So I've hinted there were things a brewing up here the past week, adding to the general feeling of chaos. And I guess now I can tell the tale.
We nearly bought a house. Nearly. And it certainly wasn't from lack of trying on our part on why we don't have one right now.
I mentioned last week that a friend of mine had sent me a poster for the house her and her husband were trying to sell. On a lark, Cathy and I decided to go down and see the house on Saturday. We honestly weren't in the market for a house. Cathy's been getting itchy feet the last few months, but we figured it was going to be the spring before we started doing some serious sniffing around for one.
But we went and looked at their place on Saturday. While I won't say it was love at first sight, we fell surprisingly head over heels for the place. It wasn't perfect, no house is. Cathy could certainly make a solid of list of things she was going to fix or change. However, the couple had already put a lot of work in the house over the past few years. The outside might not have looked like much, but the inside was very nice. Plus, it had a view of the bay, a fireplace, a library and a deck. Oh, and it was in nice neighbourhood and on the Utilador, which is a big bonus. I don't really fancy having water delivered and sewage removed if I can help it when we buy a house. I know simply too many people who have had problems.
The place was also about 25 years old. Which I liked, actually. I've heard horror stories about some of the new houses built in Iqaluit. About how they were built too quickly or not on solid enough ground so after a few years there's massive cracks happening in the ceiling or walls as the foundation shifts. This place was solid.
So we came home and looked at each other in shock because trying to buy a house was not on the list of things to do. First of all, we knew nothing about how to go about doing this. Thus began a crash course that weekend on mortgages and how to buy a house without looking like an idiot and getting taken for a ride.
Then we had to figure out how to do an Offer to Purchase, worry about lawyers, find the money for a downpayment and get into a bank. For that matter, there is the little matter of me being unemployed. Cathy is making good money, but I didn't think it was a lock to give us the money with only one salary.
Finally, we knew there was a lot of interest in the place. The other thing that drew us was the price. At $360,000 it might seem like an insane amount of money for some, but in Iqaluit, that's very reasonable. The couple was also just trying to sell the house on their own. No Realtor. Nor did they want a bidding war. They just wanted to sell their house with as little fuss as possible.
The first hiccup was one that I should have expected given that we live in Nunavut. I went to our bank - CIBC - to make an appointment with their mortgage specialist. However, it seems she was away on vacation. Now, I don't begrudge someone going on vacation. Apparently it was her first in three years. However, they didn't have anyone at the branch who could cover her duties. So while she was away, the bank could not do mortgages.
I've banked with CIBC for 35 years. Now I'm beginning to wonder if giving them my money is such a bright idea when you can't plan to have someone cover off your only mortgage specialist so the poor woman can go on vacation.
So we had to go to Royal Bank. But they couldn't meet us until Tuesday. And because of that, we were essentially too late. By the time we got the financing - Royal Bank gave us just a silly amount of money - and got our offer in, someone had put in a similar one ahead of us. So the couple decided to go with that one.
So that was disappointing. I think they did it in a very fair manner, it's just the way these things go sometimes. I told Cathy the odds of buying the very first house we've ever looked at as a couple was astronomical. But we really did start to think we had a chance. We were planning a housewarming/Christmas part in December.
And then poof. Ah well.
So what did we learn from this experience?
1. Apparently we can get a huge amount of money from banks with no problem.
2. It was reassuring to know we could whip up a $70,000+ downpayment pretty easily. Nice to know we've been doing more than travelling around the world and buying lots of books over the past four years.
3. I now have a better idea of what an Offer to Purchase is and I'm not quite so fearful of it if we have to do another one.
4. We have the names of several lawyers should we need them in the future.
5. At least we know now what we're looking for in a house. We would like a view. We want to be on the Utilador. We would prefer a house five years or older so we have an idea if there's going to be problems with the place. We want a balcony. And, you know, a little bit of quirkiness. It was nice to look at a house that was obviously not Plan #32456 from some housing plan book.
Anyway, we're back to the waiting game. Things might change, but I suspect we'll start looking again around March or April. Still, it was an interesting experience to go through, even if it didn't end the way we had hoped.
1. Dancing in the street - Van Halen
2. Scenes from an Italian restaurant - Billy Joel
3. Deep blue sea - Grizzly Bear
4. Search and destroy - Peaches
5. Better than this - Keane