What Getting Naked in Korea Taught Me About Buying a House

This blog post is dedicated to all of the medical personnel at Osan Air Force Base ER and the Brian Allgood Army Community Hospital at Yongsan Garrison who have taken amazing care of my sister; and to Cadi Jordan (find Cadi on Google+ +Cadi Jordan or Twitter @CadiJordan ) who is forever reminding me through her tweets and direct messages to take care of myself (I finally listened).
In case, you didn’t get the last minute text from me, you should know that I am in Seoul, South Korea at this very moment helping take care of my sister who was rushed to the ER last week. I found out that I was urgently needed and would have to fly out to Korea with about 12 hours’ notice.  There was quite a bit to do in those 12 hours; you have my apologies if you didn’t get a personal text or email with all of the details.  Please accept this post as a creative substitute for personal communication.

After a few extra-long days in the hospital, my sister kicked me out.  I am not entirely sure that she was being honest when she said that she wanted me to spend a little time touring and experiencing Seoul since I had flown halfway around the world and to get some rest before her transfer to the Korean Hospital where she would need more of my help or if I was just plain getting on her nerves and she needed some alone time. Either way, I found myself embarking on an adventure in a foreign country with my brother-in-law where neither of us knew much about where we are going or knew any of the language.
My sister & I at Brian Allgood Army Hospital (I'm the one goofing around)
My sister & I at Brian Allgood Army Hospital
(I’m the one goofing around)
The plan was simple.  We would take the subway 5 short stops; walk a few blocks to the Jjimjilbang spa and spend the afternoon resting and rejuvenating.  We would eat and return to the hospital.  Easy peasy.  Clearly, from the title, you know that it didn’t quite go according to plan.  Surprisingly the lessons that I learned at the Jjimjilbang (pronounced jim-jill-bong; and it is basically a Korean bath and spa) have a lot to do with mortgage lending.
This is the Jjimjilbang
This is the Jjimjilbang
Take the time to watch and learn.  When you don’t speak, or read the language or know the customs, it behooves you to slow it down a little bit and take the time to watch those around you who are familiar with the process and learn. I was amazed at how much I was able to learn just by observing. And it did not take long.  You just have to want to be a student.  Being in a room with over 100 women in my birthday suit I was already a bit self-conscious; I did not want to do anything to call an undue amount of attention to myself.  So I took a few minutes to watch from those who exhibited a lot of self-confidence and clearly knew what they were doing.  By watching with the desire to learn, I managed to not make a complete fool of myself.  In mortgage lending there is a lot of lingo. By taking time to observe and see who the true experts are, you are very likely to find someone that will keep you from making a fool of yourself during your home buying journey.
You don’t know what you don’t know.  A quick education (ie directions on the subway) on the internet may get you there, but it could be the long way around or could totally lead you astray.  Usually trying to take shortcuts in life leads you down the wrong path. In this case, the quick google search of the subway map lead us to the wrong exit and a very circuitous route (the looooooong way) to the spa.  Had we stopped and asked directions or consulted a map in more detail, maybe even in advance, we could have avoided a very long walk.  I will say the walk back took way less time than the walk there. But, we weren’t really even sure what to ask or that we did not know where we were going.  We thought we knew. A little knowledge can be dangerous.
The subway in Seoul
The subway in Seoul
At the spa, I realized that I did not have everything I needed.  It would have been nice to have some conditioner an extra hairclip, a hairbrush. I did not even know all of the places in the spa to go (it was 6 floors).  There were hot pools, cold pools, jade baths, saunas, steam rooms, oxygen rooms, ice rooms, hot rooms, wooden ball rooms, salt rooms, jade stone rooms (a little like stepping on leggos in middle of the night) and more. Even with a little bit of knowledge (before we left the hospital, my sister drew me a map and gave me some directions for the spa), I couldn’t remember it all when I was there and another person’s experience isn’t always the same as your experience. There is nothing like having the full experience yourself.
I asked a survey question one day that went something like this “Do you have a burning questions that Google doesn’t answer?” No one said yes.  I feel certain that Google doesn’t know everything or answer everything.  This leads me to believe that we just don’t know what we need to ask when we step outside our area of expertise.
You might not always have just what you need if you don’t ask the right questions.  Do you even know the right questions to ask? I sure didn’t.
The oxygen room & the salt room (reminded me of a Zen Garden)
The oxygen room & the salt room (reminded me of a Zen Garden)
