On the Road to Homeownership: Crossing the Finish Line

This is the sixth and final installment in a series of occasional articles as my wife and I confront the challenges of searching for a home in a real estate marketplace with a low inventory level in costly south Orange County, Calif. The American Dream of homeownership is still out there, just tougher to pursue.

Well, it was no quick sprint, that’s for sure. The escrow process from beginning to end was more like a series of marathons with some hurdles thrown in along the way for good measure just to test our endurance. But in the end, it’s over. Finally! We’ve closed escrow. We’re homeowners again — for the first time in a very long time.

What started out as a 30-day escrow took about 65 days to close. And in the end it all revolved around getting the financing in order.

It wasn’t that we didn’t qualify for a loan, it was that we were working two loans at the same time — a refinance on an investment property and a purchase money mortgage. The loan to purchase the home was no problem at all. The house appraised at $10,000 more than our purchase price and we locked in at 3.5 percent on a fixed 30-year mortgage.

The refinance was a different story. Because we were basing our income from our regular earnings as well as the income from two rental properties, and since we first started renting those properties in the middle of last year, we had not filed income taxes yet for a full taxable year on that rental income, and the lenders wanted to see that.

So one lender pulled out at the 11th hour before making the loan. Fortunately, another stepped in. So it took longer, with a little more paperwork — and a lot more waiting on our part — cooperating as we could all the time to make the deal happen. In the end we got a loan at just over 3.6 percent for 30 years. Hallelujah!

But jumping through hoops along the way was mentally exhausting, and by the time we closed it was more or less anticlimactic for my wife and me. We’re just happy to have the process over and done with.

In the end, lack of inventory in Orange County was frustrating. There were very few REOs available, and we found short sales difficult to buy with all the competition in the market from investors. But we feel like we got a decent deal on a traditional sale even with the paucity of foreclosure properties for the most part.

Is it our dream home? Not yet! But after we finish rehabbing it over the next couple of months it will be as close as we can make it.

Start your own search for foreclosures and for-sale homes on RealtyTrac.

Previous installments
On the Road to Homeownership: Another Chance
On the Road to Homeownership: Dealing With a Shortage of Supply
On the Road to Homeownership: The Search Begins in Earnest
On the Road to Homeownership: It’s Definitely a Bumpy One
On the Road to Homeownership: Essay Contest Chooses Between Multiple Offers

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