The Bank List: I Get The Money, They Get The Last Laugh

If somehow you missed that almost every single post on this website for the last three months was about a list of repairs the bank insisted I do to this house (and by “insisted” I mean “held a lot of money hostage for”), here’s an abbreviated version of the story:

  • In February I unexpectedly bought a house while sitting in a bar. Four hours after I first saw it. Without ever going inside. Because I’m crazy.
  • In order to get financing for this house, it had to be appraised (totally normal)
  • The appraiser completed an “as is” appraisal, but also included a list of “defects” in the property (not normal) that looked something like this
  • Even though I was purchasing the house for 30% less than the appraised value, and made an additional 30% down payment, and had the funds in the bank for the repairs, and am a licensed freaking builder, the underwriter for the loan was still “nervous” about the defects in the property. Like the missing outlet covers in the bedroom. The only logical conclusion that I can draw from this is that the qualifications to be an underwriter include 1.) still lives with mother, and 2.) wets the bed.
  • In order to secure the loan I had to put an additional $9,ooo cash into an escrow account with the Title company with the stipulation that I had to complete the list of repairs and have the appraiser come back within six months to get my money back.

That six month deadline ends in two weeks, which explains why I basically haven’t sat down for the last eight weeks. Some of the projects on that list, like putting a new roof on the house, were totally legitimate and I’m glad they’re done. Some of the projects, like painting the falling-apart back deck (that really needs to be rebuilt) were, as one clever reader put it “polishing a turd”, just to satisfy the bank.


I talked to the bank couple of weeks ago, told them I was pretty close to finishing the list and wanted to get things moving, and they said once I was done to let them know and they would have the appraiser contact me for final inspection.

Well, once I finished the list I contacted the bank. And then waited. And waited. And started sending annoyingly persistent emails every day, because hello, hasn’t everybody’s life revolved around this list for the last six months? No? Nobody else is losing sleep over this?

I was just starting to get geared up for a full-on fight when, in the spirit of completely fucking with me, I got a call that went like this: “Hey, this is the bank, just wanted to let you know we talked to the title company and told them to release the funds.”

Wait. What?

I had about 10 seconds to decide whether or not to ask about the need for the appraiser to come back for a final inspection, but if there’s one thing I know for sure it’s that you don’t make it more difficult for someone to cut you a $9,000 check. So I said a meek “Okay, thanks.” And that was that.

On one hand, I moved an entire barn into a dumpster by hand over the last two weekends and, by God, I want someone to come out here and inspect the shit out of it. On the other hand, I now have a fairly substantial check in my pocket and nothing stopping me from tearing the wallpaper off the stairwell, or ripping the carpet out of the master bedroom.

So. I’m pretty sure the primary emotion I’m feeling right now is relief, but there’s a healthy bit of what the fuck swimming around with it too.


If I think too much about it I could probably work up a good head of steam, so instead I’m choosing to be grateful that the Liberty House Bank Saga is officially over. What I know for sure is that I’m thankful all of you have stuck with me through some pretty ridiculous projects (and shook your fists at the bank and appraiser right along with me.) There are definitely days that I couldn’t do it without your support.

Now, who’s ready for the real work to begin?



64 Responses

  1. Um… I’m an underwriter, you jerk. And I do NOT wet the bed.

    JK, I’m totally not. But I’ll go punch the bank for you if you’d like! Drink a bottle of wine and let’s celebrate the new projects to be had! Huzzah.

    1. First thing I thought when I wrote that was, oh god, someone who reads this website is probably an underwriter. But then I had to figure, if they were reading this website they probably already get the joke. lol.

    I’ve been “lurking” since discovering your blog (and going back to the beginning & reading ALL your posts!) and I can’t not say unbefuckinglievable.
    I look forward to your posts–useful, inspiring, laugh-out-loud-spit-my-beer-through-my-nose hilarious etc etc–and it’s nice to know I’m not the only one lusting after power tools and getting giddy at the possibilities of a pile of barn board.
    Keep it coming. You’ll get the last laugh on the bank when you get your house re-appraised after you’ve done what you’ve wanted to & it’s valued a gazillion dollars more than they could ever imagine. And you get to have breakfast on that gorgeous porch and look forward to gorgeous donkey’s mowing your lawn.
    Geez, once I stop lurking I can’t shut up!
    You rock.

    1. Haha, I love it Kat! My favorite thing is to make people spit beer out of their nose. Well, right after sticking my face into a pile of sawdust and breathing deeply.

  3. Well, the only logical conclusion is that CEO of the bank reads your blog and has been checking off the list as the projects were completed.


    Otherwise, that’s completely insane.

    1. Funny, I used this particular bank because they are “friends of the family”, so it wouldn’t shock me if someone somewhere there reads this website. BUT I use the term “bank” loosely since the underwriter was probably affiliated with a larger mortgage servicing company.