Don’t blame others. “It’s not the fault of your soap” ……. This was really a sign in the spa.  You had to take a shower before you were allowed to get into the baths.  They had soap available for your use or you could bring your own (as an aside, not a huge fan of showering with 100 women or sharing a bar of soap with total strangers; my advice is to bring your own soap).  There was a huge sign in Korean with this small English translation. Something seemed to be lost in translation.  I mean, do you know what “It’s not the fault of your soap” means? Turns out that your soap is not super bubbly in the mineral water at the spa.  They are just letting you know in advance so you don’t think the soap isn’t working.  Something was lost in translation. You had to experience it to understand it. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts; Each part is different than the sum; each word individually translated is different than the meaning as a whole.  However, without the translation and without the experience it would have been easy to blame the soap and say that it was faulty.  When you don’t know the cause and impact something has you might start pointing fingers.  If you can do that with soap, clearly this has happened or they would not have a sign like McDonald’s would not have a warning that their coffee is hot if someone had not sued them, it is much easier to do with a complicated transaction like a mortgage.
Without a knowledgeable guide, you might end up with a BIG surprise. When you don’t speak the language and you just have to go with it you don’t know what you’re buying and you might be surprised with what you pay (what did the Korean Scrub actually cost).  In the spa, they had a great place in the corner that had a sign that said “Let us pamper you more and more”.  Sounded heavenly.  There were Korean signs with prices in Korean money.  No one spoke English.  There were 5 women doing scrubs and massages on pink plastic tables.  I really wanted to do that.  I wasn’t sure how to sign up for what I wanted, what the options where, or what I would pay. I eventually navigated my way through signing up for something and getting a turn on the pink plastic table (holding on for dear life when I was spun around while all soaped up; overall though a very relaxing experience).  In the end, I had the scrub of a lifetime, from head to toe, and a short of massage.  When it was complete, I wasn’t sure what I was going to pay for this service.  I knew from the pricing chart it was between 5,000 and 80,000 won (approximately $5 – $80 US dollars). Big range. But, overall the cost wasn’t going to bankrupt me either way. As you can see, it ended up costing just over $16.  Well worth it. But, I still don’t know what I got and not sure exactly how I did it and not sure I could exactly do it again and get the same experience.
Left ticket is price of the spa for the day Right ticket is the price of the Korean Scrub
Left ticket is price of the spa for the day
Right ticket is the price of the Korean Scrub
Virtually the same thing happened at dinner. A picture is worth a thousand words.  Any idea what is on this menu? I wasn’t sure either.  I did know what I was paying, but I was not sure what I was ordering for my food.  What I got was delicious, but it just as easily could have been horrid. The lesson for me, having someone who was knowledge, who spoke the language or who had been through the process many times before and could have guided me through it and educated me would have been invaluable.  Finding an experienced, professional and caring Realtor® and mortgage lender will make all of the difference in your experience in the home buying journey.  I mean, do you want to make the biggest investment of your life and get to the end not knowing exactly what you are buying and how much you are going to pay in monthly payment or need to bring to closing?  I didn’t think so.
Yes, this was the actual menu for dinner
Yes, this was the actual menu for dinner
Yes, this was the actual menu for dinner
Yes, this was the actual menu for dinner
In summary, when dealing with another language you are more accepting and you think you made the mistake and you often just deal with it.  In your own culture or your own language or something where you are knowledgeable, you tend to demand more rights. Don’t leave your rights on the table because you didn’t take the time to learn or have proper guidance, not with the largest financial transaction you will make in your lifetime.
Join us next time as we explore more in the world of mortgage lending. If you have a burning question or just want to chat — I love to be social……you can reach me on Twitter (@ChrisEllaLoans), Snapchat (ChrisElla2), CyberDust (ChrisElla), emailChristyS@StarkeyMtg.com, at the office at 912.721.9400, and my website at www.LoansWithChristy.com . Find out more about me and more ways we can network (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) at www.about.me\chrisella
As always, if you liked this article please like, share, or comment…….or all of these things; they are greatly appreciated.
In case you were wondering, this is what I had for dinner. It's Korean Beef Tartare Bibimbap Stone Pot
In case you were wondering, this is what I had for dinner.
It’s Korean Beef Tartare Bibimbap Stone Pot

Christy Soukhamneut, Area Manager

NMLSR#810728, GA LIC#32916, FL LIC#LO13828, SC LIC#MLO-810728, NC LIC# I-I 12550

Georgia Residential Mortgage Licensee


6600 Abercorn St #105, Savannah, GA 31405 NMLSR#827864, GA Lic#58821, NC Lic# L-112550-130, SC Lic# MLB-827864, FL Lic# MLDB2394



WR Starkey Mortgage, LLP, 6101 W. Plano Parkway, Plano, TX 75093 (NMLS#2146) 1-866-599-5510 Copyright©2015 All Rights Reserved. This is not an offer to enter into an agreement. Not all customers will qualify.   Information, rates, and programs are subject to change without prior notice.  All products are subject to credit and property approval. Not all products are available in all states or for all dollar amounts.  Other restrictions and limitations may apply.  WR Starkey Mortgage, LLP is required to disclose the following information: Georgia Residential Mortgage Lender Licensee No. 19715, Florida Mortgage Lender License #MLD1043, North Carolina Mortgage Lender License No L-112550, South Carolina Mortgage Lender License No. 2146, NMLS ID# 2146 (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)


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