The plot thickens. It turns out that the edifice in question was until some point in time no earlier than August, 2007 an "intentional community ... balanc[ing] work, ministry, and restoration." Here is a picture of a man with an alligator behind or to the side of the house:
Fascinating, the notion of buying a house with history attached.
The house was mentioned in Quaker Life's September, 2003 issue. "Renaissance House: A Ministry of Renovation". It is still linked to from richmondquakers.com, but the renaissancehouse.org domain is gone to the Bitbucket in the Sky, and no, the Wayback Machine only caches an older owner of the domain, not the 2005-2007-vintage site, which is a shame. Pictures would have been nice.
Update 2009-03-18: The alligator's name is Amos Moses, and the man himself is John Fitch, the director of Renaissance House and former owner of the edifice in question. It turns out he's a pretty nice guy (well, you expect that of Quakers) and the Renaissance House community is still going strong in two nearby houses with much lower payments.
So that's good.
Tomorrow, March 25, I'm closing on the house. The title company has the money, my sister has my power of attorney, and all is set; tomorrow I become a landowner again. But there's something I don't understand, now that I've seen the HUD document detailing the financing of this deal.
John Fitch bought this house to form the Renaissance House in 2003, financing $54,000. I very much doubt he'd paid more than he had to. So five years later, I can't imagine he owed less than $50,000 or so. Following me?
Of the $8000 changing hands tomorrow, $2500 goes to the realtor, $700 to a property management company (coincidentally also the realtor, but that's not the point), $500 to a listing placement company, etc. etc. The actual current holder of the mortgage will be getting a tad over $4000 for this magnificent structure.
So here's my question. Given that this is more than a 90% loss -- why? Why would they foreclose? Is this one of those "pennies on the dollar mortgage purchases" one reads about? Who benefits?
Because somebody thought this was a good idea. The realtor clearly thinks so, with reason. I think so, because I get a cheap house (actually, Renaissance House may end up getting the use of the building for a year or two; we'll see). But the original holder of the mortgage?
Somebody's really insane in all this. And it seems indicative of the whole economy.
So I got this spam today: Lower house Payments 30%. And I realized: 70% of zero is still zero.
How cool is that?
Just about one month until I get to see my house!
Reader tom writes in to say:
Tom, I can't tell you how horrifying an idea I find that, but the sad fact of the matter is that my family and I are living in the carriage house at the moment, before getting underway renovating the big house.
However, finding tom's post in the spam filter (sorry, tom, nothing personal) reminds me that I kind of left my home-grown blog high and dry in favor
of the shiny new House-specific Blogspot blog I started shortly after arrival here in town. Check it out; lots of status updates