Monday, March 3, 2014

New Construction Growing Pains

Let me preface this post by saying we absolutely love our new build home and we're so looking forward to the day we move in - our closing date is now a short 11 days away - but through out this process we have experienced a few details dealing with new construction that are not always present with a traditional re-sale.

1) Interest rates.  Fortunately we were able to take advantage of an extended lock, but the longest extended lock we could take advantage of was 150 days - this unfortunately meant that although we initially signed our paperwork and "bought" the house back when the interest rates were 3.5% (!) we are now locked in at a rate that was available shortly before the government shut down.

2) Setting up utilities.  Right now the earliest day Verizon Fios says they can set us up is April 2nd - almost 3 weeks after we close.  This is because it is in the system as new construction and the computer doesn't know if the lines have already been run to the house.  We're hoping this will move up to March 17th, but we may be without phone/internet/cable for a while.  Not exactly something easy to deal with when both of you work from home most days.  I see a wireless hotspot in our near future.

3) Not being able to visit the home since new home orientation.  We had our new home orientation back in February and haven't been able to see it since.  I'd love to go revel in it, once again, actually, many times, but it's technically not ours until closing and Ryan Homes remains liable for anything that happens inside.  I completely understand and appreciate the reasoning, but it doesn't make it any easier to squelch my desire to be in the space and start planning.  Ryan Homes was really wonderful and did say I may be able to stop by one time to do some measurements, but that just too much pressure on the situation to get everything I wanted to get done, done - I wouldn't be able to do what I really wanted to do, which was revel. :)

4) The time.  I never thought it would take us over a year to get into the home. Ryan Homes did what they said they would do, which was have the house built in 90 days, but our own life hiccups combined with permit delays courtesy of the DC government, we will be closing exactly 13 months after we signed the initial paperwork and provided the first deposit.

I know we'll encounter even more new home quirks when we move in - the house does a lot of settling in the first year. We'll see nail pops, cracked dry wall, and perhaps even some cracked windows.  We already saw a doozy of a cracked window when we did our new home orientation - fortunately, the house is under warranty that first year and Ryan Homes will come back to fix all of those settling side effects.  Every home purchase, whether new or not, has it's own obstacle course to navigate (at least we didn't deal with a bidding war)!  I think, overall, the quirks/growing pains associated with our new construction purchase have been worth the end result - but I'll give another update on that when we're actually IN the house.  Don't want to get too far ahead of myself!  11 days and counting...

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Not looking for a lecture....I just want to cancel!

Shortly after I became a Realtor I was contacted by a sales person who was promoting software to upgrade and manage your business Facebook page - as a new agent I thought this was a great idea and a wonderful way to collect and manage client information.  It turned out to be an epic fail.  I never used any of the items I was paying for, all I did was use the features on the Facebook page the way I would have always used them, and the client management portion was a true disappointment- it required manual entry of everyone who did not sign up on their own - no importation of contacts.  It was time to cancel.

So, I called to cancel today.  And I received a lecture on 1) how I never used the autopost function - although I discovered it wasn't my style, 2) how although I was concerned with timeliness and content of postings, that should not be the concerns of my posts, frequency was more important that timeliness and content,  3) when I mentioned my website was giving me much more of the functionality I needed, I was informed (without them knowing anything about my website) that the software provided a completely different service than my website (quite frankly, outside of the auto postings, regular Facebook and my website combined do the exact same job), 4) that I hadn't posted since the middle of January, so I wasn't optimizing my social network presence, social networking had the best results (I have read a bunch of other stories lately that beg to differ) and basically I was the one that was failing the Facebook software, and 5) my personal favorite, I said I had also seen a remarkable amount of less posting views since Facebook introduced the new algorithm, but, again, I was informed that I was wrong and that it in fact increased visibility - I called him out on that one, he was looking at my page after all, and what could he say - my views had decreased by over 50% for every post.   Oh man-oh-man.  I was pissed.  Not exactly a way to get me to continue subscribing to the software or even consider doing so again in the future.

