Monday, September 5, 2011

This whole real estate thing

"Thank you, Bradley. Don't forget to feed the hounds."
Week 2 of this whole real estate thing has wrapped up and (what do you know?) I am completely over it. For some reason watching other people shop for properties on television seemed so exciting, but then I actually starting doing it and it's not exciting at all. Seriously. Especially when I'm on a tight budget and have to “make do” with what I have (something I don't really like doing). It's kind of like watching that Japanese obstacle course show where helmet-wearing contestants have to navigate crazy obstacles to win some prize at the end. In theory it would seem so fun running across giant rotating foam rollers...until you smack into one and fall below into shallow sludge. This is basically what real estate has been like for me -- all glitter and sunshine and giant foam rollers on the outside, and injury, sludge and public embarrassment on the inside.

So far we've made an offer on one place only to find out after getting approved for a loan that the loan could not be used on that specific unit. Thank you Mr. Real Estate Agent, for doing your job correctly and informing us of these things beforehand. (Mr. Real Estate Agent is another story entirely. One that involves inappropriate flirting (from his end, not mine), black Range Rovers, semi-fraudulent dealings and Bocce ball. Oh, real estate agents.) 

Meanwhile, we've made another offer on a place that's a "short sale with a lender-approved price." Though I did not want to get involved in short sales at all, I really liked the place and decided to offer since it was a "lender-approved price" and all. (Air quotes: mandatory.) My bad. In the words of Antoine Dodson, "You are dumb. You are really, really dumb," Crystal. I am clearly stupid for trusting two people who told me this whole "lender-approved price" thing, because it turns out they were either a.) lying, or b.) completely misinformed. (I have a gut feeling it is option A.) The property is not listed at a lender-approved price, but instead is an honest-to-God, all-American, made-in-the-USA short sale. UGH. 

I am now more irritated than I get when humidity terrorizes my hair because we have to wait for the bank's word on all this, and let's face: They're a bank. They have no motivation to give me a short sale property as they'd make more money on the thing if they just foreclosed. LUCKILY, Mr. Real Estate Agent did something right and put a 20-day clause in our offer contract, so the bank has until September 15th to get back with us. I have no faith in short sales, so I'm assuming this is going to be a no-go. 

J and I are already organizing back-up places we plan to make offers on in case this short sale doesn't go through, and so far we have three, ranked in order. I'd be fine living in any of them since this property is not intended to be a dream home or any sort of forever home at all. We just want a place we can live in for around 3 years and keep to rent out to tenants after we move on to a bigger, more permanent place. Essentially we see this first property as being a long-term investment that will fit in nicely to our overall retirement portfolio.

Anyhoo, I laugh at how na├»ve I was a mere month ago, when I thought this process was going to be easy. It's anything but – mostly thanks to the layers and layers of bureaucracy between me and my potential home(s). It seems like everyone, from the agent to the listing agent to the bank to the mortgage broker, is all on a different page, which means everyone feeds us a different story. A day or so of this I can deal with, but unending weeks of being fed misinformation is just annoying. In an I-need-a-drink sort of way, times 10. No wonder there was a mortgage crisis in this country. If I wasn't already highly skeptical of the process, I'd eat up all the lines I'm fed and “trust” that everyone in the business knows what they're doing and will guide me accordingly.

It's times like these that I wish I had a butler named Bradley who could do all this work for me. I'd tell him what I'd want, and he'd go out and find it, only bothering me with small details that involve signatures or check-writing. Then eventually he'd hand me a key and that would be that. Bradley would of course be rewarded with a 1.7% bonus and modest housing quarters behind the infinity pool or in the old horse stable and we would all be happy.