"Well, actually the bank owns the house."
And I may be wrong to be bugged by this, because perhaps there's something about real estate contracts that I am genuinely misinformed about.
My understanding is that the bank absolutely does not own my house. I own my house. I hold the title to it and to the land.
I also happen to owe the bank a big wad of money. They own a claim to a stream of money from me. They don't own my house - not one percent of it. If something goes wrong with my payments I of course have other property that they can resort to to guarantee that my debt to the bank is fulfilled. That other property is my house, after all (which I own, not them).
Because of the arrangement made so that I could get the aforementioned big wad of money, I agreed to maintain my house up to a certain standard, and to insure it. But that's because the bank needs me to protect their collateral. It's still my property that I'm maintaining (it wouldn't be very useful as collateral if they owned it, after all!).
Dumb stuff, I know. And I know this is what everyone means when they snidely say "well the bank owns the house".
But damn it, that saying bothers me now whenever I hear it!
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