We’ve got good news and bad news.
Work still hasn’t started on our house, and we’ve run into a few more hurdles. The financing we were planning on getting from the HELP loan has turned problematic; basically, we learned that for the purposes of this loan, the bank calculates annual household salary by adding up our gross pay over the last 52 weeks. We were hoping they were going to average this year’s pay with last year’s, or something similar, which would put us squarely within income limits. But by doing it this way, the total they’ll come up with will include all the overtime Nick put in around Christmas and during his first weeks at Apple, which will be more than just his base salary, which means that our combined income would be more than the upper income limit for a household of three. So, the bad news is that we make too much money to qualify for the HELP low-interest loan.
The good news is that SOMEONE thinks we make too much money. Never though I’d hear those words!
Seriously though, Nick and I were in a deep funk yesterday, with the reality of what we were doing weighing on us, heavily. Nick might have even thrown it out there: did we make a mistake in buying the house? I maintain that we did not. We are getting a cute little house that is affordable and in our desired neighborhood. When the renovation is done, it will be great. We just have to keep the long view. The eye on the prize, as they say.
And there is good news. Bangor Savings Bank has something called the High Performance Home Loan. Like the HELP loan, this is also a loan made to homeowners looking to make energy-efficient improvements. But, it requires a lot less supporting documentation and is less stringent than the HELP loan, in some ways. Of course, the interest rate is also double the HELP loan, but it’s still lower than a regular consumer loan. We just have to get Ben to submit a work plan, and they base the loan amount on that. This is a huge relief, because without the loan, we’d be living in a shell of a house with no walls or insulation. Now we can insulate the walls, the previously uninsulated porch, and maybe even get ourselves a new front door!
I’m not even sure how I found out about this loan. I guess that’s one of the benefits of having OCGD (obsessive-compulsive Googling disorder). If you just click enough links, you’ll eventually find out about these things.
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Is the hardest part, as Tom Petty once sang. We met with B this morning. (Okay, make that Ben. Ben Pollard. He’s given us the go-ahead to use his real name.) Ben told us that realistically, we can’t expect to be living in the house until mid-September. We’re pretty bummed, especially since that means we’ll be paying a mortgage and rent at the same time (um, beans for dinner for the next two months??) , but we’d rather know what we’re dealing with now than be unpleasantly surprised a few weeks down the line. Ben said once he gets the permits squared away and his sub-contractors lined up, he expects that work could start on August 3. Which is pretty funny, since originally we thought we’d be moved in and LIVING in the house by August 1. Hahahahahahahahaha!!!
Seriously, though, a lot hinges on my meeting tomorrow with a loan officer at Norway Savings Bank, which is one of the banks that administers something called the HELP Loan (Home Energy Loan Program). It’s a Maine State Housing Authority Loan that can be used to finance home improvements that increase energy efficiency. You’re required to get a home energy audit, then you can use the loan to make any repairs or upgrades that meet the auditor’s recommendations. The interest rate is pretty low–lower than a home equity loan–and the term is for 15 years. The loan can be used for new insulation, new storm doors and windows, Energy Star-rated appliances, and other energy efficient upgrades. We’re really hoping we qualify. It’s supposed to be for those of us with “moderate” incomes, i.e., those of us making enough to pay their bills and feed their kids and maybe go out for dinner once in a while, but not enough to join the country club or buy a yacht and register it in Delaware.
If we do qualify for the loan, then combined with the 30% tax credit (up to $1,500) you can get right now for purchasing energy efficient items and materials, it would definitely seem to be a very good time to be renovating. And how great is it that government is supporting renovations for energy efficiency? (If you live in Maine, you may also be eligible for the Gift of Green–$5,000 towards closing costs for first-time homebuyers. Nick and I already had our mortgage locked in, so we couldn’t take advantage of this program when it came out, but it sounds like a great deal.) Add all of this to Obama’s tax credit for first-time homebuyers, and we’re able to do something this year that would have been unthinkable just two years ago. Very cool. Socialism FTW!
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