Sunday, May 26, 2013

Let's be better than that.

I just found out Dawn French got divorced. I'm in shock, and by "shock" I mean "more than averagely surprised," I've not been hospitalised or anything. I'm not sure why I am so surprised - she's one of the celebrities I feel like I know. I love her confidence, her humour, her multicultural, long-lasting marriage. Now I feel confused. I am regularly confused about something, but it's not a state I relish. Her marriage has ended, she's remarried, she's lost weight... what? 

I think perhaps I find her having lost weight a little more disturbing than her having got divorced. Marriages end, it takes two people to make them work, and sometimes they just don't. But with dieting... that's a personal decision. And to be honest it is usually a negative one, or at least the process feels quite negative.  I mean does anyone ever really want to diet? You don't think "Yay! I am morbidly obese, I can change my whole life, and protect my health by losing weight!" you think "I have to do this, I have to do this, I have to do this. I can't do this. This chocolate is what's killing me. Why am I like this? Why am I such a failure?" 

I guess the issue I have is that I find it so very sad when people can't see how awesome they are and feel like they have to change themselves to become closer to some stereotypical idea of beauty. As it stands, I am the only person I know who has ever gone on a diet without beginning the process feeling ugly, or even slightly ashamed at my extra kilos. You can read about how I got to that place here if you want.  I know there must be other people out there who view themselves not just with acceptance but positively but I don't know them. 

One of the expats who vacations on my complex gifted me a load of magazines this week. They are old. I think the newest is from 2011. Not that it makes any difference to me. The only time I read those semi-trashy, celebrity, "real life" magazines, is when someone gives them to me. I don't follow those types of stories on the news. I might watch them on TV if  a) my scathing-of-popular-culture-husband was out, and b) we had a TV. Flicking through them there were two things I noticed. 1) I don't know anybody. Actually, that's not quite true - I had heard of Richard and Judy, but Coleen (Kai is running her ragged / wants to be healthy again;) Alex (angling for a payoff;) Kerry (hiding her love for this man;) Denise (jets off to save marriage;) and Leandro (first interview) - no idea. In some instances I don't even know the gender of these people. 2) These magazines are not positive, but are very much given to exaggeration. For example - one headline "Richard and Judy: Rocked by new family drama - Chloe reveals all" sounds like something bad has happened. As if there really has been some terrible trauma in their lives. Turn to the story - Chloe (Richard and Judy's daughter!) is happy and enjoying life, working on some show called "Dancing on Ice." The great family trauma...? They did a bit of research on their family tree and they had a dodgy ancestor. Is that news? obviously not for a serious news publication, but even for a trashy mag that has got to be stretching it. Two thirds of the front page given oven to advertising a non-story. How weird. Obviously it is total wishful thinking to want companies to only print stories if they are actually news worthy (you can't just pick and choose when you bring out you magazine after all) but surely their headlines should be a little more honest? I mean, okay they can't write "Richard and Judy experienced a non-event this week!" but maybe "Richard and Judy: surprised they have an interesting ancestor!? Chloe mentions it in passing."

Anyway, where am I going with this. I don't think that how miserably so many women think about their bodies is all the medias fault. The media print what people think, exaggerate it a bit, realise it sells, keep printing it, people keep reading it, and start to believe this is actually how the world is. One of the glossy magazines I was gifted was having a "positive ageing issue." According to their headlines you can "look better feel better live better;" eat "7 foods to keep you younger;" "take years off your body;" "rediscover your sex appeal" and enjoy some "facial creams and treatments tested just for you" (the bold typing is theirs.) None of this strikes me as positive. At least not more than superficially so. Where are the articles about mature women teaching younger ones how to appreciate themselves exactly as they are? Where is the shared wisdom from people who have really lived? Where is the article about people with marriages who have worked and lasted and still have something to talk about around the dinner table? Where is the pride that you have lived, and survived, that you have helped make a country in which women can be considered equal, in which we live longer than ever before? Where are the stories about older women who have really achieved something with their lives? Why on earth are women being completely fobbed off with articles about how to look younger?? Fine - people want to look their best, but a positive ageing feature and that is the sum total of the positivity - you can look better. WTF? Where is the afterwards - you go on a diet, you buy some new clothes, you get some good face cream and that's it. All your goals in life are fulfilled? There has to be more than that - women are better than that. Humanity is better than that. Nobody reaches old age without having loved and lost people – without understanding how transient life is and learning to value every second.

