Saturday, April 05, 2014

No Sale

This has been a time of life choices and changes.

In November 2013, I was informed that my house was part of a bank foreclosure on $2 million worth of properties. No wonder it took me so long to get the roof fixed on the back addition to this house. Now I understand why getting anything done was so impossible. It took me 4 years of nagging, complaining, and threatening the landlord with the county to get the roof fixed. But it was done 18 months ago and then I was faced with losing my happy home.

I didn't realize until I talked with Beanie this morning how much I actually love this little broken down, sagging roof, slate shingles off and insulation, once mouse-infested house so much. Beanie told me that when I moved in here 6 years ago all I did was talk about this house. This morning she told me that same enthusiasm and attitude was back in my voice.

There's a simple reason. Instead of bowing once again to the real estate gods, I have decided to fight for this house -- to ask the bank for a loan to buy it. I have lived on a cash only basis for about 20 years and it shows. I have absolutely no credit rating, which I thought put me out of the running for being able to buy this house, especially with no money down. I didn't know I'd be in this position when I rented this house 6 years ago. That's where my other sister, the real estate mogul comes in.

I talked to her last night on another issue. One of our aunts died, but that's another story for another time.

She asked me what was going on in my life . . . and I told her. She told me some things, too. She told me I had more to bargain than I thought. I have a good job that I've been working at for more than 2 years. I have a steady income and a 6-year history of paying rent on time. Most of all, I have no debt load. None. I live on a cash basis, so there is no accumulated debt, no interest payments, and no one else angling for my money. I am also already in possession of the house and I know the faults and work that needs to done. AND this is a soft real estate market so no down payment could be worked in. The bank wants their money and I don't want to have to move. Looks like it might be a deal made in real estate heaven.

Well, real estate heaven would be me buying the house and paying cash on the spot, but that's a different heaven.

For the first time since all this came up, and for the first time in 6 years, I might just have control over my fate, and that is the reason for my attitude change. So much of a change I actually did some housework this morning. I have a nasty headache for my efforts, but the living room is much cleaner than it was yesterday -- or for a long time past. I can see the sofa again.

I hate being at anyone else's mercy and I have felt as though I'm being batter and blown with no deep roots to hold me secure, to make me feel safe and in control again.

Last night I spent some time with a mortgage calculator and even at the highest rate, my mortgage payments would be less than what I pay for rent now. That means I could pay the same amount I paid in rent, with the excess going to the principle on the loan, which would also lower the interest paid, and the house would be mine free and clear of the bank sooner. It would be even more if I thought I could get a 30-year fixed rate mortgage, but I decided a 20-year fixed rate mortgage was a better idea and an easier sell to the bank.

I could also save the difference between the mortgage and the rent to put a new roof on the rest of the house, fix the porch, tear down the poor and leaking excuse for that roof over the front door that pours more rain down on the person standing under it than someone standing out in the rain, and replace the slate siding after fixing the insulation. I could eventually fix the bulging, rain damaged, and possibly mildewed and moldy paneling on the walls and ceiling of the addition, and tear down that awful cobbled together, poorly jerry rigged excuse for a bookcase in there. I could get a new furnace or install central air with a new heat pump. Or I could pay the mortgage off sooner. So many options, like building a greenhouse that attaches to the house with a garage/carport. First, I have to get the bank to agree to selling me the house and carrying the mortgage.

Beanie reminded me that I could take the interest payments off my taxes at the end of the year, but the best thing is that no one could throw me out of my home again (as long as I pay the mortgage) and force me out into the rental world again.

I knew when I saw the ad for this house and then saw the house 6 years ago that this was my house. If the bank agrees, this will indeed be my house -- for real.

The bank doesn't want the house; it wants the money. I don't want people tramping through my house every weekend. There is a basis for compromise. They sell me the house and I get to tell the real estate agent goodbye and thanks for taking up your signs.

This comes at a good time because I just found someone to do the repairs and maintenance around here for a reasonable amount of money. It would be good to have control for a change -- and to buy my first house.

One other perk is that finally my family will see me living here in Colorado not as a way to upset them, but as a viable choice. They can't ask me to uproot myself and move back to Ohio because I have no ties and no roots here. They will see me in a very different light. For the first time in the 59 years of my life, I will have my own home and roots. I won't have to move if I don't want to move.

Beanie reminded me of some other things, too. Any improvements I make in this house will increase its value, which means I can use that value to make some money if I decide to sell, or use the mortgage as a springboard to buying some land higher up in the mountains and building my writer's retreat with guest house, and I won't have to depend on the lottery to get there, which is good since I rarely buy lottery tickets.

I have always been a big fan of having some control. I had control when I got divorced, packed up, and moved to Florida. I have had control every time I decided to pick up and move to another state because it was my choice. I even have some control now that I've chosen to take action and talk to the bank about buying this house. I may not get a mortgage, but at least I have a good shot at it. I have some control. I have a direction. I have a choice, and it's a much better choice than whether or not to rent an apartment, rent the other half of a duplex or basement of someone else's house, or find another house to rent and move into so that I can find myself once again in a situation where someone else decides when it's time for me to move.

I am adaptable, but I find that my tolerance for being thrust into hoping for someone else to be on my side makes me feel uncomfortable and less willing to adapt. I do know that like my neighbor, Ms. Stilettos, I do not want to base my life on hoping that someone will buy this house and let me continue to rent the house. We almost lost our homes (hers is next door and part of the whole $2 million foreclosure) this week to a developer who wants to tear down both houses and put up something else. I not that adaptable. Not any more.

And so I move into the world of responsible home owner and gain control of my fate because the only factor in this situation is whether or not I pay the mortgage, and I'm not about to put myself into that kettle of rotten fish again.

Did I mention that the bank that owns this property now is also a local bank? Cross your fingers and light a candle for me. I may just have a shot at this. As far as I am concerned, the real estate agent can put "No Sale" on this house.

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