Man am I excited to finally be writing this post.
Yep, after six long, painful, frustrating, maddening, inexplicable months, we finally freaking sold our old house! We closed on Friday, so it’s really real this time.
“Wait, what?” I can hear some of you asking. “I thought you sold it already?!?”
Nope. Astute readers should recall that we thought we had a deal the day we moved into this home, but it fell through over some complete bullshit and we had to go back on the market. After that we were pretty disheartened and I decided not to write about that house again until we sold it. Little did I know…
For the past six months I’ve been over there about once a week mowing the yard, maintaining the other landscaping, cleaning gutters, checking through the house to make sure it was ok, and turning lights on and off before showings. That 10 minute drive came to be filled with a lot of bitterness as the weeks and months piled up.
I won’t give you the whole story, but our realtor warned us when we went back onto the market that July and August were always the slowest months. True to his word, we barely had any showings in those months. I remained confident: it was a nice house in a great neighborhood and the market was strong. We would sell. S, on the other hand, was very bitter after the initial offer fell through. Despite our realtor’s warnings, she couldn’t understand why we weren’t getting showings. She would spend her evenings scrolling through listings in our area and watching as other homes dropped off. “What are we doing wrong?” was her constant question. I was there to keep her steady and remind her it would happen eventually.
Our realtor said the market always comes back after school starts. But he did say some years that happens on August 1, others after Labor Day, others not until October. August was barren for us. September picked up a little, but no offers came. The feedback was generally positive, and we know we finished second at least three times over the fall. A lot of folks struggled with the size of our basement – it was small – and the number of trees in our lot, which our realtor told us not to touch. “If they don’t want trees, they can cut them down after the buy it. You can never put them back in, though.”
October rolled around and I was still cautiously optimistic while S was beside herself that we were still sitting on that home. In the middle of the month we had a showing and a week later got feedback that the people had high hopes for it, but were disappointed when they walked through and decided to buy another house in our neighborhood. That other house, to be fair, showed a little better than ours. But it also didn’t have a single update to it, where ours had a new kitchen, new master bath, new kid/guest bath. All the complaints they left on their feedback would cost less to fix than what they would have to put into the house they bought in order to get it to the 21st century.
This is when I lost it. I got pretty angry for a couple weeks. I stopped reading the feedback emails because I couldn’t deal with them anymore. With winter coming soon, I saw us hanging onto the house for a full year with it being empty.
We discussed finding a renter, but decided against that for a variety of reasons.
The first weekend of November our realtor came over to talk strategy. He said if we hit January he wanted us to close the house and winterize it to prevent mechanical issues. When we asked about taking it off the market and re-listing later, he said the home would have to be off the market for 90 days to reset the listing. We agreed that if we hit December 1 without an offer, we would take it off, winterize it, and try again in March.
When he left it was really quiet in our house for awhile. We could not believe we were even having this discussion. Remember, our next door neighbors had listed their house in early May, got two offers in 48 hours, and accepted one over their asking price. We decided to be aggressive on asking price because of that. Between the early fall-through and some other homes coming in the market in that neighborhood quite a bit lower, we ended up dropping our price three times, which was a total bitch.
About a week after that conversation we had a good run of showings. Our realtor was out of town but sent us a message one Saturday that he expected an offer on Monday. We had a showing scheduled for Sunday, so S and I went over for our fall ritual of blowing leaves and cleaning gutters. While I was running the mower in the side yard, I saw a woman with a stroller come up and talk to S for about 10 minutes. That was a little weird; it was 10:00 on a Sunday morning, it was about 33 degrees, and the lady had parked down the street. When she left S came over and told me the woman had said they were looking at houses in the neighborhood and decided to come take a walk around and ask people questions. S told her how long we had been there, how we bought it with no kids and moved out with three, how our girls loved the ‘hood, how safe it was, etc. We wondered if she was the showing later in the day.
Monday rolled around and I was hopeful to hear something from our realtor. But when I hadn’t by noon I figured once again the interested party had decided to go a different direction.
About an hour later he sent the offer over. And it was from the woman who had talked to S. She and her husband had been in the house three times that week, including the Sunday showing! We did some back-and-forth and agreed on a price on November 13 with an expected closing date of December 14. There was some excitement in our house that day! The girls knew we had an offer and were negotiating. C was first to get in the car after school that day and asked, “Did we sell the house!?!?” I held up a finger and waited for M and L to get in. Then I told them. They all screamed, C high-fived me, and we had a really good moment. Remember, these were the three girls who were in tears the day we moved out of that house.
Of course, we sweated the inspection, since that’s what blew up our first deal. Shockingly all the gigantic red flags the first inspector threw up did not come up this time. Asshole. We did have to fix some things, but that was to be expected in a 27-year-old home. The deal was on and the buyers were asking to move closing up. “Hell yes!” was our response.
So Friday I went in to sign away the home. Unfortunately the buyers had to reschedule and came in a couple hours after I did, so I was unable to meet them. S really liked the wife from her 10 minutes talking to her that morning in November. We took our girls over to the old neighbors’ Saturday morning to make Christmas cookies and they had met the couple the night before and confirmed they seemed really nice. That gets lost a little in these things, since you end up being so focused on the money. But it made us feel good to sell to some people who seem nice and will fit in with the people who love who still live around them.
So Friday afternoon was fun. I rushed home from doing my signings and called the utilities and insurance companies to officially untie us from that home. Our realtor rolled in just after 4:00 with a nice check. We finally owned just one home! We took the girls out for dinner that night and started making a list of the places we want to travel now that we no longer have a summer home or a second house we’re trying to sell.
Just in time for Christmas, too!
Listen, we are very, very fortunate in that we were able to handle the financial impact of trying to sell a house for six months, and then having to accept a lot less than we had hoped to sell it for. So I don’t want to make our situation seem dire or worse than people who have real problems.
But it was an incredibly stressful six months. I think S and I did a good job of balancing each other, and picking each other up when we got down. But I shamefully admit there have been a lot of shitty, “Not until we sell the other house!” responses to both the girls and other family members who have asked us about making big purchases, planning trips, etc. There were a lot of nights where we looked at each other and wondered what the hell was going on and what the hell we would do if we couldn’t sell that house. Thank goodness that immense weight has been lifted. Now we can go back to only yelling at our girls only because their rooms are complete disasters or someone broke a brand new glass without telling us rather than our anger stemming from being stuck with an extra piece of real estate.
So that’s our Christmas miracle for 2018. Hmm, I said I wasn’t going to share the whole story, didn’t I? Apologies. But it is 11:53 on Sunday night and I’ve had a Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale and a rather tall glass of Buffalo Trace.
- Yes, someone broke a brand new glass, left it in the cabinet, and did not tell us this weekend. All in an effort to get to the Christmas candy that was next to it. Candy they failed to re-seal making it obvious what happened. No one admitted to it so we’ve banned Christmas candy and cookies for a week. ↩