?

Log in

No account? Create an account
 
 
11 June 2009 @ 10:40 pm
I guess I should have known hell would be full of paperwork.  
We're buying a house. Or we're trying to. This is a process that appears to be designed to teach you the folly of wanting to buy a house.

And the thing is, we already HAVE a house. We bought this one ten years ago, and the process was, okay, a little terrifying for first-time buyers, but it was nothing like this. The wrinkles that have been added in that decade:
  1. They used to make you sign a stack of papers roughly the same size as War and Peace. (And you had to sign every single page.)

    Now, they make you sign (and sometimes also initial) every piece of paper in the world. We have twice - TWICE - had to sign a document indicating our understanding of the fact that people can farm. Not us, mind you. Just - people. Other people. Somewhere. They have the right to farm, and now we know it. After all, we signed a document saying we know it. Twice. (The Realtor who represented us when we bought our current house, who I miss more and more with every passing day, told us, "Every piece of paper you sign, that's a lawsuit." From this, I can conclude that every person in the state of California except us spent the last ten years filing property-related lawsuits.)

  2. They used to give you all the papers in one big batch. This was scary, and also funny, because, see, I read everything I sign. It's like a sickness; I can't help myself. (I also read the agreements when I install software. There are some great lines in there, people, and I think I may be the only one reading them, because obviously the middle parts are written mostly to entertain the authors. I'm talking primarily about the parts with explosions.) Most people apparently don't, because last time, when we went to our Big Festival of Signing Documents, it took us hours and hours in the little conference room. Our escrow officer kept returning and asking if we had any questions. Or if anything was wrong. Or if we...needed anything. Every time she came back, the furrow between her brows was deeper and her voice was a little higher-pitched.

    Now, there are a few huge sets, but mostly they send you the documents in little batches. Every day. For months. So you get a full day to reflect on someone else's right to farm, and also the fact that you are not located in a flood plain, and also that you are indeed living in Los Angeles, where, it turns out, there are sometimes earthquakes. Then, the next day, you get to meditate mindfully on sixteen separate pages that basically say, "Hey, you're going to have to pay for this, you know." (You have to sign all sixteen, and also initial pages two and eleven, and the need to initial will not be obvious, and will require a further round of faxing.) This turns the Big Festival of Signing Documents into the Endless March through Document Hell.

  3. They used to use technology - well, if not for good, at least not for evil. The last time we looked for a house, our Realtor would email us the current listings that matched our criteria, and we'd email her back with a list of the ones we wanted to see. Beyond that, there really wasn't any technology involved except the telephone. And the laser printer.

    Now, though, it's not so much with the email. (We can, after all, do all our own searching of the MLS, right there on a million websites.) It's the faxing. Apparently, there's a law that says that every one of the documents we have to sign (remember: all the paper in the WORLD) has to be faxed at least three times or we're not allowed to buy the house. And we do not own a fax, because I won't buy a machine unless it has at least one function I actually look forward to using, so this means a lot of me chauffeuring documents around town like I gave birth to them.
My basic response to this whole joyous process has been twofold:
  1. Somewhere very early on, I lost sight of the house altogether. We've visited it a few times, sure, but we've spent easily three thousand times the hours with the documents than we have with the actual house. As a result, I keep forgetting that eventually we will supposedly, you know, have a new house. Instead, I dream of the day when we won't have any more documents to sign. I imagine that this will be nice for me in the future, in that if we ever actually do get the house, I will be delighted - a house! When I was only expecting a significant reduction in the amount of paper in my life! - but right now it sucks.

  2. I spend a lot of time playing Realty Roulette. This is where I think of a place we could conceivably live - Iowa City, Iowa! Pittsfield, Massachusetts! Manchester, New Hampshire! (and rock on, marriage rights states, for giving me more places to play with) - and then I go to realtor.com to see what kind of house we could get there for what we're paying here. (By the way, if any of you knows of a real estate listings site for, like, Canada or New Zealand, that would really help me expand my Realty Roulette.) Since I never check San Francisco or New York City, the answer is always: a lot more than we can get here. A lot. Acres of land! Lakefront property! Historic homes gorgeously remodeled! Enough bedrooms for us to have five more kids! (Not that we would, mind you.) Enough square footage to host every fangirl in the state of Iowa simultaneously!

