Sunday, September 26, 2010

Rosh Hashana Trumps The Bank

We have been trying (so far in vain) to buy a house. It will be the first house we’ll own, and it has to be the right one, obviously. Since we already have kids, it matters how many rooms there are, and where the playroom and office will go, and how is the school, and are there other kids around, and is there a park or playground nearby, is it move-in ready (since we don’t have the capital for a lot of renovation or repairs) and, oh, right, can we afford it?

So we found a nice place, a bank-owned four-bedroom in excellent condition. It didn’t meet all of our needs, but it met most of them, most notably the price and space we were after, so we placed an offer, which was accepted. The bank’s stipulation was that if we wanted them to pay closing costs, we had to go with their financing. We weren’t happy about this, because we felt like we were kind of duped into it. We’ve been working with a broker and agent, with the idea that the broker would handle all the loan stuff, so that we could pass along some of the stress to a professional.

Whatever. The broker and agent said to go ahead and use their financing. (After all, they still get the commission.) Okay. I started working with their loan officer to get all the stuff together that she needed.

And then Rosh Hashana started on Wednesday night. She had said she wanted all my information by Friday so she could start the loan process. They wanted this house gone, which meant closing escrow October 8. Yikes. I wrote her an email asking that the bank respect our very important holiday of Rosh Hashana and wait until Monday to get started. She said of course the bank would respect our religious needs and that Monday would be fine.

(By the way, during most of this, my husband was away in Hong Kong on business, which made the whole thing even more complicated and stressful, but that has nothing to do with the fact that it was Rosh Hashana, so I return to the point…)

My agent had held back our signing of the acceptance of the bank’s terms, that we go with their financing, until we let him know that we were definitely willing to go ahead with this purchase. Apparently the REO side of the bank, the part that owned the house, had no idea what was going on on the financing side of the bank. Though the loan officer had said she would wait until Monday, the REO side was in a huge hurry and wanted our answer by Friday at 3:00. Of course, we were kind of tied up doing the whole Rosh Hashana thing Thursday and Friday. My agent had passed along to the bank that we needed to wait until Monday to sign the agreement, but they were impatient. The Friday deadline came and went, and when I bravely turned on my phone Friday afternoon (big no-no!) at 3:30, I had a message from my agent about this 3:00 P.M. deadline. Oh well.

We said, look, if they don’t want to respect our religious needs, then we don’t want to work with them. We took it as a sign. Why should we work with them if they weren’t willing to work with us? Did one business day really matter that much?

I take a certain amount of satisfaction in noting that, despite the bank’s claim of “two other offers” and their terrible hurry to sell the place, the house is still active on the market two weeks later. They could have been halfway through escrow by now if they had waited that one business day. But, no, too much of a hurry to sit back and wait a very short time for us to come back and say, “Here’s our money; give us our house.”

I also know for sure that we did the right thing in not making this kind of major transaction on one of the holiest days of the year, because we are now finding several other houses that we like better that are in our price range!

Isn’t it great when you have this kind of instant confirmation that you’ve made the right decision?