So to Dawn French - good job losing weight. But thank you for being a person who lets life shine through you. Who has had a career longer than my entire life span. Thank you for making the world a better place with your amazing ability to see truth and make it funny. Thank you for making dark places light. You have made a difference, and I am grateful.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Life List.

I love lists. The put the world in order. They make me feel like I just have to follow a few simple steps and my whole life will come together. They allow me to see exactly what I have achieved and indeed that I have achieved something. This week I have come across two which at first glance appear different but actually have a few similarities. The first was from one of my all time favourite blogs, called Rules for life. it includes gems such as

2. Don’t make happy people sad.
10. Don’t use the word “literally” when you really mean “figuratively”.  It literally makes me want to stab you a little but I don’t do it because that’s illegal and also because I have a very limited amount of knives.
It really is worth a click to read the whole thing, she has the perfect mix of honest and hilarious.

The second list I came across was posted by multiple friends on facebook and is called 22 things happy people do differently. Surprisingly there is the occasional cross over between the two life lists. I have to admit I am not so keen on the second list. I am surprised how many times I have seen it re-posted. It is very very positive, glass half full, find your inner zen and the world can't hurt you, type of stuff. 

Not that I don't think it's valid. I do. At least I do a bit. I have often heard people say, (you know "people" someone somewhere, a specific person not so much, more a collective memory of people saying at some point, maybe) that "there are two types of people in the world - those who see the glass half full and those who see it half empty." I'm not either of those people. I see a glass with water in. I'm slightly more optimistic than pessimistic. I have great faith in trying. But I like Plan B's. And I really really like to have worked out every potential thing that could go wrong before I commit. It drives my husband crazy. He is a massively optimistic dreamer. It is his best and worst quality. I dislike ill-thought out dreams. I like them to be backed up with a healthy dose of reality, I don't want to be the person who pisses on the parade, but I find it really hard just to get excited and not point out the flaws. I try to comfort myself with the theory that I am saving people from much larger disappointment later on, but mostly I just feel like a spoil sport.

Anyway the point of this. I think the "happy people" list, is aimed at optimistic people. I'm not convinced people who are naturally pessimistic can just hear someone say "don't sweat the small stuff" and do it. In fact there is a fair few things on that list that from past experience I am very bad at - having a list tell me I can't be happy unless I achieve these things is just setting myself up for failure. A good example would be the first up on the list "don't hold grudges" because "happy people understand it is better to forgive and forget." Hmmm. How exactly can you just forget stuff? I think bad things leave their imprint on you. It's part of what builds you into a well-rounded person. Forgiving sure, but forgetting? Are you maybe just supposed to forget a bit, but not so much that you let someone treat you like crap again? Or is it meant to be a total goldfish thing - each day is brand new and no matter how many times you get knocked down, you get up with a smile? Bullshit. You learn, you get good judgement, you make better choices, you stand up for yourself. You don't forget. You don't have to hate the person who hurt you, but you don't have to just forget and trust again either. Actions always have consequences  The link is there in case you want to read what all the fuss is about - I've included a free pinch of salt.

So these things got me thinking. What would I include in my life list. The most important things I want to pass on, to live by myself, to time travel back and say to past me. This is what I came up with:

1. Right now you are the youngest you will ever look again. Enjoy it!

2. Where education is concerned try not to close any doors. You should enjoy the journey, but it's taking you somewhere. Know where.

3. Seeing both sides of an argument is great, but sometimes you need to stand up and say "No. This is wrong."

4. Remember your regrets. Learn from them. It will be incredibly hard to forgive yourself. Don't ever stop trying.

5. Your beliefs may have changed a million times, you may have been wrong a million more times. That doesn't mean you should stop having an opinion.

6. No matter how much you respect someone, don't trust blindly. Think, question, reason, make up your own mind - you have to take responsibility for you own actions.

7. The things that will keep you up at night are the times you didn't show compassion. Be kind.

8. If you don't laugh, and laugh hard at least once a week, something in your life needs changing.

9. do you remember the people who told you at primary school that "everyone is best in the world at something"? They were wrong. It is not even vaguely realistic that every single person on the planet can be the best in the world at one thing. Unless you are stupidly specific like - you are the best sister to your brother, or the best carer for your cat etc. This doesn't make you the best sister, or the best cat-carer in the world. It doesn't matter. You don't have to be the best in the world, you just have to live life to the best of you ability.

