Wednesday, April 06, 2016

it is finished

All over the protestant world, those three words from John 19:30 were the anchor of many an Easter morning sermon.

From a theological standpoint, they matter to me. But, as a homeowner, they have new meaning.

On 15 October 2014, I thought I was a homeowner. That is the day my house closed. I paid over the purchase price, and I moved in.

But, other than the keys, I received nothing in hand to show I owned the place. No closing documents. No deed. Nothing.

My realtor repeatedly assured me over the next sixteen months there was nothing to worry about. The deed would soon arrive.

And it did. Sixteen months after closing.

Idle northern minds conjure up horror stories. I convinced myself if I had died between closing and receiving a deed, my heirs would have no legal right to the home.

It turned out that was nothing more than another fevered conspiracy theory populating the internet. And I was responsible for that one.

When the deed arrived, it made clear that I had owned the house from the date of closing.

But the tale was not yet done. In moving to mexico -rendering unto caesar, I told you about paying my water and sewer bills along with my property taxes. I also attempted to pay my bank trust deed fee that was due the previous October.

For those of you who may not recall my explanation of what a fideicomiso
is, let me reacquaint you with the concept. The Mexican constitution forbids foreigners from owning property within 100 kilometers of Mexico's borders and 50 kilometers of its coast. There is a long history for the clause. Suffice it to say that foreign ownership of property was one of the causes of the 1910 Mexican revolution.

When Mexico started looking for foreign investment, that clause got in the way. But Mexicans have a way of making things work. The government enacted a law creating a legal fiction that if a bank held a piece of property in trust (that's where the f
ideicomiso comes into play), foreigners could have a 50-year interest (renewable for an additional 50) that would mimic a fee simple interest in the property.

For the honor of doing next to nothing, the homeowner must pay the bank a substantial annual fee. I paid the first year's fee during closing. And that is the last thing I heard from the bank, Bancomer, that holds my deed.

In January, I tried to pay the fee at our local Bancomer branch. But none of the paperwork I received from the notario contained the six digit account number the bank required to accept my payment.

An executive at the bank gave me a telephone number and an email address to get the number on my own. I called at least twenty times. There was no answer. I suspect the number is used by all Mexican institutions when anyone demands the number of the office for lodging complaints.

Not surprisingly, my seven emails went unanswered. So, here I sat, with a wad of pesos in hand, to pay the bank for its great service of doing absolutely nothing -- and there was no one to give it to. (Kafka could have made a career with that plot setup.)

That is, until this past weekend. On Saturday, I opened an email from Bancomer thinking that the long-unanswered email was going to give me my account number.

I was wrong. It was a notice from Bancomer that went something like this.

Esteemed customer (Mexican institutions are always polite, even when they are about to slip you the shiv.) --

That's a very nice house you have there. It would be a shame if something awful happened to it or your dog.

You owe us money. Pay it. Or start thinking up nice things you would like said at your memorial service.
Well, it might have not translated quite like that. But you get the idea.

Bancomer was informing me I was severely late in paying my 2015 administrative fee and that the 2016 fee was now payable. If I wanted to avoid the addition of penalties, I need to pay the total by -- 15 October 2016. Now, that is giving adequate notice.  I was impressed.

I was more impressed that the email included the Holy Grail of my account number. I could now take the money to the local branch and pay up, rather than being the deadbeat I have been.

That is, I could if, by sheer coincidence, on the same weekend both of my ATM cards had not failed to disgorge pesos from the maw of the Grendel cash machine. That will be resolved at the end of the month when my traveling friends the Millers come for a visit -- with a new card and PIN in hand.

So, it really is not finished. I will need to wait for the end of the month to make my payment. At least, I can see the end in sight.

That, of course, is usually when the bottom drops out of everything.

No comments: