Friday, July 31, 2009

It All Works Out in the End

I finally got the keys to the condo today at 4 PM. It was such a relief to finally have them in my hands and know that everything was worth it in the end. When I got to the condo the first thing I did was measure the space for the television. I've been worried that the 46" television I bought was too big and that the space was only 36" imagine my surprise when the space measured 44" the exact width of the television. The first of many things that have actually gone right. I never should have second guessed myself.

After getting the keys I was off to pick up a car and start moving some of my stuff over. The movers are expected at the condo between 8 and 9 tomorrow so I wanted to get most of my stuff moved over tonight so I don't have to get up too early tomorrow. I managed to book a CRV so I could take the television over. Let me tell you it's not that easy moving a 46" television on your own. It probably would have been easier to take it out of the box but I figured it had more protection in the box. By 8 pm I was exhausted. I need a good nights sleep tonight as I have a very big day ahead of me. I'll be sure to take lots of pictures to document the progress of the move.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Record Setting Day

Today was the hottest day in the history of Seattle. Temperatures at SEA-TAC reached 102 - now that's hot!

In other news after a week of anxiety and running around in circles Chase finally decided to approve my mortgage. I'm not sure if it set a record for the most run-around and incompetence ever encountered for a loan but it sure felt that way. I know that the housing market is different now but it seems like they have gone from one extreme to another. Where 3 or 4 years ago you didn't need to prove you had a job or finances and now you need to provide document upon document.

On one hand it was rather comical the stuff they kept coming back to me and asking. Yesterday I had the same conversation with 2 different people and I had the conversation with one of them earlier in the week as well.

Last week they asked for documentation that I was paying my rent in the UK, so the property manager sent an email and a letter explaining how much I paid and how long I was a tenant. The letter wasn't good enough so they had to send a form. The form asked the same questions and they gave the same answers but that was good enough. Two hours after they had received it I was told that I needed to sign the document as well and that was holding up the loan - I hadn't ever been sent the document to sign in the first place.

The worst part came at 2 PM yesterday when I get the call that they've just realized that they missed a previous condition on the loan which requires documentation of where the money that was transferred into my HSBC checking account came from. I had already sent a letter explaining all this but that wasn't good enough. Of course HSBC in the UK is closed at this point and there is nothing I can do. After freaking out for a minute I realize that I have the statements from my checking account which shows regular transfers from my checking into the savings account. I write a letter which provides the account numbers I print out 8 months worth of statements and circle every transfer from my checking to the savings account and state that the savings account was closed 60 days ago. I sign everything and send it over, of course by this time I'm shaking I'm so angry and anxious because if this doesn't work they've said they'll deny the loan. I eventually stopped shaking last night after finishing my first martini.

I have no idea why after having the paperwork for 30 days they all of sudden start realizing that they need more documentation. This has honestly been one of the more stressful things I have ever gone through in my life. I sincerely appreciate the support my friends and family have shown over the last week allowing me to vent, cry and laugh over this. Some of the funnier things that were said:

"What do they care where you lived? Maybe you were trading sexual favors for a cardboard box in someone's backyard."

"You should have told them that the money came from dealing drugs, gambling, or money laundering ."

And yes I'm very thankful that at least I won't be sharing my condo with 200 bats!

Everything appears to be in order and if all goes right I will have the keys either tomorrow or Friday which is good because all my stuff is being delivered. When I spoke to my relocation agent this afternoon she told me that they'll arrange for my stuff from MA to be delivered with the international stuff on Saturday. The driver arrived today and they unloaded everything as they knew I was having problems with the closing and they were going to waive any storage fees.

Friday, July 24, 2009


OK I'm not really homeless but I haven't yet closed on my condo and it was supposed to happen today. On Wednesday and Thursday morning I got the bank everything they needed from me so I thought we were set. At about 10 AM today I got a phone call that information was still needed from the condo association and insurance agents. I'm not 100% sure what happened and why they were not asking for the information sooner but that's besides the point all that matters is the underwriters still need information before they'll approve the loan.

Of course my worrying gets the best of me and I start wondering whether or not this loan will ever be approved. As of now they "think" everything that has been provided that is needed but the underwriters have final say in whether or not the information provided is good enough. What completely puzzles me is that there are all these incentives to stimulate the economy and encourage home purchases but yet the lenders are making it incredibly difficult to actually purchase a place!

On the upside and surprisingly there is an upside in this, I found out this afternoon that both shipments of my possessions aren't due until August 1st at the earliest. This gives me the week to finalize things and make sure that everything is set. If the lender goes longer than Friday I really will be homeless. Luckily I have some very nice friends and co-workers and they have offered to point out the nice park benches in town for me to sleep on - some have even offered their couches! I am honestly relieved that my stuff isn't arriving until the 1st and I gave myself until the 4th at my current accommodation but I still just want everything to be finalized.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

It'll Take a Miracle

Yesterday was not a good day for me. I woke up showered and checked my blackberry before heading to work. There was an email from my mortgage lender with an update on the closing which is supposed to be taking place on Friday. Starts out that the loan is out of underwriting - yippee, oh wait keep reading there is a long list of conditions and the closing needs to be pushed back a week. Pushing back a week will not work for me as I have 2 trucks with boxes of my stuff on them heading my way and they need a home.

