Thursday, February 17, 2011

Routine Legal Drama


Routine  Legal  Drama
After looking at 50+ homes and apartments we are having real drama attempting to purchase a condo/appt (3rd floor with great views and a quiet neighborhood).  Things like unpaid SS taxes on staff for many years, fumes from gas heaters, recent burglary, and undisclosed issues are part of the culture. No wonder it took us six requests to obtain the annual condo meeting minutes!   We modified our offer to immediate all cash in order to gain a simultaneous closing to 1. pay off existing mortgage, 2. obtain clear title and 3. pay realtor. Closings in stages are common here.  Otherwise, we might have had to wait weeks after paying mortgage to obtain clear title.   Price negotiation requires patience and the help of an unhurried realtor – a rare item here and in the states!    Due diligence is very important.   Things like title insurance and home inspectors are rare items. There is no MLS and anyone can be a ‘realtor’. 
It's an adventure learning business here.   Law is not like US Common Law, but European - statutory only, no court rulings, legal precedents, etc.  Traffic laws and driving culture is like maritime law - the small must give way to larger difficult-to-steer craft, and pedestrians are very small craft. We have learned not to rely on green lights or ‘walk' signals.  City traffic moves quickly, sometimes ignoring things like red lights, especially the famed taxis (and buses!)
  I was impressed when the government caught the Director of Immigration falsifying documents …and immediately fired him and his entire staff.  After two months they recently resumed the process of issuing residency cards or Cedulas (think US green card). Of course our 90 day tourist card has expired. We are still in limbo over residency issues, but yesterday we met with local Director of Foreign Affairs and Immigration. She is going to try to expedite us. Another helpful Cuencana.