      It’s also possible that my loan officer– bless his heart– remembered what an annoyingly persistent little shit I can be and decided it would be easier to just release the funds and be done with it instead of needing to talk to me twice a day for the next two weeks to get the inspection done 😉

  4. Wow! Just wow! Glad that you got the money though, and at least you won’t have to deal with them anymore. Idiots.

  5. Well. Done. Woo. Hoo.
    Let the celebration begin. And thanks for letting me a part of the adventure 🙂

  6. I was thinking along the same lines as Elizabeth – someone at the bank got wind of your blog and has been lurking (I mean, checking in periodically) on your progress. No need to inspect they have already seen and read about the trials and tribulations for the last few months.


  7. I think the appraiser snuck by when you were at work and checked out your work. And, yes, he looked in the windows! They are like that.

  8. WTF bank?! I get the desire for validation. But, save that energy for the awesome projects coming up!

  9. Take the money and run. This could’ve gone any number of ways and I would count not haggling with another appraiser–or the bank–a win.

  10. There’s a bank appraiser out there somewhere I’d be happy to drag by the scruff of their neck (I’m a mom of four boys, I have plenty of practice) to your place, open up a large economy size can of whup-ass, and make him check off that list with his nose stuck uncomfortably close to every. single. item. on that stupid list. How ridiculous. I’m crazy mad for you. But relieved it’s over. Now onto the real (and good) stuff.

  11. Laughing over the living with mama wetting the bed mental picture you’ve given me! I will never look at an underwriter the same way again (though, I don’t think I’ve ever looked at them in any specific way before so thanks for making them a little clearer in my head). Thanks for calling me clever – I am sparkling under the praise and officially release you from giving me credit for the turd polishing comment. You have earned the right to claim that euphemism for your very own!!! Right after you give the bank and appraiser the bird and scream from your back porch “SUCK ON THAT!”

  12. lol, I was figuring someone was going to say they’re an appraiser.

    jeezus that’s crazy, but I’m really glad you have your money and you’re back in controll of your projects.

  13. Clearly they were reading your blog and decided not to drive to the middle of nowhere to personally inspect, your photos were all they needed!

  14. My gut feeling is that the bank treated the repair list as something that was needed to be done by the *seller* within six months, with the *seller’s* money held in escrow. In that case it would be perfectly legitimate for them to release the money on an okay from the owner, b/c there would be no conflict of interest. Obviously not the correct perspective for your case … where the heck did you get your mortgage?

    1. Yep, I agree. I give them a lot of shit but this was a serious of weird events and you know the little guy (aka the person with the most to lose, aka ME) was going to get screwed.

      I still feel lucky that I managed to get financing for the house (AND inside of 30 days, which is crazy)… I just don’t like people telling me what to do!

  15. I’m glad you got your money! This is the type of thing that has always bothered me about appraisers/inspectors/bankers/etc. It is so subjective! One person may be “nervous” about things and another will just give you a blanket approval without needing to see anything. I wish I could do my job with such freedom!

  16. “Time for the real work to begin”? I vote with GG: It’s time for PWP (Projects Without Pressure) and that’s where the fun and outright nerve-tingling pleasure of DIY kick in ! Now – go forth and enjoy!

    1. Besides – Lusting after revenge is wasted effort and frazzles your nervous system. Long ago I realized that what “goes around” also “comes around”. Be confident of what YOU have accomplished and be patient, for their idiocy WILL come back to haunt them ! ! ! ! !

      1. Very true, and there’s nothing to get “revenge” for… I was looking for validation. In the end it probably only cost me $1500 and 50 or so hours that could have been better spent elsewhere.

  17. What?… What?… I mean, yeah grab the money while you can, but seriously? What a way to take the wind out of your sails!

    I’m with the others that said it, maybe someone at the bank was reading your blog and that is what made them let the money go.

    But yes! Time for projects that make you happy!

  18. A long time ago I got a traffic ticket for a broken tail light on my vehicle. I was to pay a fine, replace the tail light, and have it inspected by the DMV so they could ensure that I had done as ordered. I paid the fine, replaced the tail light, and took it in for inspection. The inspector at the counter had a perfect logic for not needing to inspect my vehicle. He said, “Now I know you’re not stupid enough to drive up here with that tail light still broken, because I’d just give you another ticket. So I’m going to sign off on it.”

      1. Yeah, I remember getting caught ditching school and we being picked up by the truant officer… They took us back to school and told us that we had to go tell our parents because they were going to call and tell them that night. So we all went home and told our parents we’d been caught ditching. Then no one ever called our parents… Same principle I guess. Pissed us off though!!!

  19. And the Italian half of me says … spero che le loro teste sono finora le loro asino non vedono l’ora legale per un secolo! Fondo abitanti! HAH!

