Sunday, April 22, 2012

What does an underwriter, appraiser, and a hemorrhoid have in common?

They're all pains in the arse.

So, within hours of my last post complaining about the appraisal not being in yet, I get an email and phone call from the loan officer at 8:30 pm.  The appraisal was in and was...tens of thousands of dollars too low.  Commence total breakdown.  I was ugly-crying.  He emailed me a copy of the appraisal.  After a huge freakout and some deep breaths, we reviewed the report.  There were multiple obvious flaws.  The comps were from the other side of town in a crappy older neighborhood.  It said the market doesn't support new construction in the last 5 years, which is funny because our neighborhood is all new and started 6 years ago and houses are continuing to be built there.  There are also 2 other neighborhoods in our small town that are new construction and are growing.  Therefore he didn't use the cost approach for new construction, he used the sales approach, which drives the value down because it doesn't treat the new home and land as separate values, among other things.  There were multiple other issues with the report too.  Our loan officer (who has been awesome BTW), Wayne Homes, another bank, and our selling realtor (who owns his own brokerage and is awesome) all agreed the appraisal was not done correctly.  Also, a coworker is building a Montgomery in the same town (dig date this week) and his appraised just fine.

My husband called the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) since it was FHA to ask what our options are.  They said we could appeal the appraisal and were very clear that both the appraiser and the underwriter share equal responsibility to ensure the appraisal is accurate.  Dana at WH gathered some facts and comps and sent them to the loan officer who then went to the underwriter requesting another appraisal.  The underwriter didn't even give it a second look.  She just said that they have to trust the appraiser because he's the expert.  How can someone who lives 30 miles away be an expert in our town?  How can someone with so many obvious flaws in their work be an expert?  So the UW completely bucked her responsibility to ensure the appraisal was accurate and to provide acceptable customer service.

Once the appeal was denied, we weren't playing around anymore.  We went straight to the top to get our issue solved and our dissatisfaction with the underwriter heard.  My husband emailed the Sr. VP of Lending at the corporate office telling our tale.  Within hours, he had a phone call from a Regional Planning Manager (?).  We were told they had begun looking into the situation, including involving the head of underwriting.  The next day they told us they would have the appraisal reassessed.  We're not optimistic, but at least they're doing something (or pretending to).

In the meantime, Dana set us up with a second bank so we can get the ball rolling with them on a 5% conventional loan.  She also mocked up a quote for the Montgomery with all our same options and upgrades as the Litchfield just in case we may need to change the floorplan. 

So for now we're in a holding pattern until we we get a loan closing date (probably with the new bank). We knew things were going too smoothly...

Oh, and my advice is to never deal with banks that rhyme with Puntington.  This is the second time we've used them and the second time there have been major issues.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Talk Me Down

Well, it's just about official, we will not be digging Monday 4/23.  Are banks the most inefficient entity in the world?  This afternoon, someone from the bank finally responded telling me they just got the appraisal back, it was done on 4/5 (supposedly) and was supposed to be turned in to the bank within 3-4 days.  So now the appraisal department is reviewing it, then we'll have to sign some more papers, then the underwriter will get the file again, and we're hoping to close on the loan next week.  FFS!  They've known the dig date all along and the appraisal was ordered 3/29.

This is the second time we've dealt with this bank for a mortgage in the last 9 months.  The first was for the land loan and guess what?  They had appraisal delays and made us miss our contract deadline that time too.  Now the same thing is happening.
From what I understand, they have to use some electronic system to send the appraisal job out to appraiser #1.  He has a few days to decide if he wants the job or not.  If not, then the system sends it to #2 and the same process happens.  There is no limit to the number of appraisers that can turn it down.  The bank can't just pick their favorite guy to do the job, so we have to deal with these schmucks who have no sense of urgency or time.  But in our case (this time), the first guy accepted it from what I understand and they still can't meet the deadline.

So hopefully we'll close next week and who knows what Wayne Homes' schedule is like.  I don't know if we can start the following week or not.

I just want out of this apartment as soon as possible. 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Stay Tuned

Our original dig date is scheduled for April 23.  However, we've been waiting on the appraisal to come back from the bank since April 9 so we can close on our construction loan.  With only 5 business days to go, I don't think we'll close in time to make 4/23.  Hopefully it won't be much longer and we'll have a big hole in the ground!

