Ding Dong, The Deal is Dead

in House

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.

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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.



  • Vikki July 9, 2011, 2:37 pm

    I’ve owned a house since 2006. I bought right before the bust. Sometimes, I wish I still rented. Being solely responsible for upkeep sucks. Last summer, I spent $1000 dollars on air conditioning repair. The only reason that it was that cheap was that the part was still under warrantee when it failed. I also hate the yard work and the HOA costs. I swear that I’m paying for them to send me letters scolding me for not cutting my grass or putting away my trash can.

    I wish I still rented an apartment.

  • Miranda July 9, 2011, 2:40 pm

    Great post! Thanks for the tips!

  • monicanelsonfitness July 9, 2011, 2:43 pm

    Well layed out here. I own a house in another state and in LA, I rent a house. There is nothing wrong with renting a fantastic place, no headaches! But LA is so overpriced anyways, that could have a lot to do with why I have no desire to buy anything out here.
    I think you are so right though, it is not an EASY process, it is WORK and it is a lot of keep up too. :)It never fully ends.

  • Gina @ running to the kitchen July 9, 2011, 2:44 pm

    Bank stipulations are ridiculous these days but when i think back to how lenient they were before (I was approved and bought a $350k house on a salary less than $40k in 2005. Subprime what!?) part of me is ok with the new rules although I understand how it’s unfair to someone in your situation. I was not one of the people that defaulted on my loan but sooo many people did and that led toy the housing crisis we’re now in where as a homeowner it totally sucks to see your house depreciate ao much!

  • Molly @ RDexposed July 9, 2011, 2:49 pm

    And yet they make it look so easy on TV. Thanks for putting this out there!

  • Annika July 9, 2011, 2:49 pm

    Ah, so sorry to hear that the deal fell through. But like your attitude towards it!

  • Cassie @ Back to Her Roots July 9, 2011, 2:52 pm

    So sorry it all fell through. 🙁

    We did the house hunting thing a few years ago (right in the worst part of the real estate bust) and we couldn’t get anyone to pre-qualify us either! And we both had very, very steady jobs for the past 4 years. It’s a whole new world out there.

    Renting has it’s upsides. Like going to work and coming home and the grass is magically mowed! 😀

    • CaitlinHTP July 9, 2011, 2:54 pm

      That is pretty sweet.

  • Freya July 9, 2011, 2:54 pm

    Oh I’m so sorry you lost it 🙁 BUT it sounds like it’s been an immense learning curve. You got some awesome tips out of it!

  • Hillary July 9, 2011, 2:55 pm

    You just confirmed all the reasons I’m not ready to buy a home yet. Right now, renting is perfect for me. Eventually I want a home that I own, but I just don’t have the time/patience to put into it. You guys will find something!

  • Cristy July 9, 2011, 2:59 pm


    Before I bought my house, everyone was telling me to do it since it was “so much better than renting”. Although it has its upside (no landlord, I can change the house however I want), there’s also all that responsibility. So basically it’s just different, a different set of responsibilities and expectations. It’s not better or worse, just different. And I have to agree that it’s a HUGE PAIN IN THE A** with the whole purchasing process. Like you said, a HUGE learning process.

    The way I see it, that house wasn’t the best for you guys. The one you end up will be. Listen to your gut. 🙂

  • Karin July 9, 2011, 3:02 pm

    The perfect home is waiting … Way to rock the good attitude

  • Sue @ Sue In Training July 9, 2011, 3:04 pm

    “Renting isn’t so bad after all. No stress, no banks, and no repairs.” – Exactly! That’s why I’ll probably never buy a house. Now that I’ve finally paid off my car and student loans, I just don’t want to put another huge dept (read: a six-figure sum) on my shoulders.
    I hope you’ll have better luck next time!

  • Kate (What Kate is Cooking) July 9, 2011, 3:06 pm

    Sorry to hear 🙁 Hopefully it wont be as stressful next time!

  • chelsey @ clean eating chelsey July 9, 2011, 3:13 pm

    So sorry everything fell through for you. I agree that it’s hard for small business owners to get a mortgage which is why our home is financed soley in my name. They took one look at my husband and got scared (not because he’s scary looking… he’s cute). I would have to say though that I’m happy we bought our home as young as we did. My mom is a realtor and while renting is right for some people, I will never be a renter!

  • Yolie @ Practising Wellness July 9, 2011, 3:15 pm

    Caitlin, I am so sorry that you and the Husband missed out this time round, but I think it’s amazing that you learned so much from the process, and I admire your positivity and fantastic attitude. That sucks how hard they make it for self-employed people to purchase a house – very very lame and unfair, indeed.
    Just generally speaking, I love how you are honestly and openly human – you admit to feeling stressed and down etc, but also describe ways you turned that around or changed your perspective…that is awesomesauce 🙂
    Thank you for sharing such insight and a wealth of information in this post! xyx

  • Corrie Anne July 9, 2011, 3:18 pm

    Sorry! Thanks for the tips though. Very wise. It’s good that you can still learn something through the process. That shows a lot about you as a person. 🙂 I hope you get to relax a little for a bit, and then the perfect house falls in your lap! xoxooxoxo

  • Corrie Anne July 9, 2011, 3:19 pm

    P.S. I feel like your blog is famous enough that bankers should know who you are… lol. Maybe that’s just us healthy living girls. 🙂

    • CaitlinHTP July 9, 2011, 3:22 pm

      Hehe thanks, Corrie Anne. Whenever I tell non-bloggers/readers that I write a blog, they kind of stare at me with a confused expression and say, “But my 12 year old has a blog.” Trust me. It’s not a good thing. LOL!

