Friday, September 19, 2008

Demand To Close Escrow

Here I am, again writing about our journey through the wonderful world of home buying. This process has been, to say it gently, emotional. The ups of a God performing miracles on your behalf, and the lows of dealing with impossible after impossible situations has left Christopher and me spent. When we went into the escrow office last Thursday to sign papers all I really wanted was for this whole thing to be done.

The signing went fairly well, although our escrow agent was not in attendance, so rather than have all those final questions about financing, closing cost estimates, and quirky realty-speak explained we had John condescending to us with one comment, advising us with incorrect information the next, and always reminding us that it was, "good we brought our questions so we could make sure and get them answered." It was incredibly anticlimactic. But we persevered, knowing that in only a few more days the house would finally be ours!

On Monday we met with our realtor, Margarett, to have the final walk-through. We took a couple of pictures with the family in front of our soon to be new home, and as we began to part ways Margarett asked Christopher if he had told me about the last minute glitch facing our close date the following day. What glitch?

Apparently the selling bank (remember, we bought a foreclosure) was disagreeing about their point of responsibility for the pest work ordered, and performed, on the house. Their computer system said they did not approve it, and they were working to get the backup invoices from the actual work so they could issue an approval. "This is nothing to worry about," Margarett assured us. "The escrow company has already filed a special form that will allow them to fund and record on the same day. I had to deal with this in the purchase of my own home, and while it obviously isn't ideal it shouldn't cause any extraordinary problems." My first reaction was to clarify that we had a written contract which clearly spelled out the seller's financial obligation in paying for pest work. "Oh yes," Margarett confirmed, "they will approve the work, they just need to verify with their backup invoices before they can issue an approval." Famous last words.

Christopher decided to take the first portion of Tuesday off so he could be home when we received the call that we owned a home. We waited. We waited a little longer. Finally at about 11:30am Margarett called, but instead of the joyous proclamation that she had keys to bring us we were told that it might be just a bit longer before that approval came through. We were again assured there was nothing to worry about, that the approval would probably come through later that afternoon and we would close escrow the following day. She would call us as soon as she heard news either way. Christopher headed off to work with a heavy heart, and I made phone calls to rearrange the work we had already ordered to begin that day on the house. Both Christopher and I had that sinking feeling that this wasn't going to be easy.

We spoke with Margarett later that night, and found out that the approval was not coming through that day. Apparently Countrywide had a system wide glitch that they were aware of, and needed to fix. Why they didn't approve our contract, which they wrote, and fix the problem on their own time was driving me near to distraction. Basically the worksheet used between Countrywide and their listing agent wasn't synchronizing accurately, and while the listing agent had confirmation of the seller's commitment to pest work the sellers computer did not have this same confirmation. The point needs to be made again... we all had the same written contract which stated on page 4 that the seller was to order and pay for pest inspections, and section 1 repairs/remediation (basically those things that show active infestation of pests and/or damages directly related to active infestation). Once again Margarett assured us we should hear from Countrywide first thing in the morning.

Wednesday morning dawned with no news from Countrywide. It turned into Wednesday afternoon, still with no news from Countrywide. At this point we were being told that a manager higher up in the organization should have the approval form. We were getting fed up! This was our house. We had done everything to get our paperwork filed, get our money to escrow, manage all the disclosures, agree to all the fees, and finally be prepared to close on the date stipulated by our contract which was signed on July 25th! The ironic thing was that Countrywide made a huge stink in our initial requirements for making an offer that we be prepared to close within 45 days - no exceptions. So here we were, over 45 days later, and they were the ones making the exceptions. Not only making exceptions, but admittedly aware of the issue before our escrow was to close, but doing nothing to take care of it in a timely manner. Christopher realized we were going to just sit and wait until we decided to make it evident that we weren't going to sit and wait. He contacted Margarett and told her we needed to escalate this to the next level. Margarett prepared a Demand To Close Escrow and we filed it at 1:15pm on Wednesday giving the seller a countdown of 3 days until they were in complete breech of contract, and we could pursue legal recourse.

It is amazing what a single piece of paper can accomplish. At 6:30pm we suddenly had word from Countrywide that the approval for the pest work came through! We would close escrow the following day. We were relieved to be one step closer to the end of this process. Late the next morning we received the call that all the money was in escrow, and recording would happen at 1:30pm.

Margarett came over at 2:30 to give us our key, along with flowers, a new welcome mat, some champagne, and even "Just Moved" postcards she had made with the picture taken at our final walk-through. It was a neat moment.

1 comment:

  1. Congrats sweet family. Your little ones are growing. I know that your home will bring about much love and many tender growing moments.