Archive for the ‘Finances’ Category

We’re back!

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

Soon after my last post (in April 2010), we moved into our house in the dead of night. The combination of our daughter being desperate to stop the commute from my mom’s house to grade school with my cousin needing a place to sleep = a move into our house. It lacked a lot of stuff… for instance, few doors, no closet rods, and no internet connection. There’s a limit to what I’m willing to do with an iPhone. So, the internet has had to do without my house updates for 2+ years, but the bank did convert our construction loan to a mortgage.

A few months later, we tried to refinance, but the appraiser concluded that the house was worthless  without trim. Seriously. He refused to appraise the house ‘as is.’ And our credit union agreed. So, some more months later, we went to the local bank which held our paper, and their appraiser was willing to appraise our house. We did eventually refi, but it’s a different world from ten years ago – amazing mortgage rates, but it takes work to persuade a bank to let go some of “their” money. (The local bank sold our paper the day we refi’ed.)

We decided not to try to roll our credit card debt (accrued in the desperate push to get the construction loan closed) into the mortgage. So we went on the cash-onlymostly plan a year ago January. We paid off the credit cards and are on track to pay off my mom by year’s end, I think. (Yay, us!)

Progress: We have doors on all the bathrooms. Door knobs on about half of them. Most of the grout is done. Trim in some rooms. Wallpaper in two rooms. Windows rebuilt in all but one room. (Unfortunately, the room we spend most of our time in.) Window treatments in some of the rooms. Closet rods in some of the closets. We’ve got the ivy mostly out of the front yard and side yard.

But, we’re a long way from being done – which might be just as well. I like this house, and I’d just as soon stay.

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Life is complicated

Sunday, June 28th, 2009

Passed our rough in re-inspection last week. Reinstalled some windows. Easier than expected. BioBased insulation goes in on Monday. (Supporting northwest Arkansas innovation.) Frantic rush to get speaker wire in before the polyol goes in. Dry wall the week after. Hit a stump with our construction loan so we ended up scrambling to pay for the sheathing, siding, and repainting ourselves. School is out so we have a second grader in our house. Lease is up August 1 so we three will be moving back in with my mom. Not my mom and my dad, because, four weeks ago, my dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He died at home, with all of us with him, a week ago, on Father’s Day, during the summer solstice – the shortest night of the year. Memorial service Tuesday. I miss him.

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We’re in the money!

Monday, December 22nd, 2008

We started the construction loan process in early October when we realized that our Chicago equity was disappearing.  Approximately 75 days, or 1800 hours, or 108,000 minutes or 6,480,000 seconds later, we finally closed the loan this morning.  I cannot listen cheerfully to senators blaming car makers for not being able to get a loan from the banks.

Our main misstep was in starting work before we got the construction loan although we had a small stumble over the appraisal.  The bank worries about mechanics’ liens beating the bank in priority.  We deal with that by getting lien waivers from all future subcontractors.  Whatever.

We have nine months to complete construction, but it is supposed to be relatively simple to get an extension because the extension comes out of the first sixty months of our 5/5/5/5/5/5 ARM.  (The 9-month construction loan and the first 5 years/60 months of our ARM are at 5.95%.  If the construction takes longer, then the 60 months will be shorter, so that the total remains 69 months at 5.95%.  We just pay down principal for less of the time so the P+I will be a little higher.)  The ARM has a cap and a shoe (or whatever the bottom is — it will never go below 5.95%, which doesn’t seem so great given the below 5% rates we’re hearing about for thirty-year fixed, but it’s better than our current mortgage, since that one was for non-owner-occupied … even though we paid a point for that mortgage). It only recalculates every five years.  I’ve had ARMs before without problems, and we’ve never stayed 5 years in a house, so it will probably work out.  Assuming the housing market in northwest Arkansas doesn’t completely dissolve, we can also refinance without a prepayment penalty.

Oh, and we don’t have to make house payments during the term of the construction loan.  But, we do have to pay all the accrued interest at the end of the construction loan, so we’ll either make house payments or we’ll put that money aside each month.  (Or, I guess we could take a cash advance on a credit card.  Not.)  Knowing Don, I bet we’ll make monthly interest payments since we are allowed to.

