Yogi is My Yogi

I’m wracking my brain. Looking for one simple expression that comes within a few million miles of explaining 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 possible.

This odd place real estate has stumbled into. This dream it has woken up in. This brave new world getting more scary all the time. The unintelligible intelligence that has hijacked real estate. The non-process that has absconded with the process and won’t let it go. Or flow.

I don’t mean one transaction. I mean almost all of them. The whole kit and kaboodle. Sucked into the same void that grabs socks between the time they go into the washer and don’t come out of the dryer.

Welcome to escrow. The new and unimproved version. A discombobulated dimension of realty where transactions don’t exactly go to die – just to get stuck in, Drag on, in a bone-numbing, torturous drip of endless delays-without-closure.

What do we call this period between when escrows are supposed to close and when they actually do close? We need a word for it now that these interminable intermezzos are the rule rather than the exception.

Escrow Bardo? The Never-Ending Denouement? Purgatory? FUBAR? Twilight Zone? Extra Innings? Overtime? Real estate held hostage – Day 382. We’re in a sudden death play-off game that doesn’t end.

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

There was a contract. Buyer and seller signed it. A point was picked on the horizon. Wheels were put into motion. And voila – the deed would record and money would change hands. The buyer of the house became the owner. And the seller? A former owner.

Now COE is a fuzzy and amorphous concept. A moving target. Constantly moving backwards in time that is. When will a particular escrow really close? That’s usually anybody’s guess. And I mean everyone’s.

We Realtors are trying to have a real estate market here. Escrow officers and loan brokers are on board. Doing their part. What happened?

Apparently the underbelly of the beast known as underwriting didn’t get the memo. Or they got the memo and lost it. Or they got the memo, but the “team” lost their jobs last week. Now 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. Or we have to certify in a separate memo that it was really us that sent the first memo 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.

The system is in the throes of a grand mal. 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 to assuage my own confusion is summon the wisdom of Yogi Berra (Mr. Malaprop) to make sense out of the avalanche of malaproperty-isms we are experiencing. Yogiisms are just about the only things that do make sense in this impasse.

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… “It ain’t over till it’s over.”

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


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