Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Dexter Street Saga Vol. 2

So once again I was caught up in another waiting game. Back in 2003 I went to boot camp for the Army in Ft. Sill, Oklahoma and I learned a phrase there that turned out to be applicable to many aspects of adult life: "Hurry up and wait". That phrase had become the very definition of the entire home-buying experience for me.

I had done everything that I could, and now it was up to HUD to decide on what bid they were going to accept. After a few days of calling my realtor, hoping for some good news and getting no news at all, I forced myself to basically forget the whole thing was even happening so that my everyday activities would no longer be affected. I mean, I was seen many times a day at work just standing in one place, staring at the floor, completely lost in my thoughts and despair. This had to end. Of course, once I had actually pretty much come to grips with the fact that I probably didn't get it, and should be moving on, I get the call that my bid was accepted.

I was thrilled, to say the least. I was a signature away from owning my very own home! And then there it was again. "Hurry up and wait!" HUD demanded various documents be submitted within certain timeframes that, in my opinion and those that were privy to the experience I was having, were ludicrous. "We need (insert document or form here) in our hands in 24 hours....12 hours ago". And that's only a slight exaggeration.

But everything eventually came together, as it usually does. All the documents were prepared, the money was in-hand, and a closing date had been set. I went out and got my utilities scheduled for hook-up, and prepared a homeowner's insurance policy. I was beyond excited, and very anxious. This was, after all, the second biggest thing I had ever done in my entire life. It was finally closing day.

The night before was, of course, sleepless. But I didn't care, and I felt anything but tired. I gathered my things and hit the road for the law office responsible for closing the deal. It was a beautiful summer day. The breeze was blowing, the sun was shining bright, and I was on top of the world. As I was literally pulling into the parking lot, my cell phone rang. I thought it was my parents, because they were in town and supposed to be meeting me for the big occasion, but the call was from someone not in my contact list. Usually I don't answer calls like that, but a very strange, heavy feeling washed over me when I saw that number on my caller ID, and I answered it.

It was my real estate agent's husband, who is also an agent with the same firm, but I had been dealing with just her through this whole thing, and I knew right then that something was wrong, and it felt like my brain shattered like glass inside my skull. He informed me that she would not be present at the closing because she was having chest pains and had been admitted into the hospital. Now, I'm not a monster, and my first reaction was one of genuine concern for her well-being, if only for a split-second. They were sending her supervisor in her place, so everything was still moving forward, and it was only going to be a slight delay. But again I was reminded of the phrase that had been haunting me through the whole thing.

Before I go any further, I should report that the agent was fine, and released from the hospital shortly thereafter. I don't know the specifics, and quite frankly don't care past the point that she is alive and apparently well. So maybe I am a little bit of a monster. Skrew you.

Everyone is now present, so I signed the final documents, handed over the check, and they in turn handed me the keys to my new home, which practically burned in my hand, and the energy in the room was almost popping, like I was in a box of static electricity wearing a wool jumpsuit. We left the law firm behind, my parents heading straight to the house, while I had to go finalize my homeowners insurance. It took a bit longer than I expected, and when I was done I called my mom to let them know I was on my way.

By now it's just after 12 o'clock noon. I had gone to the Dothan City Utilities office 3 days prior to schedule my utilities to be turned on before noon if at all possible on the closing date. Of course they couldn't guarantee anything, but they predicted that it should be turned on by then. Well that wasn't the case, and I was faced again with another setback, but this time it was two at once. Not only had the utilities not been turned on, but the keys that the agent gave me DIDN'T WORK IN ANY OF THE LOCKS!

We called a locksmith to come and replace all the locks. He showed up fairly quickly, did his job and was on his way. I had already called an electrician to come and give me an estimate on rewiring the place because it still ran on an old-school fuse box and needed to be upgraded to breakers. He was at his mother's house which just happened to be in the same neighborhood, and he showed up a couple hours later than he had said he would, but I wasn't nearly as frustrated about that as I was the fact that it was now approaching 3 o'clock in the afternoon and my electricity and water had still not been turned on. So I called the utilities department and what I found out didn't surprise me in the least. Not with the way things seemed to be going.
The work order was made the day I went into the office to schedule the hook-up. An inspection was required before the electricity could be turned on, and apparently the city outsourced that to another company in the area. For some reason that work order never made it to the inspection company so the inspection was never actually scheduled, which meant my utilities were also not scheduled to be turned on. The situation was taken care of and I had my utilities before nightfall.

The electrician’s crew was a little short of work and were available to start pretty much immediately, so come Monday my house was getting an electrical overhaul. I still had some time left in the nasty old trailer, so it wasn’t a problem. They ended up taking about three days longer than they anticipated, but by this time I’m so accustomed to miscalculations, miscommunications, and delays in general that I’m not really affected by this. The job was done, and done very well, with the exception of a small issue that took a phone call and one guy to fix up. No big deal. All in all, I was very satisfied with the job the electricians did, and would not hesitate to call them for another project of my own, or to recommend them to anyone else. Top notch. Thanks, guys.

