No House Yet.
Purchasing real estate is absurdly complicated and nobody is on your side. Whether you’re the buyer or the seller, your agent is working for the other side. Because their interest is in selling the house. If the house doesn’t sell, they don’t get paid. There is a whole team of professionals who only get paid if the sale goes through. So they all want it to happen. That’s great, if you like the house and there are no problems. It’s bad if there is an issue.
In my case there is an issue. The title showed a break in the chain of ownership from the previous owner to the seller. Now, I believe that it was simply a clerical error (my agent keeps calling it a typo). But it was severe enough that my title company would not issue a buyer’s policy on the property. So they, and my agent, were trying to tell me to just switch to a title company that wasn’t so persnickety. Ummm.
Not a chance in hell. There is a break in the chain of ownership. I’m not buying the house. If it’s simply a clerical issue, then fix it. If it’s more serious than that, then that means that there is no sale. Period. My agent kept telling me that my earnest money would be at risk, and that I would likely lose it if I walked away from the deal over this issue. So I called a lawyer. In fact, I spoke to three lawyers. They all agreed that I had a strong case for the return of my earnest money if I walked when the time expired on the contract. So I told that to my agent, and made my position very, very clear: unless this issue is fixed, I don’t buy the house. No further discussion.
Today is the we were supposed to close. We can’t because the issue isn’t fixed yet, though I’m informed that there is significant movement, and that the previous bank (who seemed, clerically, to still have a lien on the house) is involved and cooperating. So today I am going to offer an extension to the sellers, to get their shit together. I’m putting language in the extension that states that the reason for it is that they haven’t yet produced marketable title. If they don’t accept that, I’ll walk.
It could be an expensive gamble. In two ways really, because that language won’t override the original contract, and so might not protect me even if they do sign it (but surely couldn’t hurt me). And because they might not accept such language.
But last night at my men’s meeting, someone said, “A problem that can be solved with money isn’t a real problem.” I don’t accept that entirely, of course. Lots of problems are real problems that could be solved with money but that money isn’t available, and as a result, people die. But his point in this case, is that I’m not risking my health here. I’m not risking my employment. I’m not risking my sobriety. I’m not risking my life. My worst case scenario is that I lose my deposit and end up living in my current too-expensive apartment another year. That’s not really that bad.
This is a stressful and frustrating problem. But it’s a luxury problem. I used to worry about choking to death on 60 proof vomit. Now, it’s that the house I want might not come through. What a change. What a warmly rising path I’ve trod these past nearly six years.