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The Closing

Started: 2012-05-10 19:42:52

Submitted: 2012-05-10 20:40:18

Visibility: World-readable

In which the intrepid narrator bids farewell to Longmont forever and goes back to considering highway 52 as the border between civilization and the artic wasteland.

We inked preliminary contracts to sell our existing house and buy a previously-owned house in Gunbarrel North by mid-March, after two weeks on the market, but it didn't really feel like we had any certainty until the inspection was complete and we'd resolved the damaged furnace on the house we were buying though a cash concession from the seller. (We drove a hard bargain; I can only assume that we were the only serious buyer, otherwise the seller wouldn't have wanted to play ball.) We also ran into trouble with the loan processor at our lender, USAA. She seemed confused by the prospect of same-day closings as we bought and sold our houses, to the point where I wondered if rolling over one's equity into a new house was another myth of American housing that was about to be dashed, until our Realtor called her up and explained everything. Then she couldn't figure out how to get the HUD settlement statement from the sale of our house (to figure out how much money we'd roll over in equity, by carrying a cashier's check from one closing to the next) and called our buyer's agent to try to get it from him when she should have called the title company. I couldn't really tell if she was woefully inexperienced or actually incompetent, but Kiesa started to worry that she wasn't going to be able to close our loan on time, so she called and talked to our processor's supervisor to explain her concerns. That afternoon the processor send at extremely conciliatory e-mail (including referring to her as "Mrs. Stone-Logan" and me as "Mr. Stone-Logan", which I found amusing) and seemed on her best behavior for the rest of the process. The one thing that I expected to have more trouble with was the appraisal, but it came in exactly at our purchase price of $380,000. We were ready to put more money in so the loan-to-appraised-value ratio would stay just below the magic 80%, but we were pleased that we didn't have to.

And then we had two weeks to hurry up and wait for closing. I spent one week on an intensive integration project in San Diego, and we spent the final week trying to figure out what we could pack without packing everything that we needed to live.

Friday: The Closing

I took Friday, 27 April, off for closing. We reported to Land Title, in a nice office building off Canyon in Boulder for closing at 11:00. We were in a large glassed conference room adjacent to the lobby, and from the traffic in and out it was clear other people were closing on houses at the same time. We met our buyers for the first time, who turned out to be a middle-aged Vietnamese couple with a twentysomething son. (Two more people sat at the far end of the conference table, whom I took to be their friend (who allegedly thought they weren't negotiating hard enough) and his wife.) Their Realtor sat between them to provide a simultaneous translation; the woman who was buying the house apparently spoke sufficiently little English that she was worried she wouldn't follow the proceedings otherwise. As sellers, we had less to do than the buyers; all we had to do was go over the settlement statement (which we'd already seen), sign a few important documents relating to the sale (including a document saying we hadn't offered any cash kick-backs outside of the sale), and finally sign the sale document itself. After years of thinking about the move, months of explicit preparation, and two months on the market, the actual selling was almost anti-climatic.

Jan noticed the proceedings were going slowly on the other side of the table and suggested we head across the street to Guardian Title to close on the purchase of our new house. (We hadn't yet actually taken possession of the cashier's check representing the equity in our sale, but Jan said she'd bring it when the sale was complete.) This title company was a bit less overtly flashy but seemed perfectly functional: a cozy conference room with enough room for everyone involved. We got started on the loan documents were still working through them when the seller arrived. Our hypotheses about the seller appeared justified: she had owned the house on her own and had recently gotten married (apparently on her spring break trip to San Diego); her new husband showed up as well for moral support. We finished signing the loan documents, worked through the settlement statement, signed various other documents, and -- at the pivotal moment of the sale -- signed over our cashier's checks (the equity from the house we'd just sold, plus additional cash (from a fungible pool of savings that included my stock options -- the first actual money I've made on stock options) to make up the 20% down payment) -- and took possession of the new house.

(I noticed the seller had to hand over a check at closing as well to get rid of her house, covering the Realtor's commissions and other selling costs. She'd only owned it for eighteen months, and didn't appear to have put a great deal of money down on it. I couldn't help but feel a little bad for her, to have to pay money to get rid of the house.)

We ate lunch, dropped by Home Depot to look at refrigerators, and took physical possession of our new house. Kiesa unloaded the boxes containing the contents of the kitchen into the kitchen and began unpacking them. I looked at the yard, which appeared to have been nicely landscaped once before becoming somewhat overrun, and found the DSL install kit waiting for us on the front porch. I began a survey of the in-house telecom wiring and found two network interface boxes on the back of the house, one of which appeared to be Baby Bell and one of which appeared to be cable. Neither was actually plugged into the house's wiring, so I called Jan to ask her to relay a question to the seller: Had she had any sort of land-line phone service? The answer came back no (as I expected). I undertook a survey mission of the house's wiring, removing every wall plate and taking careful notes as to its installation and the wiring within. (I had packed my commonly-used tools in a tool box to make it easy to carry them back and forth between houses.) I felt like a hacker-archaeologist as I uncovered nested strata of wiring. I uncovered at least three, possibly four, unique strata: the original wiring, two separate runs to the left bedroom above the garage (one terminating at a dual phone jack with the letters "V" and "F", which I took to mean voice and fax), and a terrible rats nest of cables that had been shoved through giant holes drilled through the baseboards of the family room into the crawl space beneath. I documented everything and figured out what was probably routed where. I'd only need to make a small patch to connect the most important phone wiring to the network interface box, which would be enough for our naked DSL.

Through-the-floor speaker wire installation base station
Through-the-floor speaker wire installation base station

Kiesa went back to Monarch (we took to referring to our houses by their street names) while I was surveying and came back with Calvin, the piano (moved by a professional piano-moving team, which had some trouble wrestling the piano up the steps into the living room) and a long phone cable. I hooked the phone cable into the network interface box and tried to execute the self-install, but the automated install system wouldn't authenticate me, and I didn't have the energy to call for help.

We ate supper at our new house and returned to our old house to put Calvin to bed and figure out what else we could pack ahead of the epic weekend moving adventure.

There's no gossip jucier than what's on bitscape.org, so I don't really
have anything to say. In fact, I learned most of it there.
- Yanthor, Festing: The Gathering, 21 March 2003