So I’ve been on hiatus for a bit. After a couple of crazy months in August and September, turns out we are moving again which brings me back to one of my least favorite things: Adventures in Real Estate! We recently closed on a new house after enduring 4 weeks of ineptitude by the worst mortgage lender of all time. This of course brought back memories of selling our last house which leads us to a 2 part blog entry.
A Tale of Two Real Estates (Part I)
In October, 2009 we put our house on the market so (as it turns out) we could live closer to a meth house. Given the uncertainty of the housing market at the time, we had an appraisal done so we could accurately price it and let buyers know how fairly priced it was (i.e., we probably weren’t going to come down a whole from the appraisal). Amazingly, the first family that looked at it, made an offer. Amazingly, a really low offer. But then they backed out because they thought they might be moving elsewhere.
Fast forward to February, 2010. Things have changed, and that same family made another offer slightly better than the first one. After going back and forth slowly bringing them up on their lowball offers, we dug our heels in with our final counter-offer: take it or leave it. Yet they still countered lower. No thanks. Looked like the end of the deal.
The next day I got a message from their agent who I will henceforth refer to as Dr. Evil, "It’s a new day and after thinking things over, we still have another low offer for you."
“No thanks, see previous statement about our final offer,” I said.
Finally, they agreed to come up to our demands, but I had a sense of foreboding. We received the contract, and there’s a special provision about "roof must be insurable by insurance company of buyer’s choice or will renegotiate." I wasn’t too worried about it, as the roof was fine, but that ambiguity scared me. Plus in Texas, the buyer has 10 days to get out of the contract for any reason whatsoever during which time they can order house inspections.
They arranged an inspection, and we waited for the results. Then waited some more. After three days, (Day 7 of option period), Dr. Evil finally sent us the inspection report and said, "Fix everything the inspection report says needs fixing."
I prepared my best Bill Clinton voice and told our agent, "Okay, because the inspection doesn’t actually say anything about repairing anything. It just lists so-called deficiencies. So we’re done."
But our agent more reasonably demanded that they come back with a real list. And they did; a list of 7 or 8 items. I said we’ll fix 2. But of course there’s all sorts of ambiguity on just when is something repaired, so at agent’s suggestion, we offered them some cash to fix whatever they wanted.
Meanwhile, the inspection report said the roof should be looked at more closely by a roofing expert. So a guy came out and walked across the roof for 30 seconds. He then sent a report that the roof is in great condition, but the shed roof could use replacing and he’d be happy to do it for $800. Our agent asked if we wanted to do anything about the shed roof.
"Hell no! It’s a bloody shed, the doors are in worse shape than the roof!"
On a Sunday, our agent told us the option period would expire at midnight. Dr. Evil called back and wanted us to extend the option period by 2 days so they could get estimates for all the repairs they wanted.
"No way! You guys sat on that report for 3 days!"
Later that night, our agent called and said Dr. Evil said the option period expires on Monday.
"What do you think of that?" she asked.
“Hmm, well, I find it unbelievable that two experienced agents using the same contracts used in every Texas real estate sale don’t know when the option period ends.”
So I googled it myself and found that Dr. Evil was right, which made my agent a liar or stupid.
On Monday, a bunch of repair people came by to get their estimates. Finally, they sign off on us giving them cash. Woo-hoo, it’s a done deal. At the same time, a roofer no older than 15 came out to look at the roof for their insurance company. We are informed later that night that Dr. Evil just sent us a letter from the buyer’s insurance company stating that the roof is uninsurable and the whole front needs to be replaced. She wanted us to call our insurance company.
Our insurance company won’t even look at it unless we file a claim which we had no reason to. Plus their own inspector said it looked great. But since we technically had to re-negotiate the contract, we gave them our terms: sign off or the house goes back on the market at midnight and we’re scheduling an open house for this weekend.
Dr. Evil freaked out. No, they don’t want to back out. They proposed adding $2000 to the purchase price which we would refund to them at closing costing us nothing and that way they can finance their repairs in the mortgage.
Now this ordeal was bad enough but the real stress was coming from the fact we had made an offer to buy a different house in a far away town with the option period closing fast, and we needed to sell our house before we could complete that sale.
Next came a new catch: the roof needed to be fixed (even though it’s not broken) by the buyers before closing for their mortgage approval. Normally I would have said, “why don’t you just go jump off the supposedly shoddy roof”, but we really needed to make this deal work.
Two days later, they had a new plan. The insurance company would let them buy the house as long as they had the roof replaced within 30 days. Fine, but now we won’t sign anything until we see proof from the same insurance company that wouldn’t insure it a week ago. Eventually, we received their insurance binder.
On the next Monday, an older gentleman pulled up in a pickup truck. We thought he was the man coming to pick up our old garage freezer (otherwise we wouldn’t have answered the door.) Nope, he’s the grandfather of the woman buying the house. He wanted to walk through and look at the house. Then he asked if we’d be picking up the pecans from our pecan tree.
Bwah, hah, hah, hah, are you kidding me? That’s the best reason our house sold right then so we wouldn’t have to pick up pecans nor trim the rose bushes!
He said he wanted the pecans. After thinking about it later, the sheer gall of him and his family just pissed me off. I vowed to pick up the pecans and throw them in the dumpster. Hmmm, no wait, that would be too much work. Instead, I’d just walk around and stomp them to bits.
Wednesday morning, I was working in my home office at 9:00 a.m. when I heard a bunch of trucks pull up. I went out and saw a roofing company getting ready to tear our roof apart! I talked to the foreman (who incidentally laughed and wanted to know what’s wrong with the roof, it looked good to him). Finally, I talked some sense into him and they left.
The scary thing is if they had come a day later when I was out of town, they would have put a new roof on. The deal finally did close, and we found out that Dr. Evil was the cousin of the buyer and just wanted to ensure the buyer got a good deal. The buyers did partially replace the roof so that it became multi-colored and looked like crap. But they sold the house and moved out after a year. I’m guessing that by now someone has stuffed Dr. Evil into a wood chipper somewhere.