1430 hours: Herb from Wells Fargo calls me. He takes my information (salary, savings, expected price cap on the house, etc) and promises to fax me a form he needs me to sign so he can run my credit report. This call lasts 15 minutes and 51 seconds.
1458 hours: Herb calls me back and asks me to check my fax machine. On the fax are 7 pages. The first two are the credit report authorization. As I pick up the form and start to sign it Herb tells me I have a superb score and that despite my misgivings the Experian credit bureau is actually scoring me the highest of the big three. He had already run my score and had a full picture of my credit status! As I set the fax machine to send back the signed authorization form Herb drops another bombshell on me when tells me to pick up the other set of pages and flip to the back. I am shocked and delighted to find a letter of pre-approval for an FHA fixed-rate loan for 30 years, to the tune of $180,000 at six percent interest. With predicted taxes, various forms of insurance and closing costs my monthly payment will be $1,425. I'm absolutely flabbergasted -- in 28 minutes (of which I only spent 15 minutes on the phone actually communicating!!) I have been approved for enough cash to buy pretty much any house I ever thought of owning. This call lasts 14 minutes and 34 seconds
1523 hours: I call Herb back to discuss some other choices that might be available to me. Among the various options I explore are FHA ARM loans, conventional loans and 80/15/5 loans. By the time I hang up 15 minutes later my head is swimming -- there's so much information to absorb I feel in danger of drowning amidst it. I've got more than a few options available to me at this point, each one having benefits and drawbacks that are entirely unique. I promise myself I'm going to drink copiously during the weekend and try to understand what I'm looking at so I can make an appropriate choice when the time comes to put my name on the dotted line.
1545 hours: I call my realtor and give appropriate contact information to get the ball rolling now that I have the paper in hand that says I'm good for obscene amounts of money.
I decide to explore my options and seek a "second opinion," and so take a detour on my way home. At 1651 hours I am sitting down with a second mortgage lender at my credit union in Rolling Meadows. Once again I clear the preapproval process in the span of fifteen minutes, and by 1720 I'm walking out the door with a second preapproval letter and two good-faith estimates (one for a 30 year fixed conventional, $180,000 at 6% and a second for $180,000 on a 5/1 ARM at 5%). Needless to say when I walk in the apartment door at 1735 I'm in a state of euphoria. roho and enveri are there on the couch and absolutely amazed at my news. Hell, I am absolutely amazed.
1738 hours: My realtor calls me back and we start talking. I give him the MLS ID of a house that I was particularly interested in along with a series of requirements (three bedrooms, two baths, two car garage, minimum lot size of 60x123 or comparable, etc etc) and send him on his way to start digging through the database. The call only lasts 7 minutes because he has a property to show, but he promises to call me back.
1918 hours: To my surprise he does indeed call me back, and we talk for ten minutes. The house I'm interested in does indeed have a catch to it (I suspected as much for the price): it resides in a flood zone, and I would have to get flood insurance. Flood insurance is costly. I mull this for a bit and decide that I'll request a showing anyway. The realtor lists a number of other properties in the area, evaluating my reaction for each one. Once we've worked out my availability we decide that "Sooner is better." I agree to meet the agent at his office tomorrow around 1PM, and he will take me for a viewing of two to three properties that match my requirements.
I had absolutely no idea that once I lit the fuse things would be going this damn fast -- I believe I know now what it feels like to be a human canon ball. What really spooks me is that, in theory, if all were to go well it is entirely possible that I will be a homeowner by this time next month. To say that such a thing is terrifying and exciting doesn't do it justice.
So tomorrow afternoon I will go to look at houses. I hope I can convince Roho to tag along (if only to lend an objective eye when touring the properties) because it's a bit of a drive to the area and I'd enjoy his company while I'm going through this.
On an unrelated note I purchased some more music from the iTunes music store. On my plate tonight was a combination of Shania Twain, Moby and INXS. This was far too easy, and could readily lead to an addiction. I'm downloading the new 4.1.1 version right now and am rather curious to see what enhancements (less resource-hogginess, I hope!) it will bring. Regardless of the benefits I would say without a doubt that Apple has really hit on something here, and I hope it continues to prosper as I'm enjoying every minute of it.