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Today we closed on our house. It is officially ours.  The sellers are renting it back from us until next weekend when we move in.  I am so excited to settle in to a home and find those measuring spoons!

Realtors are a dime a dozen. But my realtor is not a dime a dozen.  When I think of Jesus’ hands and feet, I think of the realtor He sent me.  She is beyond words the most wonderful asset in this whole process.  She’s shown me homes that she probably knew I wouldn’t or couldn’t buy.  With my deer in the headlights look, she’s explained things to me more times than a parent says NO to a child about to put their finger in a light socket. She’s begun the process of making an offer on a house over and over, and called it off with the lender when I’ve gotten cold feet and didn’t like the terms.  As time has marched on from the first contract house I bought with the seller, she’s hoped with me and prayed for me, that my credit would show improvement.  She’s walked me through lender requirements and scenarios, and brought me new lenders in the hopes that one lender would be more successful than the last.

Over the last five years of building up some type of credibility on my own, and with savings I’ve accrued between the sale of the house last July and monthly contributions, this lender finally approved a loan that I can live with, which means I’m not going to pay $300/month on mortgage insurance for eleven years. It does mean I’m using all of my savings, excluding retirement. It is scary on one hand, but I’m not afraid.

I am grateful for many things.  Among them is my realtor and friend, Sue Washinger.

Photos will surely follow.  Happy August 15th to us.

I’ve never been clear what an underwriter does.  But now I am. They analyze your expenses and income to determine if you are a risk to the lender.  I am buying a house and deep in the process. I’ve long been approved.  The appraisal has been made and the inspection and repairs finished.  A close date is established, and it’s right around the corner.  But “underwriting” is still assessing the documents.  I put “underwriting” in quotations because it’s been a mystery for a long time.  Throughout my house search for the past few years, as I’ve delved into the possibilities of selling and buying, I’ve heard the term a million times: “I’ll have to let underwriting make that decision” or “Lets see what underwriting says.”  I’ve had the feeling of the lender with whom I’ve established a relationship, and the underwriter in the back room going back and forth.  Lender: “But look. She pays her bills on time. She’s really nice, and I can tell she’s responsible. She’s got a letter of reference!”  And the underwriter: “Yes, but what about this? She bought a pair of shoes in March and returned them in April. She’s too fickle for a loan. We can’t trust a woman like that!”

Granted, I’m not a slam dunk decision.  I wish my financial complications were as simple as buying and returning items.  In the last five years my financial climate has slowly improved.  But underwriting isn’t only looking at income.  They look at my debt history, both previous to my divorce, and in the last five years when I’ve been on my own.  They look at divorce decree documents, too.  They talk to banks and credit unions.  They get very personal.  I get all that.  But even with evidence of my personal solid track record, they scrutinize and monitor my cash flow behavior up until the very end!  After they received my bank and investment statements, they wanted them again after I showed the withdrawal and then deposit of my down payment, complete only with proof of deposit.  Then, they spotted a $16,000 deposit.   They wanted to know what that was.  I told my mortgage broker it was for a drug deal, and of course I had no proof of that transaction because I only accept cash for those.  I couldn’t resist.  It was for the sale of my Yukon Denali, for which I purchased a newer car with 70,000 less miles, double the gas mileage, for less money than I got for the Denali. That should impress them!

It’s kind of interesting.  Don’t we all wonder what people do with their money at times?  We see a Mercedes in front of a house of ill repair or a friend sends their children to private school but the parents hold a profession that isn’t known for a high income.  We can’t help that it crosses our mind.  Probably because we want their secret.  But asking people about their finances is personal, and we really should stay away from it.  The truth is, we don’t know about people’s finances based on their lifestyle or expenses.  However, if you do want to know, become an underwriter.  Then you can ask any question you want, and you can even ask for proof!