Are We There Yet?

The Gingerbread Diaries

And by ‘there’ I mean home-owners.

5 more minutes or 2 more hours. Take your pick.

A couple years ago I was on a road trip with some friends and the ‘are we there yets’ started–though just in fun, it was only a 2-hour car ride after all. One friend said her parents would always answer ‘5 more minutes’ regardless of where they were in their journey while another’s always answered ‘2 more hours,’ even if they were pulling into the driveway.

So, are we there yet?


Up until yesterday afternoon we were scheduled to “arrive” today… but you know there’s more to the story than just a simple postponement, right?

Last month we were dealing with the contractor snafu, but we’d found a solution and just after my last post on the subject, Contractor S got the paperwork turned in to the bank and we got the HUD work write up redone (thankfully that didn’t cost me another $600), the paperwork was off to validation and we thought we could finally breathe a sigh of relief.

[box type=”tick” size=”large” style=”rounded” border=”full”]Note: Never engage in a premature sigh of relief. Not until the ink is dry on the page and you have keys in your hand do you dare breathe that sigh of relief because to do so ahead of time is a sure-fired invitation to the Universe to knock the wind right out of you.[/box]

Y’all, we had a license issue. Again.

Only this time it was one born of, I believe, one hand not knowing what the other one intends, or maybe not caring all that much.

Supposedly, the State of Georgia requires general contractors who are representatives of LLCs or corporations to have said license in said company’s name. And Contractor S had it in his given name. Now, logically (and I tried to argue this with the bank) if S’s LLC was formed in 2003, and S is listed as the registered agent of said LLC, then wouldn’t they have had an issue with S registering for his contractor’s license in 2008 (Georgia only started licensing contractors in 2004 and it was only mandatory by 2008–let that sink in for a bit, too) in his own name? Doesn’t the fact that it was allowed through subsequent annual reports and license renewals negate the concept of the hard-and-fast rule?


So Contractor S had to apply for an updated/replacement/appended license in the company name to be validated by Wells Fargo. Thankfully, that process was only supposed to take 2 weeks (not that we had that much time, really) but they only needed proof of application to move forward. (With the understanding that until the correct license was produced no draws could be made on the renovation funds. So let us all hope that 2 weeks was an accurate estimate, otherwise the renovation could be held up. The good news is that they estimate the work only taking 6 weeks, total, so there’s that. A 203(k) Renovation Loan technically allows up to 6 months for the work

And, of course, in par-for-the-course fashion, I didn’t find out about this little hiccup until after 5 pm on the Thursday that fell a week after all the paperwork was turned in. And of course the contractor was heading out of town, pre-dawn the next morning. More waiting, more anxiety.

I recently joked to a friend that all 203(k) applications should come with a 3-month prescription for Valium or some such.

At any rate, the application was submitted, we finally got our validation, and all we needed was for the bank to confirm the funds were in the bank and we could send everything to final underwriting.

And that was the other headache of this past month.

To refresh everyone’s memory, we were not planning to buy a home so soon after getting married. The opportunity fell into our lap, pretty much, and we jumped on it, but we weren’t exactly ready for it in the we-have-a-savings-account-for-the-down-payment-and-closing-costs sense. Instead, the funds for this adventure were coming from two sources:

  1. A whole-life policy of Todd’s that his grandfather had taken out for him when Todd was just a baby. It was about 60 years from maturation, but it had a decent surrender value that we’d planned to use as the starter funds for our house savings.
  2. A draw on my 401(k) account (not always a great idea, but it’s one of the 5 legit reasons to withdraw from our plan since we don’t allow loans against the balance and it makes sense for us right now).

The one thing we could have done differently is get the funds out of the life policy before now. We’d talked about it, but I fully admit we got lulled into the plenty-of-time illusion with the snail’s pace everything seemed to be taking, plus the fact that the beginning of the year is pretty much a stressful time for anyone in finance and accounting and we kept putting it off. We had (and by we, I mean Todd, since it was in his name and I couldn’t request anything from them on his behalf), by this time, made the funds request, but the first person Todd spoke to insisted the forms had to be mailed. Two days later (and no forms having yet arrived), Todd called back and finally got someone who understood how modern technology worked and was able to use email and fax to get the forms completed, so then it was just a waiting game.

