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Monday
Jun242013

Scaling It Back: Issue 2

It’s been six weeks since we scaled it back and temporarily moved to Renton. Even the stuffed animals have contracted cabin fever. Somehow, amazingly, we have not been asked to leave the apartment (yet). No cops have been called and no one has angrily pounded on any of our walls, ceiling, or floor.

The nostalgia of apartment living often permeates the air in the form of a burnt meal setting off smoke detectors in a neighboring apartment. The open courtyard we overlook acts as an echo chamber, amplifying the piercing tones and making it impossible to find the source—unless of course the smoke is heavy enough to betray the would-be chef. Jen even burnt some toast one Saturday morning, just to prove that we still know our way around the electronic beasts. Occasionally I hear a car alarm, though it’s possible my imagination is getting the better of me.

We’re now at the tail end of our Renton stay, making final preparations to move into our new house about thirty miles north in Bothell. This week has been one of uncertainty, failed coordination, and stress. After having me submit nearly every document twice, the processor handling my loan—we’ll call him Nemo—notified me two weeks ago that his wife is very pregnant and he would likely be going out on leave any day. Not to worry though, his colleagues would be picking up the slack.

Nemo’s revelation made me nervous for a couple of reasons:

  • Our scheduled closing date was just two weeks away.
  • Our temporary apartment lodging was initially arranged for only 45 days. The builder already changed the closing date once—after they repeatedly assured us that they never miss their target date. So now, instead of leaving the apartment a few days early, we are shelling out extra cash to stay an extra day.
  • This is the end of June, the busiest time of year in the moving business. When the builder changed the original closing date, it was the end of May and we had plenty of time to reschedule. A change now will likely mean days if not weeks before we can get back on the schedule for delivery.
  • My confidence in Nemo was shattered when, after repeatedly submitting the same documents to him, I had to teach him how to read my bank statement.

With all those moving parts, my file was now being handed off to someone totally new at the most crucial stage of the process. I was concerned. That brings us to one week ago.

June 17, 2013
After requesting my final numbers from Nemo on June 13 and hearing nothing, it was not surprising to get an email back from his manager informing me that his daughter had been born and Nemo would be out all week. The team lead, we’ll call her Amy, would be taking over the file in Nemo’s absence. Everyone at this point was awaiting the final inspection from the appraiser. In addition, the lender, represented now by Amy, was waiting for pay stubs from me that I had already submitted a week prior, and “builder documents that we have been waiting on for a while now.” Having been in constant contact with the builder throughout this process, I knew they did not yet have the certificate of occupancy (CofO) which was pending a final county inspection due this week. I assumed the inspection and the CofO were the documents in question.

June 18, 2013
I received an email from Amy that the final amounts were still in work, the CofO was due Thursday, so we wouldn’t close until Friday. From my perspective, that left plenty of time to get the keys Friday afternoon and let the movers in on Monday.

June 19, 2013
The builder calls it homeowner orientation, real estate agents call it the final walk through. The house was a mess. The hole for the vent hood above the range had been cut in the wrong place, so the duct work had to be relocated, the surrounding drywall repaired, and the required electrical rerouted. Most of the hood had been installed, though it wasn’t yet functional and the stainless steel decorative cowlings were not yet installed. Electrical outlets were missing, cabinets were dinged—I won’t bore you with the page and a half of punch list items. The builder’s superintendant certainly had his work cut out for him when we left. We still did not know our final numbers, and now we were told that the lender was awaiting a soil analysis report from the builder.

June 20, 2013
We received a final HUD statement showing our numbers and the amounts we would need to bring to close. It was now the least of our problems (and it turned out to be wrong anyway). The soil report had been received. Unfortunately the lender was also asking for a letter regarding the soil report. Nobody could articulate to me what the letter was to state or why, only that our out-of-state lender was asking for it, it was a very unusual request, and the builder would need a week to have their geological engineer draft it. A volley of email traffic and phone calls followed. I began exploring alternatives to the many plans already in place. My wife began to freak out.

Continue to Issue 3