10. Having a happy life means focusing on lots of different things / people as important. It means you may never live up to your potential in any one area. This doesn't make you a failure.

11. Don't question things that bring you peace, cherish them.

12. Nobody wants to live squashed up in a box of rules and expectations. Don't feel guilty for wanting to be free, allow your family and friends to be a part of your freedom.

13. Just because you can do your clothes up, doesn't mean they fit.

14. Have faith you will eventually reach the place you long for.

15. Very few of you life decisions have been wholly negative, remember how unexpectedly positive things can (eventually) be.

16. You know life is short, don't let that panic you into rushing. You are not an under-achiever you have better timing than you think.

I'm only 30, it's a work in progress.

I nearly forgot this awesome list  I saw a month back on Turkey with stuff in's blog. It has a lot of short but coherent life lessons. I'm surprised how goal orientated a lot of my list is, I guess that is my current preoccupation so that's why!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Trust and Lies.

I've noticed recently, that I seem to lie to my kids a lot. Here are some recent examples:

 "Mum, does this have onions in?"
Instead of saying "of course it does, it would taste crap without onions, it's always had onions in and you've been eating them for years. Ha ha."
I say "err I don't remember..."

 "Mum, where are you?"
Instead of saying "I'm in the next room blind child, I walked past you precisely five seconds ago and ruffled your hair."
I say "I'm on the moon!"

 "Mum what's this red circle with a dot in the middle of it on the pavement?"
Instead of saying "I have no idea, a workman's idea of original graffiti maybe?"
I say "It's a magic spot, and if you stand on it and say the magic words you get shot into outer space. I don't know what the magic words are though..." And consequently have to wait ten minutes every time we walk past the red spot while both children stand on it with their eyes closed and mutter "magic" words.

 "Mum, my teacher says Santa doesn't exist, it's your parents who put the presents in your stockings. Is that true?"
 Instead of saying "Look, I've got something to tell you... if I could just invent a time machine and go back and never have started this stupid lie that I'm not going to know how to get out of I would!"
I say "Santa only comes to people who believe in him, obviously your teacher doesn't" It disturbs me that I do this.

 I am naturally a really painfully honest person. The boys knew exactly where babies came from the minute they thought to ask. I am an excellent person to go clothes shopping with because I am never ever going to tell you you look good in something when you actually look like a link of sausages. I've been known to apologize to people just for thinking something bad. And yet here I am. Mired in lies. I wish I could see the future. To know if these are the things that are going to stop my children trusting me. At the moment they know (or more accurately, think they know) that I will be honest with them. I have a pretty good track record of explaining things in endless detail until I am really sure they understand.

The Santa thing is the one that worries me most. I know almost everyone does it. But that doesn't mean I had to. The children know I do their dad's stocking, that Santa doesn't come to adults. Would it be really terrible if I put off telling them the truth until they have kids of their own and have to assume stocking duty for their own offspring...??

Friday, May 10, 2013


Sometimes I worry about how my emotions work. I don't think I have standard reactions to things. I don't know if this is caused by some kind of deadening of my feelings from an overload of grief when I was young (you can read about that here if you want) or if it is simply my minds way of protecting itself from the endless horrors that happen in the world. So for instance reading the recent news stories about children who have been kidnapped, I think (not feel) how horrific they are, but I don't exactly empathise - it makes me more paranoid with the boys, I do that thing more where I see the worst case scenario in my head and panic if they are out of my line of sight for more than thirty seconds - a daily occurrence due to their love of bike riding and an inconvenient tree that obscures part of the path - but I just don't feel it when I read this stuff. When I watch the news, shouldn't I be shedding tears at the bombs in Syria? the famine in Somalia? I really don't want these things to be happening, but I'm not in anyway fired up with righteous anger / deep compassion / any other more appropriate emotion.

I was chatting with a friend the other day about that period of time after you have your first child. That bit where all the baby books (and plenty of people too) say you fall deeply, madly desperately in love with your child. Neither of us got it. What we got instead was a 110% percent knowledge of how if anything happened to these tiny perfect beings our lives would be over. It wasn't quite what either of us was expecting. It was certainly an extremely strong feeling, but not the euphoric sea of happiness we'd both been counting on.

