Homes and moving

 THERE ARE THREE ARTICLES TOTAL

1) How to look for a home in GK

2) The process of our move

3) Info on short sales/ deed in lieu, of current homes

How to look for a home in GK
With a government email address (such as your spouses), you can start looking at what the homes are like on AHRN. We have picked several favorites and hope to be able to rent one of our preferred homes.

Check out http://www.ahrn.com/ — This website can show homes for rent in near any base, so it’s even good for when it’s time to PCS from GK. Just pick Geilenkirchen NATO Air Base as your installation and the site will show you homes in the local area.

(For the deposits on the homes, you are authorized a pay advance. basically they take your last paycheck from your time here and give you the €2000 or whatever your deposit is. Then you can pay it back or when you leave your pay will be missing that money and hopefully you didn’t damage anything so you can have your full deposit back.)

You get OHA (Overseas Housing Allowance) here and a utility allowance. The amounts are more than enough to pay rent, utilities, nebenkosten, and to save some money for the end of the year reconciliation. Just don’t expect to make a bunch on the allowance and go on vacation with it. That’s not what it is for and you can find yourself on a tight budget if you don’t save for your end of year costs. Also note that unlike BAH, you only get the OHA you need to cover rent. So if your OHA limit is €900 and your rent is €850, you will only get €850 per month. Many people use this difference to negotiate with the landlord for upgrades or services (painted walls, garage door opener, gardening). They’ll asked for the service and say they’ll pay €900 for rent instead. Read below for more info…

Here, the utilities work a little strange. For most of the homes (of course there are exceptions to every rule!), you pay the electric and gas. If you have an oil heater, then you will buy oil at the end of the year instead of paying for gas. The cost for the yearly oil depends on how much you use but it can cost around €1000 to €2000 at the end of the year so be sure to save money for it out of your utility funds. (Depends how much oil you used)

Then you pay a “utility fee” (known to them as nebenkosten) for water, trash, etc. So if you pay €120 a month for that, at the end of the year the landlord will come to you for what’s called a “reconciliation”. He will bring the bill for the year and you will either owe him money because you used more than the €120 a month you paid for, or he will owe you money because you used less. The electricity/gas is done the same way, except instead of owing your landlord if you go over, you owe the actual company that provides the service.

The process of our move
Our NLT date was the beginning of JUNE 2011 so keep that in mind as a reference when you read these dates.

1. April 14th- Shipped vehicle through San Diego. Government does not give you Hotel or Flight back. They simply pay $.51 per mile for the round trip mileage. My husband drove the 8 hours and then flew back that night. We ended making a profit by not having to stay in a hotel and by booking our flight several weeks ahead of time. We knew the date we wanted to ship about 3 weeks in advance since you get to pick the date. So we booked a southwest flight right away. Vehicle should arrive by June 6th. We are using our second vehicle here in the U.S. and will ship that just a few days before we leave. This worked great for us because now we will have a vehicle in Germany to use and one here to drive until we leave. Not everyone has this option however. Arrived May 23rd to the army base and ready for pickup! YAY – we will have a car the day after we land. (Whereismypov.com is a website you can use to track the shipment) We shipped our pickup truck on May 31st and we are picking it up around the 21st. This was shipped at our own expense. It is 2006 tundra and it was about 1900 dollars to ship it from Baltimore to the port. It was an additional 500 bucks to have it transferred from the port to Schinnen so we did not pay that and plan to drive the three hours to get our truck and save that money!

2. April 18th-19th- Shipping HHGs: we kept our storage items, our unaccompanied items and our luggage. Everything else got crated and shipped these two days. They have you list all your high value items so before they come I suggest you separate everything. We bought small round colored stickers from the grocery store (like what you’d use at a garage sell). They were green, yellow, and red. For two days before the movers came, we labeled items. Green meant ship, yellow is unaccompanied, red is storage. This helped when they came to survey how many boxes and such they would need.

We then emptied one room completely and put all the yellow and red items inside the room plus our kittens. I labeled the door (do not enter). No mistakes about letting kitty out and no mistakes on packing the wrong thing. You might also want to lock the really important things in your car (uniforms, paperwork, toilet paper, cleaning supplies etc). Sometimes movers get overzealous, so make sure they don’t pack anything they shouldn’t.

They packed the first day and crated the second. We took very detailed pictures of EVERYTHING.

Our HHG’s were available for a delivery of June 15th. They emailed my spouse when they arrived in the Netherlands and then advised us to contact them for a delivery. The earliest was that day!  In hindsight, since you can get rental furniture at Schinnen for free, we shouldn’t have shipped so soon. Living camping style was not as fun as you might think!

