Well, I am pretty sure we have definitely sold our home.
We haven't signed on the final dotted line yet, though we have signed and initialed many, many papers in the last couple of weeks, each one getting us closer to our common goal, transferring ownership from us to them. So, I guess technically it could still fall through, though I know that we and the (potential) buyers are all very serious about it - not that we have been able to meet them yet. The realtors have done a really good job of keeping us separated, as if they are afraid we will strike up a deal behind their backs and cut them out.
I do like what I know of them so far. A young couple, no kids yet - just like Hal and I were when we first bought the house. (I don't really feel like I can call it "our" house any more. I now think of it as "the" house, or even "their" house. I think that's a good sign.) The first offer was respectful, not the 30 or 40 thousand below asking price that I've heard some buyers are trying to pull. They asked for about ten thousand below asking, with closing costs. We countered back with four thousand below and six thousand in closing costs, keeping into consideration that we would still have to pay for the new furnace and air conditioning unit that will be necessary. After the cold winter we had last year with a furnace that only barely worked, I wouldn't feel good about selling it unless we made it right. I won't even go into how sweltering the last few summers were with a swamp cooler that either was on and leaked, or I kept off. It had to be replaced, no question.
So, we had a deal. Or so we all thought.
Then the appraisal came in.
Fifteen thousand below asking price, eleven thousand LESS than what we had agreed on.
Not only were we upset, they were upset also. They were still willing to pay what we had agreed on, even said they thought it was worth it (according to our realtor). The only problem is that the bank didn't see it that way at all. Not at all. And, to add insult to injury, the appraisal will stay on record, making it impossible for any appraisal to come in higher for 6 months. (Thank you President Obama, for the mess and the new guidelines that made this whole thing possible. None of us had any say over the appraiser. Now the bank orders whoever they want AND it was someone who is not even from around here. He told our realtor he was having trouble finding comps, which is basically where the final numbers came from.)
I am not willing to hang in there for 6 more months. Time to cut our losses and walk away. The stress of keeping two houses is too much, especially with warm weather and two yards to keep up. I don't really love yard work. Hal really likes it, but I thought last summer was going to stretch him to the breaking point with everything else he has going on right now.
I guess we are lucky because, according to our realtor, a lot of buyers walk away if a house doesn't appraise for more than they pay, so they feel like they are getting a good deal.
And, (according to our realtor again) we should take comfort in the fact that all houses are coming in way low these days. The only problem is that we bought the house we are in before all the houses were being appraised way low. Basically we're just out of luck.
So, we were back to the drawing board with the offer. Back and forth on the phone from them to their realtor, to our realtor, and back to each of us; Hal on his cell phone and me at home with a sick kid. I kept saying, "Can't we just sit down with them and hash it out in person?" Of course my realtor refused. She is pretty firm on this "no personal contact" idea. My main concern was that our intentions or the tone of our voices might get lost in translation somewhere down the line as we were trying to respectfully negotiate. I was pretty sure that we all had the same final goal, so I don't really feel that the deal was at stake, which was helpful. My stress level was already pretty high at that point.
So, back and forth it went all day. Negotiating and then renegotiating closing cost percentages, who will fix what, what can wait, etc. The final price was pretty much non-negotiable, it was the appraisal price (thank you again, President Obama). Even our realtor said she wouldn't tell a client to pay over the appraisal price.
But, we signed the final offer this morning. Two things for us to fix and a few more things to move out of the house. The tool shed is a whole different story, but one way or another it will get done.
We will move forward. Work on the remodeling here a little slower. Maybe take a little longer to get this house paid off. Not a big deal in the grand scheme of things. We are still where we want to be. We're still going to Disneyland as planned in the spring because I booked the tickets right after the first offer was agreed upon and before the appraisal messed everything up (I knew there was a chance things could fall through). Non-refundable tickets. I don't care. My kids haven't had a vacation for 2 years and I promised they would get one when we sold the house - remember, I called it our "vacation home" because as long as we owned it, we were not going to get a vacation. Austin has only been to Disneyland as a baby, so he doesn't remember it. (Of course he wishes it were Harry Potter World, but I keep reminding him he's not tall enough yet for the big ride. That still buys some time.) I'm excited to go and see him experience it for the first time (that he can remember).
(I guess I really have been stressing out about this more than I have consciously felt. My face has broken out in big boils, like I've only seen one other time - when Hal was put in as Bishop and we knew for two weeks before we could tell anyone. Now THAT was stressful. Not a fun secret to keep.)
I'm extremely glad the problems were with the appraisal and not negotiating back and forth with the new people. This way I'm really only annoyed with some anonymous institution and not my new neighbors, so it isn't personal. I am curious about how much their realtor has told them about US. (If he's like our realtor, they probably know nothing, except for our names.) I hope they don't have any negative preconceptions about us because of the trouble we had coming up with a final agreement.
That could make things rather awkward when we show up on their doorstep with cookies and introduce ourselves as their new neighbors.