I own a (row)house!

Wow.  The settlement was at 4 and consisted of me signing a ton of papers (but still a lot fewer than I’d anticipated, based on the “better get your hand ready” comments from my friends who just went through the process themselves.)  After the last page, it was almost anti-climactic.  Almost.  A stupid grin spread on my face and I stood up, a new homeowner.

(A slightly sore new homeowner; my leg is now taken care of, but it needs to heal.  And to be kept elevated.  Ah well.  But it’s supposed to snow like the DC area has never seen snow before all this weekend.  So what am I gonna do but sit at home during a snowstorm?)

I’d write down a bunch of Really Important Things About A Settlement Meeting, but you know what?  You go, the title company rep goes over everything with you, you sign it, you’re done.  The title company that did my closing did provide fresh cookies though.  And coffee.  Mmm, cookies.  I think I may be jonesing for their peppermint-chocolate chips in the near future.

There are two thing I should mention: first, my realtor double-checked all the figures, every last one, to make sure I was getting every single penny the seller’s were contracted to give me…and saw there was a few hundred dollars that went unused.

TIP: make sure you, or your realtor, go over the financial documentation to make sure all the numbers add up.  Also make sure you’re not being charged for anything that you didn’t know about beforehand. This is the time when your knowledge of the Good Faith Estimate and the HUD1 come in handy.

Second, the title company rep went over every last item on every page.  She also made sure I knew what she told me, and gave me copies of everything in a nice little folder.  Including a laminated copy of the survey report.  I’m glad she went over everything, because after a while all those things I had to sign?  Started to blur.

TIP: Settlement is not the time to be timid, you’re making a HUGE purchase.  If you have a question, just ask.  The title folks are used to people making sure all’s a-okay, so don’t worry about being a pain.

In my case, the few hundred dollars that went unused wasn’t used for good reason; an FHA-approved buyer has to put down 3.5%.  That’s something I didn’t know before today.  Sadly, I just never thought about exactly how much I had to put down.  I had always said “I want to put down the least amount of money possible; I have X amount that I can possibly afford to throw down.”  Stupid in hindsight, but I didn’t have much in the way of savings and was just happy to be able to afford to close at all.  That seems to be the main reason people don’t buy if they’d like to; they don’t have money for the downpayment/closing.  And the days of no money down are looooooong gone, or if they’re still around I’m bitter I didn’t know about ’em.  Ah, it’s probably best, since everyone knows there’s no such thing as a free lunch.  Murphy’s Law says something’d wicked come around sooner or later.

FHA downpayments used to be 3%, but was raised January 2009.  There are folks that think it may be raised further, but after reading sites like HousingCrisis.com and Calculated Risk, I think lenders will most likely crack down on credit scores.  But the idea of a 5% down FHA isn’t to be dismissed out of hand, since FHA reserves have dropped dramaticallyCNN is still talking about it.  Makes me really glad I bought when I did.  And that’d be today.

Wow.  I bought.  I really did.  It’s no longer “my”  house.  No more in theory about it!  It’s now, for better or for worse, MY HOUSE.


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