A-Hunting We Will Go

House hunting.

Yes, Daniel and I have officially decided to buy a house. Officially. Of course, it’s been UNofficial for a while now. We’ve been chewing on the idea, going to random open houses, scouting out neighborhoods, and perusing online real estate sites for months. And now, with the economy tanking and the real estate market going through a crisis, we thought, “hey, this might be a good time to buy!”

We’ve decided we want to be homeowners for a variety of reasons, and contrary to our innate sensibilities, want to go about it in a responsible manner. This is why we’re attempting to secure financing through an organization called NACA. The Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America. It’s an established and legitimate, non-profit advocacy group that targets predatory lending practices, saves homes from foreclosure and offers homebuyers excellent fixed-rate mortgages. It’s a way to ensure, without a doubt, that what you are about to do (buy a home) is something you understand, something you want to do, and something you can actually afford.

Thus, the process of acquiring a mortgage through NACA is a thorough and arduous process, but in the end, there are no better mortgage terms out there. None. Period. No downpayment is required, no closing costs, no private mortgage insurance, and interest rates are always 1 point below the national average. What’s the catch, right?

Being the highly skeptical people that we are, we researched NACA backwards and forwards before we even attended the free mandatory workshop which explains (in no less than 4 hours) the history, mission, and process of working through NACA. The information I found online was both encouraging and discouraging.

They really do offer THE BEST mortgage in America. No question. They really do help people and campaign strongly to end predatory lending practices across the country (this, of course, appeals to our liberal activist cores and we nearly jumped up out of our seats at the workshop to start chanting, “Hell no, we won’t go!”). That’s the good stuff. Their mission is genuinely altruistic. And the product they offer is genuinely excellent.

The drawback (as evidenced by the numerous hostile discussion threads found online): one must have buckets of patience. I came across many, many….many disgruntled NACA members across the country, who claim that NACA’s poor customer service, distinct lack of organizational skills, and unnecessarily long process caused them to eventually go with a traditional loan even though the terms weren’t as good. Reading these very negative accounts of individuals’ experiences with NACA was disheartening to say the least.

NACA’s mission is to offer safe, affordable home loans to people who do not own a home – those who do not have the substantial downpayments banks are now requiring, or money for closing costs, or perfect credit. They do this in an effort to stabilize neighborhoods and to end predatory lending practices. They use a rigorous character-based lending process in order to offer these loans. This process takes a long time. Let me say that again. THIS PROCESS TAKES A LONG TIME. NACA wants to make absolutely sure that they are providing mortgages to people who can prove to them they are competent to undertake such a huge financial commitment. To me, that makes sense. It’s like the exact opposite practice of giving out loans to anyone with a pulse. And we all know how well that worked out.

If you’re going to pursue a mortgage through NACA, expect the process taking 3-6 months, right? Expect that you will have to provide LOTS of documentation (probably more than once). Expect that you will be required to create and maintain a strict budget. Expect that you will have to keep meticulous notes and financial records. Expect that your patience will be tested and your frustration levels will reach all-time highs. Admittedly, it is an exasperatingly tedious route to take.

Despite our skepticism, we began meeting with our NACA mortgage counselor at the end of September and are crossing our fingers that we will be approved in the next couple of weeks. Woo hoo!

It's exciting and maddening all at the same time. Fortunately, we pay month-to-month rent, so we don't have to wait for a lease to expire. We also already have a real estate agent we've been working with who has helped us research neighborhoods and houses. So, once we are approved, I'm hoping things can move along rather quickly (this is never a smart thing to hope for when dealing with NACA, but I simply can't help it).

All I have to say is, THANK GAWD our mortgage counselor is AWESOME and so that makes the process a little less exasperating. She gets just as frustrated as we do sometimes with the tedious qualification process. Also, we didn't go into this with the idea that we needed a house NOW. If we had, I imagine it would've been too much to bear before this point. It's difficult - once you've made up your mind that you want a house, naturally, you want it NOW. That's just how our culture operates.

I want something and I have every right to have it now. I don't want to wait. I shouldn't have to wait

Just call it Varuca Salt Complex.

What's that quote?...Good things come to those who wait? Let's hope so.

1 comment:

Mars Girl said...

Trust me, it's better to wait until you find the perfect place (or as perfect as it can get). I've sold three houses and bought two. With the last one I sold, I lost some money since I didnt wait, oh say, longer than five years to sell it again. Gack. I should have used that house as an excuse to stay in Colorado!!

(Incidentally, I know have lived in and owned one more house than my parents! But they're a little less fickle than I am and they tend to maintain the same house a job for a number of years while I wander around the world like a mad-man, changing my environment at the drop of a hat...)

Anyway, that seems like a wise way to go about things! Dont become a part of the mortgage bomb... I have to admit that I dont research this kind of thing too well and I probably could have gotten a better interest deal had I shopped around for lenders...