Home Sweet Home

Escrow
noun – a contract, deed, bond, or other written agreement deposited with a third person, by whom it is to be delivered to the grantee or promisee on the fulfillment of some condition.

Sara and I just bought a house. Well, maybe I’m being premature – we’re trying to buy a house. We found a nice little joint in Lake Balboa, put in an offer, and it was accepted. That was more than 30 days ago…

The Wild West heyday of California Real Estate in the early 2000′s is over, my friends. At it’s height, lenders were giving no-money-down loans on million-dollar properties to barely functioning crack-addicts.  Nowadays, you’d better have a credit score with 4 digits and one hell of a down payment. Escrow is a nightmare. I know a few of you Roadie’s are homeowners, so I’m sure you’re familiar with the process. Escrow is a daily nightmare of intrusion, delay, and disappointment. Sara and I are First Time Home Buyers, which means several things: a) We’re ignorant, and we make decisions based primarily on emotional response, and b) we’re ripe to be taken advantage of. Fortunately, we have a halfway decent agent, who’s got our best interests protected. For those of you who are about to buy your first house, here are some things I’ve learned:

The amount of paperwork to submit is astounding. I’m no tree-huggin’ hippie, but damn – even I was starting to feel a bit guilty about the amount of rainforest we decimated just completing the pre-approval process. Is there a digital alternative? Nope. 

As I mentioned, Escrow is a nightmare. No financial transaction is immune to military-esque scrutiny. Cash two paychecks at once? Prove it. Your folks give you a few thousand bucks for a honeymoon? Better have mom fill out seven pages in triplicate explaining the nature of the gift. Don’t even think about buying a $200 piece of gear for your studio. You’ll eat Taco Bell for every meal, and like it. 

Fees. Fees. Fees. Title Fees. Appraisal Fees. Loan Origination Fees. Loan Discount Fees (Yes, that’s VERY real. In order to lock-in a particular interest rate, you’ll pay for it) Credit Report Fees. Tax Service Fees. Lender Fees. Flood Certificate Fees. Good…..Sweet….Jesus……..  Honestly, there are more fees, but you get the point. 

Delays.  Want to get into that house quick, so you’re not paying rent and a mortgage at the same time? Tough shit. Expect EVERYTHING to be delayed. 

The upside?  Home is everything, and home is worth fighting for…

 

Home Sweet Home - before the renovations!

Home Sweet Home - before the renovations!

23 thoughts on “Home Sweet Home

  1. Bill Heatley

    Having gone through the process three times; starter home, which I thought was outrageous, our “we’re never doing this again home” which was even more outrageous, and then refinancing the WNDTAH. The thing that struck me was how old I will be when I finally pay off WNDTAH…80 years old…80 years old…80 years old!!!!! I seriously do NOT want to be making mortgage payments for a 30 year fixed when I’m that old. Will I even know what I’m doing when I write the check? Living in a cave or a hole in the ground is beginning to sound like a really really good idea.

  2. michael lee

    Uggh. That’s not making me excited for when G and I go through this process.

    I cant believe there’s not a digital equivalent for all of the paper work. I can buy and sell entire companies online just by sending text messages to Schwab (well, not me, but someone with money could), but you can’t file some of the due diligence paperwork digitally for buying a house?

    Bleh.

  3. Chad

    I’m just excited that you cut 20 minutes off the “Go Hang Out At Zack and Sara’s house” commute.

  4. june

    We’ve bought twice and yes, both times I had the rain forest thought as well. For the first 20 pages, I really did pay attention to the description of what I was signing my name to…for the next 20 I only vaguely did…for the next 20 I cut our realtor off with an “uh-huh” as I signed faster than she could talk and for the remaining bajillion pages, Brian and I had a race to see who could get to the bottom of the stack the fastest. Who knows what we signed away! No one has come around asking for our first born yet, so we feel relatively safe.

    Hang in there Zack and Sara…once it’s all a done deal, it’s really easy: you just call your landlord anytime something breaks in/on the house.

    Oh….wait…..

  5. Bill Heatley

    However much the paper thing is a pain, after 20+ years in technology you can trust me when I say that paper is way better, more reliable. Two more notes on this deal: 1) Try buying a house in the Mid-west where you have to have a lawyer…California rocks in the Real Estate laws protecting the home buyer from a lot of the insanity that exists elsewhere…2) You just need to make it through the first year and you are going to love your first mortgage interest based tax return!!! Its awewome!!!

  6. JC

    Congratulations Zack. I love the whole house thing. New homes. Old homes. Fixer-uppers. With all the pains and hassles, after all the years of renting, there is nothing quite like it at the end of a long day….”ahhhhh…home”.

  7. Zack Post author

    Cross your fingers, folks – we’re supposed to fund and close escrow tomorrow….

    Bill, that’s funny. When I looked at our amortization schedule, it scared the hell outta me. But then I realized we’re gonna sell this house in 5 years, and the payments beyond that were basically meaningless. As for the tax return, believe me – we’re VERY excited.

  8. JC

    Oh Zack. I have a house-warming present for you. I have several quite large plants in my yet-to-be-sold house. It is costing me a small fortune to have them watered each month and would be willing to give them to you (one or several) if you would go pick them up. Let me know.

  9. Zack

    Hey John, last time I checked, you lived in Colorado. If I’m going to drive 1500 miles for plants, I’d better be able to smoke ‘em.

  10. Zack

    OH, old house. John, gimme a shout. At the very least, Sara and I can break into your old place, and take a look at your plants. (You just don’t get a chance to say that very often, eh?)

  11. Zack

    Just got a call from my realtor – the loan is funded, and by the end of the day, I will be a Homeowner.

    Commence freakout.

  12. Chad

    Oh man. I think Bookers night might have to be annual. I will only have 51 Wednesdays this year because of that stuff.

  13. michael lee

    I’m with the kids tonight, G is out at her yoga class. So, if I can sober up enough to drive, I’ll leave them locked in the back room and head on over.

  14. june

    Zack, my website sucks golfballs but my bosses (ages 4 and 7) won’t give me enough time off to update it. Nonethefreakityfrakless, here it is: http://www.junesteckler.com. I have a few pieces shown on the “commissioned & original works” page (horribly photographed by moi) that are still available…and I’ve since traded my ToysRUs camera for a real one, so I could send you better pics. Those paintings from the site that are still kickin’ around are: “Studio View,” “Sierra Spring,” “Crimson Cascade,” “Sierra Autumn,” (hmmm…I think…I may have sold that…I run a tight ship here. Obviously.) and “Christmas Deconstruct.” I may have a few others…not sure…I can always add you to my list of folks waiting waiting waiting for commissions. Lots of folks like “Late February,” but if you want it, you’ll have to take that up with Stick as it hangs in his studio and last I knew, he was in deeply devoted love with it. Ya never know though…he’s probably jonesin’ for a new lil’ black box, er, piece of gear, right about now.

    I just clicked around on my site…I have to go hurl now.

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