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Out of money, so maybe we’ll post more often…

Thursday, November 6th, 2008

Who am I kidding? We’ve been out of money the better part of a month, and I haven’t posted. Maybe just posting tonight will get me started again.

Tonight, Don is on his way home from returning his mom to Chicago after we borrowed her for a couple of weeks, and the Little One drew her own bath and is splashing around so I’m writing. (He was there on Election Night, but didn’t go to the City.) We took her to see various sights, from War Eagle and Applegate craft fairs (where the Little One bought more than we did) to Terra Studios to the Fayetteville Farmers’ Market to Little Rock (zoo, art museum, Flying Fish, the Arkansas River from both North Little Rock and Little Rock sides, a couple of estate sales,* and the Riverfront Park). I don’t think she’s going to move here, but we had a good time and good weather.


Although we may expand on our past house doings later, in sum, we have:

  • a new foundation,
  • a new roof (with reflective sheathing),
  • new exterior walls on the back third of the house,
  • most of the framing done (including a lot of new old walls due to the extent of the fire),
  • missing windows on the front of the house,
  • no plumbing (unless you count the Potty House** out front),
  • a storm shelter,
  • one set of outlets,
  • lots of extension cords,
  • a new electric service,
  • three fewer trees, or maybe four,
  • fewer Japanese honeysuckles (invasive creatures),
  • new kitchen subfloor,
  • a design for the front yard (middle only; I can’t cope with planning the woodland sides of the front yard)
  • lots of estimates for everything that’s left.

We’ve been working with two banks to see about getting a construction loan. (Yes, we waited until the market tanked to run out of money.) The most recent issue has been that we started work without them. I think they wanted to get their construction loan recorded ahead of any sub-contractors, but then the loan would have been bigger since they want it to be finished in 9-12 months, no matter how much work lies ahead. I think one of the banks has found a title company willing to insure over the subs, so we’ll probably be back in the money one way or another. Once we have the money, we’ll do plumbing. Otherwise, Don can always rebuild windows.

*I bought some more half-size cupcake pans so I can make a full recipe of yellow cake cupcakes*** in the tiny pans so I don’t have to eat a full cupcake when I want to sample other desserts, too. Also, a big white round casserole (like my ramekins, only big) and a liquid tablespoon measuring cup, and an Ozark Do-Nothing for the Little One. I didn’t buy two club chairs that I quite liked. We took the Honda to Little Rock, and they couldn’t possibly have fit, and Don and his mom were leaving the next day for Chicago, so those will be the chairs that got away.

** The Potty House is serviced weekly, and the service apparently includes setting it upright when it gets tipped over as an early Halloween trick.

*** Here’s what the cupcakes looked like in mid-October. Our neighbor burned a bunch of our brush, we grilled hotdogs and marshmallows, and I brought cupcakes for Don’s birthday. I made another batch for my office’s birthday later in the month, and I made some for the Little One’s birthday party. I’m looking forward to having enough little pans.


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We own the house!

Friday, December 7th, 2007

Fairly uneventful closing this morning.  I signed lots of papers and produced a check and driver’s license.  Don also produced a driver’s license and signed somewhat fewer papers.  I hear that the lender had not yet authorized payment so the sellers went home empty handed, for now.  (We went home after exchanging pleasantries, rather than stick around to watch them sign.)

We did get one clue about the house at closing.  I read the exceptions to the title insurance, and asked if they had a photocopy of the plat of record so they went off and made me a copy.  We learned that the street’s name was originally Oak with an alley behind.  I’ll have to look at the scale and see if the alley disappeared or if it became a street. (Might explain why I couldn’t find the street’s current name in the 1920 census.  It had changed by 1930, though.)  I forgot to ask if they had an abstract of title — maybe we could call the title company next week.

Our Realtor took us to lunch at James at the Mill.  Delicious.  (It just received 4 diamonds from AAA.  Again.)  I had meatloaf, which was presented like a filet mignon, complete with bacon wrapped around it, layered on spinach and mashed potatoes.  Warm chocolate cake.  Also delicious. Per its website, “The Historic Johnson Mill dat[es] back to 1835 and was reconstructed in 1867 after being burned during the Civil War.  The modern renovation of the mill was designed by world renowned architect James Lambeth.”  He also designed the restaurant itself from scratch for his daughter and son-in-law, and it is beautiful.  (They are also associated with Ella’s Restaurant at Carnall Hall on campus.)