  • Sarah July 9, 2011, 3:21 pm

    I think owning a house is a lot like having kids. If you’re not prepared with the time, money and energy to handle the additional workload, it can be a big burden in your life and really cramp your lifestyle. I am in the process of moving in with my SO (he owns the home) and the last few weeks have been consumed with painting, repairs, and I just spent an hour vacuuming out the creepy basement so I can store some stuff down there. Part of me really loves the process, like it is something I have been looking forward to for a really long time as a renter who didn’t have the opportunity to flex her DIY gene for the last 10 years. However, part of me longs for apartment living where I didn’t have to deal with anything major or care about the status of my foundation. Just like when you have kids it’s like “kids are great, but man I wish I could just go for a beer without finding a babysitter.”

    Hang in there! It will be so much sweeter when you finally buy and you have the time to tackle some fun projects (and mow the lawn) 🙂

    • CaitlinHTP July 9, 2011, 3:23 pm

      Very wise advice, Sarah!

      • Sarah July 9, 2011, 3:26 pm

        If I had been living this lifestyle a year or two ago when I was still in the throes of grad school, I would literally be going insane. It’s much more fun now that I have the time. Still stressful, but so much less than it would have been!

  • Christine @ BookishlyB July 9, 2011, 3:25 pm

    I’m sorry, but you are right- there are upsides to renting. Real estate is frustrating- we have been waiting for a bank to come back on a short sale that we are in love with (another mistake… emotions and this industry don’t mix). I guess it’s all about patience and paperwork.

  • Baking 'n' Books July 9, 2011, 3:25 pm

    LOVE love love this post. Why? Not because of the house-specific tips per se – I am not buying anytime soon and am not sure how I feel about housing and expenses. Personally, in working in health care and how many “older-younger” people go into retirement and sell their houses for condos or something smaller – I just wonder if all the expenses and upkeep is worth it…I say get a condo and be done with it! 🙂

    BUT – my point – is that you could have EASILY vented about the hours lost, time for writing, training, doing fun things, etc. in life. “I should have, could have, would have”‘ – which is exactly what I am guilty of and would be BEATING myself up with over and over…

    But NO – you took it and looked at the experience for what it was and what you did get out of it! So much. And even in situations when the good is hard to find – there is always something to be learned…at least I hope so.

  • Mary @ Bites and Bliss July 9, 2011, 3:26 pm

    Sorry to hear about the house news, Caitlin. I can imagine how frustrating it could be! Although it’d be very exciting to eventually move out of a condo and into a real house, I’m definitely not looking forward to going through the process of finding and buying a house.

  • Amy* July 9, 2011, 3:34 pm

    I know it sounds silly, but the hard part about waiting to get a house (for me) is that it seems like everyone else is getting one! (I told you it was silly.) But just like when it feels that “everyone” is getting married or having babies, I somehow feel like I’m behind. Since my husband recently joined the Army, we won’t be buying a house any time soon. Timing is everything! For now I’m happy to wait. I know you’ll have your house when the time is right. Until then, enjoy all the free time you’ll have now to focus on the things you love.*

    • CaitlinHTP July 9, 2011, 3:35 pm

      Honestly I don’t think it’s silly to feel that way. I think it’s normal. I know part of wanting a house and kids is that others are doing it 🙂 But the other part is that I really do want those things.

  • Amber from Girl with the Red Hair July 9, 2011, 3:36 pm

    I’m so sorry your deal fell through Caitlin 🙁 I was devastated when our first deal fell through back in December (even though it was for good reason – the house had MAJOR electrical problems) but we ended up finding something much much better and now I’m actually thankful that deal fell through!

    You are so right. House hunting is A LOT of work. And SO STRESSFUL. I recently took on a new project at work that has kept me insanely busy and I never could have balanced house hunting with this new project back in January/February. I spent A LOT of work hours doing house stuff and I was lucky to have a flexible job that would let me come in late or escape in the middle of the day for house appointments.

    We also had to get my mom to co-sign for us. So technically she owns 1% of our house right now 😉 We can take her off in a few years but it will cost a bunch of money to do so so I’m not even sure we will ever do that.

    Here is a post I wrote about the whole process after it was said and done! Definitely was a crazy time!! http://girlwiththeredhair.com/2011/02/buying-our-townhouse/

    I promise the right house will come along for you guys!!!

    PS: I know I’ve been linking to a lot of my own posts in your comments section lately but I’m not trying to spam you, I swear. Just a lot of your posts lately are relevant to ones I’ve wrote in the past 🙂 Haha.

    • CaitlinHTP July 9, 2011, 3:37 pm

      Thanks Amber 🙂 I don’t mind linkage in the comments section – its how we create a community and share ideas!

  • Kelly July 9, 2011, 3:48 pm

    Ah, I am so sorry to hear the buying process didn’t pan out for you guys. I was so excited for HTPDIY. I also think you gave sound advise for those of us who have never gone through the process. I am 32 and have never owned my own home. I have traveled a lot and look at it as a bonus. With all the “cheaper” homes on the market now, I have been thinking of buying, too. However, I am single AND self-employed, so I feel sort of tied to rent. I just want my own house, though. A place in the crazy world to call home. I think it’s only natural. I hope you guys find something next year and that the “rules” have lightened up a bit by then. Big hugs!

    • CaitlinHTP July 9, 2011, 3:50 pm

      Thanks, Kelly. You are so sweet.

