While it cannot be said that our homebuilding drama has come to an end, we did take another significant step last Friday when we finalized the paperwork to close on the mortgage for the house. Now, instead of just owning debt with a theoretical house, we own debt with an actual house.
In my personal and professional life, I have had several opportunities to close real estate transactions and real estate mortgage transactions. I have a pretty good idea of the mechanics, including how long it should take one to complete such a transaction. So when the notary responsible for coordinating the closing called and said to anticipate an hour and a half I was, in a word, skeptical. I hold monthly all-staff meetings where we discuss everything from agency toilet paper usage to federal legislative initiatives in less time. An hour and a half, indeed!
As K later observed, had this woman told us to expect the process would take an hour and 42 minutes, you could take it to the bank that a closing initiated at 4:00 p.m. would be done at 5:42 p.m. K surmises you could ask this woman where she would be at 1:27 p.m. on Thursday, and she would be able to give you GPS coordinates.
When the notary arrived, she pulled sheath of papers, littered with “sign here” and “sign and date here” reusable post-it flags, out of her attaché case. Having clearly organized and adorned the “documents” with said flags prior to her arrival here, she proceeded to re-assess their organization and re-acquaint herself with their orientation as a prefatory matter. She moved items adjudged to impinge upon her social space and removed the ink pens from my desk, placing a pen in each of our hands, explaining that only blue ink would be accepted. She advised that we were to sign all documents as our names appeared on the particular document. If a middle initial was included, we were to sign with the middle initial, no more and certainly no less. We were chastised to write our dates in a standard format, using “2008” or “08” as the year indicator, but under no circumstances were we to use shorthand “8.” Our handwriting was to be clear; mistakes would be punishable under penalty of death, or at least through correction by one line through the mis-marking, each of which would need to be initialed by both of us.
There were to be no markings within ½ of the edge of any page. In an amazing display of rough estimation, she used her finger tip to indicate the inadmissible margin on the page. I offered her the use of a ruler to ensure complete and total accuracy, which met with only a single wide-eyed blink.
She always referred to the paperwork as “documents.” As she was “closing” the top of the “8” on one of my dates, I asked if it was permissible for her to alter my signature in such a way, again eliciting a single wide-eyed blink. By the time we escorted the woman from the building, K had developed a nervous tick and kept muttering, “penmanship class” under her breath.
The exacting and concise world of this woman was sharply juxtaposed against the chaos of the world we inhabit when we arrived home to discover a freshly installed fountain in our basement. Apparently, while we were busy running the gauntlet of closed “8’s” and accurate signatures, a water pipe one of the contractors for the home delivery company had capped came uncorked and was issuing rivers of water into the dog’s room of the basement.
So the project I had intended to start at exactly 7:03 p.m. Friday evening was rescheduled at a time TBD as I swept and sucked the 2.34 inches of standing water from the basement floor instead.