Changes & Upgrades

I thought some of you may be curious about changes and upgrades we made to the home.  With Wayne Homes, it seems like the possibilities are endless.  They were willing to do whatever we wanted, but the budget frequently knocked us back into reality.

Again, we chose the Litchfield Tradition Elevation.

  • Tradition Elevation
  • Stone instead of Brick
  • Stone wrap on sides of home
  • 1/2" OSB on roof
  • Extra layer of ice guard on roof
  • OSB exterior wall sheating (instead of DOW)
  • No shutters on front windows - The far left one will be a 3.5" white trim and the one next to it will have a stone border
  • 18'x8' garage door instead of standard 16'x7'
  • Paint the front door and sidelights a dark gray
  • Full basement (no crawl spaces) - This was part of our incentive package
  • 9' ceilings
  • Alternate office layout - move door opening to other wall and add a closet, making it technically a 4th bedroom
  • Floor drain in garage
  • Maple vanity cabinets
  • Greenboard walls
  • Level 4 vinyl floors
  • Quartz countertops with undermount porcelain sinks
  • Double vanity in master bath
  • Add pocket door separating master closets from master bathroom
  • 48" shower in master bath instead of 36"
  • Change all fixtures & accessories to brushed nickel
  • Credit for mirrors - I will get framed mirrors instead.
  • Maple cabinets
  • Quartz countertops with undermount sink
  • Electric range instead of gas
  • Garbage disposal
  • Wire for microwave range hood
  • Remove eating ledge on great room side - will cap off with piece of quartz
Laundry Room
  • 3 upper cabinets - white
  • Sink with cabinet
  • Level 4 vinyl
  • Changed linen closet to coat closet
Great Room
  • Gas fireplace with granite front - This was part of our incentive package
  • 8 lb. Stainmaster carpet padding
  • Wire for ceiling fan
  • 8 lb. Stainmaster carpet padding
  • Privacy locks on all bedrooms
  • Wire for ceiling fans
  • Add cable outlets
Other Changes
  • Smooth Ceilings
  • All exterior and interior door handles changed to brushed nickel levers (instead of normal round knobs)
  • White outlets and switches
  • Whole house surge protector
  • Add deadbolts to front door and garage service door
  • Sewer back-flow preventer valve
  • Level 3 Tile in Foyer
  • Rough in 3/4 bath in basement
  • Plumb for water softner

Please be sure to become a follower and leave comments so I'm more motivated to keep up with this as things get going in the next week or so.

PPIs & Permits

In the beginning we were a bit confused about PPIs or Purchaser Paid Items.  These are things that we need to pay for that Wayne Homes doesn't provide, but the costs can be included in the contract and construction loan.  They include things like surveys, sewer permit, zoning permit, building permit, excavating & trenching, connecting downspouts, well, landscaping, construction & final driveways, any plumbing or electrical outside of the house, and our countertops since we went with an outside company.  We will pay for these items up front and then turn in a reimbursement form to WH to draw from our loan.  We can also turn in an invoice and get the money before paying the contractors if timing allows.  In our case, the PPIs ended up being about 15% of the final contract/project price (not including the land).

The Stark County Building, Township Zoning, and County Sewer deparments have all become very familiar with my husband's voice :).  There is a sequence involved in getting permits that probably varies from county to county.  The first thing we had to do was get a house number slip from the regional planning office that gives the street address for the new house.  Then we went to the sewer department for the sewer permit.  Next was the township zoning permit.  This was the end of the permits we had to pull as homeowners. This was difficult to do, as all the county offices close around 4:00. WH will pull all the other necessary permits, as it needs to be done by licensed contractors. 

We also hired a professional survey company to stake the location of the house.  This wasn't required by our township, but many locations do require it.  Some even require a topographical survey.  We decided to have the land staked and a plot plan created because we are maxing out the easements of our land and didn't have any room for error.  For example, there is a 50' easement from the property line to the front of the house and 10' easements on each side.  Our lot is 85' wide and our house will be 65' wide, so it has to be spot on.   The plans also had to be approved by the developer of our neighborhood.  WH had all of this info on their checklists in the binder we received, so it made it much easier for us, as first-time builders.

