This past year I have been sharing our home building journey with you all. Building our first home has been a whirlwind of fun and stress. We learned so much along this journey and looked forward to everything coming to an end in March. Like many of the rest of the people across the world we have been impacted by COVID-19. We hear so much about the impacts Coronavirus is having on people’s health which is devastating, and I am grateful for God’s covering with my family’s health in this time of uncertainty. It also has been tough to hear how the effects of COVID-19 has left so many without jobs, and ability to provide for their family. Rick and I still are both employed and I do not take that for granted that our jobs have not been affected.
There is also this other area of the Coronavirus impact that you may not hear as much but its the housing market. To put it simply it has been a nightmare trying to close on a home in the midst of Coronavirus. Lenders are ceasing loan programs, changing guidelines, and trying to protect themselves from the many loan payments they will not be receiving due to many not being able to pay their mortgages. March was probably the worst month ever to close on a home, and every day the housing market was changing.
Our house broke ground in October 2019. The home we planned on living in until we downsized. After its completion in March we proceeded to move forward with closing on our home. We anticipated getting our clear to close mid March and this was in the thick of all of the stay at home orders beginning and business closures. Instead of getting the phone call for a clear to close we received the phone call from our lender they were ceasing our loan program, along with all the lenders across the US. We opted to go in a loan program that would allow us to use my self employed income. Since my business is fairly new, the amount that I made 2019 is almost triple the amount I made in 2018, which standard programs require 2 years of business tax returns.
Well…due to the impact of the Coronavirus and the financial program crashing lenders and investors no longer offered this program. Our lender told us some of her clients were headed to their closing and received this word…devastating. We went with a smaller lender that we were referred to, so to be honest at first we thought this was just that particular lender. Of course at that point we fact checked it, and called other lenders to see if they were offering, and they all said their programs ceased as well. Then we started reading articles about this entire sector shutting down.
So what now…we were devastated and really trying to figure out what was next. Our only options at that point was to end the process and lose our home, or bring more money to the table to allow our home to fit in a conventional mortgage. The second option was not an easy task as we were already bringing a significant amount to the table in order to avoid private mortgage insurance (PMI). Based on the price of our home and due to my self employed income we were not going with a conventional mortgage originally. Well now that was the only option to save the loan. We have worked hard in our corporate jobs, so fortunately for us we were able to qualify for a conventional mortgage, without even using my blog income as a factor. The next thing was bringing the additional income to fit within the loan limits. We were able to do that as well. Of course based on these obstacles we had to overcome it took additional time after we were set to close, so that required our realtor to have multiple conversations to let our builder know about the delay and request an extension.
Now that we were starting a new process our lender had to essentially start the process over as this was a difficult program. We had to go through underwriting again etc. We fortunately were working on our clearing our conditions and anticipating a clear to close on our home. THEN the next bomb dropped. Let me first say that the lender we were going with was a smaller operation. So we didn’t think about this until after the fact, but in times of markets changing due to COVID-19 smaller operations are the first to be affected.
We got the call that the lender we are working with was required to change their guidelines again. Based on their program we could not continue with our lender that had us almost to the finish line with our home building journey…devastated. We got this news days before being expected to close. While we were crushed by this, thankfully we had started the process with a large lender about a week before just in case. We hadn’t moved forward with the larger lender as we were working with the other. So we called them back up and asked him how quickly he could get us to the finish line. In hindsight, we wished we would have worked with him from the beginning, but you don’t know what you don’t know.
He almost instantly approved us in his system and passed us along to the underwriters. He stated he could get us closed in 10 days. Thank goodness! At this point another hard conversation was needed with our builder. So our realtor called them up and explained that yet again another situation out of our hands has occurred based on the market effects of COVID-19. He was confident we could extend it for another week but had to get approval. Well we got the news that his boss said no they couldn’t extend. However, we could still close on the home if no one came through and bought the home. So we had to race to get the house closed. While that wasn’t the news we had wanted, our lender and realtor weren’t that worried to be honest. We know that builders are about their money, so while we wanted them to give us grace in this pandemic we had to respect that only care about our bottomline. They stated that the market had slowed down and they aren’t seeing any homes at our size/price point really selling. Since many Jumbo loan lenders aren’t doing loans. Over that weekend we felt settled and excited that we were actually going to be closing. We scheduled our movers and cable to get turned on and everything.