  • Alayna @ Thyme Bombe July 9, 2011, 3:52 pm

    My husband and I really want a house but we’ve looked into the costs and it seems that we would have to stay put for at least 10 years for it to be more cost effective than renting. We’re not sure if we wanna live here for that long, so if we bought a house right now it would end up costing us money at resale time. We’ll probably rent a single-family home next and plan to stay there until we’re sure where we want to be.

  • Kelly July 9, 2011, 3:53 pm

    No worries! I also meant to ask if the swearing ban was broken over this process because if it wasn’t, you are a better woman than me! 🙂

    • CaitlinHTP July 9, 2011, 3:54 pm

      haha I have really managed to reduce my swearing but I definitely dropped a few f-bombs now and then.

  • Jen July 9, 2011, 4:05 pm

    Aw, sorry to hear this Caitlin! Have faith, when it’s the right time, you guys will find the right house and I have no doubt the whole process will go smoothly! In the meantime, enjoy the freedom of renting! You’ve got to pay for a place to live whether you rent or own…at least as a renter you have a whole lot less on your plate! (coming from a fellow renter, lol…we have a blown socket in our kitchen and I’m looking forward to our super having to fix it – no electrician’s bill for us!)

  • Ashley @ Thefitacademic July 9, 2011, 4:09 pm

    Ugh – so sorry to hear about this! My hubbs and I are in a very similar position! He just started a new business in January and although I’ve had steady employment as a research associate for years, the pay is measley and I have to supplement with teaching college classes…which has NOT been steady (its hit or miss semester-to-semester). I totally understand the need for banks to be careful about dishing out home loans, but it can be frustrating as consumers. We’re responsible, we pay our bills, etc. Plus I just feel like I NEEEEED a home! Renting is fine, but I want to put down some roots for good! Something to call our own. I’m also really bad about comparing myself to others. Seems like all my old friends from HS have homes (and babies!) by now! I want to be doing that too!

  • Amanda P July 9, 2011, 4:11 pm

    I had no idea how stressful buying a home is! I have been wondering if my fiance and I should start thinking about buying a home (because like a few people mentioned already it seems like everyone else is at a certain point) but this reaffirms that we are not ready and there is nothing wrong with renting, contrary to what some people try to tell me. Good luck in the future!

    • Meagan July 10, 2011, 12:01 am

      I agree that there’s nothing wrong with renting – my husband, however, thought differently the first time. He was against “throwing money away on something we would never own”. It’s turned out to be a great experience for us as we wait to (once again) try and buy a new home. We have fantastic neighbors and live in a safe, secure neighborhood.

      • Amanda P July 10, 2011, 12:44 am

        Good luck! I hope it all works out this time.

        • Meagan July 11, 2011, 6:30 am

          Thank you! I hope it works out for you, too, when you decide to go forth. The right time will hit you soon enough. 🙂

  • Carey @ Positively Blonde July 9, 2011, 4:12 pm

    Oh no, I’m osrry to see that this happened! But I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and your perfect house is still out there waiting for you to find it!!!

  • Amber, Blonde and Balanced July 9, 2011, 4:22 pm

    What did they say about your down payment? My husband are just starting the home buying process and we will have 20%+ saved by the time we are ready to buy. I wonder if this helps (or maybe you had that much or more…I don’t know). I am a bit nervous now becuase I am seriously job-searching and I hope getting a new job doesn’t hurt our chances of getting a good mortgage.

    • Caitlin July 10, 2011, 9:06 am

      20% will definitely help you!

  • Sarah @ The Strength of Faith July 9, 2011, 4:23 pm

    Blech! I’m sorry Caitlin. We’re really lucky because we’re living in the church parsonage right now. Our goal while we’re here is to just put money away so that when it’s time for me to leave this particular call we’ll have the money to either buy a house wherever we end up – or in the meantime get a beach house. But in the meantime we don’t need to rush the house buying.

  • Mia July 9, 2011, 4:40 pm

    I am sorry you and your husband had such an unfortunate experience, but I think it’s important to remember this isn’t the case for everyone. My husband and I bought our first home 2 years ago and the process was completely smooth sailing for us. Neither one of us experienced the stress and anxiety you guys did, and we bought right when banks were denying everyone left and right. It sounds like it wasn’t the right time financially for you guys, but this is exactly what the housing bust taught us…buying a home should be reserved for those who are truly ready for the financial burden. As for bending the rules here and there, that is exactly how the subprime lending business started…

    I don’t want to take away from the stress you endured, the only reason I’m making this comment is because you seem to have a great deal of influence on your readers, and I don’t want others to be scared of this process, because it doesn’t have to be scary or stressful.

  • Carol July 9, 2011, 4:52 pm

    Everything happens for a reason:)

    One of the people I work with probably should have not been approved for a mortgage. She is working full time (teaching) and her hubby is not. They struggle monthly to make their payment, and I know at times they have missed their payment.

    Your patience will be rewarded:) The perfect house is waiting for you both!

  • Holly @ The Runny Egg July 9, 2011, 4:59 pm

    Sorry to hear about the house — I’ve never gone through the process myself but it seems extremely time consuming.

  • Sarah for Real July 9, 2011, 5:10 pm

    So sorry your deal fell through!

    We bought our home about 4 years ago with my husband being self employed. The 2 year job history rule was in place back then too. On top of that we were only 22! It was rough having to keep our mouths shut everytime someone was rude because of our age. We followed all the guidelines though and securing a solid mortgage was relatively smooth. You don’t have to wait too long until your 2 year history is fulfilled right?

    Also, I think there is a difference between being pre-qualified and pre-approved? Maybe someone can correct me if I’m wrong but pre-approved actually means you will get the money, where pre-qualified means they just gathered some basic information but haven’t done anything official?

