When I bought a house last year, it came with many new responsibilities. Suddenly, I was the one who had to change the furnace filters, call the exterminator, and repeatedly suggest to my neighbor that her big tree might be dead. But the biggest change of all was “escrow,” a word that I definitely understand and did not just hear for the first time when my officemate Patty said it in passing.
Escrow definitely has something to do with houses and money, so you start by getting a mortgage. To get a mortgage, well, you probably know all about that, but a very important person is the notary. The notary is sort of like an attorney, but with the letters in “attorney” mixed up and some deleted. Notaries are identity experts—they can tell exactly who you are by looking at you and then at your driver’s license. Notaries have a special stamp they bought from Zazzle. You have to pay them in cash. That’s what I know about notaries, and with that knowledge, you can advance past that part of the home-buying process, and you’re one step closer to having escrow.
Once you’re done with the notary, time to figure out your routing number. Your routing number comes from the bank and has to do with those big tubes that suck up the money capsules at the drive-through. I get the feeling that if I write down my routing number incorrectly, it might bankrupt me. That’s why knowing and understanding it is crucial during a significant financial transaction, like buying a house and setting up escrow.
The last thing you have to stay on top of is property taxes. Property taxes are money you pay to the government based on the value of your house. The government comes by once a year to value your property, unless you have a “homestead exemption.” A “homestead exemption” means you can shoot anyone who comes on your property without permission, which makes the government stay away. It’s important to ensure you have homestead if you’re eligible. It’s a key deterrent to burglars and it lowers your taxes.
With all that done, you can set up your escrow to be automatic. Mine is automatic—I’m definitely saying that because it is, not just because Ron from HR told Patty it was way better to make escrow automatic. I am definitely not saying my escrow is automatic as a form of denial because I am paralyzed by fear that I will lose my home due to a snafu with escrow, which I understand entirely.
So: mortgage, approved by the notary—check. Routing number copied precisely correct to avoid financial ruin—check. Homestead filed—check. Automatic escrow—I almost certainly did that during the busy home-buying process and just don’t remember it right this second—check.
Yep, I love owning my home, but navigating the purchase process required a lot of financial savvy. Aside from what we’ve discussed here, I also have a complete understanding of things like what my title attorney did, when I am supposed to call 411, and the easement thing that my real estate agent said was not a big deal. And that’s without even mentioning escrow, which I definitely have and totally understand.