Last Monday, before the deluge, I was considering backing out of escrow because the house has a sunken backyard that floods during heavy rains, like right now.
The clock was ticking; I had just a few days left to call off the deal without losing my $10,000 deposit. A contractor had cancelled last minute and I was ready to walk away, but a couple of friends offered to check it out first.
Veronica drove with me, and Sandra would meet us at the house.
I turned onto Lake Avenue and headed up the steep hill, but as the grade increased, my car slowed to a crawl. The hipster behind me cursed behind big sunglasses. I was afraid if I pulled over, I’d lose what little momentum I had so I kept chugging.
“If we don’t make it to the house it’s a sign, and I’m pulling out of escrow.”
Veronica turned on the hazards. The hipster passed me, and we stuttered up Lake, finally turning left off the ascent. In a few blocks I pulled up behind Sandra, already parked in front of the house.
Veronica and Sandra are both artists who tackle home-improvement projects with gusto. They loved the sunken yard. They loved the (formerly) dry creek bed, the neighborhood, the house. They helped me see possibilities.
I decided to move forward with escrow.
(I wonder if they’d feel differently now after three days of torrential downpours. I don’t want to know. Too late anyway.)
We coasted home, driving down Christmas Tree Lane to enjoy the lights.
Tuesday morning as I headed out to greet the tow truck, the front door knob came off in my hand, the axle falling to the outside. I exited through the side pantry door, Tommy jumping over the pile of junk as if on an agility course.
The car got towed and a coworker picked us up. Tommy leaped into the back seat and slobbered all over her red sweater. Good thing she’s a dog person.
My mechanic called: I needed a new clutch, $900 to $1200. Ouch.
Later I considered the numbers on the Good Faith Estimate. I was about $20,000 short of funds for the down payment and closing costs. I panicked. Why had I thought I could afford this house?!
Veronica’s car was also out of commission. She was using her friend’s car, a white Marquis with a plush red interior they called “The Couch” because of its cushy ride.
My mind reeled over finances as I drove The Couch to the house for the sewer inspection, only to learn that the pipes were already clogged, a plumber's visit scheduled for the next day. Fortunately the inspector was an honest man: no point inspecting the sewer when he couldn't detect anything through clogged pipes.
I stopped off at Veronica's to return the keys to The Couch. Inside the house, the dogs got all excited. We heard a crash. Veronica opened the door and Babe snuck out. She jumped on me and Tommy got territorial and started humping her. I pulled him off and dropped my raincoat. Veronica came out holding a broken piece of pottery, one of her favorite vases.
With no time left to schedule the sewer inspection, I signed off on the physical contingency without it. Yikes. (I did get a general inspection.)
I spoke to my mortgage broker. They had made a mistake on the estimate; I owed $20,000 less than what they'd calculated. What a relief!
Later I couldn't find my raincoat. I called Veronica. Yep, the dogs had gotten it. Fortunately the damage was minimal, just a tear on one sleeve.
Thursday afternoon I picked up my car at European Motors, the only L.A. area mechanic I trust. I screeched out of the parking lot, unaccustomed to such a responsive clutch. Boy, was my car zippy!
That night, I went to the Arroyo Food Co-op's holiday party. They had a raffle. My adorable French neighbor picked out the names, and wouldn't you know I was the last one called out. I won a free massage.
Tomorrow I will obsess over fluctuating interest rates as I attempt to lock down my rate at the lowest possible number.
This house buying thing is nerve-wracking. It feels like a giant gamble. I might as well go to Vegas and shoot craps.
I dare not visit the house until long after the sun shines. I dare not subject myself to the flooded backyard. I must schedule that free massage.