Saturday, July 30, 2005

Count Down

Only a few sleeps left until we move into our own home again. Yay. We took ownership on Thursday; and as we speak there is a carpenter creating built-in wardrobes in the bedrooms and a painter painting the bedrooms. I hope they get along OK. The carpenter will be finished by lunch-time (fingers crossed once again). The removalist arrives on Wednesday, the mother-in-law arrives on Tuesday and hopefully touchdown (the point at which we can move into a fully furnished home) will be a week today. My wife and her mum will spend a few days unpacking stuff and no doubt I will spend a couple of evenings putting the shelves back together, setting up the home cinema, etc.

It is my view that when you purchase or sell a property that banks, lawyers and real estate agents cannot resist the large bucket of money sitting in front of them. It seems that no matter how tightly you keep an eye on the costs that one or all them seem to find a way to grab a bit extra.

In this recent experience it was the turn of the conveyancing firm. They rang me one day and said "we need you bring us a bank cheque for a very large amount of money". "OK", I said, "however please tell me what are the elements that make up this total figure." I asked this because I had kept a log of the amounts we were expected to make out but had not seen this particular figure. It took roughly half an hour for them to stop thinking in legal terms and actually give me break down. They started off by explaining that the house cost "this" amount, we were borrowing "that" amount and that the difference plus a number of fees was what they wanted me to bring along. So I said well please tell me what costs are the breakdown of this total amount. With some exasperation they started explaining their same story again. So I said "I understand what you are saying to me however I want a breakdown of that final figure please." With increased vexation they proceeded down the same explanation thinking I was some sort of simpleton or troublemaker and refusing by ignorance to provide me with the breakdown I asked for. It took roughly 40 minutes for them to finally get with the program and give me a breakdown of the figure. Some of the costs were: their fees, bank fees, sundry utility costs like water, rates, etc. I questioned why I was paying their fee in the lump sum bank cheque but it was explained away as an anomoly I couldn't figure.

Anyway, a few days later I get call from same conveyancing firm, apologising that they needed another bank cheque for a very tiny amount because in all we were $48 dollars short of the settlement amount. Why? Bank fees, the bank is insisting. OK give me the bank's phone number and I'll talk to them. I ring the bank and it turns out that the conveyancers were charging the cost of breaking up the big cheque into much smaller cheques, to us. %$#%#%$@@!! Out of contrariness I said to the bank that they should waive the cost of the cheques because in the long run they were going to be making squillions out of me, more than enough to pay for 6 cheques. Oh no, oh no, cheques are not free, even to staff!!

I rang back the conveyancers asked them for an explanation. With vexation - "Look we are doing this on your behalf you know, we have to raise these cheques for the final disbursement. You have to pay for them, they aren't free." I pointed out that in first place they asked me to include the amounts for these 6 bank cheques into the first monster cheque - "You are double dipping on the cost of cheques!". I was then told (with a touch of anger and much frustration) - "Alright, we'll pay for the cheques!". They hung up. In the past I would have just coughed up the money but this time I made them roll over. Quite pleased with myself really.