We had a real roller-coaster December and January. Lots of good times with our daughter and grandsons, but also some exciting then disappointing days, during which we dealt with the realtors about the sale of our house. We received an offer on the day before Thanksgiving. It was a low offer, but the potential buyers were very well qualified, and did not have to sell another property to close on ours. It took several days of counter offers to reach an acceptable price. Some people like to haggle. I don't.
I was very worried about getting everything out by their requested closing date of Jan. 10, since we planned on staying in San Diego through Christmas. That tension spoiled much of my holiday spirit.
I know no real estate sale is final until the money is in the bank, but we trusted it would go through. Unfortunately, more than three weeks into the escrow time, the sale fell apart. I'm not at liberty to say why exactly, but their inspectors and engineers had made some ridiculous recommendations, and they wanted an additional $110,000 price reduction to cover earthquake retrofitting and landscape terracing. We hired an engineer and he said very little of it was necessary, but perhaps $11,000 might be a reasonable retrofit proposal, and even that might be a bit high.
On December 23 we released them from the contract, and the house went back on the market.
It was messy and painful.
Needless to say, we were upset.
The day after Christmas, we said our good-byes and headed back to Los Gatos. We were home by midday on December 27.
Our realtors were also away for the holidays. When we talked to them the morning of the 28th, they told us there had been some new interest in the house. By the end of the day they called and told us they had a new offer in hand and expected another the next day.
Wow! Multiple offers!
It turned out that the first offer was poorly written with an inadequate deposit and a low offered price. But the information on the second offer was very encouraging. We did work out a counter for the first, but held high hopes for the second.
I had been a bit sick for several days with a bad cold, and that night I think I overdosed with cough medicine, because I had some really bizarre dreams about meeting the new buyer, liking him a lot and feeling very good about the deal. Instead of being on edge all of the next day, I was quite relaxed about it.
The new buyer really wanted our house. Needed our house. He has kids in the Los Gatos school district and his current home was in escrow and scheduled to close at the end of the month. He previously lost a bidding war on another mountain home, and although the other offer price is not disclosed, a buyer is told when there is a multiple offer situation.
He made an offer $1000 over our asking price. We had reduced our price considerably from our original asking price by that point.
We were delighted and accepted.
This all gave us further motivation to get things cleaned out, which we did. In a way, I was glad the first offer had fallen apart, because there would have been no way we could have done all that was needed before their requested closing date of January 10.
Craig dismantled and sold his beloved high end audio system. I packed and donated my beloved china to a charity. We made a deal with the estate liquidator, A.K.A. the junk man, and he took almost everything else away. Our buyer did buy several things and gave us a certified check right away. I sold my van for a pittance after our last dump run.
But, as I said in the beginning of this post, no real estate deal is done until the money is in the bank and the deed is recorded. We were pretty sure that if this new deal fell apart, another buyer would come along by spring. So it was a good idea to clear out our stuff. We knew we were not going to move back in, but I do think it's harder to sell an empty house than one with furniture.
I have been posting about that process! I'm sure glad that "getting rid of stuff" is done.
The new buyer had until the January 17 to remove all contingencies except for the one about his closing the sale on his home. We breathed a big sigh of relief when they were removed. We were also pleased he didn't ask for a single dollar for fixes.
His closing was another matter. Although it was in contract, the sale of his house was contingent on a sale of a third property. The realtors all told us not to worry, but it did weigh heavily on our minds, particularly when we heard it was a commercial property. We didn't know that until well into the escrow process, but I'm pretty sure knowing it would not have made any difference in our accepting his offer.
On Jan. 20 we allowed him to bring quite a bit of his stuff to the house and put it in our garages. He couldn't move in, but this helped him out. What a day that was! Our junk man finished in the morning, and just as he pulled out, two large trucks and our buyer and his father pulled in. We watched them unload, and I took him and his youngest son for a walk in our forest.
They left, but were going to come back with a second load.
While they were gone, Craig and I took the last van load of trash to the dump, came back and got the Alfa down to the front drive to fill the freshwater tank, and were ready for a trip to town to dump the black and grey tanks. We tried to get out before the buyer came back, but didn't quite make it. It was a bit of a circus juggling two large trucks, the Alfa, the buyer's SUV, and the Accent all on a very narrow windy road, but we did it and all went well. We hoped it would be our last time to the RV dump and back.
But it was not.
On the offer paperwork, the closing for both his and our properties were scheduled for January 24. A week before that, we were told ours could not be until the 28th because of the way banks worked and because of the weekend. We were fine with that.
But his property did not close on the 24th. It seemed there was some sort of problem with the commercial property sale. Instead our buyer's agent presented a request for him to move in as a renter.
Forty years ago that may have been a good idea, but with the litigious society we live in now, we knew it was not a good plan. So we said no, citing the fact that our homeowners insurance was for an owner-occupied residence, not a rental.
On the 26th we received another request stating that he would pay our homeowners insurance, and create a liability release. He is a lawyer. We were not hostile, but did not feel this was to our benefit either, so we again said no, citing the fact that we were still using the house for personal reasons, showers, telephone etc. and did not want a renter.
Of course this was all disturbing. We kept thinking that perhaps we would lose the buyer and have to start over again. I wouldn't mind having an empty house, but the garages and one room were full of his things. No to mention the hot tub in our front driveway!
January 28 came. No closing. Another in and out with the Alfa for tank dumping. Every time we do this we breathe a sigh of relief when she is safely parked at Camp Driveway once again. Every time we hope it will be the last!
On January 28, our Realtor sent us an email saying there was still one issue holding up the closings, but they all hoped to "see some movement" on it by the end of the week!
We were so ready to be out of here! But we went to a movie instead, and I reauthorized the February house payment and Alfa insurance on my bill-pay-plan from my bank. We paid our home owners and earthquake insurance due on Feb 7.
Several people have suggested we should just take off and leave it to the realtor. But we didn't want to do that. We didn't want to have to come back.
I kept hearing that we might get a better price in a few months. But I just wanted to be free of it all.
The stress of these months has done some interesting things to our marriage. We have had more fights in two months than we had in many years. But the stress was also like putting a heavy quilt over someone with a high fever. One wonders if the patient will die or the fever will break.
For us, the "crisis" came one night when we both had a lot of wine. We sat eye to eye and opened some old and some newer marital wounds. We looked at ways we had both been destructive to the relationship, and promised each other we would each try to put things in the past and try to be better toward each other in the future. Instead of just putting up with our differences, we are starting to be more understanding of each other.
We are not enemies. We continue to be stressed, but we are ever so much more together. The fever has broken. The marriage will survive, and on the 31st of January we celebrated our 48th wedding anniversary.
The sale of the house?
Not going well. Our buyer's buyer's buyer has failed to perform and dropped out of the deal. Our buyer's buyer claims to have a backup offer, but as of February 1, we hear that the back-up offer people are in Japan for the New Year and won't be back to sign papers until this week.
We are told that "if all goes well" the new closing "could" be March 18. More than a month away!
So, now you all know why Merikay has not been happy camper these last few months. This is our fifth house, and we have never been through anything as difficult as this before.
I keep telling myself it could be worse. We could have no buyers at all. Our buyer does want the house, and is qualified to buy it.
I am determined to let the house sit empty for as long as it takes.
I'm sure the whole country will hear the corks pop when this is over and we close.