When life throws you lemons, learn to juggle.
My youngest recently bought her first home. In the process of helping her, it occurred to me that perhaps it’s time to move away from the loony neighbors and into a house with some space around it so we can have peace.
And so the hunt began. We started off thinking that since we’re so well acquainted with various reputable contractors, we could buy an older home at a lower price and do whatever updating and minor repairs are required. Then if we found we really didn’t like that neighborhood, we could always re-sell the renovated house – just like the flippers do. The beauty of the plan was that we would already be in a new home before selling our current home, thereby avoiding the stress of doing a simultaneous sale/purchase.
Makes sense, right?
The first house we looked at would have been perfect – 3 bedrooms, 1-1/2 baths, on nearly 3 acres of land. A foreclosure at a very low price. In an area we’d enjoy. The online pictures showed a house in livable condition needing some updating. On inspection, there were some problems – all the utilities, including water, had been shut off for a long time; there was a bird’s nest in the front doorway; the skylight was leaking; a huge hole in the middle of the kitchen floor and an even bigger hole in one of the bedroom walls through which daylight could be seen. No way did we have enough cash even to bring the house up to code.
We decided that maybe buying a fixer-upper wasn’t such a good idea after all, so the next house we viewed was at the top of our budget. A 3-bedroom cape on nearly 2 acres, well separated from its neighbors. Again a foreclosure. As we entered the neighborhood, I was quite impressed with the houses around it – very well maintained and quiet. [sigh] “Our” house had a 2-foot-deep lake in the basement surrounded by walls of black mold. (Apparently, the realtor missed a chance to advertise the house as having an “indoor pool” – where’s your creativity, lady?)
Meanwhile, I was working with my bank on pre-qualifying for a mortgage. We decided to suspend our house-hunting until the pre-qualification was in place so we’d know what our true budget would be. The bank came back and said, sure you can have a mortgage for a new home – but you have to sell your current home first. Meaning that we could sell on the same day as we purchased, so long as the sale went on record before the purchase. Ah, the infamous simultaneous sale/purchase – exactly what I didn’t want to do. But I’m not independently wealthy, so what other choice is there?
Despite our recent renovations, there are still a number of things that need to be done to make our current house marketable. We began pushing the schedule to complete those items, keeping in mind that any expenditures would be viewed by the lender and could impact the mortgage application.
Juggle, people, juggle.
Meanwhile, I continued to peruse the real estate listings. There were a few “possibles” but when we drove around to look at them, they were nowhere near as pictured. For instance, the “spacious corner lot” turned out to be on a street so narrow I could barely squeeze my Ford Escape down it, and while the front of the property was open, the house itself was bracketed on three sides by the neighboring houses, usually within just a few feet. Google Maps sure lied on that one!
Summer is approaching quickly – the Loony Tunes Season. Balls in the yard, 24/7 screaming, naked neighbor sunbathing. We really need to get out.
Finally, the mortgage pre-approval came through, but it wasn’t for the type of loan I want. So back to the drawing board.
In the process of assembling documentation the bank needs regarding my bankruptcy five years ago, I came across the neighbor’s open bankruptcy file. Being as it’s a matter of public record, I figured I’d see how she’s doing in the eyes of the Court, inasmuch as she never seems to leave the house to go to work. Came to find out that she has not been making the required mortgage payments under her Chapter 13 plan, despite the fact that her lender changed her payment twice in an effort to accommodate her after she filed her bankruptcy petition. In fact, she has not made mortgage payments in 15 months – and her lender has filed paperwork with the Bankruptcy Court for relief from the automatic stay so that they can FORECLOSE!
Maybe the neighbors will be gone soon!
And because I’m a nosy sort, I also managed to find out that she owes over $638 in water charges to the Town – although that didn’t prevent her from filling her pool again this year.
(Just a little aside, if I may be so bitchy: I managed to not only keep my house during my bankruptcy, I also paid all the utility bills on time. But then, I wasn’t spending all my money on take-out food and expensive toys – like air rifles, new bikes, and hoverboards – instead of paying my bills.)
Hubby and I discussed it and agreed that we’re likely to have some peace real soon, and that peace will last until the house next door gets sold at foreclosure. That gives us a little time to fix up our own house to make it sale-ready, but since we have no idea who might move in next (and there’s still Psycho Dad across the street), we will continue to look for that house with acreage.
Sounds like a plan, right?
But then I learned that the law firm I’ve worked at for the past 17 years is about to dissolve, and I may or may not have a job in a month or two. My boss has told me that he is 99% sure that he will be able to take me along wherever he goes, and that he is not ready to retire yet. But who knows? Probably not a good time to make major changes.
So house hunting is on hold – again.
Meanwhile, stick with me, friends – I’m sure I’m going to have lots of interesting stories over the next few months. The posts might be somewhat sporatic, but they will be worth reading, I promise.
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