    Let the real fun begin…after a wine or two…

  20. Those that have the money make the rules and we have to dance to their tune. It is such a crazy making situation, you are just trying to buy a house. Something is terribly wrong with this picture. Understand your frustration, can you imagine how you would feel if your WEREN’T handy and had hired someone to take care of this list?
    I long for the day when you just won’t inspire me to take after you…I will go forth and imitate you! You took the high road and didn’t f*** yourself by going round with them.
    Can’t wait to see what you do when YOU are calling the shots, ’cause you are one driven gal.

    1. Every time I hear about people at the mercy of contractors it makes my skin crawl. I am a little miffed (I’ve downgraded from slightly pissed) but glad it worked out the way it did.

  21. OMG- I just read your post about stacking the junk pile and if I had worked as hard as you did for you money…I think you should make a guillotine with some of that wood…just sayin’

  22. It was the outlet covers the bank secretly cared about – the rest of the items were a smoke screen.

  23. oh, hush.
    Who knows why banks do what they do; this time you got your money for the least hassle ever.
    Think on all the critical repairs you did (roof, siding) and the incredibly valuable experience of the deadline forcing you to tackle and succeed at tasks you dreaded or felt intimidated by.
    Your place looks a lot better. Your neighbors think you are awesome. We all enjoyed the great posts.
    And really, you needed to clear out that junk pile because you need somewhere to dump the wreckage of that awful back porch!

    1. I agree with the roof being a critical repair, but I also spent not a little time and money “patching things up” that would have been better spent actually doing them right, and that’s what gets me. I hate just slapping things together, but it is what it is at this point. Time to move on!

  24. Its a good thing I don’t live there. After I said a meek “ok, thanks”, The neighbors would have probably seen me running out to the dumpster full of barn wood and watched me chuck pieces all over the ground any which way I wanted while shouting “take that underwriter!”. Decades later, the kids would still probably think of me as the crazy dumpster lady.
    Happy that you get to do whatever you please now with YOUR house.

    1. Ha. This is pretty much what my neighbors see me doing on any given day– or running around without pants on on extra special days– so basically nothing would surprise them at this point.

  25. OMG!

    I guess the upside is that it put a fire under your ass to get all this stuff done ASAP? It just sucks that some of those things were just “polishing a turd”.

    btw, I couldn’t help but think of you as I built the ugliest chicken coop in the world out of scrap lumber I got out of people trash piles while running my newspaper route. It seriously is a shack and probably will fall down in the upcoming hurricane… you probably could have taken the same materials and made a chicken palace.

  26. Yippie! Let the fun begin! My first thought was “Now she can ripe out the carpet!” I would have done that about 4 sec after getting off the phone with the bank. Something so satisfying about it. Can’t wait to see you tackle the real projects!

  27. As a bed-wetter who lives with his mother, I take offense at that whole “underwriter” comment…

  28. I’ve always thought it was a bit fishy that a bank could hold your money for repairs to a house after it has signed off on the mortgage. Everything I’ve ever encountered with a mortgage required those repairs to be done before the bank ever handed over a dime of mortgage money.

    I don’t think they had any right to hold your money after a contract is signed and perhaps they realized it too. Of course, instead of admitting their fuck-up they just release your money.

    1. The phrase I use “holding my money hostage” may be misleading. When you transfer a title, basically anyone within reason (people who have liened the property, the county, either the buyer, seller, or bank can place stipulations on the title transfer.

      For example in my county you have to get a well inspection before they will transfer the title and since the underground fuel oil tank was located too close to my well, the county said, “You need to put $X in escrow with the title company for moving the tank before we’ll release the title” to ensure that I would actually move the tank.

      The bank essentially did the same thing. So I had to write a check to the title company to put into escrow for the repairs to the house. Which legally is legitimate (you probably don’t hear about it very often because either the buyer stipulates that the seller has to make the repairs, or the bank just denies the loan.)

      In either case the title company only releases the money when they have either an invoice from the contractor to pay, or (in my case) receipt of a paid invoice or approval from the bank/county to release the funds.

      So, it was on the up and up, it’s just some of the repairs and the timeframe were a little crazy!

      1. Like you said, I’ve only ever heard of it being stipulated that repairs had to be done before transfer or the loan was just denied. This is the first I’ve ever heard of a bank making conditions that strung out long after the sale. What was going to happen to your escrow money if you didn’t make the repairs? The bank would keep it?

  29. I’m lurker, that has read your entire blog in the past month. Your constant motivation sure keeps me working on my house! Your posts will certainly come in handy when I decide to change out a sink or demo my stand up coffin (shower).

    After reading this post, I realize just how lucky I was when I bought my house. I didn’t have to do even one repair before I got my loan. It did however, take about 3 months from the time I put in my bid until I got my keys (I was going batshit crazy).

    Keep up the good work, I LOVE your house!

  30. I think if I lived across the street, I’d set up lawn chairs, a keg, and sell tickets to the show.

    And be freaking impressed.

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