Escrow: As Painful As It Sounds

Here’s a conversation I keep having these days.

“How’s the house hunt?” someone asks me.

“Good. We’re in escrow.”

There’s a pause. The person nods, squints, nods again. Folds his or her arms. Then: “I have no idea what that means.”

I didn’t either, just a little while ago. I also didn’t know exactly what it meant when people said, “Escrow’s crashing all around us” or “Escrow’s falling apart.”

I do now.

We found a house about a month ago that we liked a lot, enough to spend lots of money to fix up and look pretty, enough that we didn’t mind that it was rather small because it would be our own. It’s not ours anymore. The owners pulled out.

I didn’t want to jinx the escrow by talking about the house. Turns out it totally doesn’t matter, and you lose the house just by owners going, “Hmm. Nevermind.”

So. Escrow. Here’s how we’ve been describing it. It’s an engagement to the house. You’re wearing the house’s ring, and you’re taking blood tests and the house wants to see your dowry and you’re meeting the house’s parents and there’s all this pre-nup stuff.

You get the house inspected (which you pay for). You get the house appraised (which you pay for). You find out everything you can about the house. You dream about the house. You make plans for the house. You start looking at colors and decorating books and picture yourself drinking tea on the house’s porch, even though you don’t really drink tea. You imagine walking naked through the house. You picture yourself alone at night in the house. You wonder if you’ll be safe in that house. You start to think maybe the house is a mistake. Haunted. The owners get scared. They worry they got ripped off. You worry you’ve gotten ripped off. Everybody’s freaking out. Nobody’s answering the phone. The house just stands there, waiting. In a perfect world everybody calms down and realizes this is for the best, and the house changes owners.

Not in our case.

The house broke up with us. Left us at the altar. And now we’re trying to go steady with another house, one our realtor knew we’d love, and we do. We’re gently approaching the house with our hands out, letting the house sniff us, letting the house know we’re good people who just want to live somewhere and get married.

We put in an offer. We’re sure about ten people will put in offers on this new house — this sexy, single, ready-to-get-hitched house on the market. We can only hope that we’re the most attractive buyers, and then once again, we’ll get engaged to this house, with every intention of marrying it. Until then, we’re totally going to see other houses on the side.