I am usually the most polite, courteous, and grateful person on these phone calls, some of these people have it really rough - but I finally had it and stated in no clear terms, "I'm not looking for a lecture, I just want to cancel."  I didn't need to be told all the ways I wasn't using the software - I know I wasn't using it, it wasn't my style, it's wasn't working for me, that's why I want to cancel!  If canceling had been a pleasant experience, I may have referred the program to someone more inclined to use it, but after that call, I will never, ever refer them to anyone again.  What a waste!  For all you sales people out there handling cancelations of this sort, lecturing people who cancel is the absolute worst way to ever get them to consider returning to your product.  Be understanding, don't tell them what they did wrong.  Sheesh. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The New Home That Could

This is my first post on Gosh...Jam it!. It will probably be my longest, but it's a story that has been a long time in coming. As many know, Jim and I have been waiting a long time to finally move into our new home.  And today, we just crossed one more hurdle to moving in - we cleared underwriting!   Albeit, for the second time, but this is the time that really matters.  On Friday (tomorrow) we will be three weeks away from closing and we couldn't be happier.  After months of saving and practicing being frugal, we even splurged a little over the weekend and bought a king sized bed for the new home as well as a washer and dryer.  Not many girls can say their Valentine's day gift was a bed. :) Technically, the washer and dryer were also part of the Valentine's gift but a W&D just seems a little less romantic than a bed.  Anyway, I digress.  Clearing underwriting today really was a momentous event. There were many times over the past year where it seemed the deal was going to fall through, and we've still made it this far.  It's been over a year in the making and to everyone who worked so hard to keep our dream of home ownership alive, we are forever in your debt.  It really has been a story of cooperation, patience, anxiety, belief, and sheer determination.

Jim and I started our home search in Washington, DC January 2013.  We had been married for less than a year, I had just returned from working on a Presidential campaign and was studying for the Maryland Bar.  Jim had a crazy work schedule with intense deadlines.  We looked everywhere in DC for our home, but there was such a shortage of inventory - we even thought we had found the right house, but lost during a bidding war.  Finally, we discovered Dakota Crossing - these town homes had so much square footage AND they were still in DC.  Score! And they were located right by DC's Costco.  For this Washington State girl - Double Score!! We provided our earnest money deposit signed all the paperwork on February 14th, so I guess it can be said that for Valentine's day last year, Jim bought me a house. ;)

We then began the exhilarating process of selecting our customizations and upgrades.  We were giddy with excitement.  Then the first shoe dropped. The Friday before we were to finalize the contract with the full down payment Jim lost his job.  We thought we had lost our home.  (I had already mentally begun moving in, even though construction hadn't even started yet.) But, there was a bright light at the end of that dark weekend. The sales staff at Ryan Homes were amazing, as was the staff at the lender - they all moved mountains to ensure we were able to keep our home ownership aspirations alive.  They gave Jim time to find a new job (about 8-10 weeks) and moved the delivery date of our home from August, until December.  We hadn't lost the home yet...

So, things progressed. Jim found a new job, and officially saved the house! I learned I had passed the MD Bar and I began my real estate career at W.C. & A.N. Miller.  Oh - and we moved to Rockville leaving our wonderful apartment at Capitol Yards with views of the Capitol, and our city life, behind.  But the move was viewed as a strategic money saving opportunity that was only temporary.  Later that summer, the building schedule was pushed back about 8 weeks due to permitting issues with DC.  Our delivery date was now late January/Early February.  Everything was moving along smoothly, construction on our home began, we had scheduled our pre-drywall walk through and then, BAM!  The second shoe fell.

Beginning of December Jim learned that contract he was on was being cut after the new year and his position may not survive.  Jim began job searching, yet again.  He has an amazing skill for job hunting.  I had faith.  I knew he was going to save the house again.  Something I regularly reminded him of whenever he had any anxiety or self-doubt about finding a new job.  And he did.  He even found a job that took him out of government contracting - yay!  But, we had to start the underwriting process all over again, and out closing date of February 6th was now pushed back to March 14th.  But guess what?  This was the little house, the new home, that could.  Determination, faith in each other, amazing support from the builder and our lender, and patience have made this process a success for us.  Purchasing a new home can be such a trying process for many, but if taken one step at a time, just like this little house, you can survive this process too and come out on top.

Now the last three weeks will progress.  It's a crazy schedule, movers are coming the day before we close and are storing our items for two nights.  Jim may even be out of town for his new job, so I may be closing without him, but its happening!  And no offense to Rockville, but I can't wait to be back in DC.  22 days and counting....Gosh...Jam it!  :)

Our home back in Early December - it's now done and we've had our new home orientation...just waiting on closing!!!