And boy did we wait! It took almost 2 full weeks for the check to arrive from that insurance company, while my 401(k) request went in on a Wednesday afternoon and I had it in the bank by 2pm on that Friday–they, of course, had a better process and an Express option, but still. Night and day difference. And it was that difference that put this week’s closing in peril.

See, the seller was getting fed up with the delays. Not that I can completely blame her, but each time we had to ask for a closing extension there was much hemming and hawing and wringing of hands relayed by the Realtor. And this last one (well, it was supposed to be the last one) was the icing on the cake. We weren’t going to be able to make the closing for March 26th, but we knew that our drop-dead date was April 14th, since our lease renewal is due to the property manager on the 15th if we’re not planning to move. No wiggle room.

Our loan processor had suggested we ask for the 14th on the new extension, since we knew it was as late as we could go, but that we try to close before that date, just as soon as everything was where it needed to be. Seller didn’t like that at all! She only wanted to extend it a few days and, well, that just wasn’t going to happen. We were in the very real position of having the seller cancel the contract after 3 months of stress and anguish trying to make this deal happen.

It wasn’t a happy weekend.

The seller conceded to a 1-week extension and we waited to see if the check from Todd’s insurance would show up, and every day Todd would call to find out the status from the insurance company and get a ‘they’re just waiting for the final accounting numbers to be able to cut the check.’ Meanwhile, the check had actually been cut on the 26th but then took it’s sweet time travelling from Nebraska to Florida, finally arriving on the 31st.

Our current extension was set to expire on the 2nd, but there’s something in Georgia purchase contracts that allows a 7-day unilateral extension to allow for financial processing delays. Could be use that and be able to close within that window?


Ready for another wrinkle? In Georgia you have to designate an attorney for the loan closing (Florida and many other states consider the attorney optional, for what it’s worth, and you just get your docs from the title company and keep on moving) and our lawyer was going out of town the week of the 7th. Can you say crap on a cracker? I can!

Was the lawyer available for a Friday closing? Maybe we could squeak this in? No, he was booked (as anyone would be if they were clearing their schedule to be gone for a week), but he could realistically do 3pm on Thursday (that would be today, folks) IF the bank got their paperwork to him by 10am that day. He said it wouldn’t be as pretty and seamless compared to when he had more time, but I told him I didn’t care if it was pretty, I just needed it done.

And so this week happened:

  • Monday, 3/31: insurance check arrives, but too late to make the bank’s deposit for that day
  • Tuesday, 4/1: Todd deposits check in the morning (being late for work to get there right when the teller’s window opens at 8:30), and writes me a check in the evening
  • Wednesday, 4/2: I deposit the check first thing in the morning (ditto the being late), and then leave work early to drive up to Cairo to secure the needed home owners insurance so it’ll be bound for the next day.

That’s when things ground to a halt.

Because the funds were not inherently mine, we’d had to treat the insurance money as a “gift” from Todd to me to be acceptable by mortgage standards. Because it would have required 3 more documents (including one from the slow-as-molasses insurance company) for Todd to just sign the check over to me (again with the lack of logic/too much red tape), the funds had to go through the accepted chain of custody account-hop to make sure everything was on the up and up. And because the bank had to be able to verify the funds before getting the all clear from underwriting, we were counting on a major miracle that the bank (which is, incidentally, the same as the lender, so why… no, not going there again) would release the “pending” status of my deposit early. That didn’t happen.

So when I got to the insurance office (an hour away from my office, so thanks lost time at work!) was when I checked my email messages to find we weren’t going to make the closing on Thursday.

I mean, I knew it was a long-shot, but everyone seemed to think we could make this work, so we forged ahead, allowing ourselves to anticipate being homeowners by the end of the week. To have that taken away, again, was just… no words are coming to me to describe the mixture of disappointment, dejection, and frustration that settled on my shoulders once again.

