I'm still young enough to have most of my beliefs based in reality. As she got older, my Irish mom held on to some pretty funky ideas: always leave the oven door open after you use so it won’t dry out. The more mattresses you have on your bed, the better you’ll sleep, because the higher you go, the better the air. Well, you get the point. Seems that I have a lot more Irish in me than I thought. I haven’t blogged because a little voice in my head kept saying, “Don’t talk about anything important until it actually happens.” Thanks, Mom.
Our house was only on the market for six weeks when the magic call came that we had an offer. Six weeks may sound like a very short time, but when you’re in the middle of things it seems like six months. At the time, the feelings we thought we’d feel — the heady rush of being able to pack up and get the hell out of here — simply didn’t register. What the offer meant was that we didn’t have to live in a storefront window and have our lives become disjointed by walking away from work that had deadlines and animals who didn’t understand why they were routinely being rushed into their carriers and driven around the block for no apparent reason.
For a very long time now I’ve based most of my life decisions on two criteria: the emotional and the rational. Usually the rational wins out because at 62 I’ve learned that purely emotional decision-making can cause nothing but heartache unless you’re buying clothes that you can return. On the important stuff you better make sure you’re using the rational. In the beginning of this sale I can say I didn’t stick to my own rules.
The buyers of our house are first timers, young, and watch way too much HGTV. (They should have been watching Animal Planet instead because they would have learned that if you keep poking with a stick, there is a really good chance you’re going to get bit.)
Their amended P&S agreement came to us with more riders than Six Flags. The level of detail was incredible, very educational and oddly offensive. Granted, in this day and age it is crucial for all parties in a real estate transaction to be protected. We get that, and that’s why we really appreciated their lawyer’s level of detail. Our lawyer was no slouch, either — but between the two of them it felt like we were selling a shack on the wrong side of the moon. And this might not make sense, but we felt invisible. And hurt.
There were two paragraphs outlining what we weren’t allowed to leave on the premises. Not only did we not have most of those things, but the assumption that we were hoarders really didn’t sit well. Hadn’t the buyers been in our home? Didn’t they see that we kept a clean house? And didn’t we pass the inspection with flying colors — no pests, no structural issues of any kind? So why were there two paragraphs threatening to kill the deal if we left a can of trim paint in the basement?
Before ever seeing a sales agreement, we did many things to the house because it was the right thing to do. Our handyman found (the hard way) a bee hive under the deck. The buyers’ home inspector missed it. I found the right bee company to remove it, a company who would relocate them and not kill them. It cost us over $300 for a man in a white bee suit to drive away with a bag of very angry bees. We didn’t check the terms of the P&S to see if we were obliged to remove the hive, we did it because it was the right thing to do. And that rider assumed that unless we were forced by law to do the right thing, we wouldn’t.
At first glance it was terrifying, and our impulse was to give them everything, no matter how ridiculous or potentially unwise. We were worried that any pushback would blow the sale, and with it our dreams.
But we steeled ourselves and went through the rider with a fine-toothed comb. Before we talked to our lawyer we redlined anything that seemed risky, greedy or just plain weird. It would have been emotionally hard to walk away, but if the deal fell through we were prepared to pull it from the market, rent it out and walk away.
As luck would have it, the blend of the emotional and rational worked perfectly. There were plenty of risky, greedy and weird demands buried in the language. Our instincts were right. The buyers’ rep caved, and all the petty amendments vanished, just like that.
We signed the final P&S on May 22. On May 23 I sent a letter out to all of my clients informing them we made our plane reservations for mid-June to fly out to find a place to live.
Now I’m sitting here on this sunny Memorial Day morning, drinking my coffee, looking out my office window at a realtor’s sign that reads “SALE PENDING”, knowing emotionally and rationally our lives are about to change for the better.