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Real Property or Unreal Property?

Updated on October 5, 2009

When it comes to finance...

...I'm about as knowledgeable as my cat. But here's a cool cat photo anyway since articles look better with a picture. Robert A. Sloan
...I'm about as knowledgeable as my cat. But here's a cool cat photo anyway since articles look better with a picture. Robert A. Sloan

What Is Real Property?

I actually check PayPal policy updates. The last thing I want is for something I routinely use my PayPal for to come up prohibited and get blacklisted, or lose all the money in my PayPal to it being tied up in a dispute, not to mention being unable to use the service till it gets sorted out and socked with enormous fees that I couldn't afford.

So when I checked them recently, some made sense and one stood out blazing with incomprehensible confusion. Highlight that with psychedelic colors for apparent irrationality.

Amendment to the PayPal Acceptable Use Policy

Effective Date: October 14, 2009

Beginning October 14, 2009 the PayPal Acceptable Use Policy is being amended in Section 3 (c) to add the purchase of real property as a prohibited activity.

This left me with the burning question, What Is Real Property?

You can't follow a rule if you don't understand it. Am I violating this one if I sell my toaster on eBay? Am I violating it by making a payment on a painting I'm buying? The toaster or the painting are real things, real property, right? Is this some rule against using PayPal for real estate transactions but they used a weird way of saying it that would only make sense to a lawyer or a banker?

I'm neither a lawyer or a banker. In fact, the caption on the photo is absolutely true. I'm about as knowledgeable about finance as my cat. A little more articulate and I can type fast, taking down information I got from the phone or writing emails, which is what I did.

After all, it might be pretty hard to come up with the scratch to finish paying off all the rest of the payments on the painting I'm buying before October 14th... or inconvenient to have to continue them by mailing checks to the artist instead of just sitting at the computer doing PayPal. I've been paying $1.75 a month on that painting to be able to stay in at my computer instead of walk all the way down the driveway to the mailbox with an envelope that has a check for her.

That convenience has been worth it because I've got mobility problems, especially in bad weather. It's been raining a lot lately and my arthritis is going off like gangbusters in my spine. Definitely a season to stay in the squashy armchair and not get penny-wise, pound foolish.

So I contacted PayPal using their site.

The Quest for Answers...

My first email go-round resulted in a polite request to give them the URL where I found the Policy Update. The email answerer said the last update was in June. She also gave me directions for how to find Policy Updates on PayPal: log in to your account, go to the upper right, read the links and click on Policy Updates. 

On a netbook, that is not top right. Top Right is the search bar, next to it are links for Log Out, Help and Security Center. So looking down from that, next to the tabs and not on any of them,but in a black on a level with your account information or whatever you tabbed to is Notifications, which has two entries. Explore the New Account Overview and History, followed by the self explanatory Policy Updates.

The same way I did when I did not get confused following the directions, I roamed over the whole page, found it and clicked on Policy Updates, once there I clicked on the URL, copied it and sent it off to her.

The next email that I got this morning told me to use the phone system in great detail, including how it was free for Business and Premier accounts. I couldn't remember if I had either but I used the number provided.

I got a phone menu that at least didn't expect me to respond at the speed of a skilled medical receptionist to tap numbers into the keypad, I could respond with voice. But I needed to have my debit card or bank account number handy so they could identify my account before any process and then wound up hearing my current balance before I finally got into a menu where "Questions on Policy Updates" was not one of the options on either the main menu or More Options.

This is the point my fibromyalgia began to flare. I don't function well on phone menus. I have since found out that my losing my temper at them isn't something limited to fibromyalgia fog. It's something that happens to anyone who isn't a trained office-geek phone receptionist used to maneuvering phone menus every day a good hundred times a day.

Most people do not have all those numbers to hand instantly and then the reflex of using a keypad accurately to tap in sometimes quite long numbers without hesitation. Inevitably any attempt to input numbers results in the computerized menu whining "I don't understand that" or just repeating its request like a dumb robot.

So in panic I clicked 0. 

On some systems, this will get you into the track to get a live human being who can understand a question that wasn't on the menu. 

Happily, the PayPal system is one of those systems. I'll remember this and bang 0 the first time I hear the computer's cheery recorded female voice. Machines that sound like they run three miles before getting their morning decaf and unsalted oatmeal should be shot.

Alvin answered. Alvin sounded young but helpful, was very polite and patient. I explained that yes, I am a little hard of hearing and have some health problems, so Alvin spoke up well after that and didn't mumble off into levels I couldn't hear over the HEPA filter in my art studio/writing office/bedroom..

First, Alvin did know about the rule. Alvin had the screen up and reflected the question accurately to me -- quoted the policy update. I explained that I needed to know what Real Property is because I could not comply with a policy I didn't understand.

The answer surprised me, but shouldn't have. It's probably a legal term and it's one of those "blackwhite" bits of legal-corporate phraseology that's completely counterintuitive.

PayPal's Definition of Real Property

I don't quite have this verbatim because I'm not that perfect a typist, but I think I've gotten down the relevant specifics of what Real Property means to PayPal.

Transactions associated with annuities, lottery contracts, offshore banking or transactions, to finance transactions funded by your credit card. They can’t process it.

That’s all it means. Those are Alvin's words. They make sense.

So in essence, Real Property includes a specific list of some unreal property, types of transactions that involve moving money around as money and don't touch on physical or tangible goods at all.