    • Susan July 9, 2011, 10:18 pm

      From what I understand, pre-qualification just tells you how much house you can afford. Pre-approval means there’s a lender willing to give you that money if the appraisal and inspections go through. We were pre-approved before we started looking and our credit union told us that if we found a place we liked, they would send over a letter of commitment to the seller letting them know we had approved funding.

    • CaitlinHTP July 10, 2011, 8:37 am

      Yea, pre qual basically means nothing while pre approval is firmer. Fail!

  • kalli@fitandfortysomething July 9, 2011, 5:13 pm

    so sorry but i do believe you went through this to learn from it. my husband and i are both 41 and make well over a hundred grad a year and have credit scores above 800 and we were still dragged through the mud. it was insane. we did get the house but not until we had a major rectal exam with all the crap they put us through. i feel for you but yes renting has it’s perks for sure. enjoy the non responsibility of it all. both of you are young and have plenty of time to commit to a mortgage. it will all be worth it too 🙂

  • Annette @ EnjoyYourHealthyLife July 9, 2011, 5:31 pm

    Yikes! I am so sorry it fell through, but you wrote a very very helpful post! It is hard when we want something NOW, and that something doesn’t happen for awhile, but you learned tons and it will all turn out great when it is time (I tell this to myself ALL. the. time. heh). Best of luck!

  • Savannah(Sweet and Savvy) July 9, 2011, 5:36 pm

    Sooo sorry the deal fell through!:( Although I’m sure that you’ll find something Even Better soon enough! Good luck in your future house hunting.

  • Wendy July 9, 2011, 5:44 pm

    So sorry your house fell through, but I’m sure the right house is still out there! When you are ready for it, it will be there. 🙂

    As a new homeowner who went through PLENTY of ups and downs, I can say agree with everything you said here! Good luck on the next round of house hunting!

  • Kim July 9, 2011, 5:48 pm

    I work in the rental/real estate business. Definitely a tough time to be buying. Just because it didn’t work out this time means that there is a better house out there for you!

  • Rachel W July 9, 2011, 5:54 pm

    While I’m sure this is a definite let down, it sounds like lessons were learned and you seem to be positive. We’re renting now, and as ready as we are to own a home, there really are a lot of positives for renting. I love that we don’t have to take care of problems on our own! Better luck in January and stay optimistic!

  • Halley (Blunder Construction) July 9, 2011, 5:58 pm

    As far as I’m concerned, I may rent for the rest of my life. I just don’t know if our generation is suited for home-buying as much as previous (although, that hasn’t worked out so well for them, has it?) We are more mobile, transient, and we will change jobs 10x more than anyone before us.

  • Maryea {Happy Healthy Mama} July 9, 2011, 6:01 pm

    I’m so sorry this happened! We’ve had similar frustrations due to the banking industry’s new, tighter standards. I understand why they have to be careful who they lend to, but at the same time well-qualified individuals are getting turned away. 🙁

  • maria @ Chasing the Now July 9, 2011, 7:09 pm

    Sorry to hear you lost the deal. I know you were super excited about the home you had found. Even though you hate the phrase “everything happens for a reason” I truly believe it–the home you find in the future will be even more suited for your family!

  • Nicole (Earth Based Beauty) July 9, 2011, 7:14 pm

    I’m guessing this is a bad time to say “What will be, will be.” ? Hee hee. Really though, you know this. You fell for the house but with the second inspection, it wasn’t a good sign. I’m certain you guys will have a happy ending! 🙂

  • Jasmine @ Eat Move Write July 9, 2011, 7:36 pm

    Ah Caitlin, I’m so sorry! I’ve heard that buying a house is a whole new experience now since the economy tanked. I bought one at 20 years old (bequeathed to my exhub, however) and I realize that buying a house will never be that easy again. Good news? We’re still young. We’ve got time, girly! 🙂

  • Laura @ Cookies vs. Carrots July 9, 2011, 7:57 pm

    Awww, I’m so sorry. The only thing I can say is that it was probably meant to be. A year from now you and your hubby will be living in a new house that you love thinking about the fact that it was a blessing the first house fell through. It reminds me of the post you recently did about the little things that happen in life that lead you to the path you should be on! Don’t let it get you down!

  • Jenny @ Fitness Health and Food July 9, 2011, 8:01 pm

    I am SO very sorry to hear that things didn’t work out for you two in purchasing your first home. How frustrating considering you’re both working so hard and doing well financially to be told you’re too “unstable”. I guess the banks have to be super careful on their ends these days because of the whole mortgage lending crisis.

    I am sure that you will find a wonderful house when you next look again and all will work out for the best! 🙂

  • Cara July 9, 2011, 8:45 pm

    So sorry it fell through, but glad you could learn through the process! That is what life is about, isn’t it!? I also appreciate the tips as someone who will be entering the ‘real world’ come Dec!

  • Keri July 9, 2011, 8:47 pm

    Sorry for all of your frustrations in this process of house hunting. If it helps–you’re not alone. I own a townhome, but I recently moved to follow my fiance’s promotion. Now my townhome is sitting empty–we can’t find renters, even though we lowered the rent price $400 less than what we pay on the mortgage every month! Not sure how long we can make both payments like this either–we can, but it means living very thin!

    It’s tough out there right now–but maybe if we all keep our chins up, we can ride out the storm, and hope for brighter days ahead 🙂

  • Delia July 9, 2011, 9:02 pm

    Oh no :(! I’ll bet next year when you’re officially approvable, you’ll find the perfect house, and it will be less of a hassle. My parents said buying their first house was fraught with problems, but the second time around it went really smooth. Savor the rental life where you don’t have to do repairs!

