Monday, September 14, 2009

taking all the joy out of buying a house

If I could record myself to this post, you would hear HUGE SIGHING throughout. I'm emotionally exhausted just thinking about everything that's been happening since last Tuesday. I mentioned that we found a house. A big house in a great neighborhood with 6 bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms and 3 floors and a little playroom off the kitchen and a tiny, but flat, backyard with a cute little deck and lots of space. Lots and lots of space, which is precisely what has been lacking in our current house.

This house, let's call it pseudo-dream house, or PDH for short, needs work. A lot of work. Lots and lots of painting and sanding and repairing and replastering, and all new kitchen, and 3.5 new bathrooms and basement repairs and general cosmetic work. Clearly, this terrible shape is the only reason we could afford a house like this. I should call it pseudo-dump instead, but whatever, let's be positive about the situation. We haven't had an inspection yet, so we have no idea if anything structural is wrong with it, but we don't have high hopes. In fact, we're scared silly over what might come out in an inspection.

Regardless, we love the house. It is enough space for all of our bedrooms, plus a guest room for our two sets of parents that live out of town, plus an office for Josh, plus maybe even another kid (or two, which is my secret hope). Fixed up, it would be great. Really perfect for us.

Starting last weekend, we decided to make an offer, but a really low offer since all of this work would take the house way out of our price range. It took us all weekend to come up with a number and get together with our broker, so Tuesday morning we made our offer, and within an hour, we'd been back and forth with the seller 4 times. In the end, we stopped bidding because it was happening too quickly, and we were getting too close to our absolute maximum. We took a step away, a day off, and asked to see the house again. In the meantime, the seller offered to repaint the inside and refinish all the floors before we moved in. That would have been a huge expense for us, because we were planning two moves. One move out of our current house and into storage, another move from storage into the house while the floors were being refinished. We finally came up with our absolute maximum and sent him a lovely letter telling him how much we love his home and that this was the most we could afford- really and truly. We were only about $9,000 apart, so we really believed it might actually happen.

And he gave us a big fat no.

No no no. He wanted his $9,000, and he wouldn't move on his price. For 24 hours, we were stalled out here, with much hand wringing and tears and spreadsheets, trying to figure out which kid would fetch the highest price. Finally, we figured out a way to meet his price, and sent our final offer accepting his number.

And he sat on it and hemmed and hawed, and I swear, I know he wanted to ask for more, but he finally said yes. Success! We'd agreed on a price! We drafted up the paperwork and started to send it over and asked for it to be returned to us within a couple hours.

Then the fun really started.

1. First the broker said he was going to a college football game and couldn't deliver the offer. Fine, my broker was happy to drive it over to the seller.

2. The broker said he didn't know where the seller lived and wouldn't be able to find out until tomorrow.

3. Also, the broker said our low offer PUT THE SELLER INTO THE HOSPITAL, and now he was home recovering. He couldn't possibly ask him to sign today while he was resting in bed.

4. Then he decided he wanted to have quotes done on the refinishing and painting and ceiling work he'd agreed to do before he signed the offer. The work he'd already agreed to do, regardless of price.

5. Then he couldn't get us the offer first thing in the morning because the broker likes to sleep in.

6. Also, the seller wanted to change all the dates upon which we'd already agreed.

My broker sat in our dining room on the phone arguing with the seller's broker until a tentative truce was reached and a time of 9:30am was set for Sunday (yesterday) morning. The next morning, on pins and needles, 9:30am comes and goes. At 10:30am, my broker called the seller's broker, who said he was still in bed. Still in bed. Are you feeling my tension yet?

He and the seller had an appointment at 1:30pm and he'd sign it then. 1:30pm comes and goes, and at 2:45pm, my broker calls to ask what the hold-up is, and the broker claims they are working on it but want to talk dates again. My broker says that we'll talk dates after the inspection, at which point I'll ask my buyers to move their closing forward also. At 6:30pm, we still haven't heard anything, so my broker calls and demands an answer.

At this point, I was a basket of nerves. We've been waiting for responses for days, dealing with crazy excuses, and I've taken to doing drive-bys on the PDH to make sure they aren't doing mass showings in the hopes of soliciting higher offers (I am POSITIVE this is what they are doing by stalling). I finally called my broker and told her to tell the seller that I don't care anymore what they do, they can accept or reject the offer, but have the decency to give me an answer once and for all.

When she called to deliver the message, he simply said, "Oh, it's signed already." No phone call, no fax, no email, nothing. And he wasn't even apologetic. She asked for him to fax it, and he said he didn't have a fax machine, so she had to drive over to pick it up this morning.

To add insult to injury, he also flagged the property and put in caps on the listing sheet, "LOOKING FOR BACKUP OFFERS. PLEASE BRING ALL YOUR BUYERS!!!" Complete with exclamation points and everything. Plus, this morning he already lost my deposit check and has made all these ridiculous demands about mortgage letters and the like.

Asshole. My broker is at a loss to explain his behavior, although she has stated more than once that she wonders whether the broker might be on drugs. He's on something, that's for sure.

So all this to say that we do have an accepted offer on PDH, and an inspection scheduled for Wednesday afternoon, and I'm trying to keep my hopes very very low, but you never know. Maybe this will work out and we won't have to rent and we'll be able to do this seamlessly. Ugh, it's a longshot, but you never know, I guess.


Rev Dr Mom said...

WTF? How does that guy stay in business? Good luck! I hope it goes more smoothly from here on out.

Anonymous said...

So sorry to hear this. In our experience brokers want to make as much commission as possible, so maybe he isn't thrilled with getting less than he expected on the house. Ours acted far more in his own interest than in ours. Sorry it's all so stressful and hope it goes more smoothly from here on out.

Yaro | House Painters said...

So sorry to hear about all this trouble. Have you tried offering to take the home as is and doing all of the house painting yourself? Maybe he'd have agreed on your price. Once moved in, you could take the painting in steps (eg one room at a time). He probably wanted to hire a painting contractor which would cost more than you doing it yourself.

Chatty Cricket said...


The End.