Buying a house US style

Yesterday we bought a house.

It took 1 hour and over 250 sheets of paper to be reviewed and or signed!

We sat in a small conference room at a round wooden table with the notary from Independence Title, our (buyers) realtor and our loan consultant.  The place was like a swish hotel we were offered, water, coffee, juice? But having been warned it would take a long time we had come prepared with our own Starbucks. So we sipped coffee and signed sheet after sheet of paper.

‘In the UK’, I told the group, while Darren signed yet another loan document ‘we signed one piece of paper to sell our house’. This was met with shocked glances and dumbfounded silence.

It was true, though, we did. It took 5 minutes in the funny corner solicitor offices between the high street and the old Tithe Barn in Abergavenny, in Wales. We weren’t even in the country when the sale went through. We just emailed the solicitor back saying ‘yes’ it could go ahead.

It’s different in the states! Much much more paperwork.

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But its not all bad.

Overall our experience in buying this house in Texas has been great.

One particular delight in Texas is having a ‘buyer’s realtor’ who we don’t pay (the sellers have to by State law – though they also have their own agent) but who looks out for our interests nevertheless. Ours; a tall, quiet, kind, bearded ex naval commander; has bent over backwards to help us however he can replying to emails or calling us with militarily efficiency!  We had a slightly bumpy start, but once he knew that we were completely ignorant of the US house buying process he walked us through all the steps.

The bumpy start was because we did not realise we needed to have a provisional loan in place in order to put an offer in on a house. We fell in love with a house, told him we wanted to put an offer in and he asked for our pre-approval letter. ‘Our what?’

This could have been the end of our house buying but we were also really lucky to get a personal recommendation for a wonderful loan agent. Since we had only lived in the states for 18 months getting a mortgage, especially a large ‘jumbo’ loan was going to be really difficult. Moreover, even though my husband now has a great credit rating, we didn’t have the long term tax records or a credit payment history that loan companies in the states normally require. Miraculously however, our agent managed to overcome all these challenges and produce us the pre-approval letter for financing our dream home in less than 12 hours. He then stuck with us throughout the whole process of buying the house organising not one but two loans. Even coming out of a meeting to sort out the issues when I was temporarily told  I was being to be removed as a buyer.

Once that pre approval funding was in place our lovely agent prepared a detailed contract for the sellers to sign. This is when the US system is so much better. Because if they accept your offer and do sign it, they have to sell the house to you on the date in contract. So that one month ago we knew that, as long as we didn’t change our minds, we would own the house yesterday.

So have we moved in? Well not yet. In fact all we have so far is this lovely key!

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Home purchases here pretty much have to complete in a month because of how the loans are arranged, but people can’t always be ready to move out in a month. So you have something called leaseback. So we now own the home but are ‘leasing it back’ to the sellers till 28th October, by which time, hopefully, the new house they are building  will be complete.

Coming from the UK it still seems weird. But it has nice aspects. During the time they are staying on the sellers are going to have us over to meet their 4 children and tell us about  the 21 years they spent in the house. So we have that to look forward to while we wait to get our hands on the whole house!

 

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