  • Delia July 9, 2011, 9:26 pm

    Did my previous comment on this post go through? Sorry about the whole housebuying process :(. I’ll bet next year it’ll be way easier, and you’ll find the perfect house. Enjoy your rental and not having to do repairs and such!

    • CaitlinHTP July 10, 2011, 8:33 am

      Yup! I see your other comment 🙂

    • CaitlinHTP July 10, 2011, 8:33 am

      Yup! I see your other comment 🙂

  • Kat July 9, 2011, 9:29 pm

    Thanks so much for posting this! I commented a couple times in the past month about our house buying process. We were under contract for over a month and then cancelled the contract because the seller wouldn’t fix things she wasn’t honest about to begin with. We then found our “dream” house and went under contract on that two weeks ago. Yesterday afternoon we found out our financing fell through as well. I haven’t been at my job long enough (my husband has been at his 6+ years but that wasn’t enough for them). It’s brutal out there right now. Rules are constantly changing and it’s harder than ever before to get approved. It’s nice to know we’re not alone! I told my husband today that it isn’t a life or death situation…the world isn’t over because we can’t buy right now. Everything happens for a reason 🙂

    • CaitlinHTP July 10, 2011, 8:35 am

      Aw kat, I am so sorry for you. Sounds like we went through the exact same experience at the exact same time. If you ever want to vent about HGTV, please email me 🙂 heheh. I am never watching that channel again.

  • samantha July 9, 2011, 9:41 pm

    It’s good that you are trying not to take it too hard. I remember the first time we didn’t get a house we wanted. I was disappointed, but told myself something better would come along. It did and we didn’t get that one either. Guess what? The current on is even better, roomier, and less expensive. Keeping my fingers crosses that you will find the perfect place at the perfect price at the perfect time.

  • Susan July 9, 2011, 10:24 pm

    Sorry about the house! I was so excited for you. Hopefully things go smoother the next time around. The upside is you’ll be able to save more and have money for DIY projects or increase the amount you can spend.

  • SarahC July 9, 2011, 10:53 pm

    So sorry the deal fell through, but I love your attitude – positive but real! Thanks for sharing about the whole process. I’m farther away than I’d like to be from even beginning the home buying process, but it’s nice to get a more realistic perspective than the whole look-at-only-three-houses, oh-my-gosh-drama-no-never-mind-everything-is-fine House Hunters version. 😉

    I also think it’s totally ridiculous the banks are being so stingy about your job. You are obviously in high demand with three books and regularly flying across country to give talks! Geez!

    Good luck to you guys (when you’re ready to start again)!

    • CaitlinHTP July 10, 2011, 8:36 am

      HOUSE HUNTERS is lies! All lies 🙂

  • Julie July 9, 2011, 11:00 pm

    Hang in there! House hunting can exciting and emotional. My boyfriend and I have been searching for our perfect house since December. After six months and five contracts later, we are finally moving into our dream house at the end of the month! It was so frustrating and overwhelming every time a deal fell through. Good luck to you!

  • Reenie July 9, 2011, 11:30 pm

    Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be…..you’ll have your dream home soon xo

  • Meagan July 9, 2011, 11:55 pm

    I know exactly what you’re going through! It is such a rollercoaster of emotions. My husband and I lived in a rental from December until March, when one day, the landlord called us up and told us that he’d decided to give the house away to a preservation committee so they would restore it. The house was well over 100 years old, and needed lots of repairs (we lived in the top part that had been converted to an apartment). We had THREE WEEKS to find a new place to live, or move home with Mom and Dad. We were fortunate enough to find a small house, and start the buying process. Ended up moving in with Mom for a while so we wouldn’t be out on the streets, and we were so excited to own our first home. Guess what? Our deal died, too. 🙁 We couldn’t get financing either, because I work from home and own my own business. Now we rent an apartment. Perfectly content with it until we’re ready to buy again.

    • CaitlinHTP July 10, 2011, 8:38 am

      We sound like we’re in the same boat 🙁 One day!

  • Mary July 10, 2011, 12:35 am

    I’m sorry your deal fell apart and that you’re so stressed. My husband and I bought our first house 3 years ago and I remember just how stressful it was. Hang in there…when it’s meant to happen, it will.

  • Kerry July 10, 2011, 4:53 am

    Sad to hear things didn’t work out but I LOVE your sense of perspective my dear! You’re ultimately happy and healthy and this isn’t the end of the world!

    Can’t believe you watch Graham norton! You should try watching some Stewart Lee too, he’s hilarious x

  • David July 10, 2011, 6:45 am

    ” 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.”

    It’s not a logical bend. I’m an economist, and in no way is your situation “logical” for lending a couple hundred thousand dollars, especially given recent history and the number of people who were living beyond their means and who got caught.

    You’re young and emerging and BOTH in volatile income areas (his less so, and not really at all if he’s not a part owner of his clinic), which means you need to prove yourselves before you can get all the things that are out there. How do you do that? Start significantly saving to put a big down payment down on your house. Why? For starters, it saves you a ton of money down the road, but especially with smaller lenders, they’re a lot more attracted to riskier cases if they come with $30,000 saved, which shows they’re responsible about money.

    Either that or wait until you can satisfy the requirements for longevity at a job. Apply for houses you can afford on your hubby’s earnings, because unless you’ve got a big book deal into the future, your income cannot be trusted at all. It will be nice, because then you can use that income to upgrade your home, save for repairs, etc., but it’s going to require you to essentially know you’re making some money but be okay that the bank doesn’t think you do.

