Yes, a bizarre phrasing for a title, but there’s an explanation for it. Keep reading to find out how yesterday’s meeting with our lawyer ties to my 6th grade graduation party in Northern California, AND the lessons taken from that connection.
The Actual Meeting:
The meeting yesterday morning went as I worried it might. We weren’t shot down, BUT the lawyer was STILL unwilling to commit to anything yet. He didn’t stay long either, which was also expected. His main purpose was to introduce us to the contractor he was using to do the home inspection. After that, I walked the inspector through the house and showed him everything we and other hired experts had found.
Getting back to the lawyer however, he said he can’t make any decisions until he sees the report from his inspector, AND he still insists that there’s missing paperwork from the original home inspection company. Primarily in the form of a signed contract.
More on the trip to the inspection company’s office in a minute.
So, yes, despite telling the lawyer multiple times we’re hanging on to financial life by a thread, he was non-committal. On one hand, it just plain pisses me off. On the other hand, and looking at the world through the other party’s eyes, attorneys have to under-promise and try to over-deliver. They get sued for malpractice and trashed online by most people for any perceived lack of perfect results. “It looks like you MIGHT have a case, IF…” gets turned into “You said we had a case (even though the IF never came to pass) and I’m going to sue you!”. So it’s yet another example of where the greedy and self-entitled have made life miserable for the rest of us.
So, (again) yes, I understand his perspective and need for caution here. None the less, that does nothing to resolve our short term issues. Likewise, the potential long term victory doesn’t mean anything if we don’t survive the short term disaster.
Here’s where we get to that tie-in to a sixth grade graduation party decades ago…
I kept my cool, but I was quite fed up at the point the lawyer left the meeting. After a few minutes though, a cold calm hit me and I realized if we’re going to get out of this mess it MAY (hell, probably will) fall upon us to do it ourselves.
Hell, half of the problem thus far is that we’ve gone against our better judgment and trusted “experts” instead. We let a realtor tell us about buyer legal protections and area conditions instead of researching. We let that same realtor give us horrible contract advice when we should have known better. We trusted a home inspector’s word over our own eyes, etc…
On the way home after the home inspector was done, the graduation party comparison hit me. My sixth grade graduation was a (swimming) pool party at a rather modest resort in the area. I went back to the pool area for some reason (I can’t remember exactly why) during the time food was being served in another area. I got shoved into the deep end of the pool by somebody who had snuck up behind me. Hard. Right into the dead center of the deep end.
Harmless prank right? It would have been IF I could swim back then. I had flip flops on also, which act exactly the opposite of flippers if you’ve ever tried to swim with them on.
I came up three times, gasping for air and yelling for help. Third time going down, I knew my air was running out and “this is how I’m going to die?” ran through my mind. That same previously mentioned calm, cold, steely determination hit me, and I kicked off the flip flops and managed to fight my way back to the surface and dog paddle to the edge of the pool.
I survived, but only because I got absolute determination to fight my way out of it and accepted that nobody else was going to save me.
For those who are wondering, nobody was there when I finally got to the edge. Everybody else had been in another area (indoors IIRC) eating, and the one girl who later confessed to me had ran off and left me. The prank I can forgive. She didn’t know. It took a good while to let go of the fact she didn’t grab a life preserver ring or that silly pole for rescuing swimmers though.
Instead she ran off, knowing I was in trouble but more concerned with covering up her mistake.
End of that rant though. The similarities did strike me. We’re figuratively drowning now, and it sure as hell looks as nobody is going to help us. No life guard then, apparently no life guard now.
IF I was feeling a little more spiritual at the moment, I might do same naval gazing and speculate if the whole experience today, and my seeing a connection to WAY back then was some sort of spiritual message from my subconscious, higher self, the Divine, etc… Maybe it was. Right now, I’m more worried about resolving the mess though.
After a long talk between ourselves, we decided we could struggle through ONE month of double payments (rent and mortgage) before it took too big a toll on our dwindling savings.
We also decided, after reading context clues from the lawyer, and some feedback from the inspector that it SEEMS like we have a good case. It MAY even be a matter of how many people we can sue as opposed to IF we can sue anyone. The home inspector said, for example, that when he does this kind of work for the lawyer that he normally spends four hours trying to find anything the lawyer can use in court.
That also tells me the lawyer has plenty of experience with this kind of case.
At any rate, the inspector left our place in two hours with dozens of pictures and notes, and just shaking his head at some of the things he saw. Good for us or bad? Hard to say. It definitely means the house is a disaster area, which works in our favor. It could also mean that a judge or jury could decide we should have seen it all ahead of time and it’s thusly all on us.
Getting back to that one month though… We decided that we’ll give the lawyer two weeks to at least present a planned map forward. No expectations of a guaranteed win. Life doesn’t work that way. Without a battle plan though, we have to take things into our own hands.
We’re exploring a handful of options. Trying to turn the mortgage company and their army of lawyers against all involved is one option. An absolutely MASSIVE insurance claim is another. How much would be covered is a huge question however. Lastly there’s just bankrupting out of the house and forcing the mortgage company to deal with it all. That means years of renting and fighting hard to rebuild our finances, but we’d be going in with eyes open and knowing it’s better than living in a house full of asbestos and radon with leaning walls and a collapsing roof.
The only thing I know for sure is we aren’t going down without a fight.
And Then There Was That “Missing” Inspection Paperwork…
Later that afternoon, we went to the inspection company’s office. We told them a story about a computer hard drive crash and asked for a copy of our file so we’d have all our test results to show a future buyer what we’d found and repaired. A necessary deception even though I dislike deceptions in general. The idea was to avoid getting them looking too closely at receipts or actual signed documents, as well as not tip our hand of potential legal action.
We got a folder full of printed out paperwork. No receipts and no signed contract though. No record of any payments in our bank account either. That tells me one of two things:
Either they’re complete screw ups whose oversight caused them to overlook the signed contract that covers their rear in the case of this kind of screw up, OR… There’s some legitimate deep and dirty collusion going on between our realtor, the home inspection company and others involved here.
That last bit may seem like a reach, but there are numerous other pieces of admittedly circumstantial evidence that all point that way. Proof? No. Enough to cause suspicion that something is rotten in Denmark? Yep. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.
But then again, we do live in interesting times, don’t we?
Nothing to do but continue to Follow the Evidence, and keep pushing to get people to look at it. Come, Watson. The game is afoot!