3. May 16th- Storage:

Similar to shipping, they came today and packed everything. I packed stuff in plastic crates and they unpacked those into boxes and took the empty plastic crates to storage. (So glad I bought like 6 crates from Wal-Mart to store things in) Lesson learned: DON’T BUY PLASTIC TUBS TO STORE THINGS. What a waste of our money… oh well.

Anything that might be expensive you can add to the high value list (such as guns, jewelry, whatever). They will seal those boxes with a sticker that you sign.

Until 2014, these items will be forgotten. I bet it will feel strange to get that stuff back in 3 years.

4. May 22th- Unaccompanied Baggage:

We threw all the last of our stuff in the living room and triple checked our house to ensure it was empty. Our unaccompanied baggage was backwards since usually this is your first shipment, not your last. It contained, pots/dishes, camping chairs, air mattress, sheets, etc. We received this in July.

Here was a cool list that someone else came up with: http://blog.militaryfamily.org/2013/05/06/moving-oconus-what-do-i-pack-in-unaccompanied-baggage/

I just found a great website: http://www.e3a.nato.int/affiliates/USnavy/in_processing.htm

Important:

Well, we learned that if your stuff has not arrived, Schinnen delivers furniture (basically a bed, dresser, seating, and table, whatever else you need such as appliances) and lets you “borrow” them as long as you need at no cost to you. When your things arrive, they will pick it up for free too. You can keep any appliances like the washer and dryer for as long as you are stationed here so do not worry about fridges, ovens, washers, dryers etc.

Short Sale Process
If you have tried to Google this like I have, you’ll find that the information is confusing and misleading. Here’s how it works.
1) First you get a real estate agent who has worked with short sales before. I used USAA mover’s advantage to get a referral and she is amazing.
2) You’ll need to get the house ready to be shown to prospective buyers by cleaning and sprucing it up. Do not spend much to do this. Remember it’s a short sale and you wasting money on it aren’t going to help the situation.
3) You’ll sign many papers to have the home listed and the agent should take photos and post them with the mls listing.
4) Everyday you need to leave the house with the bed made and the toys put away as if a buyer is coming. Often times you only know someone is coming an hour before.
5) You will need to write a hardship letter. Basically this is a letter that states your life is difficult and you can no longer afford the home. Include things like your spouse losing their employment due to this move, there is no base housing, etc. Anything that can show what a “hardship” you will have to endure (like no base housing!). You will also have to print out pay stubs from the last 30 days or so. Also, W-2s and taxes from the last two years. Get the taxes and W-2s ready to go so that you won’t have to freak out trying to find them later.
6) There is also a personal financial statement that you will need to fill out. This is showing bank statements from the last two to three months and all the bills and assets you have.
As I continue to learn of this process I will update.

March 28, 2011 (a few months later)
I’m still waiting for a buyer. Thus far things haven’t really changed. We didn’t qualify for HAP. A wonderful program if you do qualify. Worth reading about HAFA as well. My understanding as of this time though is that if you have a V.A loan you will not be responsible for the amount owed over the short sale amount, however you may not have another V.A loan ever until you pay them back. Example: I owe 230,000 but am short selling for 110,000. The VA loan guarantees my bank the difference of 120,000 but until I repay VA the 120,000 I cannot have another V.A loan in the future. MORE INFO TO COME…

April 21, 2011
No takers yet on the house. We have now started deed in lieu of foreclosure process. Missed a payment on the house, that 30 day late hit our credit report and BAM– dropped our credit 59 points! Ouch!!!

May 4, 2011
Appraiser came today. He is a contractor of the V.A not the bank and said he doesn’t know anything about our deed in lieu processing but that normally appraisers aren’t sent out unless the bank is seriously considering it. I do believe this was sped up by the fact that every time the bank calls my spouse about our late payment or about paperwork, he says “we are moving overseas and cannot be reached by phone after May”.  Apparently that put a rush on things for us because they need to be able to “negotiate” with us over the phone.

June 2, 2011
we had our deed in lieu processed and approved. We found out today that as soon as we fax them, we no longer own the home! What a relief to have it all over. We had so many people come look at the house and we never could get an offer. We paid 242,000 for it 4 years and 2 months ago. Then, we tried to offer it for 119k, then 109k, then 99k and never got any offers. Our credit has dropped over 65 pts so far. I’ll keep you updated when the final things hit our credit….

September 1, 2011
Confirmation has been received that the short sale is final and the deed to the home has been changed to Wells Fargo. We cancelled the home insurance and notified the Home-owners Association.

May 2012:

http://www.consumerfinance.gov/blog/new-hamp-enhancements-will-help-military-homeowners/  

THIS IS IMPORTANT INFO FOR PEOPLE WANTING TO DO HAMP. YOU MAY NOW QUALIFY!!!

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