Wednesday, November 19, 2014

House vs. house

So I have avoided talking about our housing situation a little because, well, frankly, it's embarrassing.  But it's been on my mind today and I'd like to talk about it.  Our house was foreclosed on.  It has been a while that we knew it was going to happen so it wasn't a surprise.  I mean, does anyone get foreclosed on unexpectedly?

Chris bought this house under his name only (remember, we aren't legally married).  Chris and I had been back together for a little while and I think he just wanted to please me.  I hated renting, thought it was money down the drain.  A mortgage is just like renting (or so I thought) but you are working towards owning, rather than helping someone else own. 
Right after we closed.
We never loved the house.  I loved the flowering trees in front, and Chris loved the potential of the backyard, it was on about a quarter of an acre.  We were going to fix it up and sell it and then move into our "dream" home.
That bush was HUGE!
The back yard, we ended up taking out 4 tons of stuff out
of this yard, and it was no way done when we stopped.
Shortly after "we" bought it, the economy crashed.  Chris's job started paying less.  Instead of 6 months (from spring through summer) of overtime work, he went to 4 months, then 3, then 2, this year it was September and part of October.  During the time Chris's job was declining, I lost my job and was unemployed for 8 months.  Surprisingly, we were able to scrape by through those 8 months and I found a job.  However, after only about 6 months my job went to extreme part-time (only 18 hours a week) and at the same time Chris started having a slow season in the winter.  Oh, and even though we had a fixed rate, our mortgage went up.  We weren't able to keep up.  I tried for awhile, sending them partial payments, until they told us that if we didn't send full payments they wouldn't accept them, so I stopped.  My job went up to 30 hours a week (it started as 37.5) after only a few months, but the damage was done.  We couldn't catch up.
We remodeled the bathroom.

Chris is a good guy, but he's a procrastinator (a bad one) and since my name was not on the house, I couldn't do anything about it.  He eventually tried to get a home modification, but by that time, they had raised the mortgage by $500 and when they gave us the modification, they only lowered $150, which we still couldn't afford.

So we ignored it.  We quit working on the yard.  Things quit getting done, after all, if we weren't keeping it, why make it better?  We didn't like the house anyway and it needed a lot of work.  Every year Chris would say "we're gonna lose the house this year" and then we didn't.

Then this year, Chris decided he wanted to try again.  I was done with the house.  It was damp and moldy.  Mold growing on the ceiling in Maddox's room, our room (a bonus room we made into a bedroom when Maddox came along) wasn't insulated and I found mold on more than one pair of my leather shoes, along with the leather coat Chris ended up throwing away.  When I would come back from visiting my family, I could smell the mold and it was horrifying.  Early on the hot water handle in the bathtub broke, and in true procrastinator fashion, it didn't get fixed right away.  The wrench we used to turn it on damaged the 60 year old stem, making it impossible to replace without spending a fortune to replace the plumbing.  The the hot water heater started leaking a little, by this summer this summer, there was constantly a puddle in front of the dryer (downhill from the water heater).  Needless to say, I was done with the house, but Chris wanted to try another loan modification.  I decided it'd be good to do it, and then sell the house down the line, maybe at a loss, but at least we tried.
This became our bedroom after Maddox was born.
Chris turned in the paperwork and we waited, and waited, and waited.  Chris called back a few times and talked to the same guy and was told it was "pending."  Then in August Chris talked to a new guy who said they didn't have the paperwork and we would have to start over, and that the foreclosure would most likely happen in November. 
front door
We decided to forget "saving" the house, and let it go.  And once again, in true procrastinator fashion, ignored the pending foreclosure.  I looked at rentals on craigslist all the time, had been for years, and even pointed out a few to Chris, but never pushed it.  Then I opened a letter that said the house would be auctioned off Nov. 7th, in 3 weeks, at the worst time of year to move because of the market.  We were feeling pretty desperate, even looking at 2 bedroom apts, but only found 2 affordable places and was turned down for one of those, the one in Mt. Vernon.
new house
After living in our new house for over 2 weeks,  I like it a million times better than the other one.  I feel more at home here, I'm not embarrassed to invite people over.  I still hate renting, but this place is nice.  It's the last house (only house, surrounded by a senior living apartments) on a dead end street.  The last one was on one of the busiest streets in Mount Vernon.  There's no dampness, no musty smell when we moved in, it's huge, with a full unfinished basement and unfinished but walkable attic and a garage, not to mention 3 actual bedrooms.  The biggest problem I have is that it's in a neighboring town, Burlington (the two towns are so close you can't tell where one ends and the other begins unless you know) which actually wouldn't be a problem except we have no intention of taking Damian out of the Mount Vernon high school.  And the furnace sucks, currently the thermostat is set at 85, but the temperature of the house is closer to 65. 

 Driving by my old house is strange.  When I moved from Lynnwood, I got homesick and was extremely sad whenever I went to see my sister there (I've since gotten over it) but I don't have those feelings about the M.V. house.  I'm sad, but it's more of a incomplete feeling, like I left unfinished business there, and I'm sad that I'm not more sad.  I'm sad to not be in the neighborhood anymore, where we had friends, and was close to Damian's school and friends, but we're only about a 10 min drive away.

I went back into the old house 2 days after moving out and it already smelled musty and like it had been sitting empty for months.  It smelled exactly like it did before we moved in, which we attributed it to it being empty for about a year. 
This is the same room as the picture above with the curtains
I like my new place, but I feel very displaced, almost unsettled or homeless.  We don't know if we'll be staying here longer than the 6 month lease, because we want Damian to be in the M.V. school, and we'd like to be closer to his activities and our friends.  I guess we'll see what the future brings. Right now I'm thankful for the house and actually really do love it.

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