Taking on Debt, and other Stressful Life Events

Taking on Debt, and other Stressful Life Events

I didn’t anticipate that buying real estate would be so stressful. I guess it makes sense that something involving putting yourself into this much debt would be, but it’s isn’t even so much that. Everyone warned me that after all the paperwork was signed I would feel pangs of regret and that was normal, but that wasn’t so much the problem either.

Mostly it was just all the little steps involved that I didn’t entirely anticipate, but probably should have. I’ve never bought anything serious before (computers obviously don’t count as “serious”). I didn’t realize how many people needed to know this much about me.

The first part that surprised me (but probably shouldn’t have) was that the mortgage company wanted to know every detail about my financial history. I don’t mean running a credit check or knowing how much money I intend to put down, or even requesting pay stubs or anything like that. I didn’t realize they would want to have record of every transaction I made on all of my accounts for the last three months. My mortgage company now knows the depths of my relationship with Shopper’s Drug Mart. My parents donated a sum of money to my house-buying endeavours, which appeared in my saving accounts as a bank-to-bank transfer. Everyone wants to know where that money came from; everyone. I had to get my father to sign a waiver that indicated I would never have to pay it back. The teller at the bank wanted to know how I got it; she said that “funny things” happen these days and they have to ask questions when a largeish sum of money appears and someone tries to take it out the next day. It wasn’t the next day. It was a month later, and I have been a loyal customer of this particular financial institution for the last 30 years. My mother is a former employee of this particular financial institution. No one trusts anyone when it comes to money.

Before all that was just finding out if I qualified. I’d actually done the calling around a couple of months earlier, so I knew that I did, but it was still stressful, sitting on the phone, listening as they punched in the numbers. “Let’s just see how the ratios look.” Pause. Pause. Pause. I know the ratios look okay. But suddenly it’s like being back in junior high and waiting to see if the cool kid is going to pick you for their soccer baseball team. Come on, is it a yes? Is it? I know it’s got to be a yes, I’m a good kicker! Come on! Pick me! “Oh, the ratios are fine, sure, you qualify.” Great! Now suddenly I feel sort of dirty.

Do you know how many times I’ve had to declare that I’m single? I figured it would be remarked upon, a single woman buying real estate. So I can’t say I was entirely surprised about it, but, man. Did I ever have to clarify it a lot. And the house inspector told me that maybe my townhouse would be “lucky” and now I would “find a man”. Sadly there’s no keyboard smiley that entirely captures my reaction to that statement.

My brother-in-law is telling everyone that I’m a grown up now, which I mostly agree with, except when I’m calling all the experts; there’s always a surly woman on the other end of the phone who has zero patience for the fact that I don’t know what I’m doing and expects me to know all the lingo.

There’s a whole language to buying real estate that makes no sense until you’ve had to participate in it. You need a status certificate as part of the process of buying a condo. You need to decide between a variable and a fixed-rate mortgage; is it portable? Is it assumable? (Why do I suddenly feel undereducated?) You discover the land transfer tax what What It Means to You. You work out what “title” means, why you have to have it insured, and why a “title search” is not nessarily just something you do in a library catalogue (and that it isn’t nearly as cheap). You find out that a “lien” isn’t just a posture you assume when feeling jaunty. Dual agency: boon or bust? I Aluminum, or copper wire?

But in the end, it appears that I did all the right things, and closing is just around the corner. Here’s to luck.

0 thoughts on “Taking on Debt, and other Stressful Life Events

  1. It’s nothing like a daunting financial decision which makes many of us realise how complex financial literacy is! 🙂 Congrats to you on buying the townhouse, sounds like you will be really happy in your new place.

    My husband and I nearly bought a house, when I was 23. In addition to all the money stuff above (prove your savings are genuine, tell us about all the stuff you have in your house you could sell if you lost your job etc) our lawyer disappeared on us during the contracts exchange phase and I got several calls a day from an irate estate agent. When we found out the house was full of termites and we cancelled the contract we were *almost* relieved.

    The whole experience has scared us off buying for a while!

  2. Any good real estate book recommendations? I’m thinking about jumping into the (New York City!) real estate process.

  3. Sadly there’s no keyboard smiley that entirely captures my reaction to that statement.

    No, but I bet the following sequence might come close to capturing my reaction:


  4. My grandmother is a former realtor (or, as she likes to say, she sold used houses). I cannot tell you how many times she has tried to explain the house buying process to me–I find it so confusing that most of the time I end up just saying the heck with it, I’ll pay rent for the rest of my life.

    It sounds as though you’ve negotiated those waters, though–congratulations! And enjoy your new abode, when you get there.

  5. House-buying is a whole other experience, isn’t it? This is why I believe very strongly in having a realtor (for either buying or selling.)

    Re: the single comments (rolleyes), when my husband and I bought a house, we had to produce a marriage license because I didn’t change my name. I’m always curious to know whether married couples who have the same name also have to show proof that they’re married.

    Congratulations, though! I have a few more years in school, but I look forward to the joys of home ownership again someday.

  6. Congrats on the new digs — I’d never heard of “buyer’s remorse” until I had it.

    Notwithstanding the associated stress, it’s great to have your own place. Good for you.

    Kris-not sure what you’re saying, but if it results in sensitivity training for “inspector clouseau” I’m all for it.

    Jenne-perhaps due to the “same name” we haven’t had to “show proof” for three homes across two provinces.

  7. Rochelle, sorry for OT, but your char on Lambda is about to expire again. Give it a quick connect if you want it to stay around. –ACW

  8. It’s crazy what people will say to you…when we were looking for a place, our agent told us straight up that a certain house was in a good neighbourhood because “there weren’t too many indians around.” We fired her racist butt.

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