I went for a walk…..

I have a few other things I need to do right now but before the day passes on, I want to write this in response to someone who posted about their buying a house for the first time.

Everyday when I open my backdoor, and this is even after four coats of paint on it, I see the “scars” where I had to take a hammer to the door to get the wrongly locked lock off of it after the real estate agent we used locked the wrong lock following our final walk through.  She also refused to give us the key and instead gave it to the scumbag attorney for the bank who held up our closing and our attorney getting the key for as long as possible.  The bank’s attorney made our attorney wait six hours for the key the day following our closing.  

I still want the $200 back we had to pay to fix the lock on the door.

So here’s a great picture (and even more for the people who know me well): standing outside in the dark, on a dark porch, no lights, in the backyard, on a November night, freezing, all the stuff that was in my car trunk dumped on the grass in front.  I’m shaking the back door (the front door was stuck shut because it hadn’t been opened in close to two years, maybe more, and still has the original handle), trying multiple times to open the door with both locks with the key I have.  One of the locks wouldn’t budge or turn and I realized then the real estate agent hadn’t locked the correct lock.  The flashlight battery wasn’t working.  Finally I gave up.  But not for long.

I returned the next day with more stuff and a good twelve hours of piss and vinegar ready to go.

One of the few items I didn’t dump out of my trunk was a hammer.  I’d inherited that car and that hammer from a family member who died.  I took that hammer after unloading the next round of kitchen stuff, went around the back of the house, and went to work.  About fifteen blows later the doorknob was off of the door.  Had that not worked, something else that was going to cost a lot more money to fix was going to be shortly broken and broken into.

I can now say I’ve had the legitimate experience of breaking into a house.

I do have a kit I can use to pick locks but that was buried, packed away.  I would have kept it out had I thought the closing would turn out the way it did.

I know some people who hate me and are jealous will probably secretly enjoy this story and the real estate agent will never admit to wrongdoing but she did go on a vacation to Disney shortly after we closed.  I still to this day don’t feel she deserved or believe she earned the $3,000 she received from the closing nor does the slime and scumbag attorney deserve the other $3,000 he got out of the closing.  I had to rip him a new one on Facebook, the only bad review I’ve ever given to someone, because he “lost” the deed to the house for about a week, supposedly on his desk and he also blamed his paralegal.  I put up a bad review and the deed amazingly appeared the next day.  But we still had to wait six days to close after the initial closing being delayed two weeks.

As the rain pours down outside right now, I’m looking out of the one of the windows I almost broke to get in.

So, why am I sharing this?

We’ve been here over two years this month.  We had to fight to get this house.

Everyone involved in the process makes homeownership and getting that house sound like you should be singing the soundtrack to “The Sound of Music” just like Julie Andrews.  

It’s not.  

You will make enemies.  You will lose friends.  You will never again trust people.  You will hate the word “neighbor” and cringe when you hear the words “real estate agent” and “attorney.”  You will find out how much people don’t believe you.  You will go through money like you will not believe.  There’s always something else.

Here are some words of advice, in no particular order, about buying a house, having a house, and having to move.  As “California Dreaming” goes, “I’ve been for a walk…..”  

