Looking for a new house is fun in a voyeuristic sort of way – wandering through other people’s homes and making silent (or not so silent) judgments about their taste or decorating style. Peeking in their cabinets. Discovering that they just stuffed everything in the laundry room moments before you got there. It’s easier somehow with the vacant ones – you can see your stuff in places rather than having to mentally erase their (ugly, horrid, what-were-you-thinking?) stuff. Those can be a little sad, too, if you think about the reasons why they’re empty. Did someone pass away? Was this a family’s vacation home and they lost it due to the economy? I try not to dwell on those thoughts too much.
Mine was vacant. It was actually an investment property and was rented before the owner lost it to the bank. I’m OK with that, since it doesn’t feel like I’m gaining something that the previous occupants lost due to unfortunate circumstances. Their lease ran out, they moved somewhere else, and the owner decided that foreclosure was his best choice. He didn’t lose his home – he decided to get out of a losing venture. I don’t know the details and I don’t need to – my life is complicated enough.
So it turns out the current owner (another investor) requires a rather large sum of money before he’ll let me have the place. It would seem I’m going to need (another) mortgage. This is not my first rodeo. Due to some unfortunate circumstances, I’ve been responsible for a mortgage of one sort or another since I was 18.
Thanks to a minor spate of irresponsible lending back in 2007 or so (imagine sarcasm here if you like) the mortgage application process seems to have changed a bit since my last go-round in 2003. I don’t think they got any DNA, but it was close. The amount of documentation is staggering, yet somehow it seems at times like they’re just going through the motions in order to create a file of appropriate thickness.
I must say the mortgage lender’s attitude changed from cautious optimism to fawning ebullience once they ran my credit check. I did not quite understand the excitement until I got my Experian results back. I’m almost embarrassed to say my credit score is 828. (Almost embarrassed, but not enough to keep me from boasting about it a bit. It pays to be stodgy once in a while.)
The rest of the application process was… illuminating.
Lender: “So, Mr. X, how long have you held your current job?”
Me: “28 years.”
Lender: “I’m sorry?”
Me: “28 years – since 1985.”
Lender: “And you are how old?”
Lender: “You’ve had the same employer since you were 19?”
Me: “That is correct.”
Lender: “…OK… And how much were you thinking of putting down?”
Trumpets blared, angels sang, and servants came in wheeling carts laden with expensive caviar and fine wine. (Not really, but things changed when they found out I Was Serious.)
Still, they had to verify my income, verify the source of my income, verify that the source of my income was not myself, verify that the IRS copies of my tax returns reflected the same income as my W-2 forms for the last three years, verify that I had in fact sold my previous home, verify the proceeds from that sale, verify my identity, verify my employment (and projected continuity of same), verify my marital status, and of course verify that I didn’t have a dozen past bankruptcies. I now feel fully verified, vindicated, and validated. Perhaps a little naked, too.
Of course, there’s the small matter of the property itself. It will have to be appraised. Fee. You’ll need title insurance. Fee. Of course, the county charges for transfer of title. Fee. Oh, and we’ll have to inspect it for wind mitigation, since you’re in Florida (Pesky hurricanes). Fee. Oh, and wood-destroying insects. Fee. Oh, and you’ll need a survey. Fee. Oh, and you’ll need to determine if you’re in a flood zone. Fee. Oh, and you’ll also need an inspection for sinkholes to satisfy the homeowner’s insurance. Fee. We don’t care if anything works – we just want to make sure it won’t disappear into a hole in the ground. If you want it checked out physically, you’ll have to get a home inspector. Fee.
I’m not buying a house – I’m borrowing money to pay fees.
The preliminaries are done. The verifications are verified, the approvals are approved, and the mortgage is mort… ed. Or something. One week from today I fly down and sign my name in eleven thousand places on forms I do not understand – and then the bank owns my soul.