Then, we went off to the house to see how much demolition we could do in two and a half hours.

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Buying Update 6

Thursday, December 6th, 2007

Yesterday afternoon we got the HUD statement and instructions for how big a certified check to bring to closing at 10:15 a.m. Friday.  (Hint: it would have paid in full the mortgage on either of our first homes.)  I established (again) that, although we have different last names, we are married and should take as joint tenants by the entirety.  (That’s the most useful property law fact I gleaned from taking the Arkansas bar exam this winter.  Well, I also re-learned some useful things for genealogical research, but, trust me, I am not who you want to handle a property deal.  I am certainly not handling my own.)  I got the go-ahead to take Friday off.  I have something to do for the water company to avoid making another security deposit — I had better call Don and see what it is.

Don has bought a carpet cutter, dust masks, hasps (for padlocking the unoccupied apartments) and contractor bags.  He’s found our pry bars, furniture refinisher (for the stairs) and work gloves.  We still need to get batteries for our cameras since I want to document more of each step this go-round.  And I think we’re borrowing my dad’s space heater since the heater in the “living room” apartment is broken.  We’re Don is lining up people to watch the Little One, perhaps combined with Christmas tree hunting on my parents’ Hill.

I think we have a plan of attack for the weekend, which will be focused on exploration and getting to know our house. First, try stripping a little of the stairs, then pull some paneling, and start pulling carpet in the “living room” apartment.  Although we should focus on the basement so that we have a good workshop, that will be easier when another tenant leaves.  (He and his stuff should be out by Monday, leaving us with one tenant.)

I think we’re buying us a house for Christmas.

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Buying Update 5

Monday, December 3rd, 2007

One of the current owners stopped by our apartment on Friday. They are still working out issues with one of the two tenants, but I think they will have it dealt with by the time we close this Friday. I hope so — I really, really don’t want to inherit a delinquent tenant.

The current owner likes the colors we chose for the exterior. (I do, too.)  These photos are from the Friday after Thanksgiving.  The painters’ progress has slowed since then due to cooler weather.  The trim (which looks white) is a light, light green, with a dark green along the crown of the windows and the board running across the bottom of the house.  (All three greens came from the same paint chip strip.)  The red is being used only on the doors.  I think.

Nov 28 2007 Exterior11282007-ext-door.jpg11282007-detail-copy.jpg

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Buying Update 4

Thursday, November 29th, 2007

Please sing the following to the tune of “I’ll be home for Christmas.”   (Great version by Frank Sinatra in the link.)

We’ll buy home for Christmas.

The bank can plan on me.

Please have dough

and still more dough

and pay the utilities.

Phone call today. Guess the lender has approved the loan in view of the extra comps. A good thing. However, now we can’t close until a week from this Friday (December 7). (Glad this isn’t our first real estate purchase. Also glad that we weren’t trying to time apartment to house transition that closely. Instead, we’ll pay a premium on everything because the place won’t be owner occupied.)

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Buying Update 3

Tuesday, November 27th, 2007

 This news just in from our mortgage broker:

I just heard from the underwriter on your loan. She has asked that the appraiser supply her with two more comparables or comps as we say. It might take an additional day or two. I will let you know. This is the only outstanding condition on the loan!

I’d guess we aren’t closing this week, but probably will still close this year.

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Buying Update 2

Monday, November 26th, 2007

We ran into our mortgage broker on the way to kindergarten this morning.  The appraisal came in at our price and as a four-plex, so I expect we’ll be closing sometime later this week at 6.5%, 30 year-fixed, investment property.  Whew.  Maybe we’ll be doing demolition this weekend while the Little One goes to see Santa.  (Neighbors have offered us spare space in their kitchen-demolition dumpster.)  I’ll have to see if my parents are available for a trip to Santa.  The only thing I’ve heard so far on her list is something that will “make me and Daddy girly girls.”  I think it’s spray paint for hair, featured in a commercial she saw in Chicago.

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