Me and my fabulous son, Max

Me and my  fabulous son, Max
Powerscourt, Ireland

Saturday, January 26, 2013

We Just Bought a House!

Homeowners Again!

Today was the day....January 26, 2013.  We signed the final mounds of paperwork and are once again Homeowners in every sense of the word.  We now have a house, and payments and responsibilities that go with it.

Fernando, Max & Larry signing the docs!
Fernando from our Harmony Escrow came over to our house in San Diego this morning.  He brought with him a few hundred papers to review and sign.  Although it took about an hour, it was a painless, straightforward and very easy experience!  

A pleasant Surprise!

When we finished signing, we were pleasantly surprised to find that our lender, Navy Federal, had enclosed a certificate congratulating us on our new home purchase and to let us know we had a $200 Gift Card on the Way!

Now we wait for the loan to fund and the title to record.  We should be getting keys to our new house next week!!!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Details, Details, Details

Larry & Marti~Long Beach~1998  in our 100 year old bungalow

It's been over 10 years since we bought a house and although the process seems easier than last time, I had forgotten what a pain in the a$$ it is to buy a house!

Since we have a great relationship with our bank, Navy Federal, we went to them for our loan.  First slight glitch, the loan application referred to me as "Marth" Lindsey.  Geesh...I've done business with them for over 30 years, paid off 2 mortgages and they can't even get my name right?

Financing locked in, we put an offer on a new place in the West Antelope Valley.  Our offer was accepted and this is where the reams and reams of paperwork really began.  We had a packet of papers titled "Escrow Instructions" that was 20 pages of tiny point font...each needed to be reviewed and signed and/or initialed.

Larry signing the first of many batches of paperwork!
Yippee, now we can open escrow!  We received the escrow paperwork and the next little glitch was that my last name was misspelled on this set of documents.  I guess they just wanted to make sure we were paying attention!  Now with names correctly spelled, we needed to read and sign and/or initial the 64 page Escrow Package!

Meanwhile, our bank is asking for A LOT of stuff:  Please close your credit cards and get us zero balance letters.  How about statements from your investment accounts?  Wait, that's a screen print, how about an actual paper copy?  You're self employed, great...just need several years of tax returns and P&L statements from the business.  Wait...we don't like the information the way you presented it...can you give us the exact same info presented in this manner?  This is a drawn out process because the request is presented to us by the loan officer and papers go to the loan processor.  The credit committee or tax department or someone else needs to review the info and then the questions/answers are relayed back through the loan officer.  I feel like we have an entire brigade of people working behind the scenes for us! for the silver lining!  We are buying a house that was foreclosed on.  This is not a short sale nor a foreclosure.  The term is a "REO" or Real Estate Owned Property for the bank.  All of the paperwork (hundreds of pages at this point) states that the property is "as-is".  When purchasing from an individual, this is just what it sounds like.  When you're buying from a bank, not really.

"As-is" Property in the West Antelope Valley
So far the bank has made the following improvements to the "as-is" property:
  • Put on a new roof
  • Installed a new Heating & Air Conditioning system
  • Installed a new stainless steel dishwasher
  • Installed a new stainless steel cook top
  • Installed a new stainless steel trash compactor
  • Installed a new stainless steel microwave
  • Painted the interior and exterior of the house
  • Installed new carpet throughout the 2700+ square foot house
  • Inspected & Pumped the Septic System
  • Inspected and mitigated (repaired) Termite Damage
The house has been inspected by numerous people and we have reports from all of them:  Real Estate Agent, Termite Guy, Well Company, Septic Guy, Home Appraiser, Certified Home Inspector.

Based on these reports, the bank has agreed to fix these additional items on the "as-is" house:
  • Remove damaged cabinets from the garage
  • Add stairs in the rear of house and repair stucco
  • Replace electrical outlet and add cover
  • Deliver a new load of Propane so the tank is full
Based on our experience so far, I would have to say that if you have to make a decision to buy a house from a person or a a house from the bank!  They have no emotional attachments and realize that the property needs to meet certain criteria for the loan to fund.  There is no messing around...they just fix it.

I fully expect there to be more things to pop up before we close.  Although there are a lot of details and sooooo many papers to read, review and sign, the end result is a new home.  I have to admit that the thought of sorting through and packing up all of our belongings is a nightmare.  More on this later!


Thursday, January 3, 2013

We're Taking the Plunge!

Our future house in the West Antelope Valley, CA

We're in escrow on this fabulous white house pictured above.....and everyone we know thinks we're nuts! 

View from our window in San Diego, CA
I need to take a few steps back for this all to make sense.  Currently we live in a fabulous house, on a quarter acre lot, with an amazing view, 5 minutes from downtown San Diego.  We have a giant picture window that looks over San Diego Bay to Coronado Island and to Mexico beyond.  We have a great yard with room for our trampoline & play structure with plenty of room for a large garden.  A small bay beach is right down the street.  Life is pretty good.

Max watering our yard, downtown San Diego in the back.

The main problem with our situation is that Larry, my husband, has been commuting to Kern County for the past few years.  Larry is a contractor whose role has morphed from mainly working from home to having to be on site with his customer....who happens to be 3-4 hours away.  In the past few years, he's gone from mostly being here with Max and me to traveling to a hotel in Bakersfield on Sunday...then driving to the oil fields an hour each way to work....returning exhausted on Thursday nights.  The separation simply isn't working for our family.

Max with his aide since KG, Alma, and pals Carlos & Caden.
The decision to move closer to Kern County wasn't an easy one.  We've been renting this amazing place for 8 years.  Our son, Max, has Down syndrome.  The services he receives at our neighborhood school are extraordinary.  Cabrillo is a small K-4 school with a few hundred kids...Max knows everyone and everyone knows Max.  He's in a regular class with the same kids he's been with since Kindergarten.  He has friends from school and connections made through the special needs community here in San Diego.  Like I said, life is good.

Max plays Miracle League baseball.
When you have a child with special needs, you're always looking towards the future.  Although life in San Diego is great, is it what's best for Max long term?  Although his school placement is ideal now, when he enters 5th grade, the situation will not be optimum.  What will Max do in High School and beyond?  When you start asking the BIG questions, your path leads in a different direction.

We need to set Max up for success long term.  We also need a better (hard to quantify better when you live in San Diego where we live) quality of life as a family.  The solution seemed to be moving towards Bakersfield.  The main problem with that is the air quality.  You simply do not move a medically fragile child to a place where he can't breathe the air.

So we spent a few months looking for someplace close enough for Larry to commute to work, but that had air you can breathe.  We looked in the Cuyama Valley, Lebec, Lockwood Valley,  Frazier Park and the West Antelope Valley.  Although they all had great attributes, the West Antelope Valley ended up being the best fit.

In the 'yard' with the Tehachapi Mountains in the background. 

We've looked at a lot of houses...some fabulous and some lacking.  We lost out on the house we thought was THE house, only to have the white house pictured at the top fall right into our plans.  Our plans to set Max up for the have a nice place to live with enough acreage to grow some sort of 'low maintenance'  crop on the land. 

It looks like we found our solution.  Join us for future updates to our home, land, Max's life and our further adventures n the Antelope Valley!