Unfortunately, we are no longer under contract for our first home. Many of you have guessed this in the comments section or on Twitter. While I am very sad to confirm that we lost the house, the entire process was eye-opening and educational, and I can’t regret all that we’ve learned. I have lots of advice for other first-time home buyers, as well as some strong recommendations for professionals in Charlotte.
The last month and a half has been a whirlwind of emotions. I felt excited, happy, mad, sad, depressed, anxious, apathetic, and downtrodden – many times in the same day. The Husband commented that the process felt like we had been dragged through the mud and then kicked in the face multiple times.
People told me in advance that home buying would be difficult, and there would be a lot of paperwork involved. I kind of didn’t believe it. But let me tell you, they were right! I would estimate that I put in at least 50 hours over the last month in a half trying to close this deal. So – my first piece of advice is to make sure it is a good time in your life to go through this process. Trying to get a mortgage while you’re writing a book under deadline, for example, is a really stupid idea and creates a lot of stress. We will time our next house hunt much more sensibly.
Ultimately, our deal fell apart because we couldn’t get financing. We were pre-qualified but apparently that doesn’t count for much. My second piece of advice is that if you’re planning to buy soon, make sure you (or your spouse) has been at your job for at least two years and your income has been stable over those two years. This is what ultimately killed our mortgage. The Husband was deemed too risky because his business is new (although profitable), and I think underwriters took one look at my “blogger/author/motivational speaker” job title and went, “No way!”
I think this (new?) rule makes it really difficult for self-employed people to get a job, which is a shame. I’ve been self-employed for more than two years, but my income has been so sporadic that no one thought I was a good investment – despite the fact that I have near-perfect credit, have never defaulted on a loan, and carry no significant debts (not even student loans). We went to four different banks before I could convince someone to actually look at my paperwork and pre-qualify me.
Eventually, we tried to put DadHTP as a co-signer on the mortgage, but then our package was rejected because he was off the minimum credit score by 6 points. SIX POINTS. I know there’s been a lot of problems caused by risky home loans, but banks will NOT bend rules right now, even when it’s a logical bend.
The other thing I learned about house hunting was that it’s very, very important to get several thorough inspections. Don’t trust one person’s word that everything is fine. Our first inspector didn’t catch anything major, but we decided to call in a specialist (Executive Restoration, who I HIGHLY recommend if you live in Charlotte) who did notice issues. You shouldn’t be afraid to spend upwards of $500 – $1,000 on inspections just to double and triple check everything. If you don’t have that much money to spend on inspections, personally, I don’t think you should be purchasing a house. Inspections are very, very important.
And lastly, I would say that it’s important to remember that buying a house (or losing the house) is not a life-or-death matter. I got so worked up about stuff at the beginning of the process, and then I realized that losing our mortgage and a small amount of money really isn’t that big of a deal. We have our health, our family, our love – losing a house is disappointing, yes, but it’s not the end of the world. I think it’s hard to detach yourself from the house buying process, but definitely try to. Deals fall apart. It happens!
If you’re in Charlotte, I highly recommend Scott Hartis from HM Properties as a realtor. He’s nice, intelligent, and kept us up to speed through texts and emails. I would also recommend Janet Gaglione at New Bridge Bank. Janet went above and beyond what other mortgage brokers would do and definitely cared about us as customers. We will definitely be working again with Scott and Janet in the future.
So – when will we house hunt again? Not only do we need to wait a bit longer so we can sort out financing issues, but I think we both need a break from the process. I feel burned out, so we’re going to wait until January 2012 to look again. Hopefully, another perfect home is out there, waiting for us!
And if not… well, renting isn’t so bad after all. No stress, no banks, and no repairs. <— Brightside.