On standing up for yourself…

I mentioned earlier that I had to lay the smack down on the financial folks when buying our house, and its time for me to explain. B and I are first time home-buyers.. clearly. We’re reasonably intelligent people, both with college degrees, stable jobs, and a working understanding of personal finance. I’m an attorney who reads and writes legal documents for a living and B works in corporate finance. All of this to say– as first time home buyers go, we should be ahead of the curve on what we understand about the process, the vocab, and the documents involved in buying a home.

That is why I was so surprised when I received our good faith estimate of closing costs and prepaids from the financial lady, and I didn’t understand most of what I was looking at. I sent it to B, and he didn’t understand either… clearly, this document was not made to be easily deciphered by the home buyer. I’m not one to agree to anything I don’t fully understand (especially when you’re talking about spending hundreds of thousands of dollars and signing a 30 year mortgage), so I went through the document very carefully and responded to the financial lady’s email with twenty-five numbered questions that I had about the document. I asked her to please respond to my email with the answer to each question inserted after the question in the text of the email. This way, I would have a written record of her answers and everything would stay organized.

Is this something most people do? Probably not. They probably assume that they’re not meant to understand and just say okay… but not understanding is not okay with me and I believe that people have a right to understand where their money is going.

Imagine my surprise, given my exceedingly clear email, when I received back a two sentence email that didn’t seem to directly answer any of my questions. Hm.. frustrating, but I didn’t give up. I responded:

To which of my questions are you referring? Could you please answer ALL of my questions as I asked?

Surely… this would solve the problem? I receive back an email with about 5 sentences… none directly referring to any of my questions just more general information. I was so confused. And at this point, pissed. Next up:

I have to be honest here that I am getting a bit frustrated. I am a first time home buyer and I do not think that I am being unreasonable in wanting to understand ALL of the money that will be coming out of my bank account for the next 30 years. I sent you a list of very specific questions that you seem very reluctant to answer. I am sure that it is annoying to answer the same questions for person after person and I am sure that you are very busy– I sympathize. However if we are seriously considering using M/I financial to finance the biggest purchase of our lives then I believe that I deserve to have ALL of my questions answered. I listed them very specifically with room for you to insert answers to make things as clear as possible so that we do not have room for misunderstanding. Please understand that what may be common sense to you– a person who works with mortgages for a living– is not common sense to someone who has never even purchased a car. I need to fully understand what I am doing here. There has already been some serious misunderstanding between M/I and myself due to imprecise emails, and I would like to avoid that problem again. I do not want to have to email you back 15 times to ask you each of the questions you are not answering individually.

If you are refusing to answer all of my questions please let me know right now so that I can assess my next move.

Bitchy? Maybe. But I stand by my statements. People will take advantage of you, they will glaze over facts, they will avoid answering questions. If I ask the same question over and over and I’m not getting an answer, I will not give up. I’ll just ask again. Because eventually? You will get answers to your questions.

Now, it did take several more emails before all of the questions were answered fully and to my understanding, but I am confident now that I understand every line of our estimate. Point being: STAND UP FOR YOURSELF. Don’t feel bad for asking questions. Don’t be intimidated if you’re getting ignored. Don’t feel stupid for not understanding! This is complicated stuff, and you deserve to understand it all!

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One thought on “On standing up for yourself…

  1. You did a great job as a first time home buyer. You have the right to know it all. You are an example of what first time home buyers should be in order to avoid untoward incident on finances. One thing is clear, that financial lady is very very risky to work with.

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