Extra Innings with Yogi

I’m wracking my brain. Looking for one simple word or expression that comes close, within a few million miles or so, to explaining this…this…thing to you.

This thing Realtors know painfully well but can’t quite describe.  This thing anyone who has recently bought or sold a house knows but probably wants to forget as quickly as their burned-out neurons will let them.

This odd place real estate has stumbled into.  This strange dream it has woken up in. This brave new world that gets more scary all the time.  Some kind of chaotic force or unintelligible intelligence has hijacked real estate. An uncaring non-process has abducted the process and won’t let it go. Or flow.

I don’t mean one transaction. I mean all of them. The whole kit and kaboodle. Sucked into the same wormhole that grabs socks between the time they go into the washer and are supposed to come out clean and smooth from the dryer.

Welcome to escrow ladies and gentlemen. The new and unimproved version. A discombobulated dimension of realty where transactions don’t exactly go to die in – just get stuck in and drag on, in a bone-numbing, jaw-dropping, eye-rolling torturous drip of endless delay-without-closure.

What do we call this period between when escrows are supposed to close and when they sorta, kinda should close, if we are lucky, for reasons we may or may not ever understand? We better find a word for it. It’s the rule now rather than the exception.  And these interminable intermezzos are taking up incredible amounts of energy. Drowning our professional souls.

Escrow bardo? The never-ending denouement? Purgatory? FUBAR? The twilight zone? Extra innings? Overtime?  Real estate held hostage. Day 382.  We’re in a sudden death play-off game that isn’t very fun.

Honest.  The old notion of Close of Escrow (COE in Realtor-speak) was something you could pretty much depend on. It wasn’t liquid. Or gas. It was a solid you held in your head.

There was a contract. The buyer and seller signed it. A point was picked on the horizon. Wheels were put into motion that would eventually converge in time and space. And voila – the deed would record and money would change hands. The buyer of the house became a buyer. And the seller, a seller.  All, more or less, proscribed in the timeframe known as COE.

Now COE has become something completely fuzzy and amorphous. It is a moving target. Constantly moving backwards in time that is. When will a particular escrow really close? That’s anybody’s guess. And I mean anybody.

Realtors are just trying to have a real estate market here.  The escrow officers, appraisers and loan brokers are on board. Doing their part. What happened?

Didn’t that seedy underbelly of the beast known as underwriting get the memo? Or they got the memo but lost it?  Or they got the memo, but the “team” lost it’s jobs last week? And we have to send another memo to the new team? Or they got that memo but we need to verify that we’ve insured the memo for the third time? (Is that the same as insuring the insuring of the insurance?)  Or we have to certify in a separate memo that it was really us that sent the first memo that is now lost? And that needs to be a non-faxed, non-scanned memo with wet signatures delivered in person on bended knees? Handed to the processor who will move it along to the closer who will run it by the committee who will assign it to the great decider-er for a really quick turnaround?

Folks, the system is in the throes of a grand mal. It affects the entire brain of real estate.  I’d love to explain it to you but I’m waiting for someone to explain it to me first.

In the meantime all I can do summon the wisdom of Yogi Berra, the man known as Mr. Malaprop,  for answers to the avalanche of malaproperty-isms we are experiencing. Yogiisms are just about the only things that do make sense in this impasse of an escrow juxtaposed between now and the future.

Try this one: “The future ain’t what it used to be.” Or: “If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.”  And… If you are in the middle of an escrow that isn’t closing:. “It ain’t over till it’s over.”

Me? I’m sticking with this one:   “I wish I had an answer to that because I’m tired of answering the question.”


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