Selling My House (or, Why I Hate Lawyers)

I’ve never been a fan of lawyers.

calvin-hobbes-loopholeI take that back.  I’ve never been a fan of people who adhere to the “letter of the law” vs. the “intent of the law”.  For instance, smoking isn’t allowed at my workplace.  A friend of mine – who was on the cusp of being fired – brought in an e-cigarette and started puffing away; “What?!  This isn’t illegal!  They never said anything about electronic smokes!”  He’d make an excellent lawyer.

I bring this up because we’re in the process of selling our house.  One would think this would be a pretty straightforward thing.  I have to prove to the buyer’s bank that I own it and he has to prove that he has the money to buy it from me.  That should be about it.

I feel like the most straightforward way is the best way:

  • I put my house up for sale through a realtor; he finds someone to buy it and negotiates a price (I’m not a salesman, as evidenced by Tiny Life shipments).
  • The buyer talks to his bank to get financing.
  • His bank calls my bank to see if I do indeed own the property.
  • His bank sends out someone to see if the house is worth what they’re lending the buyer.
  • Once everything is OKed, we get together and sign a contract that essentially says, “We are trading this property and everything on it for this amount of money.”
  • End of list.
Before the advent of Taco Bell, children would chew on drywall.  Click to enlarge

Before the advent of Taco Bell, children would chew on drywall. Click to enlarge

Instead there are mounds of paperwork and subcontractors involved.  Someone had to dig up my sewage system to see if my poop leaves the house after I flush.  Someone else had to chlorinate my water supply to make sure no bacteria live there that might kill someone other than me (my eyes sting when I take a shower now; on the other hand, all noodles smell really clean).  Someone else had to come out to check and see if the nailing schedule was correctly followed on all drywall projects I’ve done.  Someone else had to come out and see if we have lead-based paint anywhere (lead-based paint has been illegal since the 70s).  Someone else had to come out and check to see if my property had grown in the last ten years.  Someone else has to see if all the legal paperwork is in order.  This is where we’re stuck.

After about $1000 in various fees ($400 for the poop guy, $200 for the chlorine guy, etc.), we’re stuck in some sort of limbo.  Here’s why:

The lawyers say that in order to sell the house, the information on one unneeded document (“needed” only because another lawyer says so) must match the information on another unneeded document (“needed” only because another lawyer says so).  If they don’t match, they’re both useless.  Because the second document transferred hands so many times, it’s been lost.

Originally, the first document costs about $100.  Originally, the second costs about the same.  How much does it cost now, after they’ve already been created and since one doesn’t match the other?

Up to 3% of double the value of the home.  For those of you who suck at math (AKA people who speak American), if I have a house worth $100,000, that means I might have to pay $6,000 for this one sheet of paper.

2 Responses

  1. […] talked about this before (and before again).  The title work for the old house is still […]

  2. […] a side-note (and more to the point of why I hate lawyers), we couldn’t have The Bus – which has been sitting in this spot since 1967 – […]

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