). Meaning nonpayment history. As if you never owned a home in the first place. And apparently, in the state of Ohio, regular payments for anything…those don’t count towards your credit score. So things like paying your cellphone bill, gas and electricity, your rent payment – which is how we qualified for a mortgage in Tennessee – paying all of those things on time and responsibly don’t affect your credit score at all. Had we purchased house #1, or even #2, this wouldn’t have even been an issue.
When we sat down to do the paperwork for house #3, we discovered that not only had J’s credit score been affected, it went from somewhere in the 700s all the way down to zero. ZERO. There was no in-between. Mine had not changed at all since we decided I should get a credit card for my business, that I pay off every month, to rack up airline miles. But what about manual underwriting? Ah, yes. If you follow Dave Ramsey, then you know about manual underwriting. From our understanding of what we were told, manual underwriting in Ohio can only be done if you have some sort of credit score. So in this case, it would have been better for J to have had bad credit than to have no credit at all. I added J to my credit card account and J took out a school loan to pay for his next semester of college, both of which brought his score back up to where it had been previously, but goodness, did that give us a scare.
House #4. Oh, house #4, how we love you. By the time our search for house #4 had begun, we had already resigned ourselves to the possibility we’d be bringing a baby home to our apartment. Our not-so-large apartment packed floor to ceiling with everything from our Tennessee house and a sick little kitty who could no longer manage to use the litter box. Not exactly the most ideal place to bring a newborn home to.
When we first saw the listing for house #4, we read that a previous contract on the home had already fallen through due to lending issues and the owners were ready to sell the house as soon as they could. They had already closed on their new home and were facing two mortgage payments. When we took a look at the house, we literally couldn’t find a single thing wrong with it. A newly-painted fence with a play set they were leaving in the backyard, open kitchen, newer carpet and great light in the bedrooms. It was the smallest house of the four and nearly a thousand square feet less than house #3, but it needed no work (which is a wonderful thing when you have a baby). Three weeks later, exactly one month before our due date, we were meeting with the owners face-to-face and signing a stack of paperwork.
Since the moment we moved in, it’s felt like home. I didn’t think it was possible after falling in love with four different houses, but this one was clearly supposed to be ours. It seems a little silly to tell you that all four houses were actually in the same neighborhood. Maybe we’re nuts, but we just couldn’t stop thinking about what living in this neighborhood would be like for us, to be in a community with other young families and a walking trail. L and I have befriended other babies and their mommies in our neighborhood and we’re already making plans for playdates and trips to the park down the street. This most likely won’t be our “forever” home, since we hope to add more babies to our crew someday. But for now, it’s just what we need. Nothing more, nothing less. Just enough.
New house and new baby, October 2013. Photo by Amanda McKinley Photography