Hope Deferred Ad Nauseam

"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life" (Proverbs 13:12).

I’ve heard it said many times that the trip from Egypt to the Promised Land should’ve taken the Israelites three days. But they wandered in the desert for 40 years. That’s how I feel about our journey to renovate our little mill house. We bought the place over a year-and-a-half ago, but it seems like no matter how hard we work, we can’t get moved in. Every time I think we’ve got all our ducks in a row, something falls apart or we get some new piece of information we didn’t have before, and I think, “REALLY???? Why are we just now hearing about this???”

Hubby’s been candid on Twitter about the fight to repair his credit after defaulting on his student loans in 2005 during a brief period of unemployment. We got married in 2007 and have been diligently paying down debt ever since. But as some know, that kinda thing stays with you for years. Seven to be exact. 2012 has come and gone, of course, but somewhere along the way we had another late payment because the loan got sold from one company to another, and no one registered the money we sent because the loan was in limbo between the two companies for more than 60 days.

The thing about having good credit is that you have to use credit. Faithfully, diligently, repeatedly. Student loans, car loans, mortgages, credit cards, they all count. And you can’t just open a credit card account and never use it. You need to keep a balance on it below 30% of your limit. Ideally that means charging something and paying it off over and over again. Like you could use it for groceries or gas money. Look at interest as a fee you pay to have good credit. And don’t let the balance get so high that the interest is an issue. You don’t want to live buried under debt.

This is a spiel we thought we knew pretty well. Getting a car loan bumped Joshua’s credit score up big time back in 2011. And our mortgage on the house helped too. We’ve now payed off Joshua’s student loans completely (triumph!!), but sadly that doesn’t seem to have helped his credit score very much. And now that we need a renovation loan to fix the house, we desperately need that number to be higher.

We’ve been talking with our current mortgage company about doing the 203k renovation loan for months. I’ve actually been researching this loan for around three years. When we originally knew Joshua’s credit score needed to be higher, we paid down more debt and got the score past the minimum requirement. Then we found a 203k consultant to make sure all our federal paperwork is just so. Finally we needed an APPROVED contractor (because the 203k isn’t your standard renovation loan), so we interviewed three contractors to find the right team. Bingo! Let’s go!

We called the mortgage lender back, and the guy stopped returning our calls. This went on for a couple of weeks. Mind you, Joshua was calling the main PrimeLending office in Dallas, not our local branch. But up until this point it didn’t seem to matter that it wasn’t the local office. Greg whatshisname was just MIA. Three Mondays ago my Joshua calls AGAIN, and someone else answers the phone. Previous guy has been FIRED. For ostensibly not returning our and other people’s calls, among other things. Justice! I thought. But that’s when we found out all our previous 2-3 month conversations with Greg have basically been recorded on a legal pad somewhere and aren’t in their system. We are basically no further in the process than when we started. Shit.

So two Fridays ago we decide to go to the lender’s Greenville office and speak to an actual human. Amanda whatshername was leaving work early that day. The following Monday she had a daughter’s recital. So Tuesday, last week, we planned to meet with her and re-fill out all the paperwork we did with the guy in Dallas (because it’s not in the big system until your loan is actually approved, ugh). Joshua touched base with her the day before our meeting to make sure we were on for the next day (and, FYI, I decided to come too, with Etta, going for total emotional manipulation to get RESULTS), and she tells us Joshua’s credit score isn’t good enough????? WTF????? He’s confused as all get out. I’m incredulous. This makes no sense. His lowest score with TransUnion or whatever is nine points higher than the minimum requirement. We should be fine. NOOOOOOOOO. After doing some research, Joshua discovered that your credit score isn’t one thing; it’s not even three things (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion); no, it is any number of different things based on what you may or may not want to do at any given moment in time. There’s a mortgage credit score if you want a house. There’s an auto score if you want a car, etc. The MyFico score Joshua has been tracking for the last eight years we’ve been paying relentlessly on debt is good for God-knows-what. His mortgage score is astoundingly 34 points lower than the “vanity” score we’ve been tracking. That’s like barely a person with a pulse.

Another KEY piece of information we discovered last week: The reason we want to do the 203k Loan is because, while you have more bureaucracy to deal with, you only need a 3.5% downpayment. That’s far and away more affordable than the 20% you need with most construction loans. So we have that in savings. We think we’re fine. NOPE. There’s another 15% contingency we need to have in reserve “just in case.” What the hell. That’s $15,000 NO ONE TOLD US WE NEEDED IN THE BANK. In the three years of legitimate research I’ve done on this loan, I have seen that info on no government or lender’s website.

We are in awe of the stupidity of our whole situation. But at the same time, I have to believe this is happening for a reason. God is still God, and He is still good, to quote our dear friends the Smiths. We’ve disputed errant things on Joshua’s credit report. Asked for and, I think, received grace on the one late mortgage payment we had this year after our baby’s 6-weeks-early emergency delivery and month-long NICU stay. Joshua’s doing freelance projects to save more money. I’m trying to sell quilts. We ask for your prayers. Advice. Spare change. Anything you can think of. And now we wait. Hopefully in 30 days it will have made a difference.