We have just finished going through the house-closing from hell. We were supposed to close on our house in New Hampshire on Thursday. Wednesday afternoon at 4 pm Lee started getting phone calls from SIRVA (the relocation company) and our Realtor. The sellers had run into a problem with their bank and couldn’t get the payoff amount for their loan. Suddenly the whole sale was thrown into question.
Apparently (as we discovered later) the sellers had gone into forbearance. I had to look up what this meant. It means that they had decided to delay the payment of their last two mortgage payments and instead take them out of their payoff amount. There was no problem with their mortgage per se, and they had enough equity in the house. But by doing this they had thrown their mortgage out of the bank’s automated system. Not realizing this, they didn’t start asking for the payoff amount until a couple of days before the closing, and hadn’t realized that it was really going to be a problem until Wednesday. Add to that a messy divorce and some incompetent participants and we had a potential disaster on our hands.
We spent Thursday waiting by the phone. Late Thursday afternoon we decided to go ahead and do the walk-through at the house and sign all of the paperwork that we could without the seller’s payoff amount. At least that way if the amount came through in time we would be ready.
This was only the second time I had seen the house. It was strange to finally see it again. There are some really, really nice things about it, and some things I don’t like too. The main area of the house is just beautiful. The kitchen is huge, with lots of cabinet space, and the cabinets are really nice. The living room has beautiful French doors looking out over the back yard, an old stone wall, and the conservation woods beyond. The dining room is open to both the kitchen and the living room. The front walk leads to a BIG front porch. I love front porches and have always wanted to own a house with one and can’t wait to decorate it with furniture, etc. The master bedroom is spacious and has a FANTASTIC walk-in closet. There is a separate wing on the other side of the kitchen that includes a large laundry room and a room we are going to make into a library that can also serve as a second guest room. The stairwell that leads to the basement and the garage is just neat and different. The garage is huge, and there is a basement! And I’m sure once we move in I will discover other things that I love as well.
Now for the negatives. The master bathroom is small, with only one sink, a small linen closet, and no separation for the toilet. The guest bathroom has no linen closet at all. The area in front of the house is limited. There is a wetland in front of the house which we own and can look at and enjoy, but there are restrictions on what we can do with it. The driveway isn’t paved and right now it badly needs a load of gravel that will need to settle in until we can pave it next spring. The deck on the back of the house is ugly and we want to tear it out and redo that whole area. The lake is really nice, but the neighborhood and surrounding houses are kind of strange. Until probably ten years ago it was all little summer cabins and many of these cabin/shacks still remain, interspersed with nice houses like ours and other houses that can best be described as lower middle class. There seems to be some kind of boat yard storage area on one side of our property that we didn't notice until the leaves started falling off the trees! It’s a real mixture and will take some getting used to. The town of Salem is different from many of the other surrounding towns because it is a tax-free Mecca for Boston shoppers. A lot of areas look like a tacky strip-mall.
Okay, back to our closing saga. The pseudo closing was very depressing. We met the woman that was selling the house and her realtor. We could tell that the seriousness of the situation was just really dawning on them. The man was represented by a lawyer that came on very aggressively and seemed to have an attitude that suggested that if there was any delay in the closing she was going to figure out a way to blame it on us. The notary that conducted the closing was the most pompous self-important little man I’ve ever met. He was so irritating! He seemed to think he was the funniest person in the world, but none of us thought his jokes were humorous at all. Like many of the other people at the table he only slowly began to realize that this was not a very happy occasion.
Friday morning Lee and I started to plan what we would do if the sale fell through. The contract on the house expired at midnight on Friday. We had to move out of our service apartment on Friday. We had to cancel the delivery of our furniture and it went into storage in Boston. We moved into a Staybridge Suites. It wasn’t too bad – still had two bedrooms and a small kitchen. It would serve our purposes for a week or two if need be. We decided that we would start apartment-hunting if the contract fell through. And we weren’t going to give them an extension, but might propose another contract on Monday, but maybe not. We’d take our time searching for another house.
By Friday afternoon we were back in Salem. We went by the house to see if we had any mail. We worried about how long we should wait before we cancelled the utilities. We cancelled the Comcast installation. We decided we should go to the Post Office and put our mail on hold or get a PO Box for the time being.
I walked into the Salem Post Office and stood in line for several minutes. When it was my turn I went up to the counter and began discussing our options with the clerk. As we were talking Lee comes running into the post office waving his phone. The sellers had received a pay-off amount from the bank, at the last possible moment!
We went to a nearby Barnes and Noble, bought some coffee, and sat down to wait for another phone call. The realtors still needed to receive their copies of the final paperwork before we could meet them at their office and sign. At around 4 pm we got word that the paperwork was ready for our signature. We went over to the office, signed the papers, shook hands all around, and received the keys. We had a house!
Now today we’ll start going down our list of things we need to do before we move in. There’s some unexpected painting that needs to be done because the woman patched all the nail holes and unintentionally made a mess. We need to order gravel, plan where the furniture will go, decide about the purchase of a generator for the power outages that can occur during winter storms, go pick up our snow blower at Sears, order the new decking because the stuff we want is on sale right now, and buy a piece of baseboard that is missing in one room. I can also go ahead and do the remaining changes of address on our employers, credit cards, frequent flyer accounts, etc.
Now our furniture will be delivered on Tuesday and we will be unpacked on Wednesday, but Wednesday morning I will be on my way to St. Louis to see my mom, who is having a lot of health problems right now and has been in the hospital the past couple of weeks. I have definitely been thinking about my favorite John Lennon quotation these past couple of days. Life is what happens while you’re making other plans. Well, we’ve had a major “life” attack this past week!