Why being annoying is a smart money move for buying a home
According to real estate listings site Trulia, the percentage of home purchases that fell through rose in 2016. One theory: There are more first-time home buyers in the market, and their inexperience can lead to botched or abandoned deals. His first time out, Mike Dorian was determined not to be part of that statistic. He knew that staying on the ball is essential when buying a home. Dealing with everyone from the lawyer to the loan officer takes persistence. But Mike took the idea of vigilance and, as he says, “cranked it up to 11.” Here, the rookie home owner, 35, explains how he and his wife locked in a super-low-rate mortgage offer and then closed the deal by being “extra annoying.”
Was there a great sense of urgency when you started looking to buy a house?
Not initially. My wife and I had been casually looking in a particular neighborhood for a while. But then we found out that my wife was pregnant; we’d have a second kid in seven months. We went into hyper-drive looking, because now we really needed the space, and time to settle in, before the baby arrived. We found the house on a Sunday; Monday we had an offer out; and by Tuesday we were talking about going into contract.
Wow. Fast! But sounds like pretty smooth sailing so far…
Yeah. Except then we needed to look for a mortgage as quickly as possible. The Federal Reserve was meeting that Friday, and it seemed like they were going to raise interest rates; I’d heard of this thing called a “rate lock,” where your mortgage lender can lock in your interest rate for 60 days, for free. But I’d also heard that it’s very hard to close on a house in 60 days. Shopping for a loan is complicated. You’re working with people on the phone, you’re filling out forms online. I even looked into a mortgage broker. But I mainly got a lot of pretty bad offers, many with interest rates well above 4%. My own bank, where I had a few assets already, gave me an initial offer of 3.625%, but I knew there had to be a better one out there. I finally found a competing offer from another well-known bank at 3.5%. But the offer was not solid yet, and I was panicked. I hadn’t gotten the official loan estimate on the competing offer that showed what the fees were.
So this is when you had your ah-ha moment and went from being annoyed to annoying?
Exactly. I had to keep calling this one guy in Indiana. I called him over and over for two days. I emailed him, too. I kept giving him deadlines, saying, “You have to get me the loan estimate by 4 p.m. or you’re not getting my business!” Ultimately, I did get his loan estimate.
Just to cover my bases, though, I faxed it to my contact at my own bank at 4:30 p.m., and by 6 p.m., right before the guy at my bank went home for the day, he matched the other bank’s rates and fees and locked the offer in for 60 days. The Federal Reserve met the next day and, sure enough, they raised interest rates.
Once you were armed with this newfound superpower of being annoying, how did things progress with the home purchase?
We had to hire a lawyer to look at the contract and, of course, he was busy with other clients. We were getting pressure to get this contract signed and I had to annoy him. At the same time, my wife was annoying our real estate agent to verify things. Also, the home inspector, who I had to confirm and reconfirm was available that Thursday to immediately inspect the house before we signed the contract. Then, I had to annoy the lawyer to check the home inspection report in the few hours we had before we could sign the contract and avoid some other buyer swooping in and making a bigger offer.
Fifty-seven days after locking in the rate, we closed, so the 60-day lock mattered. The rate, which is a 30-year fixed rate at 3.5%, will keep the mortgage payments low and is really going help us out going forward. It worked, and I attribute that to being annoying.
Did you get any negative feedback like, “Mike, just let me do my job!”
A bit. The lawyer would say things like, “Look, I have a dinner tonight. Don’t worry. I’ll look at this contract in the morning.” And I’d be like, “Okay.” But I would be sure to follow up early the next morning. Mostly, though, they all seemed to appreciate it on the closing day. People were like, “Yeah, you were really on top of this. It’s unusual.”
Congratulations on the new arrival, by the way. Do you have any fears that you might be punished karma-wise with an annoying baby because of all the people you’ve annoyed?
Sure. But I will eventually congratulate my baby for getting what she wanted by being annoying.
(Quotes have been edited for style and length.)