Home Buying: Part I

When we purchased our house F asked me if I was going to blog about our projects. Unfortunately, we didn’t have internet at either our rental or our house at the time so it wasn’t really going to happen. I’m going to start a little mini-series on our adventure to home ownership and the subsequent renovation.

Last September, I was offered a job in rural Idaho. At the time, we were living in Missoula where I was working a job I hated (with people I really liked!), paying way too much for rent, and living in a big city where we did not want to be.

Suddenly, we were presented with an option that I thought it would take a lot longer than three months to find. I had foreseen us moving around for awhile while I built my career and eventually stumbling upon the golden combination of sweet job and even sweeter place to live. It took just three months.

The day after I was offered the job, Forrest left to go work in North Dakota for a month. So alone, I started the process of looking for a place to live. Clearly I put an ad on Craigslist. (Team 3 Up is a devoted user of Craigslist.) While Craigslist didn’t yield a place to rent, that came from persistent bugging of real estate agents, I did get a phone call from someone wanting to know if we’d consider a work-for-rent situation, also mentioning that he’d be considering selling it in the spring for somewhere in the ballpark of $40,000. Considering that F would be joining me in Idaho without a job lined up it sounded like a pretty good option. Or at least it did until I peeked in the windows of the house.

It was kind of a wreck. There was what appeared to be bags of garbage in the kitchen. A broken window in one of the bedrooms. A second phone call to the owner revealed that neither toilet was functional and there was no working heat. Needing to move, alone, the next week I thanked him and moved right along.

That house? Yeah, we bought it.

When F came home and I pointed out the house in passing while we were out for a drive he was immediately interested. He scoffed at the idea of work-to-rent, “I can work off the rent in two days…and for what? To help him make more money when he sells it?” Next thing I knew, we’d scoured my phone to find the phone number and set up an appointment to look at the house.

Not too long after that we were scrambling to close on the house before the end of the year to capitalize on all of the energy efficiency tax credits available. Turns out the owners had paid cash for the house at foreclosure sale ten years prior but somehow they’d never noticed that there was a banks name along with theirs on their tax statements. Or they had and hadn’t ever bothered to inquire. When we asked them about it, they said it was “no big deal” and it would get taken care of at closing.

I didn’t quite buy it and started to do some research on my own (to be confirmed when our title insurance was held up on waiting for this bank to sign off). The sellers were perfectly content to wait for the matter to be handled through their title insurance (once the Bush tax cuts including capital gains were extended their rush to close before the end of the year disappeared). Impatient girl that I am I started a cycle of spending hours on the phone fighting with a mortgage servicer that wasn’t mine, it wasn’t even the owners!

Fortunately, I was able to find the number of the loan that lead to foreclosure scribbled on the corner of a deed of trust at the courthouse. And I googled some numbers and started getting angry at the vice presidents of said company. Eventually, I won. I got a phone call from a person (in America!) who said they were overnight mailing the necessary quit claim deed to the courthouse for filing.

Although we’d initially hoped to go up to the house and drink a bottle of champagne after closing it was so anticlimactic we went home, ate dinner and went to bed. We had plenty of work to do.

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