    And then sometimes I get really crazy - this is especially on the days when the house-buying process is so horrible that I am ready to go live in a tent in the wilderness, like, how hard could it be to baby-proof the great outdoors? NOT AS HARD AS BUYING A HOUSE, let me tell you. On those days, I go check out real estate in areas where I know we will be able to afford a palace. Turns out, for example, we could pretty much buy all of Flint, Michigan. Not that we'd want to - no one wants to, which is the problem, as I understand it - but we could. We could get together with some other like-minded folks, take over the town, and turn it into the Fannish Oasis! And then my mind spirals off into the awesome library we will have (it will have a zine section and a dedicated archives computer and a children's wing with only non-poisonous toys, and reading groups dedicated to classic badfic and cliches), and the awesome hotel we will build for cons, and the community garden, and eventually I've managed to forget about the fact that I am once again going to get into my car, with my car-hating child, and drive to Best Beloved's work to get her signature on documents that must be signed today or the world will fall into the hellmouth. Or so the email from the Realtor suggests.
Anyway. Today was an awful day, a new low in house-buying. (Anyone want to move to Flint with us?) So I developed a new mental escape, which consists mostly of imagining how various characters from various fandoms would handle this. Like, all those stories in which, say, John and Rodney buy a beachfront house in California? Not going to happen. When they get the document from the title company (and this assumes they won't need a mortgage, by the way) that requires them to list everywhere they've lived for the last ten years, what will they put? A basement in Colorado? Abducted by aliens? I bet they don't sell houses to people who are missing five years of their lives. I mean, we've lived in the same place for ten years, and there's some question about whether or not they'll sell to us.

Benton Fraser would probably carefully, correctly fill out every single form, returning it precisely as indicated, having read and thoughtfully considered each one. And then have a wild bout of hysterical blindness which could only be cured by the repeated application of snow. Canadian snow. (It cannot possibly be this hard to buy a house in Canada. Canadians are sane, right?)

And I don't know the Supernatural boys that well, but I'm guessing they'd either shoot someone or exorcise the whole damn realty profession no later than ten days into any attempted home purchase.

Anyone else have suggestions for how fannish people might handle this? I would be interested to know, because maybe there's a coping method I could borrow that's better than my current one, which consists of:
  1. Fantasize, with the help of realtor.com.
  2. Eat mint chocolate UFOs.
  3. Cry.
(And, yes, I've already considered switching to exorcism. Does anyone know how to draw a pentagram around the state of California? I can't be the first person to have wanted to do this.)
 
 
 
The Gauche in the Machine: Buffy skeptically amusedchina_shop on June 12th, 2009 06:16 am (UTC)
By the way, if any of you knows of a real estate listings site for, like, Canada or New Zealand, that would really help me expand my Realty Roulette.

Open To View (NZ), Real estate on trademe.co.nz.

I think the only thing I had to sign when I bought my house was the sale & purchase agreement and the mortgage papers. I may have conveniently blacked out several days of bureaucratic hell, though. Never can tell with my memory.

Good luck! You can do it! ETA: More importantly, it will be worth it!

Edited at 2009-06-12 06:16 am (UTC)
tried to eat the safe banana: Compassthefourthvine on June 12th, 2009 07:04 am (UTC)
*studies NZ property with extreme interest*

Would we like Wellington? We could live there! (Although I don't know that they'd let us into the country.)

