Sunday, January 13, 2013

A Tale of 2 Real Estates (Part II)

Now I'm finally getting around to part II of:

A Tale of Two Real Estates (Part II)

This second tale has more to do with the finance company rather than realtors or buyers. We recently had to move again due to St. Pauli Girl's job change, and we decided we'd be better off buying a second home rather than renting something until we sold the old house.

We found a nice little fixer-upper straight out of 1973, with gold shag carpeting and Brady Bunch d├ęcor still in tip-top shape. After looking at different financing options via the internet, I began receiving phone calls from several companies which I ignored. I finally broke down and answered a call as a reward for the caller’s persistence. This turned out to be the same mistake as when we tried to find a plumber but everyone was booked up for weeks except for the last guy we called; there's a reason he was the only one in town not booked for weeks. And there was a reason for this woman's persistence.

Having been through the buying process in Texas several times, I already knew the paperwork we would need and had it ready. Lola, from a finance company that shall remain nameless but let's just say they like to “discover possibilities,” seemed very impressed by my homework. We set a pretty aggressive closing date, but she said that date should be no problem.

The next day, St. Pauli Girl told me someone from the finance company had called our realtor and told him “we” had chosen an unreasonable closing date.

 “Not to worry,” I said, “Lola from the same finance company said it wouldn't be a problem.”

Nine days before closing, Lola told me that everything was in order and she was ready to pass it on to the underwriting team. Mr. Haney, the underwriting manager, called me to tell me he was looking forward to working with me. Then I didn't hear anything for five days.

On the Thursday before our Monday closing, I decided I'd better call Mr. Haney.

“I'm just trying to find out where were at since we're supposed to be closing on Monday,” I said.

“I was just about to call you,” Mr. Haney responded. “I still need your W-2 for 2010.”

“You already have it. I uploaded it for Lola two weeks ago. In fact, I'm looking at it in the document directory of your website right now. It's called W2_DK_2010.doc.”

After a brief hesitation, “Oh yeah, there it is. I was looking for 'W-2', no wonder!”

“Great but we're supposed to be closing on Monday so I’m leaving tomorrow morning because it’s a 350 mile drive from where I am right now.”

“I'm doing everything I can to make that happen.”

“I'm sure you are. I just need to know if I should bother to make the drive or not.”

“I'm working really hard on this, I just don't know.”

“Are we going to close on Monday or not?”

“I'm putting all my time on this, and I'm trying to make it happen.”

“Yes or no would be fine,” I finally said with a sigh.

“How about this, there's a 20 percent chance that you'll be closing on Monday. Is that good enough for you?”

“Fine. So, that’s a no?”

“But it's not. I'm really working hard on this. It's not no, it's twenty percent of a yes!”

I hung up. Although I gamble a little, I pretty much limit it to blackjack and video poker. We moved the closing date.

The day before our new closing date, I packed up the car with as many essential items I could for the new house. St. Pauli Girl and I both had arranged to take that day off from work to get the closing done. Mid-afternoon, I got an email message from our realtor forwarding an email from Mr. Haney's boss (whom we'll call Ivan) stating that the closing date would most likely not be met, and we should not bother to try and set any more closing dates because it makes their job harder.

I fired off an email to Ivan asking when he or Mr. Haney were ever going to bother to notify us about the closing date. After some apologies, they pushed the closing date back another week, to make closing date #3.

At 6:00 p.m. the day before closing, I once again had the car packed and ready to depart first thing the next morning. As I shut the trunk, my phone rang.

Without even looking, I knew: Mr. Haney. “We're almost there,” Mr. Haney said. “There's just one thing. We're having trouble getting St. Pauli Girl's employment verified.”

“But you said we were approved by underwriting?”

“Yes, you were but they wanted me to follow up on this.”

“But Lola received the employment information three weeks ago. You've had three weeks to do the verification.”

“Now that's true, but we're still going to need a letter from her boss to verify her employment.”

“It's 6:00 here. Everyone is gone for the day. And it's an academic department--who knows what time he gets to work.”

“I'm working really hard on this,” Mr. Haney said.

The next day when our realtor found out I wasn’t planning on coming, he called to tell me that if we don't close that day, it would take another week to redo the paperwork. I sighed, then told him I'd be on the road in thirty minutes.

My phone rang. Guess who. Mr. Haney said I was wasting my time by leaving so early (!) because he wasn't sure if we could close that day.

I finally told him, “I'm not wasting my time. You approve the loan today or the contract is dead and we’re getting an apartment.”

Finally, by late afternoon, Mr. Haney notified the title company of the loan approval. However, paperwork would not be ready until the next morning. His last words: “I'm going to work late and work really hard on this.”

Of course the paperwork was not ready the next morning. We sat at the title company for an extra hour waiting for it. And when it did come in, it included paperwork that only the seller usually signs, plus a long application form as if we were applying for a loan for the first time. The woman at the title company tried to hide her smile but failed.

“But they already have all of this information,” I told her.

“Of course they do. They couldn’t have processed the loan without it. Based on how everything has gone so far, let's just sign everything. There's no telling what might happen if we don't.”

We finally finished and moved into our new house. After a couple of weeks I decided to call Ivan back because, according to a large guarantee on their website, they offer a $1000 rebate if you don't close on time. I figured that was the least they could do for us.

“Well, I looked through the paperwork and since we never actually set a closing date, you don't qualify for the rebate,” Ivan said. “People misunderstand that guarantee all the time. What it really means is we'll do everything we can to keep from paying you $1000.”

“Like instead of setting a closing date, you give a percentage chance of closing--”

“Thanks again for your business. Tell your friends!”

There’s about a 20% chance that’ll happen. And not in a good way.


  1. As a Realtor, I see this kind of thing all the time. I have a lot of disdain for the real estate professions (not me, of course, but there are plenty of crooks) BUT I HATE most mortgage lenders for all their various shenanigans. All of it is very anti-home buyer.