Here's what was needed:
  • A copy of the cleared check for the earnest money deposit. This was written on a Chase account so why couldn't they just pull it themselves (in the end they did).
  • A letter from the rental agency in the UK documenting that I had been paying rent. The fact that I was paying a Chase mortgage on time every month was irrelevant they wanted to know about the rent. I am eternally grateful to the woman at the property management company that got me the letter in 30 minutes - given that the day was ending shortly this was amazing.
  • Explanation of a large deposit that was made into my US bank account in May. This was the wire transfer from my accounts in the UK and I had already provided a description and documentation on this. Turns out they just forgot to send that information to the underwriters.
  • A copy of the offer letter and transfer letter from my employer. Why this was needed I have absolutely no idea.
  • Additional bank statements from Sovereign Bank. Turns out the statements I downloaded online didn't have my name on them. Ordinarily I would just go on-line and reprint the items but when I was home over the weekend I closed the accounts. I called Sovereign they needed me to mail them a letter and a check to get the statements this would have taken about 2 weeks! Thankfully my sister still had some statements and was able to scan them in and get them to me first thing this morning.
Last thing I heard the paperwork should be at escrow by noon tomorrow as they are putting rushes on absolutely everything. The disappointing bit is that given that it is after noon the sale won't be able to be recorded until Monday which means I don't get the keys until Monday - BOO! I find it a little odd that I will be signing all the paperwork, paying money but still not have the keys. I haven't yet heard from the movers saying that the stuff will be delivered in 48 hours so I think I'm ok - still keeping my fingers crossed though.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Random Thoughts

It is funny how quickly you forget things. Yesterday I went to the gym for the first time in about 2 months and was at a loss while looking at the equipment. No I hadn't forgotten how to use the equipment I wasn't sure what I should be using for weight settings. You see in London the weights are all listed in KG while here they are in pounds. After some trial and error I think I managed to come up with the right weights on most of the stuff.

I checked on the status of my shipment of stuff from London and it has officially reached the US and should be arriving on my doorstep next week. Perfect timing as I am scheduled to close on Friday, at the moment they're saying that I can sign and get the keys all on Friday which would be great.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Safe and Sound at Home

Woo-hoo! The flight from Boston to Seattle gave me premier status on United. I would have had it months ago except for a minor snafu on my return flight from Singapore. The flight home brought up a couple of interesting points. First some questions:

1) How is it possible for an airline to oversell a flight by 25 seats? I can see 5 or maybe 10 but on a flight with 120 seats how can you oversell by that many.

2) How do rental cars return to their state of origin for registration and inspections and what not?

I also realized how different traveling in the US is from traveling in Europe. Never in the 2.5 years I lived in London was there ever a last minute gate change for a flight. At Heathrow there is a waiting lounge with shops and restaurants, the gate doesn't show up until a few minutes prior to the flight is ready for boarding. If there are gate changes you aren't aware of it. The downside at Heathrow is they were usually very bad about posting any delays or changes to departure times, in Chicago yesterday the flight was delayed by about 25 minutes due to a late arrival and gate change and this was clearly communicated which was nice.

As you can probably guess by the question above the flight was oversold and the airline was in need of 25 volunteers offering a free round trip ticket anywhere in the 48 states. I can't remember ever having this type of occurrence when traveling around Europe.

It's kind of funny that in the 30 days I've been back in the US, I've spent 11 of these on the east coast. Luckily there is no travel in the foreseeable future and I can just take care of getting settled in my new condo. I should be closing at the end of the week! Stay tuned.

Friday, July 17, 2009

A Moving Saga

Today was the day that my stuff in storage was to be packed up and sent on its merry way to Seattle. I got the call yesterday that they would be at the storage place between 12:30 and 1:00. I then got a second call saying we'll be in touch as we may be sooner but should be there by 1. Great so I made plans to visit a friend in the late afternoon.

I went out and did some errands in the morning and started making my way to Waltham. I get the call at noon that the movers are still in Boston, then need to return to Lynn and will then be on there way it would be a couple more hours. Not good this means that I wouldn't be able make my afternoon plans. Slightly irritated at this point since if I had known it was going to be later I would have met Katie earlier in the day. Oh well I wasn't really going to fret over this. They would be calling me in about an hour to say they were leaving so that I could head over.

Two hours later no phone call the irritation is starting to set in. I call and am told they're leaving in 10 minutes so that means they'll be in Waltham at 3. Don't really have enough time to do anything and I expressed my displeasure at the co-ordinator and he wanted nothing to do with it, saying I could have done things in the morning if I needed to do things. He was completely not seeing the point that I had based my day on the fact that they would be there between 12 and 1 so I made plans for the late afternoon.

