Seven months, give or take a few days. That’s how long the search for a new home here in Santa Fe lasted, from first look till closing day. It started with the casita in a great location but with doorways too low for me to walk through (along with no central heat and a few other problems); through the overpriced dumps and other City Different housing…charms, chronicled here; to the finding of the place that, if not my Dream Home, finally felt like home. Of course, this being me, and this being the new housing market after the collapse of 2008, things didn’t go smoothly. Oh no. The deal was this close to falling through.
It started with a call from my lender at the beginning of May saying there was a little glitch, also previously chronicled here at AYISF. The condensed version: Fannie Mae wanted a form from the IRS confirming all the info on my 2012 tax return. It was not forthcoming. The closing was scheduled for 5/23. It would take, the bank said, a week to get all the paperwork together after they got the IRS form. The bank uses a company to get the IRS transcript, as it’s called, but I couldn’t stand sitting idle as we approached the closing date. I had to do something. So, after learning that anyone can get a transcript from their local IRS office, I started making regular trips to the one in Santa Fe. When it was open, that is. Either the sequester or some local staffing problems had forced the office to curtail its hours—closing for a whole week at one stretch. But I managed to get in for one visit. And another. And each time, my return had not been processed (though the check I sent in had been long cashed). And time, I felt, was running out.
The original closing date came and went. My seller was getting antsy. But what could I do? We were at the mercy of the big bad bureaucracy. Then, as we slid into June, my realtor called; more crappy news. If we did not close by Friday, the 7th, my seller was likely going to pull out of the deal, because the deal he had for a new house in Albuquerque was going to fall through. He was already living there, though the transaction hadn’t closed, and his seller was going to terminate his sale (I later learned that my seller had already arranged to move all his stuff back to Santa Fe on the 9th, and he was going to take his place—my home, which I had been sure was mine for two months—off the market).
My realtor’s call left me depressed. This deal is in the shitter, I thought. I’ll have to start house hunting all over, and lose the money I’d already spent on the inspection, etc., and mortgage rates have gone up…all bad. So with that in my brain, the next day I made one more trip to the IRS office. I was third in line when it opened. The first guy went through quickly, which is good, since they only have one person dealing with the public, and past experience had shown me that one case could take a long time to resolve. Then, before #2 stepped forward, the IRS agent informed us that the computer system was down. No! This is a too-cruel joke! Thankfully, a reboot got things working again, and soon I was sitting at the agent’s desk, punching in my SSN and praying…
“Ah, there it is,” she said. My transcript was in the system! There was still a chance! Of course, the bank had said it would take a week to get the closing together, but maybe there was a way…I rushed to the bank with the transcript, and the lovely woman handling my account said we could close by Friday. And we did. And I bought a house.
Holy shit, that was all too close for comfort.
But now, I am typing this in my new home. It’s my first night sleeping here (though the official move is still about 10 days away), and I had my first meal tonight, then christened the new place by breaking my first glass (observation: brick floors really make a glass shatter). Tomorrow, painters come, then the arrival of new appliances, and then flooring guys to rip up the old disgusting wall-to-wall carpeting and install laminate. Yes, the money spigot is open all the way. What the hell. Might as well feel comfortable in this place where I will spend almost all of my waking and sleeping moments.
So, here I sit, almost ready for that inaugural sleep, boxes waiting to be unloaded all around me, glass shards at my feet. The neighborhood’s barking dogs have finally quieted, and the rumble of cars on Rodeo and Cerrillos Roads has faded a bit. No breeze tonight; could be a warm one. But looking around, the buyer’s remorse that gripped me for a while after the closing is gone. I will be comfortable here, I think.
“It’s nice to see you finally settled,” a friend wrote this weekend. Settled is a relative concept, I told him. I thought I was settled when I moved to Chicago. Now I realize that I may never be settled. In many ways. All I know is, four moves in four years are too much. It harkens back to the frequent moves of my 20s and early 30s. And that was ok then, but now—nah. So maybe I will be settled here. But I know that you just don’t know. In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy my new stereo—my housewarming gift to myself—eventually shut off the money spigot, and enjoy being a homeowner.
Until I have to tackle that list of repairs from the home inspection.