(no subject) - penguinsofalove on June 12th, 2009 09:35 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - chinawolf on June 12th, 2009 10:38 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - anatsuno on June 12th, 2009 11:13 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bobberina on June 12th, 2009 10:45 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - china_shop on June 12th, 2009 09:01 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - ruric on June 12th, 2009 12:25 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - china_shop on June 12th, 2009 09:03 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - china_shop on June 12th, 2009 09:05 pm (UTC) (Expand)
casspeachcasspeach on June 12th, 2009 06:36 am (UTC)
We bought a new house two years ago now and I still can't stop looking at estate agents' windows wherever we travel, even though I solemnly promised myself we would never never never never move again.

I would make an exception for the fannish enclave though, that sounds cool. I presume the broadband speeds would be good?

Good luck with your move. The writer;s cramp from all the signing wears off after a while!
tried to eat the safe banana: Compassthefourthvine on June 12th, 2009 07:05 am (UTC)
We bought a new house two years ago now and I still can't stop looking at estate agents' windows wherever we travel, even though I solemnly promised myself we would never never never never move again.

It's awful. I don't remember from last time how long it took the Shopping for Real Estate Goggles to shut down, but this time - seriously, I should be banned from realtor.com for bandwidth hogging reasons. Also my own safety.

I would make an exception for the fannish enclave though, that sounds cool. I presume the broadband speeds would be good?

Of course. And free wifi throughout town, of course.
Cats. Not to be trusted.: mystery men dear lordcatwalksalone on June 12th, 2009 06:43 am (UTC)
You might want to expand your Realty Roulette to Britain. We have a whole lot less paperwork and civil partnerships. Also? We do not use the word 'escrow' which I count as a major plus point. Every time I see that word I boggle. Escrow? Escrow?

Leroy Jethro Gibbs would just stare at the realtor until they signed all the paperwork for him.

Bernard Black (if forced to move to the Satan's pit of fiery death that is America--his words, not mine) would do it through a haze of alcohol and then would have to do it all again because apparently it isn't okay to sign with just anybody's signature, you have to do it with your own.

Dan and Casey would do it on air and mock each page as they read it.

And now...work. *sigh*
tried to eat the safe banana: Compassthefourthvine on June 12th, 2009 07:06 am (UTC)
I really, really love the image of Bernard Black trying to buy a house in California. Lives would be lost. I would pay cash money to watch it.

You might want to expand your Realty Roulette to Britain. We have a whole lot less paperwork and civil partnerships.

Absolutely! Is there a real estate website I could browse? I hear Yorkshire is lovely in the winter!
(no subject) - catwalksalone on June 12th, 2009 09:46 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - vaznetti on June 12th, 2009 02:13 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - starfishchick on June 12th, 2009 04:19 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - adina_atl on June 12th, 2009 04:33 pm (UTC) (Expand)
jamjarjamjar on June 12th, 2009 06:43 am (UTC)
And yet, I still have nothing but envy because something like 60% of Londoners at a recent poll do not anticipate ever being able to afford their own house.

My parent's house? £12,000 when they bought it (which yes, cheap, run down fixer-upper not the best area, etc.) If it had kept pace with inflation, it'd be worth maybe £70,000. Instead, houses in that area are more like £280,000 and all those other factors -that the area is still really not the best, that the houses are cheap, run down fixer-uppers are all still true.

I blame buy-to-rent people. And Thatcher, of course.
tried to eat the safe banana: Housethefourthvine on June 12th, 2009 07:46 am (UTC)
Is it sad that those numbers don't really surprise or alarm me? Large city real estate: not for the faint of heart. (Although I don't know if Londoners can do "drive until you qualify," which has been the primary means of getting a first house in LA. People commute for hours to be able to buy a house.)

But, hey, now I feel better: I could live in San Francisco or NYC (or London), where we'd be able to afford - hmmm. *insert pause for realtor.com browsing* Roughly the house we're living in now, except for the price of the new house, or else a condo. Whee.
(no subject) - jamjar on June 12th, 2009 08:47 am (UTC) (Expand)
lazy_neutrinolazy_neutrino on June 12th, 2009 06:45 am (UTC)
I would forget the house, buy a plot of land and use all the paper to build a giant nest-like strcture.

