Over the weekend, I bought a house. I’ve been working on this purchase for a long time, something like five years. But now it’s finally all mine. And now the story can be told.
To quickly summarize, back in 2005, my then-fiancée and I bought a house. The marriage lasted about 5 years and we divorced in 2010. Finally, 5+ years after that, I’ve bought out the ex-wife’s equity in the house. It sounds ridiculous and it sort of is. When we divorced, the real estate market was cratered and neither of us wanted to sell at a loss, so we remained equal owners of the property.
Now that’s where it gets ridiculous. As the ex-wife moved on with her life and pursued new career interests in another part of the state, all her stuff remained at the house, presumably as a safety net to fall back into if everything went south on her. And then, she stopped paying her agreed-upon obligations – taxes, insurance, and lawn care.
You might imagine what kind of resentment this caused. I was now paying for the house completely, but I couldn’t make full use of the house because it was filled with her stuff. I couldn’t get rid of the stuff, nor could I bar her from the house as she was a co-owner. On top of that, everything I paid into the house and any improvements I made was simply equity for her. It really hindered my happiness, to put it mildly.
At the beginning of 2015, I made a strong effort to get her to sell her share to me. Because of lawyer difficulties and finger-pointing, the year went by with no resolution. Near the end of that year, I attempted to get her to cooperate on refinancing the mortgage so at least I could save money, which I would use to move into a new place on my own. That plan was stonewalled as well.
At the beginning of this year, I made an ultimatum. Accept this offer or a Partition action will be filed. Partition is a very expensive legal action that results in a court order that essentially forces the house to be sold. Magically, the offer was accepted. I suppose the timing was right. The ex had secured a stable job and was ready to move on. It’s a shame I was forced to wait in limbo until she made that decision.
The purchase contract provides 60 days for the ex’s personal property to be moved out, and the clock is running. I’m working on refinancing the mortgage, which is going to be a huge improvement for me – from a 30yr (10 years paid into it) at 5.6% to a 15yr at 2.75%. A lower payment and 5 years shaved off. Making the same payment, I’ll save another 10 months, if I keep the house that long.
I have to give an incredible amount of gratitude to my girlfriend, who remained with me despite the unnerving effect of seeing my ex-wife’s stuff year after year. The arrangement had been difficult on our relationship and it’s going to be very liberating to be able to have at least a partially clean slate.
But it’s not all awesomeness. I have a list of over 30 things I want or need to do to the house. Some of which are simple ($10 dryer vent cover), some of which are difficult ($8000 pool resurfacing), and some of which are pipe dreams (redo kitchen/baths). But the thing is… it’s mine. As Last Crack’s Energy Mind says appropriately – “To build or destroy, only you decide which joy.”