So, you know that fun little fact we shared about 2 months ago about Buying a House…yeah, well, we have finally moved in. I’ve heard horror stories about first-time home buying, but I honestly had no idea it would be this stressful. I can handle A LOT! I really am pretty cool, calm and collected 99.7% of the time, but this nearly brought me to my breaking point. No, wait. It DID bring me to my breaking point. Honestly, I think this might have been the single worst experience of my life and I’m really not exaggerating that fact. At one point, I’m pretty sure I changed my mind. Screw this, I don’t want a house anymore!
Our date slipped 3 times and each slip was due to a minor detail that could have and should have been handled long before the deadline. What lenders and lawyers and 3rd party mortgage credit approvers don’t seem to understand is that people are timing their closing against other important milestones. For us, the impending birth of twins and new renters moving into our old place; neither of which were waiting for our lender to get his s#@t together.
- Know your team: Ask how many people will have a hand in your case and get their names and contact info. By the time we were finished, we had seven people handling our case and they were not all on the same page. Everyday a new person was asking for a new document. I’m not sure how common it is, but our team seemed to be incredibly disorganized. I felt like we did 95% of their job for them.
- Spam your team: When sending documents to your lender, cc every person handling your case. I can’t tell you how many times I received an email from someone asking for a document we’d already provided.
- Notify your current and previous employers: Let them know they’ll be receiving a Verification of Employment request from a credit bureau and follow-up with them throughout the process to make sure that 1) They did receive the VOE, and 2) They sent it back to the right person. I found out at 5pm the day before we were due to close that the 3rd party verifying my employment hadn’t received info from a previous employer. Yet, when I contacted said employer, they had been notified and had completed the form.
- Notify current and previous landlords: You’ll be required to provide 2 years of rental history and there is absolutely no way around this. I had lived in Oakland for 12 months and Charleston for 10 months, so I was asked to provide info for a previous landlord in New York. This landlord was pretty shady and non-responsive when I lived in the apartment, so I wasn’t confident he’d ever respond to the agency looking for the info. I shared this fact several times with my lender, who seemingly did nothing to fix or expedite the process. This wound up being the leading reason it took us so long to close. Yup, my old landlord in NY almost prevented me from closing on my first mortgage.
- Keep EVERYTHING! Whether it’s a signed tax return request or a document providing rental history info, keep it until you’ve signed everything at your closing. I promise that someone, sometime, will ask for you to send it to them again.
- Be prepared to pay: We qualified for a 0% down loan, so we decided to keep the down payment we’d saved up to do renovations immediately after moving into the house. We also received 3.5% in closing costs for the seller, so we expected to pay nothing out of pocket. Well, there’s always something. Some of these things may be included in you closing closts, but you might have to pay up front for the inspection, insurance, and appraisal. We spent about $5,000 on “this and thats” before all was said and done.
- Take matters into your own hands: Don’t be afraid to call people. Email only works so long and you should expect to be the only one fighting for yourself. Aside from your landlords and employers, talk to the agency gathering the info. Our bank was using Equifax and while I’m not convinced they did their job, I was able to get info from them throughout the process. In fact, if I hadn’t worked directly with them on my NY landlord, we never would have gotten the loan approved.