I’ve been half-enjoying, half-cringing as I watch the trials and tribulations of a coworker — I’ll call him … “Boyd” — searching for a Home of His Own. Well. It is … a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

But he’s learning there’s nothing out there. What is out there is HUGE. It’s all overpriced. And you’d better grab it before the line around the block grows and a riot breaks out.

Ahh, I remember these days. But. Ahem. The thrill of the buy isn’t quite what it’s cracked up to be. You are warned, Boyd.

Our first house purchase was a scene straight out of Homeowner Nightmares, which is like all those DIY fix-up shows on TV, but without the happy endings.

The tour of available homes was scary enough: angry dogs behind locked doors, piles of dirty clothes in the kitchen sink, the reek of pot in the air, hard-pack dirt for lawns, even faux-log door frames the dog had scratched up in its fury to get in, exposing the beautiful foam beneath.

We couldn’t wait to bid on it! Kidding!

We eventually found one. We put in a bid and came to an agreement. It was all downhill from there.

We were given a closing date and warned those are not set in stone — we later learned you’d have better chance of pinning that date down by shooting at a calendar with Nerf guns from 100 yards.

The closing date was delayed for many, many reasons, a few of them even legitimate.

•The paperwork, back in the days before computers had signature-signing features, missed FedEx flights.

•Once it sat on a desk while the title guy was on vacation — for two weeks.

•Our dirt peddler — I mean, real estate agent — even moved. To Hawaii. With the seller’s real estate agent, making it very difficult to find out information such as “When is the closing date?”

In the meantime, we’d told our landlord we’d be out of his rental by a certain date — a date fast approaching. So we called the sellers, who agreed we could move into the house and pay, each week, the cost of their mortgage and their child’s college bills until the closing date.

Well. Someone at the seller’s real estate agent — the seller’s real estate agent was in Hawaii, remember — got bent out of shape that we, the “POTENTIAL buyers,” they called us after that, had the GALL to speak with the sellers. I guess this is a real estate no-no.

It’s not like we hadn’t come to agreement on a sales price. We had other things to talk about, like the whereabouts of our respective real estate agents!

Every week, we went to their office and submitted a check for the sellers. And one day, the sellers call: Have you moved in? Um, well, we haven’t received any checks!

What?! They were stacked under a paperweight on the seller’s agent’s former desk.

We’re three months into this “closing” and all my husband and I wanted to do was close the door on being homeowners.

•The (almost) last straw came when the paperwork was again delayed. The federal government called us. Yeah. Never a good thing. The man was so proud: “We CAUGHT a Fannie Mae underwriter forging your signatures! Can you IMAGINE!”

We jumped up and down in glee — finally! Someone who understood how to expedite the process!! FANtastic!

“No, no,” the man official said. “No, now you have to re-sign them all.”

Eventually, it was time for the actual, real-life, in-person Official Closing. We didn’t believe it either.

We were the only ones who showed up to the event. At this point, we weren’t sure we wanted the house anymore, but being as other people were living in our former home, winter was coming on and — oh, did I mention I was 43 months pregnant? — we decided to go ahead.

All you would-be homebuyers? The pile of documents you have to sign is thick. There’s the agreement price document, the agreement to the administrative title document amendment, the proof of wanting to purchase (or not) agreement. Some of this puts you second in command of the French Army. That’s what our interpretation was, anyway.

There’s the title company agreement, the housing disability amendment, the radon gas giveaway and the amelioration of dental work not finished. Oh. And the check: Our contribution.

We signed and signed away. We signed everything she gave us. We signed artwork hanging in the office, coffee table books in the waiting room.

And they gave us a key.

No one took us out for a congratulatory drink. No one bought us a nice housewarming gift.

No, they just gave us a stack of coupons, each one representing a month of money we had to fork over to a bank. Sigh. Homeownership.

Enjoy the journey, Boyd. There’s a reason it’s called a once-in-a-lifetime event.

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