Monday of this past week comes around and we are business as usual. We spoke with our lender first thing and he let us know how close we were and we locked in our loan rate. A couple hours later we got a call from our realtor that our builder listed the home, and over the weekend even in the COVID-19 crisis they showed the home 8 times….another buyer went under contract on Sunday….crushed and defeated is an understatement. We were in disbelief and I had so many questions. I thought the builder would have at least given us a 24 hours heads up, something. But no, the house we had been building for months was gone. I basically lost it and was crushed. I think the hardest thing was that it ended for something out of our control. I would have peace with this if we didn’t qualify or we didn’t have the money. We lost the home because the effects of COVID-19 on the market that delayed the process for us was a hard pill to swallow. We were struggling on next steps and also we have a baby that will be here in 2 months time.
In the midst of chaos we had to stop and pray…just pray for clarity and to be shown the direction we should go. We reached out to close people in our lives that we could trust to help give us guidance.
We decided on option #3.
Here’s why: As you all know we were building our forever home. This was not our starter house so we need a place that we can be in and love for years to come. Also, the home that we are going to be building was actually the home we wanted before the home we built came into play.
Last year we had been looking in the community and figuring out what home to get. At that time we didn’t even factor in the builder we went with. We had our heart set on a different builder and LOVED a specific floor plan. If you have been here for a while you will remember it once I share the pictures as I posted this home in my IG stories. We were actually close to getting under contract with the home. What stopped us is at that point Builder #1 was at the end of their current phase, and the lots they had available were not ideal. ALSO, they are more expensive than Builder #2. Ultimately we decided on builder #2 because it cost less and we got a lot that we loved.
Not taking away from the home we built, but hands down we loved the interior more of builder #1. Fast forward a year later and our home falling through. We went back to the original builder #1, and started the process again. She now has opened up her new phase and we can build the home exactly the way we want. It’s crazy how this has come full circle.
Yes, it is bummer that we could be in a home instantly but long term we felt this would be the best decision for our family. We didn’t love the home of the same builder and would be disappointed to pay almost the same price for a home we didn’t love. In the midst of despair we are excited about the new beginnings, and to build a home that is even more beautiful than the last. The only thing we will miss is we loved the home lot that was right of the green belt and that lot does not compare.
We spent the next few days getting our pricing together and building our upgrades. After that we got under contract to build our new forever home. We also leased a home in the area to rent until our home is built. We are so happy to be done living out of a suitcase. We got movers to get our things out of storage and finally will have normalcy back in our life after a tough month and a half.
At that point we got everything arranged. We broke the news to the boys. The youngest 2 could care less honestly. Cameron was upset but not with what I thought. Wasn’t about losing the home, it was that he thought he had to keep living in an Airbnb and out of a suitcase. We put his mind at ease letting him know we are renting a home and he will have ALL of his things.
We finally have peace. While home building didn’t turn out at all how we anticipated, we are glad to close this chapter and start anew. We have been so stressed this past month and glad to have this be over. We will get back to our life and with our things, so that is relieving.
I contemplated whether or not I would share the home process again. I decided I will, because this is life. It doesn’t go as planned, it’s messy, and often you have to pick up the pieces and start over. And if I don’t show the process then it would be like I am diminishing the journey and will not do that. This is God’s will and if he had wanted us in that home we would have been in that home. I hope y’all are ready to go through the process, because we will be starting all over again.
My takeaways on our home building journey:
Most importantly, in the COVID-19 crisis many are losing lives and their jobs. Yes we lost our home, but we have our health and all of our family. And we had to remember this is a tangible item that we clearly can rebuild. When we wake up every day we get to see our family, and I don’t take that for granted as the impact of Coronavirus has left people without that ability. We never expected to be impacted this way, but know the only way is up.
Today, I woke up at peace. We mourned the loss of that home, and are moving forward. We are excited to see the next journey unfold.
Thank you for all the support I have received. I will say that when I created my platform I vowed to be as transparent as possible, even when it is sharing the not so great moments. I wouldn’t hide this portion of our life, because it is real, and shows the impact this pandemic has had on everyone.
I hope you guys are ready to come along on the journey again!
Do you have any home building during COVID-19 tips? Let me know in a comment below!