tried to eat the safe banana (thefourthvine) wrote,
tried to eat the safe banana
thefourthvine

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.)
Tags: [rant], [real life]
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