Sunday, July 24, 2011

How we bought the farm

Warning: long boring post ahead


Many of the people we've met since we moved in have asked how we found this place, and were surprised somehow to learn that we just saw it online. UtahRealEstate.com was a favorite site of ours from the time we began thinking about moving until we finalized this deal, and it lists more than just the typical (sub)urban residential dwelling. Anything available on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) in Utah should be available there, which basically means everything that's not for sale by owner (for those, there are other sites). Our realtor set something up to email us once a week all the new or revised listings that met our criteria ("within our price range" and "more than one acre"), and then we'd periodically look through the web site for things that seemed interesting.


Kanosh sounded attractive from the beginning, but probably only because there were a few properties in the area that we liked, and nothing obviously distasteful about the area. In particular, living here would shorten our occasional trips to California by over two hours of driving time -- by itself not sufficient reason to move, but one reason we didn't look too closely at eastern Utah, where lots of properties otherwise met our criteria. When we first noticed this place, it was at the very top of our price range, and we both thought it could be really cool... but wouldn't ever happen. We stopped by to look, while visiting another interesting property in the area, but still thought it wasn't possible. But prices come down as properties sit on the market (our condo's price definitely did!), and eventually that hurdle disappeared.


The fact that our home is in on the outer fringes of nowhere really only affected the transaction in two ways: the inspection, and the financing. The former is the subject of an upcoming post; our mortgage broker (my uncle) warned us from the beginning that the latter could be difficult. Investors apparently don't like investing in weird properties, and ours was definitely "weird" (lots of land, in a very rural area, with very few comparable sales close by to work off of).


The first financing hurdle was the appraisal. Our land is actually four different legal parcels, and lenders won't lend on more than two simultaneously, and generally not more than one. So we had to get a loan on the parcel with the home on it, and hoped it would cover our total purchase price. Which meant the appraisal was important. That's where someone looks at the home, finds comparable sales (ideally within a mile or so, and in the past six months, but you don't often get that in rural area). We ordered the appraisal, waited, and waited some more, and finally word came back on my birthday: the "purchase price is supported", meaning the home and the one parcel of land was sufficiently valuable that an investor could recoup his money after foreclosing on us, should it come to that. In other words, it was worth about as much as we'd offered. Best. Birthday. Present. Ever. Well, perhaps not ever, but it was exciting nonetheless.


So it was irritating when, later on, the mortgage broker said the lender wanted another appraisal, to "comfirm" the first one. This after the first potential lender had said, "Um, sorry, it's just too weird for us." Appraisals run $350 or so -- which is small potatoes compared to the purchase price, but is still irritating. That appraisal eventually came out in our favor, as well, and after that, it was just a matter of signing our life away some papers.


...which included more papers than usual, because it involved water rights, extra parcels, etc. But that all blurs together after the first 6-inch paper pile you sign your way through at the title company. And since the title people provided cookies, it wasn't a big deal.


Anyway, that's how it came about. I hope the story was at least as boring as the process... *grin*

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