Y’all, now that we’re in the final stages of escrow, I can tell you that J and I decided to buy a house here in Southern California, thereby continuing our descent into complete assimilation of the California lifestyle. I signed Olivia up for surfing lessons yesterday, is what I’m saying.
We are holding off on the celebration just yet, because real estate deals are never final until you sign on the dotted line. In the meantime, I have a few things to froth at the mouth about in regards to the completely twisted way we’ve had to go about getting this house.
First off, I’ll disclaim- I do not know what it is like to purchase a house when you are straight married (what? You wanna call it my gay marriage, I’ll call it your straight marriage. No, no, not YOU, dear reader, those other “yous” out there who just don’t get it), so maybe some of the red tape is the same, but I wouldn’t know. Feel free to drop some knowledge on me in the comments.
So, J and I decided to buy a house. One of the first things you have to do when purchasing a house (if you are not paying cash, which we most certainly are not), is offer up your last two years of tax returns. For most of you married types, this must be easy, right? One, maybe two files (depending on what state you live in)- no fuss, no muss. But J and I have to turn in three returns. Since we can’t legally get married, we file as single, so one return a piece. But in the state of California, we are registered domestic partners, so we CAN file jointly, so there’s the third return. Ok, you say, that’s not SO BAD. Until you add the latest IRS wrinkle, which is that they’ve decided that in certain community property states (like California and Washington, two states I’ve lived in), that registered domestic partners MUST pool all assets and then divvy them in half. WHICH IS FINE, from a J and I share everything stand point. Where it’s not fine is when my “earned income” is 0, since I don’t work, but then I get to add half of J’s salary in the “additional income” line, and then the IRS sends me a letter saying I owe $20,000 because they don’t know where this added income came from, EVEN THOUGH I AM FOLLOWING THEIR RULES AND EVERYTHING IS PROPERLY CROSS REFERENCED. Same goes for the escrow company- they want to know where all this money comes from on my tax return, given that I apparently make “no” money.
And while we’re bitching, this particular wrinkle also means that I cannot contribute to an individual retirement fund for myself, because I have no “earned” income. Straight married women, on the other hand, who stay home can file jointly, thereby using the “earned income” line of their JOINT return to prove they “made” money. They are thus eligible to fund a Roth IRA account, whereas I am not. In all seriousness, my accountant asked me if I’d maybe gotten paid to babysit, or something? Anything? No? Oh, well then. No retirement fund for you.
I know that my readers are all on board with the gay marriage thing, but if someone happens to run across this who isn’t: You do know there are many more repercussions of marriage inequality than the fact that we can’t have a legal ceremony, right? You DO get that there are some things gay couples JUST CANNOT DO/GET that straight couples can?
Ok, then. Back to the house buying. When straight married couples go to the bank to ask for a mortgage, do they have to prove they’re married? That’s a serious question, by the way. I would assume no, since the joint tax return subs in as proof, but again, I know not a thing about straight marriage house buying. J and I have had to scan and submit our certificate of registered domestic partner status to the bank and the escrow company, presumably to further document… I don’t even know what.
Let me also give you one piece of additional advice- if you are married, save yourselves some hassle and apply for your loans together. For stupid reasons, J is applying for our loan by herself, which means I’ve had to sign an additional ream of paper permitting J to access and spend all our funds. I get it, I do- no one wants their spouse running off with all their savings, but LORD. Let’s just say my signing hand is cramping, and we’ve barely gotten started.
All that just to get in the DOOR! But now we’ve scanned all our documents, offered and counter-offered (seriously, y’all; at one point we had offers out on FOUR houses. Pretending to be a billionaire: more stressful than I thought), and raided the ever-living FUCK out of our savings account, and the cutest little 3 bed, 2 bath house in our price range is ours.
We think we close at the end of this month, and we’ve paid rent on the place we’re in now for the month of July, just to give us a little cushion. Next giant, unfortunate task: PACKING. WITH A ONE YEAR OLD.
Please send notes of encouragement and medicinal chocolate.