I read this blog post about depression yesterday. It is pure genius. If you or anyone you know has severe depression read it read it read it. I do not have depression. I did suffer from it for a while, but I was one of those "lucky" depressed people whose depression is caused by an actual problem. One that hasn't been talked about for way too long. It took me a couple of years and counselling three times a week to talk through everything I needed to, but now, ten years on I can honestly say it is a memory. However I remain an occasionally "depressive" person. I have a much stronger sense of mortality than just about anyone I know. I struggle to see an end if I am sad. There are times when I just have to shut down and disappear into a trashy novel so the world doesn't overwhelm me. Sometimes I just hate to be touched - I have to give a lot of myself to the family in daily life, and sometimes my personal space can really feel like one demand to far. It's part of the reason we live by the sea. It calm me. I mean really alters me - just driving down there ı get a buzz of excitement in my tummy, if I am feeling especially down then I sit by the sea for an hour or two I can remember myself again.

The thing I have noticed recently is that stuff does make me feel, but it's not bad stuff that does so, it's happy stuff.  Below are some videos I have watched over the last few months that helped me remember I am connected to the world, I do care, I am glad these people exist - they gave me happiness in a crying with emotion way.

A wedding proposal: the love, the community, the care, just wow. My husband watched it and had the same reaction as me. The guy who made it - Isaac Lamb - did another pretty awesome one called "say yes to love".

The woman who put someone else's trash in the bin.

Some people who benefited from 'pay it forward' - you have to click on this link because I can't work out how to in-bed them if they aren't from you tube
The "life together" sequence from Disney-Pixar's UP
The reaction in the New Zealand Parliament after gay marriage was legalised.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Friday, May 3, 2013

How to buy a house in Fethiye (and maybe the rest of Turkey too)

Turkey is one of those places where nothing is set in stone. There are laws, mostly good ones too - but when you try to find out exactly what those laws are you run in to trouble. Everyone has a different answer, and I don't just mean random people you ask, I mean even if you go to the official government department relevant to your query you can get a different answer from every person working there. So this is how we bought a house in Fethiye, if you buy a house here in Fethiye your experience maybe similar-ish. If you buy one somewhere else in Turkey it will probably only be a very distant cousin of the process I went through. Important note: we were on a budget, a very very tight one.

Step 1 The search:
 An obvious place to start your search would be google. You might type in something like "property in Fethiye," or "real estate Fethiye" - you'd get lots of hits and think you were on a roll. The problem with this is that you are only going to get results from agents. As with most every country in the world, it is cheaper to buy from an actual person - check out Sahibinden - this link will take you through to the English version of the site. "sahibinden" means from the owner - some of the house are, some aren't. The real estate agents have the bonus factor that a lot of them can speak some vague semblance of English. If you go directly to the owner you will almost certainly need someone Turkish to speak for you. This may sound daunting, but here's the thing if you are wanting to move to Turkey you need to get used to things being in Turkish. Everything is. You can pay for translators, you can make some friends at a bar and get them to help you out, you can trust to luck that there will be an English speaker around whenever you need to do something: but essentially you need a plan for dealing with life in a foreign country. This is just the first step. The bonus of doing it now is that houses from owners are often 10 to 20,000 lira cheaper than those offered by real estate agents - seriously it is worth making the effort.

Note, I haven't found estate agents distrustworthy, but I have found them to often be very poor at their jobs, you can read about that here. If you do feel safer with a real estate agent check out the views and reviews on this forum, and if you are adverse to any type of risk at all the guy who set up this forum also has an estate agency - he is by all accounts totally trustworthy and generally awesome. Husband and I did not feel the need to be ultra safe, as we trusted ourselves to spot the charlatans (more on that later.)

Alongside sahibinden, milliyet emlak is a good one to check out, though the English version often seems to have kinks in (note. if you use the google-english-translate function it converts the prices by simply swapping the TL for a pound sign - this is not accurate.) For properties being sold by English people check out the local classifieds, and the fethiye buy-sell-rent group on facebook.

A note about property in Turkey - there are a lot of new houses. New is by no means a guarantee of quality, but they sure look pretty! Every year more new houses are built, they are even prettier! This means that if you bought a new house, then want to sell it only a few years later, unless you have done magical things with it, or are in a really really good location, it will almost certainly have dropped in value. English people (apologies for the sweeping generalisation) by and large, don't get this - it took me a while to get it. Your home will eventually go up in value (provided you didn't pay silly money for it to start with) but if you are looking for a quick turnaround study the market and remember people like pretty things. Ten years is a lot more viable time frame to make money on your property. Anyway the point of this - if you buy from English people they are often pricing their properties a lot higher than a Turkish person would in the same situation,partly for this reason and partly because English people seem to end up paying more to start with. Houses are cheaper in Turkey, a lot lot cheaper than the UK, don't just settle for "wow this seems cheap!" it is but check it is a good price for Turkey, not the UK.

