Monday, March 16, 2015

Pity the poor immigrant home purchaser

At the end of January we had an offer accepted on a house. We were super excited about it and I wrote a blog post at the time about how great it was to buy in America, where there is so much certainty about the process. But I didn't publish the post (though I have done so since) because - despite the apparent certainty - I had a fear that something might still go wrong.

I was right. We have been in underwriting limbo for six weeks... for a process that in theory takes a week or two. The problem is that I am an immigrant, with a slim US credit history. And it turns out if I'd only taken out a Banana Republic card a year ago I probably could've borrowed a million dollars with very few questions asked. So we are a slightly more complex case than the norm.

But the delays by far outweigh the complexity and we are trapped in a Kafka-esque twilight zone of repeated requests for the same pieces of unrelated information, with little explanation of what is required or intended. It is all starting to remind us both, in a foreboding sort of way, of the visa process. Yet again, it sucks to be an immigrant. The bank treats correspondence from the UK's Revenue & Customs like the scribblings of a madman. And makes the most bizarre requests: like, in addition to having seen a copy of my Green Card, requesting a letter from me stating that I had sent them a copy of my Green Card. How on earth a letter from me about a document holds any weight - let alone more weight than the actual document itself - is puzzling.

The latest request is for an explanation from BigCorp about why my paycheque was $284 more in February than January. Oh, and a monthly statement from my pension fund. To which BigCorp, in typical BigCorp fashion, reply that they aim to respond within 20 days.

Every time we provide new information - or, indeed, the same information again - the bank reset the clock, requiring another 24-48 hours to digest what we have sent. Which, when it's the third time we've sent, for example, our 2013 tax return, is more than a little frustrating.

Meanwhile with every day that goes by our seller is getting increasingly impatient. While gazumping is not a thing here, she does have a perfect right to tell us we're out of time.

So it turns out I was wrong. This process is not sure, and simple, and swift. It is bellyachingly, G&T-thirstingly, tense-makingly slow and painful. Rant over.

Having said all that, TLOML and I did just enjoy a blissful weekend eating and drinking with friends and family in the Sugar Cube's lovely yard, and walking to the beach, and just generally loving our neighbourhood. So if this new house is not meant to be, and we have to stay put while I run up a few months of credit card spending, we will live very happily with that outcome.

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