We have signed to say that we may not keep pigs, or become pork butchers. A friend is allowed to have all the pigs he wants, but he must give up his dastardly soap-making ways, and cannot have a fence at the front. So no pigs for him either. Perhaps I should build a fence, make soap behind it and laugh at him?
tried to eat the safe banana: Housethefourthvine on June 12th, 2009 07:49 am (UTC)
I would forget the house, buy a plot of land and use all the paper to build a giant nest-like strcture.

That is a BRILLIANT idea. Why did we not think of this?

We have signed to say that we may not keep pigs, or become pork butchers. A friend is allowed to have all the pigs he wants, but he must give up his dastardly soap-making ways, and cannot have a fence at the front.

Good lord. Where do you live, that people are constantly making soap and pork?

And obviously this is a scheme by the powers that be to drive you into collective living. You have the soap-making house. Your friend owns the well-trained pig-rearing house. (Or your friend could use electronic collars on his pigs.) Presumably somewhere there's a house that permits fences AND pigs, and is thus for the less well-mannered ones. Your profession is determined by the home you buy!

You seem to be thwarting this plot pretty handily, though. *applauds*
(no subject) - bibliokat on June 12th, 2009 03:44 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Azure Jane Lunaticazurelunatic on June 12th, 2009 06:47 am (UTC)
I can help assist with the exorcism of California.
tried to eat the safe banana: Little Citythefourthvine on June 12th, 2009 07:56 am (UTC)
Excellent! We should hold a meeting of the Exorcising California Committee sometime this month. I will provide cookies.
KRIM: dedbitter_crimson on June 12th, 2009 06:49 am (UTC)
Turns out, for example, we could pretty much buy all of Flint, Michigan.

Oh, state of mine, state of mine. T______T

ETA: On the other hand, to keep myself looking on the bright side, I think turning the entire state of Michigan into a Fannish Resort would be the PERFECT solution to Michigan's economy. *cough cough*

Edited at 2009-06-12 06:52 am (UTC)
tried to eat the safe banana: Compassthefourthvine on June 12th, 2009 07:58 am (UTC)
Oh, state of mine, state of mine.

*pats you gently* There, there. I'm sure it's a lovely state. Just - troubled, at the moment.

On the other hand, to keep myself looking on the bright side, I think turning the entire state of Michigan into a Fannish Resort would be the PERFECT solution to Michigan's economy. *cough cough*

Excellent! And the great part about the Flint Plan, as I am now thinking of it, is that the locals might not mind, given that we'd be bringing in money and so on.
(no subject) - angevin2 on June 12th, 2009 08:08 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thefourthvine on June 12th, 2009 05:49 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - mecurtin on June 12th, 2009 06:48 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(Deleted comment)
Daegaer: angel by app1e_pidaegaer on June 12th, 2009 06:50 am (UTC)
Aziraphale would read every page (but really, really fast), would find anything that could possibly be interpreted as a loophole in the buyer's favour, and would then hand the whole lot to Crowley, with helpful notes. After which Crowley would prove Hell really does have the best lawyers, and the house would be practically free.

Schwarz would just kill the previous owners and move in.

Zaphod Beeblebrox would steal the house and fly around the galaxy in it. Ford Prefect would squat in it.