I arrive at the storage place and get a phone call at 3 that the driver is stuck in traffic on 95 and will be there when they can. They said they were 25 minutes from Waltham without traffic and his phone is about to die so stay put and they'll be there. It wasn't until after I hung up that I started wondering where on 95 they are if they had come from Boston they should have been coming North on 95 from the pike and no way would that take 25 minutes. Only if they were coming from the North would it take that long. 4 o'clock rolls around and still no driver I'm then informed by the storage facility that they close at 5:30. Panic starts setting in. I can't get in touch with the driver the co-ordinator isn't answering my calls (probably because I expressed my displeasure earlier), I leave a message for the relocation co-ordinator in a total panic - luckily she called me back in about 5 minutes but we still have no idea where the movers are.

About 4 minutes later they show up. This gives us all of 1 hour to get the stuff out of storage and onto the truck. I didn't have a lot so it shouldn't take too long but an hour when it's 90 degrees is push hing it a bit. I then find out that the gate is open 24 hours but the building itself is locked so we just have to have every thing on the loading dock which is much easier.

As the movers get everything downstairs he starts chatting and I find out that I was the 3rd job they had that day. 1st job was in Lowell, 2nd job was in Boston, then they need to drop the stuff off in Lynn drive to Peabody to pick up the Ryder truck they were using to load my stuff in and come to Waltham. This explains why they were driving down 95 South when they were coming from Lynn. I also realize at this time that the co-ordinator who planned there day was hallucinating if he thought they could possibly be in Waltham by 1. I have no idea what they were thinking.

Everything gets loaded without a problem 64 items in total now en route to Seattle, well actually they're en route to Lynn but will eventually get loaded onto another truck and make there way to Seattle. It was kind of funny seeing the stuff come out I had forgotten I owned some of the stuff. I actually also pulled away about 4 boxes that are going to Goodwill tomorrow. There's a few more items that I know I don't want or can't use in the new place but I'll just sell them when they get to Seattle. Thankfully the condo has a big storage unit included.

I'm hoping the unloading of the stuff is less eventful.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Now All I Need is the Keys to the Condo

After a shaky start this morning with the Zipcar I did end up having success with the furniture adventure today. I got to the car, plugged in the handy dandy GPS and low and behold no power to the device tried everything a could and no luck. Called Zipcar and they were able to change my reservation to another car which was good. The new car was a mini - never having driven a mini before I was a bit unsure on how to start the silly thing. Luckily the owners manual was there and I found out that you have to depress the brake as you press the start button. Now that the car was powered on I plugged in the GPS and again no power. The irritation really started to set in. I looked into the lighter and it appeared to be broken after some fiddling around I finally got a charge so I was off.

In the end I decided to go with Bassett as I was able to get custom order on fabrics in only 30 days. Other places I would either have to go with what was on the floor or wait 8 weeks which just wouldn't work with my schedule. I opted for a sofa, love seat, occasional chair and a storage ottoman. They tried to talk me into a $900 area rug which was just a tad pricey I know I can find a cheaper rug elsewhere. So here's the pieces and color scheme I decided on in the end.

The colors: Sofa and love seat brown ,throw pillows and ottoman - pattern, occasional chair - blue

Occasional Chair

Storage ottoman

Sofa and Love seat

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Independence Day

Another milestone in my repatriation today. My first 4th of July! To celebrate the long weekend I am spending lots of money. Yesterday I went with a friend to Fry's and bought a snazzy new Samsung 46" LCD HDTV quite drool worthy. I was torn between the 40 and 46" but in the end I decided the space is large enough that it can handle the larger TV. I am so tempted to open the box and set it up now but then it would be harder to move - who knows I may cave and do it anyways.

While at the store I realized I can't really do a surround sound system for a number of reasons this was a little disappointing but the disappointment didn't last long because actually make speakers now that simulate surround sound. I think I'm going to go with this Polk Surroundbar I just need to measure the bookshelf to see if it will fit on the shelf. Looking at the picture of the shelves I think it will but just need to make sure. I also was a little surprised that the cost of the speaker online is much less than at Fry that is highly unusual so I'll be buying that online a little later.

Today I'm going to kick back and relax before I go out tomorrow and spend more money looking for furniture. I'm excited to use my zipcar for the first time and yesterday I also invested in a GPS so I don't get lost.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Phew- What a Relief

Today an electrician came and inspected the condo I was hoping to buy and good news. Everything is fine, this means all systems go YEAH! The sellers are very motivated to sell and actually had an electrician in earlier this week to fix some of the minor issues with GFIs not installed and broken outlets. The agent also relayed information on how the arcing in the fuse box happened. It has nothing to do with bad workmanship originally but rather the homeowners trying DIY and screwing it up. If you don't know anything about electricity don't try to fix things at home!

I meet with the bank this afternoon but it looks like everything is in order. Of course the bank has loads of questions and needs all sorts of documentation since I've been living overseas for 2+ years hopefully there are no major problems there.

This weekend I go furniture shopping if I get the membership information from zipcar. I should have it by tomorrow so fingers crossed.

Onto the details and pictures of my soon to be new place. 2 bedroom 1.75 bath - that's right I have a master bathroom. Washer/dryer in unit, and loads of storage space.

The most important thing - MY VIEW:

Second most important - The Kitchen

Living room with working fireplace and built in shelves

The second balcony is mine