Wow, have I really not posted since the 20th? Really? Sorry about that. There has been a TON going on in my life, as many of you know. So here we go…
On Tuesday night, there was a spectacular pass of three spacecraft currently in orbit. The shuttle, having just undocked from the space station that afternoon, came first. It was bright, but the space station that followed just a few seconds later was even brighter. Five minutes later the unmanned Progress resupply vehicle flew by, much fainter but still visible, on its way to docking with the space station on Wednesday. It was awesome to watch three spacecraft and 13 people cruise 200 miles above our new house.
Yes, our NEW HOUSE.
Which we have now been living in for almost a week. Much of our stuff is still at the apartment, but the daily needs are all in the house. I’m looking forward to another weekend of getting things in order and having some friends over for a bit. Hopefully the weekend will be slightly calmer than last weekend, however. Last weekend felt very short — and very long, because we crammed so many things into a scant 48 hours. By Sunday evening, both Jose and I were exhausted!
Where to start…
We closed on the house last Thursday, the 23rd. This part of the story requires some background, so here you go: homebuilders usually have a “preferred” lender that they recommend you use to secure your mortgage. You don’t have to use them, but they are “preferred” — and in an attempt to make it worth your while, the builder throws in an incentive. In our case, we would get 2% of the sales price of our house back at closing to apply towards closing costs or the price of the house. Sounds great, right? But of course it’s not. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist (or in our case, two rocket scientists) to figure out that the reason the lenders are “preferred” is that they’re giving some kind of kickback to the builder. To cover this, the interest rate they offer is higher and their closing costs are more expensive.
So we didn’t use them. We went with Hometrust, a company recommended by many of our friends and coworkers. Hometrust gave us an interest rate that was 0.75% lower than the “preferred” lender was quoting, and their closing costs were $2,000 less. Plus, Hometrust actually called me back within a few hours each time I had to leave a message, compared to the “preferred” lender who always took a whole day to return my calls. In fact, the best service I ever got from the “preferred” lender was AFTER I told them we’d decided to go with Hometrust. Suddenly, they wanted to talk to me multiple times a day. Imagine that!
Our sales coordinator at our builder, Coventry Homes, is the only person we ever really had contact with throughout the build process. She told us multiple times that the consequence of using an “outside” lender — aside from not getting the 2% kickback at closing — would be that we would not receive the keys at closing. She would have the keys in the office (which is at the model home in our neighborhood), and would be able to give them to us only after getting a call from the title company saying that the loan was funded. “What does funded mean?” we asked. “Well, it just means we have to confirm that the money has been transferred and is there.”
Ok. That made sense enough, even if it was a bit annoying. So we worked very hard with our mortgage broker to ensure that the wire transfer of funds for our house would occur on Thursday the 23rd. We were closing that day, and the funds would transfer, and voila — we would be able to drive straight from closing (which of course had to happen on the complete opposite side of freaking Houston) back to our neighborhood, where we would get the keys.
Jose’s sketch of our house on the “tablecloth” at Zio’s
So we go to closing, very excited. It’s just Jose and me, our realtor Mike, and some random lady from the title company. The builder doesn’t come to closing unless it’s the end of the month, we had learned a couple days earlier. Anyway, we sign the pile of paperwork and everything is happy and it’s about 11:30 a.m. when we finish and THEN the title lady says:
“The paperwork will go to the builder this afternoon at 3:00 with our courier. Then they’ll sign it tomorrow morning and send it back to us. Then we’ll send it to the lender, and hopefully you’ll have your keys by the end of tomorrow.”
Oh, she said, the builder should have informed you that this was the process, and it would take a business day for the paperwork to be completed.
NO, THE BUILDER DID NOT INFORM US OF THIS.
Oh, but this is always the way it happens. We have to confirm that the loan is funded. I’ve worked here for 8 years and it always takes a day.
THE BUILDER SAID YOU NEEDED THE MONEY. FUNDED = MONEY.
Oh, well yes, the money is here, but we need their signature.
WAIT. YOU HAVE YOUR MONEY BUT WE’RE WAITING ON PAPERWORK???
At that point, I was too upset to talk, and the title company woman was useless, so Jose called our sales coordinator to express our severe displeasure. It was to no avail. By the time we got to the car, I couldn’t hold my frustration in any longer and burst into tears. All week, I had been anticipating getting the keys to our house on Thursday. We had built it up and built it up — and who DOESN’T get their keys on the day they close?!? — and the emotional hit of finding out we had to wait another day was too much.
I calmed down on the way home and decided to call Scott, our most awesome mortgage broker. He was absolutely LIVID to hear what was happening, especially since their company had just completed a wire transfer for quite a large sum of money for a house that we couldn’t get into just yet. Alas, despite many angry phone calls and emails from him, we still didn’t get our keys until Friday afternoon.
In the end, it was only a day. I realize this. But it was SO not the way things should have gone. We love our house and overall are satisfied with our house-building experience. But boy did they botch our closing. If anyone asked, I’d still recommend the builder — but not wholeheartedly, and I’d make sure the person knew what they were in for.
In summary: Coventry Homes is so-so and Millenium Title is useless, but Hometrust Mortgage 100% rocks my socks off. The other day we even got a check in the mail — a refund from Hometrust for 1 day of interest on our house. Since we didn’t get the keys until a day after closing, they recalled the wire transfer and sent it a day later. The money was based on a closing date of July 23, they said, and in effect our closing wasn’t completed until July 24. So we got a small refund check from Hometrust.
Hometrust Mortgage. Two thumbs up.
With the keys finally in our hands on Friday, we could start moving in! We’d originally planned to spend that night at the house, but decided against after running a million errands, getting tired, and deciding we wanted to sleep in a bed and not on an air mattress.
Saturday it was! We’d bought a new bedroom set on Thursday and it was set for delivery only two days later — but the catch for the quick delivery was that it could arrive anytime between 7 am and 10 pm! We were both pretty tired having to get up so early to go to the house, but we occupied ourselves with setting up a few of the things we’d already bought. Fortunately we got lucky and the bed delivery guys arrived at 11:30! Our new refrigerator was delivered only an hour after that, so we had the whole afternoon free for running errands. We also ended up back at the apartment to collect some things and get ready for the next day.
On Sunday, the movers arrived to take care of all our furniture. I can’t count the number of times I moved myself in college and shortly after, and I hated it every single time. I HATE MOVING. It was great to not have to worry about any of the furniture. And, although we left almost anything non-furniture at our apartment, we have an entire month to move it bit by bit — hopefully getting rid of all of the junk in the process.
On top of all that, I had to go in to work on Sunday and Monday nights to help prepare for the shuttle undocking on Tuesday. Let’s just say I was feeling very sleep deprived. The up side of working at night was that I was home on Monday to wait for the cable guy and the internet guy. Less than 48 hours after really moving in, we had all our services going — and hey, we NEED our internet and cable, people.
All in all, having a house is totally awesome.