During the summer season house prices go up because a lot of tourists (both Turkish and foreign) are buying, the cheapest time of year is winter.

Step 2 The viewing
Surveyors are not a thing in Turkey. When a bank grants you a mortgage, they may or may not come to see the property. Sometimes they swing by and count the bedrooms, but mostly they just check the set value of you property on their computer and say how much they will lend based on that. This means you need to be the surveyor. Check the windows (often badly fitted,) check for dampness and humidity (endemic in Fethiye) - look for new paint, mould, weird smells, bring a humidity tester with you. Check to roof space - a lot of rooves leak, if it is an apartment you still need to find out about the roof because it is often considered a communal charge. Best of all ask the neighbours - find out how the drainage is, if there has been flooding etc etc. Furniture is often included in the sale price - the houses on sale are usually summer homes and people don't want to pay shipping on stuff they already have. Buying things new in Turkey is expensive. Buying things second hand is very cheap, so bear that in mind when negotiating - you are doing each other a favour.

Note: it may seem like a good idea to ask the owner why they are leaving, you could do this I guess but people lie, especially if they are leaving because the sewage pipes keep overflowing. Neighbours are a much better bet, as is the previously mentioned calis beach forum - a lot of the members are long time residents / visitors to Turkey and have the gossip on all the different apartments and areas.

You might also want to call in people to check things individually - plumbing is frequently botched, electricity boards equally frequently have too-small fuses. This group is a good place to check to find people who can help with that and generally ask questions

Once you have seen a place, ask for a copy of the Tapu - house registration document / deeds - and take it along to the council offices to be vetted. Make sure the sellers name matches the name on the Tapu. Make sure the building has building permission. This is an ongoing cheat to both Turks and foreigners who buy houses which are illegal, you can still buy them, but they should cost a lot less. You should also bear in mind that it might be possible to get house building permission, but then again it might not be. It is extremely rare to be able to build a house larger than 25% of the land size, and usually it's 15%, if it is farm land it is never more than 10% and more likely 5%. Some land it will never be ok to build on. Some the people who live on the land have been paying taxes for it and living on it, but the land is not actually "residential," - what they are actually selling you  is the right to have first refusal to buy the land when the government re-zones it to residential or tourist areas. It's dicey, but might be worth the risk if you are willing to accept that you might not be able to afford the land price later, and might lose your home at an unspecified point in the future (like paying all your rent in advance.) We considered a few properties along these lines but in the end went with a fully legal one. The land registration people will be able to tell you all the details about you house and the plot it stands on. They will also tell you if the house has a mortgage / bad debt - make sure this is paid off before you sign the land deeds or it could be transfered to you.

Another thing to check is the electric - ask to see a bill. There are several different types of electricity supply in Turkey - the two most prevalent are residential and construction. When you build a house you use construction electricity. This is more expensive. A property has to be converted to residential electricity with five years of completion. It costs a chunk of change to  do so and if you don't you face a hefty fine. Note: if you do buy a property both your water and electric meters have to be purchased from and installed by the official water and electricity companies - this can be confusing as every hardware store sells them. They are not official, they are just to help people split up bills if they divide their houses, don't get caught out, the fines are astronomical, have something insane attached to them like a 500% interest rate and are just so not worth it!

Step 3 The haggle

If you want to haggle you need to study the market. Our budget was very tight, so properties we liked and could afford were not plentiful, it took us over a year to buy. The one we eventually got  had been on the market the whole time I was searching, (and for a while before that) by the time we went to see it, the seller was very ready to drop his price. A lot of the properties are on the market for a very long time. There are a few reasons for this: sometimes people are just "trying their luck" - they don't really want to sell, but if they got their (outlandish) asking price they'd happily leave - sometimes they do and then all the prices in the area go up for a season or so before people realise it was just a fluke and come back to earth. Sometimes people got a bargain purchase and have put it straight back on the market at a higher price. There is one I keep seeing in the property pages at the moment, we looked at it when it was on for 90,000tl - someone bought it, did nothing, and it is back on for 150,000tl! But the main issue is the selling season is short, there is plenty of choice, but not plenty of customers. I don't think houses are a thing you should rush into, be honest about your last price and leave your number with the seller, they may well get back to you at the end of the summer if it hasn't sold and they are comfortable taking a lower price.

