Today, barring any major disasters, I get the keys to my new condo. By 5:00 PM, I’ll be a full fledged homeowner.
I’ve been a bundle of nerves about this (and probably annoying all of my friends, but they’re so nice that they never tell me to shut up because they know it’ll all be over soon!) for the last several weeks.
Below are a few things I learned (that Wikipedia can’t tell you) about buying a condo.
The Mortgage Industry Still Uses Fax Machines
I really thought fax machines were a thing of the past (like shoulder pads and Aqua Net). I was horribly mistaken. Andi belongs to this really cool document scanner program, and when she sent me things to sign, all I had to do was click a button, and my signature would automatically appear. I was excited about that (“how modern!”) until I moved along the process. To the mortgage guy. Who needed me to fax back one document six times. I felt bad about the resources being wasted. I even asked him if he ever got audited. He said he did, once a decade. We agreed that the auditor had the worst job ever.
Real Estate Jargon is Difficult to Understand
I said to a friend, “I’m going to be really lucky if I don’t end up with a mail-order bride based on all the things I’m signing.” I don’t really understand a) why there’s so much paperwork, and b) why it isn’t written in plain speak, unless they want to trap poor suckers like me. I like to think of myself as a smart lady, but nearly every time I read something, I would have difficulty understanding it, and then I’d need to have it explained. Maybe twice. Andi’s working hard for her commission here, folks. Working with a mortgage broker made me really skeptical too, because they’re the ones who were “so evil” in the past, so any time I didn’t understand something, my gut would tell me, that dude is trying to pull one over on you and I’d send an email, then get an immediate phone call back, talking me down.
Buying a Condo Takes a lot of Money
Earnest money. Home inspection money. Appraisal money (which I earnestly tried to wiggle out of, since an identical unit closed three weeks before I put in my offer). Buying a Washer/Dryer. Closing costs. HOLY COW. Just when I was thinking, “whatever will I do with all this money in savings after I pay off my car?” the answer was: get it the heck out of savings and into someone else’s pocket. ASAP. Thank goodness I’m buying something “off the rack” and won’t have to spend much money in order to make it liveable. I can live with something that looks like a ski lodge timeshare for a little while. I’m determined not to spend more than is absolutely necessary (although goodness gracious there are some pretty throw pillows oh god who am I?) until I have a feel for my monthly cashflow situation during the slow months, which are forthcoming.
There is a Limit to Frugality, even for Frugal Portland
I started packing over a week ago, because I like to plan ahead. I thought I would move stuff in my car once I got keys on Thursday, then move more stuff on Friday, then Saturday get a truck and some strong friends to help with the bed, dresser, dining table, couch, and chair. I started to panic. Moving things in my car will wear me out. My dear friend said I could borrow her big old Subaru, which would cut down the time significantly. But still, I felt stressed and out of sorts. I started dreaming about my friends all simultaneously deciding that enough is enough. So I called Willamette Valley Moving (two friends used them and gave glowing recommendations). They told me that Memorial Day Weekend is a big moving weekend (why on earth did I wait so long to try to book them?) and that they could only move me Thursday afternoon. I signed papers earlier this week, but Oregon doesn’t give you keys when you finish signing papers, and Andi could only guess that I’d get keys by 5pm on Thursday. She wasn’t confident that I could get them any sooner, and she didn’t want me to agree to a Thursday afternoon move. I called them to cancel, sadly. The person who answered the phone said, “well, how about Saturday afternoon?” So, without much thought, I booked it. It’s going to cost $210, plus tip. And I won’t have to lift a finger. Nor will I have to burn through more friend credit. Instead, if my friends want, they can come over Saturday afternoon and help me unpack! Or at least sit on my couch in the new place. It’s probably going to cost me just over $100 more than getting a truck, filling the truck, putting gas in the truck, and buying dinner for my friends.
I Have the Patience of a Small Child Around Christmas
I finally understand the point of Advent calendars. I wish I’d had one through this process! Since no one has invented those yet, I’m like a toddler, who doesn’t understand the concept of time, looking (but not touching!) all the wrapped packages under the tree. It took a long time to get comfortable with the idea of a mortgage (and I’m still working on that) but once I decided to push forward, something clicked, and I lost my patience. Although, to be fair, patience wasn’t something I had in abundance anyway.
I’m More of a Worrier Than I Realized
All of my worries relate to how I’m going to act once I own my house. Story time: I once had a friend who got a new car. This friend was different than all my other friends who get new cars and stay normal. He was a big weirdo about his new car. He’d wash it by hand every Saturday. Wax it monthly. At first it was fun to have a friend who always wanted to drive everywhere. “It’s okay,” he’d say, “I’ll come pick you up even though we’re going somewhere in my neighborhood?” But after a while, it got weird. His other friends would whisper behind his back. “Doesn’t he know it’s just a car?” they’d ask. Clearly he did not. Once, when it rained, he asked me to take off my shoes. I worry that I’ll somehow be like this guy. Chasing everyone with coasters. Constantly sweeping and mopping. Actually yelling at the dog who can’t help his muddy footprints.
My Family and Friend-Family are Amazing
All this week/month/six-weeks/forevertime, everyone has been so supportive! The ones who have been through the process before have answered my questions. The ones who haven’t stand by like cheerleaders. I wear my emotions externally, so my friends are reaching out, asking if they can do anything. They fed me after my kitchen was 100% packed. They sat up with me while I fussed about the inspection process. Mom and Dad, holy cow, there aren’t words for how supportive they’re being. Little Sister is moving too, and will distract me from my worrying to talk about wallpaper and paint colors.
I’m Thankful that Real Estate is a Very Irregular Purchase
Title companies? Who needs ‘em? Goodness gracious there are a lot of hands in this process.
I don’t know how people make a living out of this. Real estate is not a fun thing to buy. I’m happy that this little piece of Portland will soon be mine, and thrilled about having a place for guests, but I’m OVER the process. I’m much happier in my sales job. It’s a lot easier!