Looking from back yard to front yard

Lot Inspection & Pre-Construction Meeting

Our Lot Inspection and Pre-Construction meeting was scheduled for March 23.  This is a full-day meeting where we pretty much finalized everything with the house.  The day began at 9 am meeting our Field Manager, Doug, at the lot.  Doug was already there and had staked out the location of the house.  We would later have it professional surveyed, as well.  The excavator also showed up at the lot.  We found elevations to set the grade of the house.  The excavator found the tie-in to the sanitary sewer.  We also went over details like well location, electrical and gas info to set up accounts, and a bunch of other stuff I don't remember.  I was talking to the neighbors and taking pictures while my husband and Doug chatted.  This lasted about 2 hours, then we went to grab a quick lunch before heading to the Akron office for the pre-construction portion with Pam.

When we got to the Akron office, Pam had all the CAD drawings for our house with all kinds of details.  We went over location of the well, sewer line, placement of the bathroom rough-in in the basement, and other things I don't remember.  We also made sure the prints reflected our choices (location of garage service door, kitchen cabinets, etc).  We made sure all of the correct PPI numbers were included in the contract.  From here we went back to the showroom and verified the color selections.  Pam made all the changes needed in the contract, and we signed it before we left.  It was finalized!  Yay!

Color Selection Meeting

I apologize for the delay in new posts.  Since the last post (2 weeks), I had to go out of town for work, pack up the house, move to the temporary apartment, my son got sick, and I've been sick the last 4 days.  While I have a bit of energy, I thought I'd try to catch up a bit.

On March 5, we had our color selection meeting at the Akron office with Pam.  Prior to this meeting, my husband and I went to the flooring store WH uses so I we could see ALL of my our options, not just what was in the WH showroom.  It was very helpful to speak with the guy working there and he confirmed we had some good ideas (upgrading padding, choice of vinyl, etc).  However, I was very overwhelmed at all the color choices.  Maybe the WH showroom was better for me, so I would have less to choose from.  I tend to overanalyze and having less options is sometimes better for me.  We did pick 2 vinyl flooring patterns we liked, but were unsure if WH had them in their showroom.  The store let us take the samples with us for the meeting.

We also had chosen to do our own countertops.  I'm not a fan of laminate and wanted to shop around for the best stone countertop price I could get.  WH was more than happy to credit me for not using their standard countertops and gave me no grief at all.  Prior to this meeting, I went to Tower Industries and gathered about 10 quartz samples to bring so I could pick out kitchen cabinets and flooring more easily.  I later would pick out a big remnant slab of quartz for the bathrooms as well.

My husband, son (and his Nintendo DS) arrived at the Akron office ready to make all these choices.  I have to admit, I was dreading the meeting, as I was afraid I'd make poor choices.  I don't have a lot of confidence in decorating, but I think it ended up okay.  Pam met us right away and went over the contract again with our changes and any questions we had.  From there we went to the showroom.  Pam had a checklist (Selection Guide) of things to go over and her knowledge & patience was very helpful.

We tried to not be so picky about the flooring or paint colors, since we knew those could and would most likely be changed in the future.  We were more picky about the exterior.  We knew we wanted stone instead of brick in the standard areas, but was not loving any of the options from the local stone yard.  We found the stone we wanted on the WH website on the Litchfield virtual tour and Pam later tracked it down to somewhere in PA and they are getting it shipped in for our home.

Here are some pictures of our selections.  The stone in the picture is not what will be on our home, it will be the one I mentioned above.  We upgraded to Level 4 Vinyl in the kitchen, breakfast room, laundry, and bathrooms.  The foyer will be Level 3 Tile.  The vinyl that looks like stone will be in the laundry room.  The lighter vinyl will be in the kitchen, breakfast area, and 2.5 bathrooms. We chose to put the same carpet throughout the house. The kitchen cabinet upgrade also applied to the bathrooms, so the same cabinets will be in all of them.

Spring Valley Square Maple (Sedona color) cabinets with English Toffee Hanstone Quartz Countertops

Cape Cod Gray siding, slightly darker gray shakes

Bathroom countertops