Step 4 The purchase process marathon. Inc. steps to help you not get ripped off.

Note: this is not legal advice, I am not a lawyer, consider this a part of the extensive research you should do before committing any part of your savings to property investment.

From this point on for most everything you will need: passport photos (get a stash of 20 to keep you going,) a Turkish bank account, a Turkish tax number, your passport.

If you are foreign and want to buy a property in Turkey you have to have military clearance. This takes somewhere between six weeks and six months (sometimes longer, so far as I know never shorter.) This is also the only part I did through a real estate agent. They charged me 300tl to fill in the forms and process them. I used Apple Estate and have no complaints.

This is where things get tricksy - if you are Turkish you (obviously) don't have to get military clearance and the whole buying a house process can be done in a day. Really, just a day - once your clearance is through it will take one busy morning and you'll be all done. So if you buy from a Turkish person then having to wait an indefinite amount of time to close the deal and get the full house money can be irksome to say the least. Here is how we got around it. When we bought a house the owner had a mortgage on it (buyer beware - you can sell on a house with a mortgage, and the mortgage gets transferred too - the government has plans to change this but so far as I know it hasn't been done yet.) Anyway, he was especially anxious to pay off his mortgage (frightening 10% interest rate) - so we paid it off as our deposit. In return he gave us a cheque to the value of what we had paid. Cheques are different in Turkey to the UK, they are a legally binding contract. You get them individually from the bank and they have to be witnessed, if someone tries to cash one they can not be defaulted on without legal proceedings. He also gave us the house keys. We moved in and finished the process when my clearance came through. You might want to get a lawyer to hold the cheque for you (or the seller might want this) - ours trusted us not to cash it in.

You can of course go to a lawyer and get a contract drawn up instead stating what you are paying, at what stages, when you get to take possession of the house etc. We looked into this, the lawyer wanted 300tl, but the notary who would have to stamp the contract to make it official wanted 1500tl. We found the cheque method simpler - at the end of the day if the seller got a better offer and dumped us we were sure to get our money back. Him also giving us the keys was semi-unusual, he wasn't living in the property and didn't mind us going straight in. The seller knew he'd get the rest of his money because of course we couldn't get the land deeds without his signature - and he wouldn't sign anything unless he'd been paid.

I don't know the process in the UK, I think buying a house can take 3 months or so there anyway, so maybe a British seller would be more sympathetic to the military clearance issue. I don't know what kind of deposits people usually give in the UK either, I guess if you are both British you work out your own system of trust and security how you are used to.

So once your military clearance has come through the seller has to make an appointment at the Tapu office. You need to have dask in place before you go to this. Dask is compulsory earthquake insurance. Anywhere you see the word "SIGORTA" (insurance) will do it for you - the price is set by the government, currently around 110tl. So take that, your photos, passport, tax number and go to the appointment. The seller will be handing similar documents in to. You hang about while they process this and then they give you a form with a code for going to pay the property tax - around 4% of the registered price of your house. You do this at Ziraat bank - you can go in of use the special cash machine that accepts money. It is split between the buyer and the seller, the seller pays a little more. You get a receipt, return to the tapu office, hand it all in and half an hour later they are ready for you to sign stuff. In Fethiye you need a translator present for this - the office will give you a number of one of their registered people (an English speaking friend won't do, even if you speak Turkish, as I do, you still need a translator.) They read out the details of the sale - you should already know exactly what you are getting if you have thoroughly checked the Tapu - you say ok, sign your name, and they give you your land deeds.

Note - the amount you pay for your house may be different from the council-set price written on your tapu. This is normal. Ours was almost the same but that is unusual. If (heaven forbid) your house is destroyed by an earthquake your dask insurance only covers you up to the value of the amount on your tapu. If the price is really really different - you might want to do a bit more market research, these days the price shouldn't be that much lower. You have to get the current value from the land office - whatever is written on the current tapu is out of date within a year.

This was my experience and how we dealt with it - if you have more information, have done a blog post on the same subject please tell me / link it in the comments.