Misadventures in Real Estate is a humorous six-part series about selling our home. In case you missed it, here are Part 1: Nature Abhors A Vacuum, Part 2: Don’t Bet On The Weather, Part 3: Selling Your House Is Emotional, and Part 4: The Realtor Cam-Oh Yes I Did!
Part 5: Deal or No Deal
After our first deal went down in flames, we began showing the house again and before long, we received another offer. When your house has been on the market for 4 months, buyers can smell desperation on you like bad cologne. The frenzied twirl of the counteroffer dance was interrupted by my annual doctor appointment. I tried to ignore the texts from our realtor but as I sat half-naked on the exam table, my curiosity got the best of me. The buyers responded to our counteroffer with a slight increase and “this is our final offer” caveat. I burst into tears. As if on cue, the doctor walked in.
The good news is, I’ll live. Even my blood pressure, that I thought ought to be through the roof, was okay. Although the offer was $75k less than our original asking price, the grim possibility of not selling the house this year made accepting it the lesser of two evils. The unhappiness over the price soon gave way to relief that chaos would soon end.
The contract went through attorney review with much ado, but was finally signed, allowing the buyers to move forward with the home inspection. The inspector spent three hours examining every nook and cranny, scrutinizing all appliances and mechanicals, and asking lots of questions. It would have been nice if he reset the GFI’s that he popped.
If you recall from Part 2 of this series, I don’t like to waste food. We’re careful to use food before it expires and freeze it for a snowy day. When you live a Boozy Lifestyle as we do, cooking becomes a hobby out of necessity. You need good food to accompany your wine, beer, and cocktails.
We keep an extra freezer in the garage for food overflow, like the free holiday turkey from Acme, or the buy-one-get-one free sale on baby back ribs. Several days after the inspection, I opened the freezer door and was knocked over by a horrific odor. Everything had defrosted, and spoiled meats lay on the bottom of the freezer in a pool of bloody mess. It was so disgusting I almost became a vegetarian (again).
Further investigation revealed that the GFI on the outlet where the freezer was plugged in had been tripped. Although we couldn’t prove it, we were pretty sure this was the home inspectors doing. I had thought it overkill at the time, but now I understand why our southern relations and friends had to throw away their refrigerators and freezers after Hurricane Katrina.
Construction on our new house had been completed a few months prior and we spent our weekends there setting up internet and Fios, buying appliances, painting, mounting blinds, installing light fixtures, and all manner of DIY projects. We slept on air mattresses, watched TV in lawn chairs, and ate at a card table on folding chairs. I think they call this “glamping”.
With the sale of our old house is in progress, we decided to move our furniture to the new house. As noted in Part 1, we have a lot of stuff. To keep the move within a reasonable budget, we had the moving company handle the furniture and heavy items, leaving the small stuff for us to retrieve in the weeks before closing. Moving in the beginning of June allowed us to take full advantage of the beaches and summer events that Cape May County is known for.
Meanwhile, the result of the home inspection produces a list of ten major “repairs” and is, at first, cause for alarm. Our lawyer seems confident to negotiate a credit and home warranty in lieu of their “inspection demands”. The horse-trading continues for several days as we prepare for moving day.
Armed with two large trucks and six movers, the company made quick work of carrying heavy, bulky furniture up and down stairs and loading it into the vans. At the end of a long, exhausting day, we hop in the car to make the three-hour drive to the new house. About halfway there, our realtor calls. At this point in the house selling process, I’ve come to equate calls from our agent with bad news, but this call exceeded my expectations. The deal is off.
It’s evening now and our lawyer has gone home for the day. We spend a sleepless night wondering what went wrong. Can they call off the sale after the contract is signed? Why don’t they want the house suddenly? Can our realtor save the deal?
At about 10 a.m. the moving company arrives to unload the trucks and the pandemonium begins again with six guys jostling furniture and asking, “Where do you want it, lady?” By the time our lawyer has spoken to their lawyer, it’s midday and the only quiet place I can find for a phone call is the master walk-in closet. The official response to backing out of the sale is the inability to find agreement on inspection items. Eventually the truth is revealed that they had changed their minds about two weeks earlier; but their attorney advised them to go through with the home inspection and use it as a legitimate reason to kill the deal. (This strategy wasn’t unfamiliar to us, but we had never been on the receiving end of it.) We’re back to square one.
I drag my sad, depressed self out of the closet and encounter one of the movers saying he needs to show me something. They had broken a leg off our Chinese black lacquer desk. Although it probably appeared to the moving guys that I took the news in stride, I felt too defeated to go ballistic, muttering, “Don’t worry about it. My husband will fix it.”
Several days after the move when things began to settle down, we took a closer look at the broken desk. There had been a botched attempt to fix it with Gorilla glue (I suppose the movers planned to hide the fact that they broke it) that needed to be scraped away before the real repair could begin. Amazingly, my husband made it look as good as new.