“When you’re a toff and you’re a little bit off, you can always go………Downton.” Patton Oswalt
So it’s coming around to that time again when we need to renew our mortgage. We made an appointment with a bank person. I don’t know the correct term, and I want to call him the “bank manager” like as if we were living in “It’s a Wonderful Life” or something, but I don’t think that is his exact title. Let me just grab his business card…. Personal Banking Officer. Okay. Got it. Which is a different title than what is on another person’s card. This one says Financial Services Representative. Our Personal Banking Officer’s card tell us he has his B. Comm (Hons), whereas it looks like either our Financial Services Representative is too humble to advertise her credentials, or maybe she doesn’t have any.
Anyway, whatever title you want to give the guy, we met with him a couple of weeks ago. Good news for us, I guess. Interest rates are even lower than when we renewed last time, so with a little fancy math and keeping our payments the same etc, etc, we can have this baby paid off even sooner than we expected. Great, right?
Well, then the UPSELL began. “You know, with these low rates, we can consolidate all your loans, etc, etc, blah blah blah boring boring boring….” or that’s what I heard. I kind of tune out when it gets technical, and I can’t be sure how tuned in my wife is at this point either, but what I gather is that we can pay off our higher interest loans with this new lower loan and everyone will be happy.
But just wait one second.
Okay, this loan may be at a higher rate, but if I only have a year or so to go, isn’t it better to bite the bullet and finish it off completely, rather than roll it into a 10+ year mortgage and pay it off slowly albeit at a lower rate?
It’s all very perplexing, and an additional complication is that we thought this would be a good time to have our house re-assessed and open one of them “Total House Equity” loans so we would have some funds available to do renovations/etc. So that’s fine: we have to have the house assessed, our income verified, etc.
All seemed to be going full steam ahead until I got a call from the bank manager, oh sorry, I mean our Personal Banking Officer and he said that in doing the title search on our property, a title defect was discovered, so this will delay things.
“What’s a title defect?” I asked him. He said it dated back to 2003 (the year we bought our house) and that it probably had something to do with the previous owners and the way their mortgage was discharged. He didn’t think it had anything to do with us, and that he was just alerting us to the fact that our upcoming meeting would have to be rescheduled until this could be resolved. He would call in a couple of days to let us know the status.
I didn’t think too much more about it until I had some time and decided to “google” title defect. You know how you shouldn’t “google” medical stuff because everything is cancer online? Well, I’m hoping the same thing is true with “title defect” because it sounds like it might mean that we don’t actually own our house, until these defects, or liens are dealt with. I’m sure this is a “worst case scenario” kind of a deal, but STILL.
Thinking back to when we bought our house, there seemed to be a few queer things about the situation. First off, we attended the open house, and the real estate agent showing the house was in his sweatpants. We didn’t even think he was the real estate agent at first, obviously. We thought that maybe he was another potential purchaser who just happened to be really interested in us and knew quite a bit about the house. Now I don’t know all that much about the real estate business, but usually you see these agents on billboards and bus benches and they are well dressed. We’re talking suit and tie at least, so that was our first red flag.
The people we were buying our house from were getting divorced, so maybe the situation is something like the house was in the wife’s name and the husband was the one doing the selling and he didn’t actually have the legal right to sell it? I’m just spitballing here. A complication to this is that the ex-wife (as we’ve heard through street gossip) has since DIED and so the potential previous ownership of our house cannot be easily determined. It’s like a low-rent version of “Downton Abbey” or something. Will there be any unexpected heirs that will lay a claim to our humble abode? I don’t know how common it is to have a “title defect” and how easy it would be to have it resolved. I’ve been assured by our bank guy that it won’t cost us anything, and that it will just take some time, but he really didn’t know any more about the nature of the defect or why it wasn’t caught 5 years ago when we renewed our mortgage.
I did call the bank guy and ask him how common this is and he said, “Oh, this is a very special case. I’ve never seen anything like it before.” Dude, you need to take a class in delivering bad news to people, because all of a sudden I’m not feeling so good about the whole thing.
There are still all kinds of questions out there, and I don’t have any answers to them. It’s now going on two weeks without news. If the worst case scenario comes to pass, and we don’t actually have a clear title to this house, what does THAT mean? And if it means what I think it does, can I crash on your couch for a bit?