Last week, I wrote about how glad I am to be home. Now I need one.
Much like the first time I moved to Perryville, the first item on my agenda has been finding a place to live. Also, like that first time, I started working before I found a place to hang my hat.
I’ve never been one for doing things in the proper — or at least, the usual — order, so this is nothing new.
In 2017, my efforts were focused on finding a rental property that could accommodate me and my two cats. Anyone who’s tried to find rental property in Perry County already sees the problem, or rather, problems.
First off, there’s the general lack of reasonably priced rental property in Perry County. Throw in the two felines and the possibilities fall away faster than a rock off a cliff.
I started working as the Republic-Monitor’s managing editor the day after the tornado and was staying at the Super 8 three days a week and sleeping on my mother’s couch the rest of the time. Most of my belongings were still in Arkansas, but I was still luckier than most of the people at the hotel, many whose houses were destroyed and whose belongings were scattered across two states.
Rental property became even scarcer as many of these people needed places to stay.
After a few weeks, I finally got lucky. A lady came to the newspaper office to place an ad for a house to rent. Before she got all her words out, the then-publisher said, “You should speak to our editor. He needs a place.”
A quick introduction, a quick tour and brief wait later, and I had a place to live. I loved it. It was close to work, it was the perfect size, it was a decent price and my new landlord was a good person.
I stayed there the entire time I was falling in love with Perryville and Perry County.
This time around, I’m in a different place. I’m not looking for a rental — I’m looking to buy.
Again, I got lucky pretty quickly. With a fresh pre-approval letter burning a hole in my pocket, I started looking. There were two properties on the market in my price range, but one — which had been listed for all of two days — was snapped up before I could even call the bank.
The other, older house was still on the market and the owner was ready to make a deal. We landed on a price and then I started the strange process of credit review.
So far, I’ve found myself explaining a late payment from 2009 on a loan that couldn’t have had a late payment. It was from an employee credit union that deducted all payments directly from your paycheck before you even saw it.
In addition, I’ve had to explain that I don’t have any childcare expenses on a form that left me two-thirds of a page to write, “I have no children,” not to mention attesting to the fact that my current address in northwest Arkansas is, in fact, a duplex and not a single-family residence, and that a regular draw on my account is not a debt, but is a regular contribution to my retirement account. They needed two months of statements for that.
I’ve also had to supply two years of tax returns — along with the appropriate tax transcripts to prove that my returns reflected what I filed — along with explanations regarding my monthly rent checks and my last three landlords.
All of this has left me feeling a bit frustrated and slightly overwhelmed. I’m not sure I accurately remember last year, much less why a single payment form nearly a decade ago might have been late.
At any rate, I have to thank my mortgage broker and my realtor, both of whom have treated me with all the patience, humor and, well, more patience required to shepherd this first-timer through the absolute mire of paperwork required to buy a house.
I think I’m about halfway through — I hope — and will soon be able to start moving my stuff. That’s something I’m definitely used to. I did the math once and since I turned 18 and left home for college, I’ve moved approximately once every two-and-a-half years, sometimes across town and other times, across the country.
I have boxes that haven’t been unpacked in more than a decade, even after downsizing the past few years, and my cat — I’m down to one now — is starting to suspect something’s up. I’ve been driving back to Arkansas on the weekends to wash my clothes, feed the cat and clean the litterbox before leaving again for what she must think is the longest workday ever.
From the moment I walk in to the moment I walk out, she’s attached to me. She misses me, I think.
We’re both ready to be home. If I can just make it through a few more rounds of signatures, initials and letters of explanation, that should happen soon.
What a day that’ll be. I think I’ll celebrate with a nap.
Robert Cox is the publisher of the Republic-Monitor. His email is RMPublisher63@gmail.com.