As soon as the closing date was set, we set out to work doing what we had to do to prepare for the move.
We had been packed for weeks, and had been living among boxes for that time. Jen made tentative arrangements with a moving company to come on the Sunday after the closing. I filed a change of address with the post office, notified the electric and gas company and made arrangements with the phone company.
The final walkthrough was exciting — we hadn't seen the house since December, so it was fun to see the place now that it would become a reality for us. The gentleman who had been taking care of the house let us in with the realtor. We imagined that Benito had taken a liking to us. And when I asked the realtor what the termite guy did, Benito cheerfully showed us an inch-wide drill hole in the basement bathroom where the owner self-treated an earlier termite problem. The house inspector explained to me that, time was, people used a particularly harsh chemical to treat a termite problem and that this chemical had a half-life of like 300 years. I was comfortable with the prospect that our house's structural integrity would remain intact.
Was I late for the closing? Of course I was! But it was only because I was sitting in the Wells Fargo Mortgage Office downstairs from the attorney's office where they held the closing. I didn't read the email right. Eventually I figured it out.
A closing is an hours-long affair, full of paperwork and formality. It was also one of the best days of our lives! How cool is it to become an actual New York City homeowner?
After months of hearing the names of the people involved in the transaction, it was strange to see them in person. All the inscrutable actions and ulterior motives we ascribed to them disappeared as soon as we sat down across from them. It's a testament to the power of face-to-face negotiation I suppose. In some ways at least. We even joked when Michael left the room that we were going to create an addendum making the sale contingent on his asking the tenant out on a date. He didn't think it was all that funny.
"Closing costs" were something I'd heard about but never really fully internalized. I knew that we'd need a lot of money on hand for the closing costs, but you really do need a lot of money for closing costs. Closing costs are onerous, but because taxes and fees vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, closing costs could be more or less onerous. New York's closing costs are more onerous. Here is a list of all the closing costs (less our legal fee and the title closer's attendance fee, the title closer being a person who sits there to make sure everything is being done accordingly): Fee Insurance, Mortgage Insurance, Department Searches, Bankruptcy Searches, Patriot Act Searches, Survey Inspection, Endorsements, Escrow Fee, Sales Tax, Recording Fees, Overnight Fee and the Mortgage Recording Tax.
The Mortgage Recording Tax constituted the largest portion of the closing costs. In New York, it is basically a tax of $2.17 and change per every $100 for the privilege of getting a mortgage within the five boroughs. No wonder the City is broke — in flush times when the real estate market is hot, they must make gazillions.
So after hours of signing documents, side whispers and bathroom breaks, when the owner passed the keys to us, it became entirely real. And then it was like, Holy shit, we own a house!
The seller told us that his uncle spent many years in the house and enjoyed many memories there, and he was likely looking down from heaven happy that the house was being passed to such nice people. We shook hands. They went out to dinner.
For our part, we didn't go to the house right away. Instead, we went across the street from the lawyer's office to go get some drinks.
I can't follow 90 percent of Mark E. Smith's lyrics, but I kept thinking of The Fall's "My New House":
It'll be great when it's decorated!Posted: December 17th, 2011 | Author: Scott | Filed under: The Cult Of Domesticity | Tags: I Can't Follow 90 Percent Of Mark E. Smith's Lyrics, Kawama, We Went To Sweet Afton And Felt Great About It