  1. Save, save, save your money.  If you don’t need it, don’t buy it.  Dryer broke?  Hang your clothes outside and get clothes lines for inside.  Cut up the credit cards except for one.  Get out of debt.  Get a car you know is reliable and can have for a long time.  Don’t buy the newest and latest toys.  I’ve had this laptop for six years.  It works fine. Don’t waste money on booze.  Turn off the lights when not in use. Second hand clothes rock.  Don’t get stuck in a situation because you want your cigarettes and booze and have to buy everything, including leasing cars, to keep up with the Joneses.  Keep Christmas simple. People laugh at you?  Call you a cheap bitch?  Move on.  They aren’t for you.
  2. Don’t hire people who have a personal connection to you, even if it’s only two or three people away or someone another person recommended.  When we have to sell our old house that we are now renting because the real estate agents we asked wouldn’t give us the proper value for it, I already know who I’m calling: the guy with the bad toupee who sold a house with no property, was a former drug house, and a house where someone blew their brains out in the basement.  We went through that house and met him briefly.  He was sitting in the newly flipped house at a dining room table and didn’t sneer at or belittle our wanting to see the house.  He said welcome, take your time, and pointed the way in.  The house sold for double the supposed value of the neighborhood, with no yard and no garage to boot.
  3. Police and crime statistics don’t care about nor do they count drug dealers, especially white ones.  Remember the song “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked”?  End up with the wrong neighbors and you will love that song for the rest of your life.  And nobody will ever believe the things you experience because people like to tell you, “Drugs and drug dealers don’t exist here”.  Everything else, down to the pettiest larceny, you will know about because it will be blown out of huge proportion but people driving down your street to get high….well….maybe the 80 year-old growing weed for their arthritis will be arrested but otherwise….I need not say more.
  4. Check out your neighbors before you move in.  Knock on doors.  Introduce yourself. Check out public records, including criminal court and bankruptcy court.  How long have people lived there?  Do people rent?  Do the neighbors know each other?  For how long?  Bankruptcies? Foreclosures?  What kind of work do they do?  Do they really work?  What animals are around?  How do they treat the animals?  Lots of barking dogs that don’t stop?  Don’t buy. Are the houses well-maintained?  Are properties well-maintained?  Take a walk through and drive through at different times of the day and night and different days. If there are any major red flags, don’t buy.  If the neighbors have all known each other for a long time, again, you may be walking into a sticky situation and not realize it at the time. This house was a foreclosure because they bought at the peak of the market and then couldn’t sell when they left for work in another state.  They also didn’t do any work to it so the house wasn’t updated for almost fifteen years until we got here.  In between this there was someone slumming here who is still using this address illegally.  A few nasty notes had to be sent to the Tax Collector before we stopped receiving tax bills for expensive foreign cars we don’t own.  Our first house things were fine for the most part when we first moved in but went downhill a few years later.  
  5. Your neighbors are your neighbors, not your friends.  Keep it that way.  They will see things about you that may or may not be true, or what they perceive to be true.  And many people like to make you their business.
  6. Check out every little piece and every square inch on the property.  Our first house the shed was always locked and “unavailable” every time we went to look.  When we finally got there, we saw why.
  7. Don’t feel pressured to buy and back out if you have to.  If you don’t, you may regret more than the money lost.  It’s not over until the closing is over.
  8. Even $400,000 houses can have wet basements and hidden problems.
  9. Have people go with you to look at the house after you decide this is the “one”.  A different set of eyes are always good and may catch things you may not.
  10. Don’t be fooled by excuses.  On our first house, we asked why all the windows were covered in plastic.  We were told one person living there was “cold” all the time.  Well, when the plastic came off…we froze the first winter.  Someone had used the cheapest windows possible and didn’t install them correctly, some were actually upside down.  The ad for the house said the windows were “new, thermal windows.”  Nope.  We are never using that real estate agent either.
  11. Follow the house inspector around.  You are paying a nice chunk of change for them, follow them around.  If you don’t like something or don’t understand something, speak up and ask questions.  If they don’t like it, too bad.  Tell them to find another profession.
  12. Know the local house codes.  The inspector on our first house missed that our dishwasher had been illegally installed and needed an on/off switch in case of fire. Beyond a new dishwasher, it cost us over $600 to make it legal.  I made sure the next inspector we dealt with knew this.  He claimed it was irrelevant but he later admitted to being wrong in his own macho way.
  13. If the house has been winterized, check your hot water heater and washing machine before closing.  The water company forgot to put the hose back in before it turned the water back on and someone stole the copper cap off of the water heater.  

Just my 2 cents for now.  I will add on if you have any suggestions or if I think of anything else.

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