We Made an Offer!

Tonight, Missy and I made an offer on a home I previously blogged about. We met with our realtor, Lee Mayrack, after work to look at one final home before making our choice. It was a nice home, and $50,000 cheaper, but just does not compare with the home we are hoping to get. They have until Sunday to accept, reject, or counter our offer. We are excited, but reserved, and I have to keep reminding everyone that we are FAR from done with this process, and this home, nice as it is, may not be the one we ultimately purchase.

Could It Be? A Mortgage? Just Maybe…

While I am/was on the verge of giving up on getting a mortgage in this day and age, a letter arrived today from RLCA congratulating Missy and me on our mortgage approval. I had contacted them last week, and called my broker today to verify what the letter said. He needed additional information, which I quickly gathered and sent via email to him. It appears that all is well, we really have been pre-approved for a mortgage, and it is enough money to purchase any of the homes we have looked at so far! I am trying to temper my excitement and hope with the reality that this is not yet a done deal, but I am excited.

FICO Scores Are The Only One's That Matter

In some of my previous posts I mentioned that I pay for FreeCreditReport.com credit monitoring and scoring. I called yesterday to cancel our membership, it just isn’t worth it. The credit scores they calculate are not even close to the Fair Isaac FICO scores, and when only pulling information from Experian (not TransUnion or EquiFax), you just are not getting the correct information.

The credit bureaus are damn slow at updating information, TransUnion and EquiFax are the worst, Experian somewhat faster. Nothing will happen quickly with these companies, even after you prove your case. Daily credit monitoring is a waste of time and money. Rather than using a service like FreeCreditReport.com, save your money and pull full reports quarterly using MyFico.com. FICO is the only score that matters, scores provided by the credit bureaus themselves are meaningless.

In case your are curious as to why the credit scores you see when you pull your own report are different from what lenders see when they pull the same report from the same agency, I will tell you. When a lender pulls your report, the information in it is passed through the Fair Isaac scoring software, which generates a real FICO score. FICO licenses their software to the credit bureaus, and receives money each time a FICO score is generated. Because the credit bureaus don’t want to pay FICO when you request your own score, they invent their own scoring software, which is supposed to emulate FICO, but falls well short.

Yes, I think this should be illegal. You should have access to the exact same information and score that a lender can get on you, but you cannot, unless you use MyFico. FICO allows you to make “soft inquiries” into your credit report, which does not count against your score. I think they should have “soft scoring” too, which would allow a credit bureau to give you a FICO score without incurring charges from FICO. That would be fair.

Hell, the credit bureaus should be fighting for this as well, as it would make their scoring accurate and they could quit spending all the money the do on the programmers that generate scoring models that don’t work. Now that is the first time I have ever advocated firing computer programmers!

You know what? I am a computer programmer, and a damn good one. FICO thinks their algorithm cannot be reverse-engineered. I disagree, in fact it does not look that difficult. Maybe someday if I have some free time on my hands (which won’t be anytime soon), I will write a program that lets you scan your report and generate a FICO score for you for free. Then I will charge a lot of money for it and pay cash for my house, Cessna, Harley and Corvette. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

The Perfect Home?

Tonight we looked at what we all agreed was the nicest home we have seen so far, one that we all really liked. Of course it was also the most expensive at nearly $300,000. It is a 4 bedroom ranch with a ton of small things that really makes it a great house. The basement is newly finished and was one the standout features. They built the 4th bedroom down there, a small office that would be perfect for me, a large family room, and a bar. A real nice bar. There is a storage/workshop area as well, all nicely done.

The only problem is the paint. I have never seen such a bad paint job in my life. The homeowners did it themselves, and I really have no idea why they were in such a hurry. We would have to repaint everything upstairs, but the downstairs looked a bit nicer. They also have the same POS Frigidaire dishwasher that we have now, which is so loud we only run it when we are not in the room, or even in the house.

The backyard is fairly large and backs up to another of Cross Plains’ ridges, this time with huge rocks placed there by glaciers thousands of years ago. We could easily live in this house, it was great, after several weekends spent repainting. Their dog had torn some holes in the carpet upstairs, this would have to be replaced.

The biggest problem right now is getting financed. I got a nice 57 point boost in my credit score today, but apparently only with Experian. I talked to one of Century 21’s mortgage guys and he pulled the credit himself. The score he got was lower than any of the scores we get through FreeCreditReport.com, much lower. Makes me wonder what I am paying for if the scores other people get are so much lower than what I get. I have a meeting with him tomorrow to discuss this, and am going armed with tons of documentation to prove that there is still a lot of incorrect information in our credit records. I am afraid I will have to get an attorney involved to clear some of this stuff up, I am at wits end.

The other problem is they are having an open house this weekend. As much as we loved this home, it is not likely to happen. Even our trip next week to visit family for Easter is in jeapordy, and probably will not happen (sorry dad). We are so focused on getting a home that we are just not allowing ourselves to spend the extra money. I am close to saying “Screw It” and just putting an end to the house hunt until next year. Between George Bush, the economy, credit crisis and God knows what else, the perfect time to buy a house may not be an option because the damn banks won’t loan any money, unless you don’t need it.