    • CaitlinHTP July 10, 2011, 8:40 am

      That was in reference to them not approving my and my father’s joint co-signed package because his middle credit score was off my 6 points, not because of any income issues on either of our behalves.

      • David July 10, 2011, 8:55 am

        There’s a point to that though; there’s a calculated risk based on the credit score, at which point going below that is, on average, a loss-bearing loan. It seems like 6 points, but if you consider their bottom score to be a break-even point, it’s probably 20 points below where they’re super comfortable giving the loan out.

        It’s like making a minimum payment on a credit card; it seems silly not to accept half that payment if it makes them more interest in the end, but people who are at the bottom (or below) the payment generally are the ones defaulting on the loans.

        • Caitlin July 10, 2011, 9:00 am

          Yea, I understand that, but here’s where I’m saying it’s not a logical bend – the bank knew my dad would not be paying the mortgage, he’s just co-signing. So the person with the lower credit is not the REAL person they are lending to. Also, the bank knows that there is something else living in the house earning money (my husband, a doctor). That’s how I mean they were being illogical. It’s following the ‘rules’ but its not a very logical follow, in my opinion!

        • Caitlin July 10, 2011, 9:08 am

          But yes, I know what you’re saying and it makes sense. Rulez are rulez!

    • Kelly July 10, 2011, 8:42 am

      I think these are all good points, David. I will add that we had to do it the exact way you are talking about. My husband was self employed (and newly so…about 4 years) so when we went searching for homes even though he had a salary we went in getting qualified under me. It was a lot easier to find financing for just because I had a steady coporate job. It was HARD for the husband to have to (on paper) say he wasn’t making enough money even though WE knew he was. It just made the process easier. Then after a few years we refinanced (the husband had then be successfully self employeed for almost 7 years) and we were able to show his tax returns and my steady income to qualify for a much lower rate and get my husband’s name on the loan (which in-turn only helps his credit) It all worked out but it was a little stressful there in the beginning. But hey..gotta do what you gotta do.

      • Caitlin July 10, 2011, 9:01 am

        I know what you mean, Kelly – I think my Husband feels the same way about not being allowed to apply for the mortgage 🙁 Blow to the ego.

        • Kelly July 10, 2011, 9:20 am

          Exacly! But it shouldn’t be because we really I was just so proud of my husband for being able to do what he loves successfully. But the bank viewed him as high risk. But like I told him a thousand times, I would rather some stupid banker think he is high risk than he be stuck in a job that made him unhappy everyday. Not worth it.

        • Heather July 13, 2011, 1:33 pm

          We did something similar to what David suggested. Because I have not been at the same steady job for 2 years I did not even try to apply for the mortgage. We let Mark use his job and credit to get the mortgage approval, and then I “gifted” Mark money so we could put 20% down and avoid paying additional insurance. I didn’t mind because I knew it made the process easier and I know I’m still contributing in a round about way. 🙂

  • Linda @ Lemons July 10, 2011, 7:25 am

    So sorry to hear you didn’t get the house. I’m sure you are disappointed. I hated the home buying process and I hope to never go through it again! We bought our house in 1997 and have seen the value of it fluctuate quite a bit since that time. But you guys are young – you’ll do it next year, I’m sure of it.

  • Kelly July 10, 2011, 8:33 am

    I am so sorry you didn’t get the house. I feel like my husband and I are super lucky! We bought a house 5 years ago at the height of the bank loan boom. We only had 10% to put down, my husband was self employed and I was just out of college making a peanut salary. There is NO way we would qualify for a house now…no way. I am so grateful that when we bought a house things like credit scores mattered and it wasn’t mandatory to put down 20%….which I know is what some banks require these days.

    As for inspections. Yes it is SUPER important!! Don’t skimp! Our inspector took almost 6 hours to complete ours and my house isn’t that big! But he was thorough and helped save us some money. He found a few problems and we came back to the seller with an offer that was almost $12,000 less than we orginially offered. They accepted, we fixed the issues and got our house. Had we not known about those problems it would have been a rude awakening down the road.

    Goodluck on finding a house…the timing will be right eventually. It will. And yes…as much as I LOVE owning a home it is a royal pain in the ass to pay for the maintenance and repairs. So enjoy renting, keep saving your money and you will get your house! 🙂

  • Angela (Oh She Glows) July 10, 2011, 8:56 am

    I’m sorry that the house fell through. I can only imagine what a whirlwind of emotions that must have been on you both. Home ownership isn’t always what its cracked up to be. Sometimes we dream of our renting days just to have more freedom financially and time-wise. There are pros and cons to both I guess. You know when your time will come and when the house is the one and you’ll probably have a much better experience the next time around.

  • Samantha July 10, 2011, 9:22 am

    Ugh, I’m sorry about the house too, but knowing how much wiser you’ll be going into the next round should make it a better process!

    My brother and his wife co-own their own business, which they’ve had for just over three years. In order to get a house they had to put down at LEAST 30%, an astronomical sum in an expensive area. They pulled it together, but whoa. On the upshot it made their mortgage payment more reasonable. Have you heard this 30% rule for self-employed peeps, or was it just their area or their bank?

    FWIW, I watched a Property Virgins the other night where a guy was paying all cash for his first home, and said that by doing so he’d save hundreds of thousands of dollars by doing so. Apparently if you put 10% down you end up paying 60% more through interest, so if you buy a $300,000 house you end up paying closer to $500,000 for it in the end. I knew about the whole interest thing, but seeing the actual numbers made me want to rent for life, OR put down like 50% when we can buy a house (i.e. never ;)!

