It's not about the house.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

No Good Deed...

Ooh, here’s a new development…

So Johnny’s been telling me for quite some time now that “this guy up at the pub who’s name I can’t remember but he’s a lawyer, honey” says we should file some homestead something or other on our house, and in fact this guy will do it for us if only we bring him our tax returns and the deed to our house.

Well, gosh. Here you go, honey. Let me know how it turns out.


I swear to god, I love him. But if there is anyone on this green earth who'd trade the cow for magic beans, it's Johnny.

He’s all in a fizz about this, though, because – and it turns out this much is true – the homestead is actually a good idea (I did, after our second or third fight about it, actually do some research on the internet). It’s a “declaration of homestead,” is what it is, and it protects your home, as long as you live there, from being seized for repayment of certain debts. Not the big ones, like mortgage and taxes and stuff, but lawsuits and, I don't know, bar tabs I suppose.

Now, it just so happens I’m (hopefully) about to embark on an adventure that has the (slight, but not unheard-of) possibility of opening me up to a lawsuit (don’t panic Mom, M-C, there’s really no reason it should happen, but you never can tell with bees, I always say). So now that I knew what this homestead thing was, it didn’t sound like such a bad idea.

Not that I’m going to go handing my tax returns off to some guy Johnny met in the pub or anything, but I do happen to have a sister who’s a lawyer, and a Dad who’s an assessor, and (although I fool even me sometimes) I’m no moron myself – between the three of us we ought to be able to figure this thing out.

Before I ask them, though, let’s just get all these here duckies in a row:

Tax returns – well, if I really need them I’ll figure something out.

Deed – hey, wait a second…

I do distinctly remember a conversation at the closing of my house where I asked everybody gathered around the table if I was going to get an actual, piece-of-paper deed, and they said oh, yes, certainly.

I said: when, now? Will it be mailed to me? Or will it be on file with the mortgage company? Do I have to follow up?

They said it would be mailed.

How long? I asked. Immediately? A month? When should I start to worry that it hasn’t shown up yet?

Everybody laughed, and my lawyer – my lawyer, who I loved – said “Two years!’ while wiping tears out of his eyes.

Um, okay. I don’t get the joke, but I guess I can wait two years.

Except for that was three years ago, and I still don’t have a deed. Which I hadn’t even thought about until Johnny started this whole homestead thing.

So I went on line this morning to the County Registry of Deeds (it took me three google searches and twenty minutes on my town website before I even figured out that they were what I needed). I got a phone number to request a copy of my deed, but I don’t know if a copy is what I want – shouldn’t I have an original? It is my house, my deed, after all.

It was too early to call, though, so I poked around a little more. You can, on line, view your deed for free. It costs money to print it out, but I don’t want no stinking printed version anyway. I want the original, goddamn it. But seeing it on screen would at least make me feel better now, at least until the office opens and I can call.

Not a very well-designed web site, I must say. Hard to find what you’re looking for and hard to even see where to click, but eventually I find it. I search for my own name and, suprisingly, three things come up: Deed, Mortgage, and Declaration of Homestead.

Sure enough, it’s all already filed and filled out and everything. I don’t know if my mortgage company did it, or if my lawyer did it, or if it’s standard – or, hell, for all I know someone might have told me to do it when we were in the process of buying and I just blindly did and then forgot. All of the above are possible. But the important thing is, I got to trip out to the living room and tell Johnny that he didn’t have to worry about it anymore.

He’s skeptical, but I do think he’ll stop asking for the tax returns.

Now, about this deed…

Actually I accidentally clicked on “mortgage” first and yeesh-almighty, there it was. My entire mortgage, all however-many pages of it, right on screen for all and sundry to go peeking through. Can anybody do this? Could I type your name in and look at yours? I haven’t tried it yet because I figure karma comes round eventually and nosy gets what’s coming to it (and I'm trying to do what I can to lower the cosmic probability of that hypothetical someday-lawsuit) but I know that there will come a day…

Anyway, about that deed.

What they have listed as my “deed” is a piece of paper from the closing (a quitclaim, actually) where the seller’s name and stuff are all typed into left-blank-for-that-purpose sections, but my name – as what I guess you’d call “grantee” – has been handwritten. In a very girlish script, I might add. Which, I feel obliged to point out, isn't mine.

Is this it? Is this my deed? Don’t they at least send it off somewhere to get my name typed in? If so, how long could such a thing possibly take?

And if I figure all this out today, is that Goody-nough?

What if all I do is ask my dad?





Sandy & Michael said...

The deed signed at the closing is the official deed, there is no "good copy" they make afterwards :) And while the clerk won't give you the original deed, they can give you a certified copy which is just as good - but it's doubtful you would need such an official copy anyway.

EGE said...

Thanks! I grew up enough (for a minute, anyway) to call and ask, but it's nice to know there are people out there who will answer stupid questions like this.

Now, does anybody have any idea where I put my keys?

poppo said...

Yup, S & M are correct. (Hmmm, ever wonder if they practice their initials???) Your original deed will always be at the registry. What you have is a copy. What you see on the web is a scanned copy of the original, and also YUP, so can every other person in the world see it. Isn't the "Public Records Law" wonderful???

LadyScot said...

I was going to add my two cents but you already have the answers.