For your next game of realty roulette: http://www.myhome.ie/
torn between not okay and maybe kind of cute: roadkalpurna on June 12th, 2009 07:12 am (UTC)
And what would Bracy and Gedge do? *threadjumps shamelessly*
(no subject) - daegaer on June 12th, 2009 08:19 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thefourthvine on June 12th, 2009 08:02 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - daegaer on June 12th, 2009 08:18 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thefourthvine on June 12th, 2009 08:28 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - daegaer on June 12th, 2009 08:43 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - daegaer on June 12th, 2009 08:50 am (UTC) (Expand)
torn between not okay and maybe kind of cute: princess petekalpurna on June 12th, 2009 07:10 am (UTC)
The thing is, some objects of my fannish affection HAVE actually bought a house in Southern California! In real life! And now I'm going to spend the rest of the night pondering how much magic a personal assistant must be able to perform, and how many lotteries I will need to win to get one myself.
tried to eat the safe banana: Housethefourthvine on June 12th, 2009 08:03 am (UTC)
They probably have people to do their signing for them, I am guessing. Also, I suspect that if you're spending, say, six million dollars on a home, they don't put you through quite so much crap.

*joins you in longing for a personal assistant and a fortune*
je suis marxiste, tendance Groucho: sg1 teal'c amusedshinealightonme on June 12th, 2009 07:11 am (UTC)
I will in fact be driving over a couple hundred miles of California this weekend, if I need to draw some sort of lines for this pentagram let me know and I can dangle a piece of chalk out the car window. It's about time someone did something about our dire need for state-wide exorcism (and now I'm vaguely worried I'll end up voting for the first politician to put this in their campaign promises).

Daniel Jackson would make the whole process last five times as long by going off into tangents about how the concept and construction of houses developed in various civilizations, until Jack/Sam/whoever kindly knocked him unconscious and barred him from the house-buying process.

Teal'c would stare intimidatingly at the realtors for a few minutes until they nervously offered to just take care of all the paperwork for him. In .01% of the time.
tried to eat the safe banana: Housethefourthvine on June 12th, 2009 08:08 am (UTC)
We probably will not have the exorcism plan entirely thrashed out by this weekend. It's complicated! And, really, the government should be doing this. (I, too, will likely vote for the next candidate to promise this.)

Teal'c would stare intimidatingly at the realtors for a few minutes until they nervously offered to just take care of all the paperwork for him. In .01% of the time.

I want Teal'c. I realize this is not a unique sentiment, but I really really really REALLY want him. *weeps softly*
Mal: mckay finger by queenshroommalnpudl on June 12th, 2009 07:23 am (UTC)
From the stories one of my flisters has been recounting over the last few weeks, it sounds like Canada isn't a whole lot saner than we Yanks are when it comes to house-buying. And up there you even have to hire a lawyer. One of the very few good things about this process in California is that the law has built in sufficient protections (disclosure and so on) that lawyers aren't required for real estate transactions. On the other hand, all of those mandatory disclosures are probably to blame for the infinite influx of papers to sign. So. There's that.

Also: The north coast is really pretty -- gorgeous coast, lots of pretty trees and pastures full of Happy Cows(TM). Only 130K people in the whole of Humboldt County. People are friendly. Teenage boys are polite and helpful. People let you merge or change lanes on the freeway. Just sayin'.
tried to eat the safe banana: Housethefourthvine on June 12th, 2009 08:35 am (UTC)
Does it make me a bad person that I want to know the name of the person buying the house in Canada, so I can go read her entries and compare and contrast?

*is totally a bad person*

And, hey, good point: no lawyers. *grimly looks on the bright side*

Only 130K people in the whole of Humboldt County. People are friendly. Teenage boys are polite and helpful. People let you merge or change lanes on the freeway. Just sayin'.