Like your Lottery winnings can't be routed through PayPal, those have to go through the bank first and you can't use PayPal to sell your lottery contract for a lump-sum payment. You can't use an annuity to back up your eBay purchases, you have to actually get a payment from it into your bank and just rest PayPal on your bank if your PayPal balance won't cover it. You can't use an offshore bank to be the main bank on your PayPal account.

Now that I know what it is, the rule does make some sense. It's something about the limits of what they can process and difficulties dealing with lottery commissions and annuity lawyers. Those all sound like big players who can avoid payments easily and tie PayPal up with very expensive lawyers on huge transactions that are risky ones -- like using your credit card to buy and sell stocks on your line of credit, about as unreal property as you can get.

There are people who do this sort of thing and stay on top of it.

When they fall, they do it in spectacular ways and I'm sure this is a sign that PayPal is responding to things like Madoff and guarding itself from large transactions it can't collect on as easily as tapping an ordinary eBayer's bank account for buying a toaster that went higher than their current balance. They don't want to hear that the offshore bank has been tapped out or that the numbered owner moved it all into a different account they don't have access to. Or maybe the offshore banks are giving them a hard time on collections.

Whatever it is, it wasn't what it looked like -- I don't have to stop using PayPal to make payments on The Red Bucket by Pat Isaac, which is utterly beautiful and as real as it gets, a tangible unique original work of art created by a living genius who will never be able to duplicate it, or even be tempted. Her current WIP The Blue Bucket is so awesome it tempted me too! It doesn't mean that I couldn't sell my toaster.

It just means what it does, and deals with specific classes of something that in my head is Unreal Property, the deals in the upper range of shuffling large money around and taking financial risks at the arterial level where goofy accidents and real crooks can destroy hundreds of lives and ruin thousands of people per mishap. I'm not in that class.

I think I'll go back to buying my painting, petting my cat and be glad that I'm an author. At least my unreal property when complete turns into a tangible paperback you can buy with your beer money, own and reread whenever you like without breaking your bank even if you really like it enough to give copies to all your friends.

Epilog: My 100th Hub!

I've been on HubPages for a year and some months. In some periods of frantic activity I've done HubChallenges and thrown in 30 or 40 Hubs in a pretty short time over a month. Other times I went months without doing new ones, but always came back if I found a topic I liked or was just bored and felt like doing an article on something that wasn't Oil Pastels. I love my Oil Pastels website, but when I want to write on watercolors, colored pencils, novel writing or life in general, HubPages is where I come to do it.

So this is a little personal milestone to share with you HubPages readers and writers -- it's been fun and I'm sticking around. Maybe now I can think of myself as a regular around here, 100 Hubs is a pretty good pile of finished articles.

Enjoy. I will have real art in the next one probably, just haven't done today's art and the topic didn't lend itself to pretty landscapes or still lifes of rocks.


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    • robertsloan2 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from San Francisco, CA

      Yeah. It's actually a relief that it's just dealing with lottery contracts, annuities and financing debt with your credit cards. They're probably covering their rears against upper level financial chicanery and that I do not object to at all.

    • Paradise7 profile image


      9 years ago from Upstate New York

      Congratulations on your 100th hub! What an achievement. You know, I thought "real property" referred to land or buildings. Not to PayPal, I guess.

    • robertsloan2 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from San Francisco, CA

      Thanks, Pat! Yay for your Nanowrimo! Are you on Twitter? If so, give me your twitter handle because there are a lot of participants already tweeting at #nanowrimo. I found that Twitter beats all for where to post progress during the 3 Day Novel Contest, because it takes less than a minute to tweet progress. Rather than 20 minutes to a half hour blogging what happened in the chapter, it's great for fast wordcount and maybe an announcement like "I killed my main character!"

      Loads of fun. Definitely join by November if you haven't, since it's a big timesaver. I'll probably only LJ the day's total and use tweets for scene and chapter progress.

      Definitely creepy that Real Property means Unreal Property, transactions that are pure money-shuffling and do not involve any real objects or products. Give me tangible goods and real services and I'm happy.

      Les Trois Chenes, I did suggest to the PayPal phone representative, Alvin, that they should post that definition in the Policy Update knowing a lot of people will be as confused as I am. People who might stop using PayPal to sell on eBay if they just go with what they think Real Property is. They'll lose some customers if they don't -- anyone too cautious who stops buying and selling tangible products.

    • Les Trois Chenes profile image

      Les Trois Chenes 

      9 years ago from Videix, Limousin, South West France

      How amazing. I would need a 100 years to follow up all the terms I don't exactly understand in contracts. I would never have guessed that Real Property meant that. Why don't Pay-Pal list those items? Now, what is Real Estate? (I think this really is real property!)

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Congrats on your 100th hub and your one year anniversary Robert! I'm really glad you are here. You really have a distinctive voice and I love your artwork. Also, I am still on for NaNoWriMo next month, thanks to you. I'm looking forward to it.

      I've wondered off and on about Pay Pal and banking regulations--like, are they subject to laws meant to prevent money laundering and so forth? Are there countries they can't do business with or can people in Iran use Pay Pal too? Naturally I've never bothered to look for those! But I've always wondered.

      That is so bizarre--Real property is unreal property. War is peace. And so forth. God, it's too creepy. Thanks for an interesting hub. Glad you finally got an answer.Than in itself is a huge accomplishment. :)


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