I had ice cream for dinner, if that’s any indication of my mood.

But there was hope. By the time I got back to Tallahassee, the lawyer had spoken with the seller and convinced her (citing that it was his schedule, not ours, that was causing the delay–thanks for taking that bullet!) to wait until he got back–on the 14th–to close. He got us this final extension, even while the Realtor said the seller wouldn’t approve the 14th no-way, no-how. Thank you, Lawyer S!

5 more minute. 2 more hours. 10 more days.

The Dubious Solution (Another House Update)

The Gingerbread Diaries

So far, each time I update here about the Saga of the House something happens the next day that changes the road ahead–or at least presents a significant speed bump.

After our last update I realized that we were well and truly only two weeks from closing and I was both astonished as well as suspicious that we had all the needed ducks in a row. Sending out a round of status updates to our team I was, unfortunately, proved correct: our contractor had failed the bank’s validation.


Turns out our contractor, the one man who consistently returns my calls and whom I know in my gut I can trust to do this job as he promised, seems to only hold a county license when the bank is requiring a state one. And it’s not like he can go down to the courthouse and file some paperwork and get said license, the process can take months so it looked like we were once again sunk.

Only there was hope in the form of our contractor’s cousin, holder of the required state license and someone he’s worked for before. The bank and I both had the same thought: would Contractor S be willing to sign on as General Contractor and sub the work out to Contractor L? That was the question at hand.

It took a few days to arrange a meeting between S & L the following Saturday to go over the broad strokes of the deal, then Monday Banker R informed me we were back in business, Contractor S was willing and seemed like he had everything the bank would require of him, and we pushed the closing back two weeks to allow for paperwork processing.

And then we waited.

We waited a full week while Contractor S neglected to return phone calls or emails, did not submit the requested documentation, and generally made everyone uneasy. So uneasy, in fact, that our HUD Consultant called me at 9:30am this Saturday morning concerned about the state of affairs and fearful that we were about to be screwed over. Granted, the worst-case-scenario part of my brain (which was fairly well developed before we entered the real estate game) had already thought of all those angles and many more, but to hear someone other than the niggling voice in the back of my mind express them was not exactly how I wanted to start my weekend!

Did you ever have to endure group projects in school? I always hated them with a passion–first because I like to work alone, second because there always seemed to be an inequality of the effort put forth. Essentially the 80/20 rule in miniature, it bothered me to no end to be responsible for someone else’s grade only slightly less than it bothered me to have someone else responsible for mine!

Up until now, everyone involved in this venture has been fairly well invested in the process, either for purpose of personal gain (myself, the sellers, the Realtor, and Contractor L) or due to professional integrity (the lender, the lender’s assistant, the 2 outside inspectors, the HUD consultant, and the loan doc specialist). Dear heavens, that’s eleven people involved so far and all of them pulling their fair share of the work! But bringing in Contractor S was like having the odd-student-out assigned to a group of friends–they might possess a certain specific qualification needed to fulfill the assignment, but they’re not really all that invested in the process since their involvement is impersonal (in the student analogy, perhaps he plans to drop the course in a week, I don’t know…) .

After losing, all told, a week and a half to this delay, the people waiting on info from the new contractor have at least made contact with him. And, yes, I did try to express to him–both on the phone and in writing–the urgency of the situation, but I obviously didn’t get very far since it took a call from the lender’s assistant to actually see any progress. (Insert diatribe about being a woman dealing with the classic Southern good ol’ boys network and how being forceful gets you labeled as an uppity bitch while a man–hello, lender’s assistant–gets results. But, hey, if it continues to work, I’ll hold my tongue until the renovations are done. Mostly.)

So that’s where we’re at: the clock is ticking, we’ve had yet another setback but we’re still in the game. I remain cautiously optimistic (emphasis on the cautious) but I’m not breaking out the Champagne just yet.

Now, let’s see what tomorrow brings, shall we?