We closed on our new house Friday, September 5th and moved in unexpectedly on Thursday, September 11th! We originally planned to close on the 4th, but delays from the Seller's bank caused a 1-day delay on the closing of the house. We bought the house that we wanted in Valley Ranch, but were negotiating with the bank and were unsure we were going to come to terms that we could both agree upon by our set closing date.
The process started with us looking at the house and really liking it. It was one of the first houses we looked at with our new realtor, so we didn't want to make any quick moves without looking at more houses. We went looking at quite a few more houses and after thinking through all the houses we had looked at, we decided to put an offer in. Keep in mind, we went looking at houses with another realtor at the beginning of the year and we just didn't work well with her.
So we had seen a lot of houses between two realtors and were confident in what (and where) we were looking for in a house. After putting the offer in on the Valley Ranch house, we waited a couple days and then heard back from the bank that there were two other offers on the house. At that time, the bank asked us to put in our best and final offers. From the buyers position, it's hard to really know if there are other offers on the house or not, but we were fairly confident that we put in a great offer. Our realtor also let us know that the bank was taking out the tree out front which we had planned on taking out ourselves. The tree had been struck by lightning before we even saw the house and we had submitted the offer without knowing that they were going to take it out. We had planned on taking the tree out ourselves and had it estimated at $1000 to get it pulled out and the stump grinded. The bank said they were getting it pulled out at $1500, but we decided we would amend our offer by $1000 because we had planned on spending that money anyway and we felt it would secure our offer. A day or so later, the bank came back and again asked for everyones best and final offer. They explained that they had not heard back from everyone so they wanted to give everyone the chance to make their best offer. My realtor hinted at the idea that I should raise my offer, but at this point I felt like they were really playing games with us. I had made a great offer to start with, then raised my offer because I found out they were doing something I planned on paying for, and I felt like they thought they might be able to squeeze some more money out of me. I told my realtor to stick firm with what we put in and there were plenty of other houses on the market if this one fell through.
After another grueling week, we heard back on my birthday that the bank had accepted our offer. We were really excited, but were entering into our option period and needed to get the ball rolling on inspections. We got the inspector out there within the next day or two and he mainly pointed out issues that we were aware of. He found a few other small things, but nothing that couldn't be solved with a little handy-man work. The two biggest issues that were left were the electrical in the kitchen and the AC.
I was really stressed out about the electrical and thought it might be expensive, so we had an electrician come out and quote us on fixing the electrical in the kitchen. The issue was that the overhead lights would not turn on and there was a bare romex wire exposed above the cabinets. The electrician quoted us between 200 and 300 and was ready to start work right then. Because we didn't own the home yet, we got the quote and figured we would have him come out if we bought the house. I went to Houston that week on company business and my realtor said he had an AC guy that could come out and take a look at the system. We had him come out and he gave us some good and bad news. Good news was the reasont the AC wasn't working is because the door on the furnace wasn't fully shut, so the auto-shutoff kicked in and the blower wasn't pushing any air around. The bad news was the AC was pretty much dead on freon so the system wasn't getting very cold.
After getting the inspections done and the specialists out, we went back to our realtor who recommended we see if they would fix some of the big things. We made a list of all the issues so they could see how many we were taking on and how few we were asking them to do. Granted, ours were small things like unclogging a drain and replacing some wood trim outside and theirs was fixing/replacing the AC system - but we wanted to try to convince them we were being fair and taking responsibility of a good portion of things. They ended up coming back with a cocky letter saying we signed in our offer that we were accepting the house as-is and that they weren't going to do anything. As a side note, I brought the as-is point up with my realtor and told him I didn't feel comfortable signing it with that in there since I knew there were things I wanted them to fix, but I trusted him.We were devastated to hear that they weren't going to do anything. Fixing/replacing the AC was going to be really expensive and we didn't want to go that high in our price range (2.5k to fix, and 10-13k to replace).
We decided not to let ourselves be emotionally attached to a house that we had nothing more than the inspector/specialist fees vested in and that we should be ready to pull our while we could still get our earnest money back ($2k?). I decided to write up a letter myself to give to the seller. The letter essentially said that we understood that we signed the contract for the house as-is, and made a very convincing argument around the inability for any buyer to predict the issues before getting an inspector out there and that we were only asking them to reduce the cost of the house in lieu of fixing those critical livability items and that if they couldn't agree to that we had attached our signed termination of contract. There were quite a few convincing parts in that letter and pulled out some of the big guns: (1) they didn't have to get tied to the house by being liable for the fixes that we were requesting (they were just reducing the cost of the house), (2) We weren't asking for the whole world, just critical items, and (3) I drew the line - if they weren't willing to work with us, we were done.
During the wait period, our realtor tried to ease our nerves by letting us know that the seller (a bank), said our offer was having to go through a higher chain of command due to the amount of money we were asking for off of the house. They finally came back and let us know that they had accepted the offer with a few changes that we figured we could live with. We ended up getting them to pay for half of a completely new AC system (compressor/condensors, evaporator coils, furnaces, plenums, etc). The AC guys said he could have repaired it for $2700, but we are much happier with a completely new system with significantly higher efficiency units and no worries of the system breaking for the time we plan on owning the home.
Whoo! We finally got our house!
There was still a lot of work left with getting the loan documents all worked out, but Tish Ashley from the Funding Source was a lot of help in making sure we got everything done in time and got the numbers all worked out to accomodate the AC. We did have to make some last minute changes to the loan due to the most recent acceptance of our offer by the bank, which required us to get another addendum signed by us and the bank. Laura and I promptly signed it and sent it off to the bank.
Closing day came and the bank had not returned the last ammendment that we need to fund the loan and get the closing statment from the sellers title company. We were a little stressed out as we had taken off work that day, the AC people planned on coming out the next day, and we had our friends prepared to help us move that weekend. Things worked out ok though, the closing date got pushed back but we got all the docs together and everything reviewed and signed and closed on the house.
The AC people came out early the next week and got the new AC installed and we were ready to move in that weekend... but then hurricane IKE was brewing in the gulf. We called our friends up on a whim on Thursday morning and ended up moving all our stuff that night after work. Brian Kammerer, Travis Ellis, and my brother Jesse Lyon came out and we rocked it out that night. My sister ordered us pizza (from Houston) and had it delivered while we were moving.We're all moved in and ready to make a bunch of changes, which I'll document in future blog posts.
... by the way, remember that electrical issue I told you about above that I was concerned about and we had an electrician come out and quote us for? Turns out the light bulbs weren't screwed in all the way and the bare romex wire wasn't connected to anything and could have just been pulled out. We replaced the lightbulbs with CFLs and the lights work perfect now! ;)