"For we walk by faith, not by sight."
2 Corinthians 5:7
2 Corinthians 5:7
This is the continuing story of our move to St Louis, which began here.
This is written not because we think it is the biggest deal in the world, and it may not be fascinating to anyone who happens to read it. It may put some people to sleep! But because this time was so full of God's obvious directing and sustaining, and we want to remember his faithfulness to us. As I look through my wrinkled list of escrow events and write them out, it brings me new encouragement! Wow!
So, we marveled at how quick the job had come and that it was in St Louis of all places, and rejoiced and packed Dave's stuff for his new job. As soon as he drove off, I (Debbie) hit the internet and started searching for house possibilities.
As mentioned, several counties near and including the county of St Louis have rules regarding occupancy of residences. Even if you own the house, you may not exceed the number of people per bedroom which the town stipulates. In many towns, the standard is no more than 2 people per bedroom. For many families, this is not any kind of an issue at all. But for those of us with double digit size families, it does not leave many reasonable options.
So, with the house we nearly bought, which was located about 4o minutes from downtown St Louis, we were outside the area where bedrooms were an issue. That house unavailable, we decided to search in cities within St Louis County which had differing requirements. Even though this ruled out a country home, it would help reduce Dave's commute time. So we focused on a city not far from his office which, instead of specifying a number of bedrooms, only specified square footage. In this town, our family would be required to have a house with at least 2,300 square feet on the main floor.
So, combining this with our price range, we were left with just a few choices. They all had issues, but we tend to gravitate towards houses like that. Though the size of both houses was very attractive, one in particular really seemed like a good fit. It had a huge family room addition, cozy fireplace, great windows, nice big lot and was only 10 minutes from Dave's office. But it was 9 feet too small for the town requirements.
We initially ruled it out, but then decided to give the city a call and see if there was a way to extend a closet or something in order to make the 2,300 square feet.
After explaining our family size, the clerk respectfully told me she had to talk to the supervisor. She got back to me saying that he would give us special permission to get this house if we wanted it. "What if we had more children?" I asked. She explained that if more children were born to us, we would not be required to increase square footage; it's a one-time deal. Phew! The clerk seemed very respectful and friendly and not incredulous or rude, and this seemed to be an extra indicator we were on the right path.
Then we thought about the bus. I called right back and mentioned the, um, bus. Would that be a problem?
The answer: as long as it was parked off the street, no problem. She didn't miss a beat, and continued to be pleasant, almost like the bus issue comes up all the time.
Dave took another good look at the house with our long-suffering realtor. It really looked like a great fit. So, considering the other issues the house had, we submitted our offer, along with our pre-qualification letter from the bank, and a security deposit. We made our offer contingent on a home inspection, because of the obvious issues with the house we had observed. The house was "as is" with seller to do no repairs. Over a few days, the sales price numbers bounced back and forth, and we soon had a deal. We were in escrow. It was August 27, 2009.
Dave called our bank to get things rolling, and I started thinking about hunting down boxes.
Before we could begin packing though, Dave received word from our bank that our pre-qualification did not mean what we thought it meant.
We thought the pre-qualification letter meant we were pre-qualified because we could afford payments on both the Wisconsin house and the St Louis house.
However, what the bank meant wa$, if we have 6 month$ of mortage payment$ $aved up for the Wiscon$in hou$e and 6 month$ of mortgage payment$ $aved up for the new hou$e in $t Loui$, plu$ our down payment and clo$ing co$t$, then we were pre-qualified.
With that new definition, which was apparently a new loan stipulation that had been enacted quite recently and which had shut down a lot of sales contracts, we were out of the home buying business (unless we sold our Wisconsin house...and during the wait for that, Dave would be commuting each week to St Louis!!)
"Be sure to call us back if you can come up with that money in reserve," the loan application person told Dave.
Often during our practically 25 years of marriage, when one of us would get very discouraged, the other would seem to have extra hope and faith. (There will be a lot of that in this story!) So, on this occasion, when Dave, already worn out from the drive and living out of a suitcase, and not seeing any workable options, called with the news on the loan, I was somehow encouraged to keep hoping.
But we were in quite a quandary. We felt that him finding this job (which was a Grails job) this quickly, with great pay, still in St Louis, all this must be from the Lord. But if we couldn't move, what could we do? Dave was required to be on site for this job; working at home was not an option. So, that would mean the job in St Louis was not an option. And yet, the few job possibilities in Wisconsin would mean a 2+ hour daily commute, because the jobs were further from our home and a drop in pay (accentuated by the increase in commuting costs). It seemed like we were up against a wall which we could not scale.
Dave talked to our realtor and checked with a different loan officer in St Louis, and heard the same thing with all the banks, not just our bank. It had to do with the mortgage crisis. It was a new regulation for people purchasing a second house.
It occurred to me that since it was a sudden ruling, and since it had messed up so many house deals, maybe it would be reversed as soon as it popped up. Who knows? Maybe that would be our way out of Wisconsin.
So, I stopped by the mortgage office in town, determining to just quickly ask the lady if there was a website where we could monitor any changes to the requirements.
I left the car running and popped in to the small office. Leaving out most of the details, I just asked if there was a website where we could monitor any changes to the loan requirements. She assured me that the regulations were always changing and that they were difficult to track and there really wasn't a site we could find them on. But she wanted to know the details of our situation. I explained we had been un-pre-qualified, and that we had already talked to a couple of loan officers, and that I had children in the car and couldn't really talk right now.
But she prodded and encouraged me to sit down and give her more details. Again, I told her, we already knew from more than one loan officer that we could not swing it. But she persisted in her prodding. So, still thinking it a waste of time, I shut off the car, brought my delegation into the lobby and sat down and more fully reiterated our saga.
I didn't really believe her when she said she had a loan type that she was sure we could be approved for. But she said she knew it would work for our situation, and that she did this kind of loan all the time.
Though I was still not convinced, she called Dave on her speaker phone right then and there and she explained what she had to offer, how her loan program differed from the one we had applied for, and collected some preliminary information.
One approval requirement she told us was an inspection on the house, and the loan would not be approved if any items that were required to be fixed were not fixed. Since this was an "as is" house, we could not expect the seller to do any required repairs. We explained what we thought would be the issues, and she felt they would not be a big deal (slight ominous music here).
She also said that we would have to extend our closing date by over a month. That would require agreement from the seller, but we were pretty sure that would not be a problem.
Before I left her office, she gave me a big pile of papers to fill out and return. Dave soon called me back on my phone, and we both marveled at how the Lord seemed to help us leap over that wall. And I had only gone in to quickly get a website address!
As we drove home, it was such a pretty day, with the typical Wisconsin weather fluctuating from some summery hot days, and some pleasantly warm days. By the time the loan was approved, I thought as I drove, we'd be heading into fall... a great time to move (ominous music getting a little louder here).
We quickly got our information back to her, and she was very impressed with our speed. We wanted to do everything in our power to get us moved to St Louis, and all under one roof, as soon as possible. We were finally in the final lap, so we thought.
Little did we know that a small computer error was being made that would make a big impact on our closing date (ominous music louder, ending on a unresolved chord).
If you'd like to read the next installment, take a stretch break and click here.