August 28, 2012

Dearest E.

I am sorry it has been over a year since I last wrote. It is amazing how fast time flies and how much things can change. When I started this blog project last year it was a personal goal to help keep me positive and focused on my job search and also a way to seek out a relationship with you. I intended to continue writing at least monthly once I started working, but like most good intentions it went by the wayside. Perhaps it is best to start a year ago where I left off, forgive me for I am sure I will leave out some of the wonderful blessings in my efforts to bring you up to speed...

The day of my last post a major change happened. Around lunch time I finally got a call from the State of Utah on a job I had applied for and interviewed for multiple times. They wanted to hire me.  The training class had already started and was there anyway I could begin training the following Monday? Fortunately I had an amazing friend that hired me knowing I was waiting to hear back on this position and my boss was just as excited for me and my real career to begin. On June 13th I started working for the Division of Child and Family Services. They say the first year is the hardest and the learning curve is about four years if you make it. After three months of training, I am just coming up on my first full year of casework. I've learned a lot about people and politics during my year and I am sure I much more to learn.

In July 2011 we had more exciting news, Dad was rehired with the company that let him go in 2008. For a while he was working at the car wash and the paint store, but we missed seeing him and eventually he decided that seven days a week was too hard to maintain. With both of us making a living wage, last October, we were able to release our housing voucher to another struggling family. I am so grateful for the programs that allowed us to focus on our education and job search instead of scraping by and barely making rent. Without the help we wouldn't have been able to get where we are today and I know that we would still be on food stamps and medicaid.

As we entered 2012, Dad and I had a new timeline for our goal of buying a home. Our tax refund was large enough that it finally paid off the student loans that were fraudulently attached to Dad's social security number. And for the first time in twelve years Dad wasn't in default. When Obama announced the extension of low interest rates until 2014 we decided that our goal would be to get into a home by the end of 2013. We had previously given ourselves a deadline of 2016 when Taco turned twelve. This goal was a daunting one. We have been working on Dad's credit since I married him and we weren't sure if we could get it to the 660 credit rating on our new timeline. We decided we would take the homebuyer education classes and see if we could qualify for a loan in November. And then Divine Intervention took over.

June was rapidly approaching and I was soon to be off probationary status for new hires. Around Bean Dip's birthday I couldn't shake the idea of looking into a local housing program, Utah Housing Corporation. UHC's radio advertisement had been playing about a new program geared to home buyers with a 620 credit rating. I knew that we had gotten Dad's score just about to 620. I couldn't get it out of my mind so I eventually scheduled an appointment with UHC's recommended lender to see what we would need to do to be ready to qualify in November. Never in a million years would Dad and I have guessed we were going to walk away from that appointment "pre-approved" and told to start shopping for our home.

I knew just who to call for our realtor.  I called up the same realtor my parent's had used to buy and sell their first home twenty-some years ago. And so our house hunting adventure began. Dad and I knew the area we wanted, but we had differing opinions on how much house we needed. Dad wanted to buy a starter home and move into our dream home later. I wanted to buy our dream home now and the market was going to let us if we moved quickly. When we started the search there were a lot of homes in the area that were slightly above our price range and all the homes in our price range were short sales with offers. When a home came onto the market in our range it was listed low to start a bidding war. Our agent was great in guiding us through the market. We put a couple of bids on some HUD homes that weren't ideal, but were in our range. And then another agent in our agent's firm had an exclusive listing and we were invited to see the home before it was released on the market.

I was skeptical.  The home had a few quirks that I couldn't stand. This time Dad was persistent. The next day, we discovered mold in the ceiling of the apartment and Taco started having seizures and I was convinced this was the house. We made an offer with closing set for July 31st. I was on a roller coaster of emotions. During our walk-through the agent had said the home had central air and during the inspection we searched everywhere before realizing the A/C unit had been removed during the remodel. We watched the banks deny the short sale offers and home prices around us increase almost thirty thousand overnight. We stuck with our offer even though we knew it would be a very hot summer.

Right after we made our offer, we started having problems with our lender. The gentleman that met us in June wouldn't return our phone calls and we started to believe it was really all too good to be true. A week before closing on a Friday night at 5:05pm our lender called with the news that we were "pre-approved" and not "pre-qualified" and therefore we wouldn't be eligible for a loan for several months. We apologized to our agent and faced the devastating conversation with your brothers telling them the house wouldn't be ours after all. Our agent encouraged us to try one more lender and referred us to a company he recommended.

Like our entire home buying experience so far, Alan was the final piece of the miracle we needed to qualify and close our loan. Alan was worried that we wouldn't have enough time to transfer our loan application to his agency, but it turns out the previous agent hadn't done any work on our loan. Because he hadn't started we had no transfer paperwork to do. Alan's experience with lending enabled us to complete our home loan with no money down. It was truly a miracle. Since closing, the market's risen enough that Dad and I would not have been able to afford a home in this area. The short sales we had looked at in our price range are now listed 70 to 90k higher than they were when our home was listed. I am so glad we listened to the promptings to get our heads in the game with buying our home!

I know our Father in Heaven is looking out for us each and every day. The best part of this home E. is there is a room for you. We wanted to be ready in case your grandparents had a change of heart and let you come live with Dad. I can't even tell you how overjoyed he was to hear they have decided to let you see Grandma Lala again. He misses you and is looking forward to speaking with you during your next visit with Grandma Lala. It seems all things are possible with God.

With Love,

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