And real estate is quite cheap! And we could have a barn, for all our... extensive barn-related needs. And fenced pasture land! For our various beasts requiring pasture. I guess we could get one of the Happy Cows?
(no subject) - zebra363 on June 12th, 2009 02:46 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - malnpudl on June 12th, 2009 06:56 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - malnpudl on June 12th, 2009 06:55 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - elaran on June 12th, 2009 10:13 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - malnpudl on June 12th, 2009 07:02 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Proactively Untwist Octagonal Hippopotamus Pants: chessy - schemingdramaturgca on June 12th, 2009 07:27 am (UTC)
As the child (and niece) of a California realtor(s), I have to say both that I feel your pain and that, I swear, most of the realtors think it's just as nuts as you do. And yes, the rest of the state has been busy with property-related lawsuits for the last 10 years, which is why, every year, we get another phone book worth of paperwork. However many things you sign, I promise, your realtor signs n + 50. And the rushing is really part of the game, because if you can get all your client's paperwork in first, you get the special prize (which seems to be the ability to +6 on your phone call roll and level up to a new person in the bank/loan industry who has no idea about your specific case and will have to call the five people you've already dealt with to confirm that you're not a crazed psycho with designs on their precious money for nefarious purposes.) And all of that is before escrow. And property inspectors, who are servants of the devil and will come and inform prospective buyers of your property that there's a real nice place three miles that way and wouldn't they rather have that one? And tell you that your carpet is somehow sinful and will undoubtedly lower your property values because BEIGE IS NOT IN THIS YEAR, WHY DIDN'T YOU GET NEW CARPET?! Seriously. And then you'll fall out of escrow, which had already been extended three times, because the agent of the buyer decided to have a root canal and every instruction he gave for six days was misinterpreted and so the seller SIGNED ON THE WRONG LINE. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Flint, Michigan, here I come.
tried to eat the safe banana: Housethefourthvine on June 12th, 2009 05:53 pm (UTC)
It's good to know that they think it's craziness, because they ACT like it's all just normal. "Oh, and we'll need you to sign fourteen forms indicating your genus, family, and species," they say casually. "And we'll need some notarized cheese."

(Where are your family members Realtors? It would be useful to know, in case we ever get stupid enough to go through this process again.)

Although I quite liked both property inspectors we've had. Our set this time didn't say anything inappropriate about the carpet (although the carpet in the new house looks actively infectious; we plan to take it out before we move in), and one of them said he'd buy the house if he could.

*adds your name to the Flint Plan roster*
(no subject) - dramaturgca on June 12th, 2009 07:10 pm (UTC) (Expand)
jessicauntiemybinds on June 12th, 2009 07:44 am (UTC)
Canada has realtor.ca. And I can spend hours on websites looking at houses even though it'll probably be years before I could even think about buying one. I just like looking at houses!
tried to eat the safe banana: Housethefourthvine on June 12th, 2009 11:20 pm (UTC)
Thank you! *clicks dreamily*

(And looking at houses is especially fun when you're actually going to the houses. Some of the things we saw during our first house-shopping experience - well. Let's just say it's fascinating what people choose to do with their property.)
(no subject) - fanofall on July 6th, 2009 03:17 am (UTC) (Expand)
(Deleted comment)
tried to eat the safe banana: Housethefourthvine on June 12th, 2009 11:21 pm (UTC)
Well, we could do Canada, but that's even colder than Michigan. (Which is very cold, yes.) Still, places with balmy weather and universal healthcare tend not to have lots of cheap property for sale.

I have promised never to use iTunes to run a nuclear power station.

One EULA I agreed to required me not to use the software to overthrow the government. I was like, wow, you have just RUINED MY WEEKEND.
Lu (Not Your Average Retelling)elucreh on June 12th, 2009 08:09 am (UTC)
We come from all walks of life! We have lawyers and grocers and teachers! WE COULD DO THIS. There would be potential for those awesome fannish moments of connection and sisterhood around every corner! The news stations would be filled with the latest wank and stats on anonymous love memes! The gossip over the backyard fences would be all, "There's a gorgeous new fandom with a tall, gorgeous black GEEK opening its new season in July, you're coming to the neighborhood premiere party, right? I'm bringing the margarita salt!"

Do not tempt me, okay, with these promises of paradise.
ariadne83: daniel and rodneyariadne83 on June 12th, 2009 10:06 am (UTC)
*sigh* That would be so awesome.
(no subject) - dkwilliams on June 12th, 2009 03:19 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thefourthvine on June 12th, 2009 11:22 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - elucreh on June 13th, 2009 12:45 am (UTC) (Expand)