August 20, 2003 was the day we finally got our keys. We packed up a suitcase that very night, and the litter boxes, and shoved it all (plus our cats), and headed to the new house. We wanted to "try it out." Oh, we also shoved the old sofa sleeper we found at Salvation Army for $75 into the poor SUV as well.

The first night was uneventful. I slept on the floor, because my wife didn't like how the sleeper mattress sagged when we both laid on it. It sagged when she laid on it by herself, but she had more room, I guess. Figures.

I didn't get very good sleep last night, because, well, it's hard to sleep on the floor to begin with, but it's impossible when you're this excited about something. I could barely keep the "holy shit! This is really my house!" thoughts out of my head long enough to fall asleep at all.

This morning, about an hour after we woke up, the title company called. They told us they'd made a mistake on the closing papers and had "forgotten" to include a $350 loan processing fee for the second mortgage on the escrow summary. In other words, we had to fork over another $350, or they'd stall the filing.

I immediately panicked but continued thinking rationally anyway (I don't really "panick" that much ... I just get pissed off and run through lots of ideas really really fast). I succeeded them into continuing the filing anyway, and instead hold the check they were going to mail to State Farm for our homeowner's insurance for the first year until we came up with the $350. With the immediate crisis averted, we immediately realized "uh, we don't have $350!"

Panick mode returned. This time, I called anybody I could think of. I called the realtor. He wasn't there, so I left a message, begging for help (not for money, just for help in understanding how they could even do this after closing). I called my parents, who've purchased homes before and might have suggestions. They suggested we call HUD (the Department of Housing and Urban Development) to discuss the legality of what was happening. HUD redirected me to RESPA, who seems quite interested in the lender and title company pulling this stunt. We left a message there for an investigator to call us back.

We hadn't even had the keys for 18 hours yet and we were terrified some mystic, evil person would arrive and snatch the keys back from our hands. We joked with each other (with a scary amount of "ha-ha only serious" to it) that they'd get the keys back from us when they pried them from our cold, dead hands.

We were about to start digging around for a lawyer when the cellular phone rang. The woman at the title company who'd given us this nugget of joy to begin with said "I ran this buy another escrow officer just to make sure, and it looks okay. I made a terrible mistake, and I'm so sorry I called you guys about this. I wish I could make the whole conversation go away. You don't owe any more money." We asked for that in writing, drove straight to their office, and got a packet of goodies. First was the "escrow's closed, you owe nothing" letter, signed and dated. Next was a copy of the check she mailed to State Farm. Finally, there was a copy of a notarized document from the Clark County clerk acknowleding the recording of title.

Even though we'd gotten the keys yesterday, that little piece of paper from a cold, uncaring government office, tersely acknowledging the legal transfer of ownership of our house to our names, was the final bit of confirmation my brain needed. I've been jittery and excited and bouncing ever since that moment.

As we drove back to the apartment to pick up more stuff to move, the cell phone rang itself senseless. First, the realtor called back (not knowing the issue was resolved) and said "dude, do not pay that; tell those jerks to call me. It'll take an act of God for them to convince me you can possibly owe them any more money ... they can't just change the numbers after your closing." We told him they'd backed off, and he was pleased. He seemed slightly disappointed he wouldn't get to go fight for us, but we all agreed it was a Good Thing. Then RESPA called back, and was equally disappointed the title company backed off.

With the "excitement" of the day done with, we started moving all our crap into the house.

(I should point out now that our realtor was the only "good guy" in this whole mess, who seemed to be completely on our side, and looking out for us; the builders are pleasant, but annoyingly neutral, since we were using their preferred lender, they didn't want to get in the middle of it)

We went to bed, again, with me on the floor. Ugh