    • CaitlinHTP July 10, 2011, 11:56 am

      I have never heard that 30% rule – ridiculous. It’s like they try to punish self-employed people!

  • BethT July 10, 2011, 9:51 am

    I recently met with a financial advisor who told me that buying a house is NOT necessarily the best thing you can do for yourself, financially. Yes, it’s hard to think about throwing your money away on rent, but it’s also hard to think about all of the fees and costs involved with home ownership – especially when property often loses its value and people get underwater in their mortgages. Granted, we live in a city where a 1 bedroom condo sells for half a million…but still, it opened my eyes and made me realize all of the benefits of renting. I hope you find a situation that makes you happy, though!

  • Miranda @ Working Mom Works Out July 10, 2011, 11:08 am

    I’m sorry it fell through. Buying a house is SO Stressful. We had several deals fall through and then finally had one stick. We were so desperate at that point, I feel like we settled for less than what we both wanted. I’m proud to own a home but don’t love it. So be happy you’re waiting until you know for sure.

  • Baroque Diva July 10, 2011, 11:31 am

    I can empathize completely also, being single and self-employed and stuck renting while it can sometimes feel like the whole world around me is buying houses… I try to keep in mind that owning your own business ( and for many of us that means taking a huge leap of faith to follow our dreams!) takes courage! Id much rather be renting and running my business than be employed somewhere and owning. Hugs and no worries!

  • Maria (RealFitMama) July 10, 2011, 11:46 am

    Not gonna lie…
    I have ZERO desire to own a home! My hubs and I have been renters from the beginning and love knowing that when something is broken it isn’t our responsibility/money to fix it, the grass is magically mowed when we get home, and if we decide we want to move to another neighborhood or even another state we don’t have to pray that we can sell before we go. We can just go!!
    Plus, our money can go to other, more fun things, like vacations with the girls!!
    So sorry that you went through all that struggling just to come out the other end in the same situation as you started, but at least you gained some knowledge and next time will really know what you’re getting into.

  • Lara July 10, 2011, 11:59 am

    I am surprised to hear about you and your husband not getting qualified due to not having been at your jobs long enough (though I am not surprised about you not getting qualified due to sporadic income). My husband and I bought our house in summer 2009 and had each only been at our jobs since Jan. 2008 (when we each moved back to our current city from a city on the east coast), so less than 2 years each. However, we both have steady income, as we work for others (not self employed). We have an FHA loan, so maybe that is why? Did you look into that at all? I know in some areas FHA loans are not desirable as I believe the cap on them is less than $300,000, but we live in the Midwest and bought a nice house for less than $300,000 no problem.

    I am also surprised to hear that you think the banks are being difficult on financing. If anything, that was not what we experienced at all. I was pre-approved (not pre-qualified) right away, while my husband’s portion of the financing took longer (though he has very good credit, he has one very small blip on his credit report that required more time to look at by the underwriters). While this was all going on, we found a house we wanted to make an offer on, so since my husband’s financing was still being reviewed, we had to make the offer based off of my pre-approval only, which SHOCKINGLY was enough for the house, ON MY OWN. That is absolutely ridiculous… by my conservative standards, I could not afford this house totally on my own. But that definitely made me feel better that according to the bank, we were not overspending. Luckily, everything came through with my husband’s financing just fine and we are both on the loan.

    I think the financing standards are still NOT as tight as people would like to believe. I think the fact that you are even able to have a co-signer is proof of this. Also, when we were buying, there was the $8000 tax credit, and I knew several people who were playing the system and were borrowing money to make it look like that had plenty of money for a down payment and then after they got their $8000, were paying that person back – NOT what that money was intended for. We paid our down payment in full with our OWN money and then socked the $8000 away in savings after we received it months after closing. In my mind, if you need to borrow money or need a co-signer, you are not ready and this should not be allowed.

    I do feel like our finances were definitely scrutinized to make sure we could afford our house, but home loans are still not as strict as I think they could be. It’s not an issue for us, as we bought a house we can more than afford, but I know personally of some people who were still allowed to purchase homes of a price that they are really struggling to afford, and this is after the economy crashed and banks “tightened up”.

    Owning a home is simultaneously one of the most frustrating and rewarding things I have ever done. Some days I hate it, but most days, it’s the best decision we’ve ever made.

    Stick to it, get all your ducks in a row and it will happen and you will find the perfect house. Good luck!

    • CaitlinHTP July 10, 2011, 12:30 pm

      Thanks SO much for this thorough comment Lara 🙂 I am glad you got the house you wanted. I hope I will too, soon!

      • Lara July 10, 2011, 1:16 pm

        No problem! Home buying is definitely a tedious process and made cry and scream more than once… we made the mistake of buying when I was working 80 hours a week and planning a wedding, so we were not prepared and nearly gave up. less of a financing issue and more of an “holy crap all these houses suck and I would rather rent if this is all we can afford” issue 😉 again, good luck!

  • Katie @ peacebeme July 10, 2011, 12:07 pm

    I’m sorry you lost the house. I really learned a lot from this post though, kind of scary stuff but good information.

  • Amber K July 10, 2011, 12:29 pm

    I am so sorry! My husband and I are just at the very beginning of the process and I don’t know if I’m ready for this. Yikes!

  • kirsten July 10, 2011, 1:02 pm

    Great post! My husband and I are renting and I want to buy so bad but I know we aren’t financially ready yet. This post definitely helped me realize that it’s not the end of the world to keep renting for a few more years. Thanks for the perspective 🙂

  • Yo July 10, 2011, 4:00 pm

    Sorry if it sounds trivial compared to the house-drama, but how did the salon-effects manicure turn out? I’ve had a box for weeks but not the courage to try it.

