In the interest of getting something written, I'm excusing myself from writing well. (I'll use Arial to indicate how poorly this prose was thought out.)
On our way to my folks' for Easter, we saw a house back in March or April of 2008, and went to an open house that June. Financially speaking, we shouldn't have been looking at houses then, but Beth fell in love with it, even though the listing price was way more than we could even think to afford. So after seeing what a "best-case" house at the top of our potential price range was, we got all our moneys and debts under control.
Initially, the homeowner was trying to sell the place herself, and when she listed it with a realtor, the price only went up. Heartbreak! Panic! Something. We kept looking back at the listing, and when it finally came down, we decided to talk to a few lenders and a realtor who had been nothing but patient with us in our early stages of looking.
Once we got pre-approval from a lender our realtor had highly recommended, we saw some comparables in August. Nothing came close to this house in any criteria (square footage, number of beds and baths, amount of work we'd need to put into it). The place was immaculate when we initially saw it, and after seeing some dumps, we had a whole new appreciation of what this place was. We decided we wanted to put together an offer and met with our realtor the next day.
Everything was going awesome from the time we wrote our offer (Aug. 31) through the home inspection (2nd week of September). We just went back and forth with the homeowner once to come up with a price we could all agree on. Inspection went great - no surprises, and the homeowner had taken such good care of the place that we shouldn't have much to worry about for years.
Even after making ourselves "golden borrowers" (lender's words), we had a crazy time trying to buy this house. From the appraisal forward, the whole process has just taken f-o-r-e-v-e-r. The appraisal came back $11,000 lower than we had offered, which meant that we'd either need to bring a whole lot more money to the table or get the seller to agree to a lower price. Fortunately, we were again able to come to a number we were all satisfied with after just another round of negotiation. We settled on a price and a closing date, signed a bunch of contract addendums, and thought we were in the clear.
We would have been, too, if it weren't for things going slowly with the lender every step of the way. We were asked for a ton of documentation 72 hours before our initial closing date, including a bill of sale for a broken waverunner (cash deposit of $500 in our bank account; buyer was out of state tending to a sick relative) and cancelled checks Beth deposited for the canoe trip. We had to provide new copies of bank statements, a letter of explanation about Beth's legal name (versus the name on the check written for earnest money), a copy of our marriage license - you name it, they asked for it.
Protip: When applying for a mortgage, be ready to provide documentation on any deposits you make that aren't from your employer!
Ran around, got stuff, took a day off in case anything came up on the day of closing, and... had to delay closing because our loan was still in underwriting. Had to write a contract extension because of it. So the long bank weekend (Columbus day) came and went, and things were looking good for closing on Wednesday - so good that I took the day off, and Beth made up time ahead of Wednesday afternoon to get out and get the deal done. No closing. (I got some work done on the car, so it wasn't a total loss.) At the end of the day Wednesday, all the involved parties got things set for us to close at 8:30 this morning.
When we showed up at the title company this morning, we figured we'd have plenty of papers to sign - but the underwriters (in Texas) hadn't sent everything over. We got through everything with the homeowner (who was leaving town) by 9:30, then we waited. When the documents finally arrived, no one could open them since they were locked with a password owned by someone at another branch office. By the third hour, things seemed laughable. By four, flat out ridiculous, and this was before we even had a final settlement amount for our down payment and closing costs. Everything after that was just waiting for phone calls and the Federal Reserve. Yeesh.
Protip: Don't wire money! Just go get the check!
Anyway, I was there all day and spent three vacation days, but now we own our dream home. We'll be moving within the next 30 days, just in time to get things set up for the boys.