Looking at Our First FSBO

After work tonight we looked at our first FSBO (For Sale By Owner) home, just a couple of blocks from where we currently rent. We met a very nice younger couple with a young son and newborn daughter. They have lived in the home about a year, but are relocating back to their native Michigan. It was somewhat odd having the homeowner show the home instead of a realtor, but they were a real nice couple.

The house is a very nice 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath ranch with a huge unfinished basement. The builder did not cut corners here either, the woodwork and nickel fixtures are very nice, as are the cabinets in the kitchen. The home has new stainless steel appliances and a gas fireplace, and a family room that would be perfect for us, including a great place for a LCD TV. The 2 smaller bedrooms are small, but have a unique way of sharing a very nice bathroom between them. The master is medium size, but large enough, and has a great bathroom with a large jacuzzi, separate shower and double sink. A walk-in closet is accessed from the bathroom, which I like.

The basement is unfinished and huge, with rough-in plumbing for a bathroom and over sized hot water heater, to help support the jacuzzi tub in the master bedroom. I really like the quality of construction in this home, and this extended to the basement. A lot of thought was put into eventually finishing the basement, and it would be a great slate to work from.

Despite only having 3 bedrooms upstairs (the girls would really like 4), this was my favorite house so far. Ranch homes always appeal more to me than 2-stories, and this one was very nice. They are asking $278,000 and said the taxes are about $4500 per year, which means the appraised tax value must be around $225,000. I wish I knew how much they are really hoping to get for it. If this home could realistically be had for $250,000 it would be hard to turn down. Missy liked the home, but not as much as me, so this will likely be a battle not worth waging.

I’d love to know where our kids get their sense of entitlement, especially when it comes to everyone having their own room on the same floor as the master, and every room meeting some size criteria. Growing up, my room was about half the size of these and I never minded, hell, I never noticed. Don’t worry, Missy doesn’t read this blog anyway 🙂

Follow Up to News Reports About Michael Gullickson

On February 20, 2008 my step-daughter’s father was killed in a head-on snowmobile accident near Mount Horeb, WI. He was a great guy, everyone that ever met him loved him, including me. I won’t rehash old news, his sister Heidi has an excellent blog and is much better with words and emotions that I am.

The only thing that I want to add is a refutiation of some of the information that has been circulating in the news, and with friends of Mike’s. Alchohol or drugs was not a factor in the accident. The coroner has finished his report, and the police are wrapping up their investigation. Neither rider was drunk or stoned, so despite the original news media reports, alcohol was NOT a factor in this accident.

Despite the good intentions of Mike’s friends, NOBODY saw the accident happen. Other riders were in the area, and one of Mike’s friends came upon the scene very soon after the accident, but nobody actually saw the accident happen.

Speed does not appear to be a factor either. Original stories that we heard was that the other rider was driving in excess of 70-80 MPH. This is wrong. The police reconstruction team estimates his speed between 40-43 MPH, well under the night snowmobile speed limit set by the Wisconsin DNR. Mike was either completely stopped, or very close to stopped when the accident happened.

Mike died within “seconds” according the coroner report, due to severe head and chest injuries. Both riders were wearing helmets.

We are still awaiting the final police report. At this time, it does not appear the district attorney is preparing a case against the other rider, which indicates even further that this was an accident. A horrible, possibly avoidable, accident, but an accident nonetheless.

We Look at the Second, Third and Fourth Homes

After work tonight we looked at 3 homes for sale in Cross Plains. The first one, and the one we liked the most, is pictured. It sort of stands out in the neighborhood, it is light green with tan and maroon trim, and rocks. It is a 3 bedroom home with a nicely finished basement that includes an office area.

Upstairs is a more formal living room with a wood-burning fireplace, and no good place to put a large LCD TV. It is open and very pretty though, but the entertainment area would definately be downstairs. The kitchen and dining room is very nice, with good quality cabinets and very attractive brushed aluminum fixtures.

There is a lot of very nice woodwork inside this home, they did not go cheap here. We were concerned about the small size of the bedrooms, as listed on the Internet. To our surprise, the rooms were plenty large and the master was very nice. None of the homes we looked at had great bathrooms, but none were really bad.

The other two homes we looked at we ruled out completely. The second one, on Tilda Trail was actually a nice place, but had no backyard at all, at least none that would make the dogs happy. The view was nice, backing up to DNR land and steep hills.

The last home was on American Legion drive, and we all agreed that it sucked. It looks like rental property. The quality of materials was poor, it was too small, and just a bit ugly. It did have a few nice things, but the bad far outweighs the good.

The first home is quite nice, but is only $15,000 less than the 4 bedroom home across the street, and that home has 600 more square feet. We are going to look at it Thursday evening, and tomorrow evening are looking at a FSBO home on Lewis Street.