Vol: 84 Issue: 1 Monday, September 1, 2008
Stuff is happening all over the world. The Russians are clearly intent on gobbling up Georgia. New Orleans is in the bulls-eye of one of the most powerful hurricanes ever to make landfall in US history.
Hurricane Gustav is at the time of this writing, destroying property and no doubt taking lives as it rips through the Gulf Coast. I pray for all those in Gustav’s path, and in particular, for our many OL members in harm’s way.
Across the world from Gustav, the Chinese are digging out after yet another earthquake destroyed 180,000 homes and killed at least thirty people over the weekend.
Devastating flooding in northeast India forced the evacuation of nearly a half million people. Entire villages were washed away. Tens of thousands remain missing.
The Democrats officially nominated Barack Obama and Hillary publicly snubbed Bill when he tried to give her a smooch during the festivities.
Stuff is happening all over the world. But today is Labor Day. And stuff will still be happening all over the world tomorrow.
So let’s take the day off from the serious and spend a few minutes in the ridiculous. . .
A couple years ago, on the Lord’s leading, we sold our home, gave all our stuff away, and headed out wherever it was God was leading us. Over the course of the trip, we met a lot of OL members, spoke in a lot of venues, saw a lot of folks turn to the Lord, and learned a lot about obedience.
We crisscrossed the country twice, from Atlantic to Pacific and from the Gulf of Mexico to the Canadian border — until Gayle’s mom called and said she thought maybe at eighty-six, she was getting too old to live alone any longer.
So we parked the RV, leased a house and spent most of the last year refurnishing it and getting it just the way Gayle’s mom likes it.
We call it “Mama creep”.
At first it was just her bedroom, but then she thought that if she had the other bedroom (our bedroom) for a sitting room, that would be nice. The house has an addition that was designed to be a beauty salon.
So we moved into the addition.
It was big enough to serve as a bed/sitting room, which was good, since I needed a place to go as Mama creep began to overspread the living room adjoining her suite of rooms with doilies and flowers and chairs arranged ‘just so’.
(I’m not allowed to change the living room TV from the NASCAR station.)
The living room has an adjoining formal dining room for Mama’s dinnertime meal. If Mama isn’t eating, I eat in the kitchen.
(In fact, it wasn’t really until I started on this column that I realized I am the one with a ‘room’ to go to. This is Mama’s House – she just let me live here because of Gayle. )
So you can imagine Mama’s reaction last month when the lady we leased the house from sent an mortgage appraiser to inspect the place. Mama sent me to see her to demand an explanation.
“I’m putting it up for sale,” the landlady said. “Oh, did you want to buy it?”
(Heck no! Not at all! Are you kidding? Why would I want to go through the hassle and expense when I already live here?)
But I knew how much Mama loves this ol’ place. . . “Ummm, how much?” Grrrrr!
Getting a mortgage puts me in mind of being forced to unwillingly participate in some kind of religious cult ritual. The only thing missing was a bunch of guys wearing long robes circling a big campfire at night while chanting gibberish.
Oh, pretty much everybody involved in process still chants gibberish — it just seems better suited to the robes and campfire. (Oh, and powdered wigs).
A person can walk into an RV dealership and finance a $150K RV over twenty years based on his credit report in less than thirty minutes.
The bank KNOWS that its collateral will depreciate 35% the second the back wheels leave the dealership’s property. The bank knows the collateral is mobile. It can be moved into another state, or even another country, where it is beyond the reach of the repo man.
The loan is therefore based primarily on the creditworthiness of the borrower, rather than the value of the collateral.
I didn’t need a mortgage quite that big. The property has been there since Creation and is unlikely to be removed. The house is insured against all perils. And everybody has to live somewhere.
That’s not to say that mortgages aren’t somewhat risky, but in the grand scheme of things, real estate remains the safest collateral there is.
BUT, since I’m self employed, they base the loan eligibility on net income, rather than gross income, like if I worked at McDonald’s. (One loan officer confided that if I worked at McDonald’s, there’d be no problem.)
I always thought the objective of being self-employed was to put as high a figure as possible in the line marked “gross income” and as small a figure as is legally possible where it says, “taxable income.”
It’s the way my accountant recommended we do it, it certainly seems sensible — and I figured she ought to know.
Evidently, it makes sense to everybody but a banker. So despite a credit score in the 800’s, a fifteen-year history with that bank, (including three cars and a previous mortgage) I didn’t make enough money after taxes for them to give me the mortgage.
(“But if you ever need a new RV, give us a call.”)
So we ended up hunting for a mortgage broker. Her purpose evidently is to ask embarrassing and personal questions of us at strange hours and lecture us about the ‘seriousness’ of the whole process.
It is so serious that, while it takes one salesperson two hours to close a $150K RV deal, it takes a mortgage broker, a lender, a lawyer, a property appraiser, a surveyor and two tax assessors as much as two months to close a real estate deal involving better security, more initial equity and less money.
At long last, the mortgage broker found a lender who would accept the mortgage application despite my accountant’s skill at reducing my taxable income, for a ‘fee’ of almost $10,000.00!
“But don’t worry, the lender will be glad to roll it into the mortgage — it’s like, umm, twenty-five bucks a month.” (for thirty five years????)
That was almost a deal-killer — until I thought about telling Gayle’s 87 year-old mama to pack up her stuff cause we’re moving . . . . Grrrrrr “Anything else?”
“Well, there’s $650 for the lawyer and $1793.27 land transfer tax, and $8976.27 fee” (for not working at McDonald’s or having an incompetent accountant.).
“And $850 for the survey (to make sure my yard hasn’t shifted) and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.”
I could feel my eyes glazing. . . . Property tax, sanitation tax, water tax, carpet tax, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. . . “
We signed all the papers last Monday at the lawyer’s office.
Then we wrote him a HUGE check and the deal was to close Friday at noon. Thursday, the lawyer’s secretary called — it seems they miscalculated.
The huge check we wrote on Monday was evidently only half as huge as it was supposed to be — would we mind coming in before Friday with another check? (Grrrrr )”Sure. We’ll be right there.”
I love the irony of it all. It took the best part of a month for me to find a lender willing to take virtually zero risk in return for three times the money being loaned, but not until after the whole humiliating process took all the fun out of it.
Except for Mama. At Friday when the clock struck noon, she looked up, smiled brightly, and said, “It’s ours, now. I think I’ll get a cat.”
(Grrrrr!!) “Ok. That will be nice.”
In exchange for thousands up front and the promise of many tens of thousands to come, I am again a land baron.
And to prove it, I promptly raised my own rent a couple of hundred bucks a month from what it had been so as to cover the new mortgage.
Mama’s happy, and that should be enough.
But I have a little surprise up my sleeve for the lenders — I’ll have the last laugh, after all. I’m fifty-six. The mortgage is for thirty-five years . . .
They didn’t do the math, but I did. And they thought they were so clever!