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.