    • CaitlinHTP July 10, 2011, 4:03 pm

      Hahah best comment ever.

      I love the nails! i need to take a picture but it came out super cute and was very easy to apply. If I can do it, anyone can.

  • Jolene (www.everydayfoodie.ca) July 11, 2011, 3:19 am

    Sorry to hear that the house deal fell through 🙁 Best of luck on your next hunt.

  • Ash @ Good Taste Healthy Me July 11, 2011, 9:20 am

    I couldn’t agree more on the inspection. We had an inspector that was an absolute joke. Once we bought the house we ended up having a burst pipe and ant issues, BOTH of which he should have detected were possibilities. Plus he was only there for 2 hours! We should’ve known right then. I will never skimp on a home inspector again!

  • Kristen @ The Concrete Runner July 11, 2011, 11:24 am

    I’m so sorry the deal fell through. Buying a house is hard work, and you have to be willing to not only spend money to buy + inspect the house, but to fix anything that might be wrong with the house. We were lucky my husband had a stable job, so financing wasn’t an issue, but things that were stated in our contract didn’t get done and we had a lot of things go wrong with our house after we moved in that WE had to spend the money on instead of the previous owner (you know, a sump pump installed wrong that causes our basement to flood at least once a year if not more… shouldn’t have been OUR problem, but it is now). Definitely spend the money on a good inspector and realtor who will FIGHT for what you want done with the home before you move in!

  • Leslie @ The running Chasqui July 11, 2011, 4:20 pm

    My husband and I lost a house 2 years ago, due to inspections. We sill haven’t gotten back to it because it was such an awful experience. We searched for about a year before finding a cute little house, so it was very disappointing. I’m waiting to finish my masters to go through the process again. Good luck!

  • Sara @ OurDogBuffy July 12, 2011, 10:49 am

    So sorry, Caitlin. As a homeowner, I think renting isn’t bad at all. You hit the nail on the head with the “no repairs.” Amen. I feel like we’re always fixing something. I really wish we had rented during these first few years of marriage instead of leaping into a mortgage and a fixer-upper. Not cool at all.

  • Lauri (Redheadrecipes.com) July 17, 2011, 12:00 pm

    We were looking into buying a house a few months ago, but we couldn’t find anything that felt ‘right’. We also realized that NOW is not the right time for us to buy either–> because of financial reasons and we have a house to sell still!

    We ended up finding a rental house and I *hope/think* we are making the right decision. It can all be SO stressful, but things always work themselves out in the end. I always remind myself that ‘everything happens for a reason’!

  • Tracy July 24, 2011, 9:46 pm

    Hi Catlin! I’m just getting caught up on my missed posts. So sorry to hear that you didn’t get financing for the house. I know what you’ve been though. I just got my final approval on Friday. I had been pre-approved since May 25th and working towards actual financing since that date. I was denied for a rural housing loan and ended up having to go FHA. It has been the worst experience ever – an emotional roller coaster!!

    It’s amazing how difficult it is to get financing even though you are approved. The pre-approval process is very basic. There are many people that get pre-approved but never get financing. They don’t do an in-depth review of your credit, income, and employment during the pre-approval process. You don’t have to necessarily be in your job for 2 years but in the same type of work. I was at my last job for 14 years and was only in my new job for 3 months but it was the same type of work. Each lender has their own underwriting standards they use on top of the program that you choose (FHA, VA, USDA, or conventional). Some lenders are pickier than others.

    I’m sorry you are back where you started. You’ve gained a lot in the process though. There will be that perfect place when you are ready to make the move again.

    • Caitlin July 25, 2011, 9:34 am

      Thanks for the support, Tracy 🙂 We need it!

  • Amy Ramos July 29, 2011, 3:43 pm

    Hi Caitlin:
    I just read this post and I am sorry the deal did not work out. As everyone says, your day will come.
    I do have a comment from the comments above. Based on them, it looks like they are making being a homeowner a bad thing. It isn’t. Yes, there are more responsibilities but there are perks to it too. A place to call a home. You can plant your own garden. Have parties. Park in your own garage. Have your own laundry area. Have a KITCHEN!!!!
    My husband and I just bought a house in CA after looking for two years (yes, it is overpriced but you can not beat the weather!)
    Also, yes being pre-qualified is different than being pre approved.
    Good luck and enjoy renting! I did it for 10 yrs and while it was good, I am ready to be a homeowner.

  • Amber July 29, 2011, 6:40 pm

    Good things come to those who wait! In the past three years, my husband and I have been under contract twice…both of which fell through. Good thing too because he was laid off while we were under contract the second time. Yikes! Everything happens for a reason, and when the time is right for you to buy, you will find the right house for the right price and things will work out. Hang in there and enjoy your time off of house hunting!

  • Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga October 23, 2011, 6:18 pm

    You are so on-point in everything.

    The TIME investment is HUGE. Like it’s a PT job (or FT!) jobs some weeks just dealing with mortgage-related application-related paperwork. Best to put it off for when you’re in a less stressful time of life…so agree with you.

    And yes, pre-qual means NOTHING. It’s not over til the fat lady signs and she’s called underwriting. And you’re right, banks are beyond strict, 5 points on a credit score, 23 not 24 mos at your last job, self-employed..it’s all to the letter of the law. No exceptions and my hubs and I have been caught up in that and it’s sooo hard.

    Good luck on the next house 🙂

    And renting isn’t so bad. We rent here in CA and own in another country. Crazy but true.

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