Which brings me to my next adventure. The most recent chapter in the Dexter Street Saga is a long one. It started over a month ago, and is actually still happening. If how things have gone so far are any indication of how things will continue to go, it will probably be another month before I can even post it. Let’s just say it involves a bathroom remodel project, myself, my dad, my grandfather, and (cue the “Psycho” shower scene soundtrack) a CONTRACTOR. Feel free to scream. I know I’d sure like to.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Dexter Street Saga Vol. 1

I recently purchased a house on Dexter Street.  It was a long and weary road to travel.  I had no idea that it could really be that stressful, and wow, was it ever.  Let's start from the beginning.

I was living in a very old, broken down trailer in a trailer park with my cousin.  His grandmother died and left him her house, so he moved out, and I stayed.  It was an absolute shithole of a place with many forms of dust, dirt, mold, and mildew throughout, and I should have left way before I did.  However, my history as a tenant is sordid at best, and my name wasn't on the lease, so the situation was quite convenient, if nothing else.

Anyway, the circumstances arose to where I could actually purchase a house, paying cash money, without having to deal with any financing or credit complications, and I was ecstatic.  After checking out a couple places, I decided on this one.  705 Dexter Street.

Its a nice little ranch style 3 bedroom, one and a half bath, 1100 square foot brick house with a garage on a corner lot the size of a small farm.  I'm not going to tell you how much I paid for it because it's none of your damn business, but I will happily tell you that I got a very, very sweet deal. 

So I decided that this was definitely the house that I wanted, and I went for it.  I got all my ducks in a row and walked my happy ass into the realtors office ready to make a deal.  Contract completed, offer submitted.....

...a day too late.  Unbeknownst to me, and apparently my realtor as well, the house had foreclosed the day before.  The "A Day Late and a Dollar Short" adage once again rears his ugly, gnarled head.  Only this time, I actually had all the dollars, maybe for the first time in my life. 

My head is spinning at this point, as you can probably imagine.  But what I felt to be good news at the time was then given to me by my realtor.  Now that the bank has foreclosed on it, it will go up for online auction sometime in the next six weeks or so.  This wasn't a problem for me at all.  I was doing okay in my current abode, and six weeks was a drop in a bucket as far was I was concerned.  This was going to be a snap.

Six weeks turned into about eight months.  I had completely given up on calling my realtor because it was always the same "I haven't heard anything but I'm always checking on it" response.  There were plenty of other places up for sale, but not really in the neighborhood I wanted to be in, either geographically or financially, and I was quite frankly a little heartbroken.  Then out of the blue, like a surprise visit from your old third grade lunch partner, I get a call from my realtor.  The house is up for auction online, but there is only 2 days remaining.

I had completely given up on it, and was actually looking for another rental to get into by now.  The surprise was certainly a welcome one.  Back to the realtors office goes my VERY happy ass again, all my ducks in a row, ready to make a deal.  Contract completed, online bid submitted.  I felt incredible.  I really thought this was going to be it.  I specifically remember asking my realtor "How long before I know if I got it or not" and I recall her response being something like "Oh it won't be long at all.  The auction ends in a couple days and you should know one way or the other in just a couple days at most".  You can probably already guess what comes next.  A couple of days turned into...

...another couple of weeks.  To be continued...

Friday, October 8, 2010

If you are watching this.....

The other night I was watching Letterman and he was speaking about a conversation he had with Rachel Ray on a previous episode that apparently I had missed.  I guess he felt the rant was so good the first time that it needed to be repeated again during this episode.  It all had something to do with the multitude of television shows about food (he mentioned Cupcake Wars, which I've never seen, and Man Vs. Food, which i LOVE) on what I can agree is probably too many channels about food, and how wasteful and blatantly gratuitous they are.  He basically sounded his disapproval and hatred for these shows on the basis of starving families is Blahblahkistan, etc.  Now I sympathize with starving families, especially the children, and I don't necessarily agree with the amount of waste that is surely generated from these entertaining (though quite ridiculous most of the time, I'll admit) TV shows, and yes, it certainly could be used to help feed starving families instead of merely entertaining an already terribly obese country as it sits on its couch eating DoubleDowns.  But this is the problem I have with what I interpreted his argument was.  What I gathered was that he was angry about the fact that these starving families are subject to this kind of material.  The truth of the matter is, all of these shows are on cable networks, which means that these starving families he is referring to are shelling out, at a minimum, about $30.00 a month , probably more, to their cable company, and are watching these shows on a TV that is probably worth at least $30 to $50 or more at their local pawn shop.  So my feelings on the subject is, if you are watching these programs and your kids haven't eaten in two days, cancel the cable and sell your goddamn television and feed your fucking kids!  Then spend the time you ordinarily would be watching your favorite TV shows and get out there and LOOK FOR A JOB.