Death and taxes

October 3, 2010 at 10:25 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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A pretty manhole cover

A pretty manhole cover I saw on the way to dinner one night.

Well, things have been pretty busy around here lately — as you may have inferred from my little hiatus from posting. Blake’s mostly been busy with a work project, and I’ve mostly been busy with house related stuff. Uncharacteristically, he worked from home for all of last weekend as well as most of today (Sunday), but not to worry: there’s absolutely no reason to suspect that this is developing into a norm.

I, on the other hand, have been slogging through a mire of paperwork and red tape and bureaucracy related to getting a home loan. There’s no reason to worry about that, either — it’s just that underwriters demand an inordinate amount of paperwork — W-2s, tax returns, a multitude of information about former employers, residences, bank statements, etc. — and all our paperwork is effectively inaccessible in our file cabinet because it’s being stored, with the rest of our belongings, until we get the house. It doesn’t sound like it would be that difficult to gather all that stuff anew, but we’re fraught with special cases. For example, Blake’s former employer never gave him a W-2 for 2009. And the company (since it was a startup) was run out of some guy’s apartment and we don’t know his address or if he’s still there. And the company is out of business (maybe?) so there are no HR reps to verify Blake’s old salary or to confirm that he worked there or anything. Also, his old laptop with his tax returns had a hard drive crash, so we have no way to get them. You can order a copy from the IRS — for $57 — and in just 60 short days you’ll have your certified copy! (We hope to close by October 27 and the tax return is necessary to start the process of getting a home loan.)

Oh, Seattle, you live up to the stereotype.

Oh, Seattle, you live up to the stereotype. (In case the text isn't large enough, that one in the middle says "Hemp milk.")

But, the underwriters themselves order a copy and then compare your return to that copy (to make sure you’re telling the truth), so us providing a certified copy won’t work. (Since they’d be comparing two duplicate documents.) One might ask oneself why we have to bother providing a copy if they’re going to get the real info from the government anyway. It’s a mystery… But we have to get it. I’ve basically been tracking down these documents for 40 hours this past week, and boy is it a headache. A happy fun headache, because looming in the distance is our beautiful new home, but a headache nonetheless.

Amidst all the phone trees and being on hold and developing an intense hatred of Bank of America, I got some surprising news last week: a guy I knew from NI, Scott Savage, died suddenly in his sleep. He was younger than Blake is, played soccer and tennis regularly, and wasn’t overweight. He was also a really nice guy, and it’s terribly sad. I met him when I did my internship with NI in 2004, and then he went on to work there after he graduated (as I did). He was one of those guys who always had boundless energy and worked hard and always seemed on top of the world. I’ve gotten my news on his death through the grapevine, but so far as I know the cause of death isn’t known. He was on a business trip in Germany, I’m told, and so information hasn’t been as accessible as it would have been if he’d died in the  states. Whatever happened, it’s really tragic.

Shiner Bock in Washington

At a gas station the other day I saw this Shiner Bock truck. At first it seemed normal, until I realized that Shiner, which is a beer made around Austin, is probably pretty uncommon here.

So as I was wading through the amorphous bureaucratic mess last week and feeling frustrated at, well, most of the involved organizations, the news of Scott’s death really helped me to put things in perspective. Everything’s going our way, we’re happy, we’re healthy, and we’re just taking our first steps down the path to the traditional American dream: house, family, dogs, kids, etc. (But there are NO KIDS now or in the next nine months! Don’t infer anything from that American-dream statement, folks!) We’ve really got nothing to complain about.

And while we’re talking about happy things, here’s something else to make you smile: as I’m typing this, Blake’s playing fetch with Nano and Pico. Whenever Nano comes prancing back with the squeaky bone, we always have to pull it out of her mouth quickly so she won’t get the idea that a tug-of-war with us is acceptable. (This is important in case she ever picks up something we don’t want her to — either because it’s ours or because it’s dangerous for her.) Well, Blake just discovered that if you pick Nano up in the air, she drops the bone immediately! It’s pretty cute, and I took a video:

(Her dropping the bone under normal conditions really isn’t a problem. This is just a way cuter solution!)

House negotiations: final offer

September 9, 2010 at 2:24 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Yesterday we went back and forth with the bank (who is selling the house) with some offers and counteroffers. There were four volleys yesterday, and this afternoon we got their response. It’s getting exciting, because the difference between our offer and their counter is less than 5K. So our realtor suggested we counter and say, “This is our final offer.” Eep! I know it’s a small difference in amounts now and if they decided to be jerks then we’d walk away, but it still makes me nervous to say that it’s final. But I’m sure everything will be fine. And if not, then walking away is okay too. It just makes me nervous!

It's go time.

It's go time.

More information on the house offer

September 7, 2010 at 10:34 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I’ve had several people ask me about this, so I thought I’d just go ahead and make another post:

Yes, we submitted the offer today. The house is bank owned, and our realtor said that it would be surprising if we got a reply before Thursday. “Do you think there’s a chance they’ll accept our first offer?” I asked him, and he said almost certainly not. Even if we were to offer what they’re asking (instead of something several thousand dollars less), apparently they virtually always come back with a bunch of addenda which all cost extra. Ah, well. If we’re going to do a couple back-and-forth negotiations, I guess we could be looking at at least a week and maybe almost two before we know something solid.

In the meantime, although we have a pre-approval letter, we’re going to compare our options and talk to some different lenders to make sure we’re getting the best interest rate on the home loan.

We’re also really hoping that our offer scares off the other potential buyers. If the house were owned by some random guy and the other potential buyers (PBs) were also interested in making an offer, we would likely get into a bidding war with the PBs. Since the house is bank owned, however, apparently they handle it differently. They don’t want to waste time with a bidding war and instead will tell both PBs (us and them) to declare their “best and final” offer and then they’ll take the highest one. No bidding, no back and forth — just one big number. And since it’s a house we like a lot, that number would require lots of agonizing followed by lots of paying or lots of regret. (Or, if we’re smart, lots of satisfaction in knowing that we bid exactly what the house was worth to us.) I’d just rather have it for less than what it’s worth to us. =) Otherwise I guess it’s more house shopping for me. But so far there’s no sign of other buyers, so hopefully we won’t even have to worry about that.

I’m not really sure why a bank owns the house. I don’t think it was a foreclosure because that’s usually specified in the MLS listing. Also, the house is in great shape and has new carpet, which I guess is uncommon in foreclosures. I’ll ask our realtor if he knows when I get a chance.

That’s all the house news for now. I dropped my laptop off at a licensed Lenovo repair place this afternoon, and they expect to give me a diagnosis and estimate on the de-coffee-ing tomorrow. Hopefully it costs less than a new laptop!

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