Quirks and Complaints
So I went to this reading and came home with a stomachache

What happened with the house

I have to say, I'm sort of losing steam on this topic, if only because it is OVER and we are MOVING ON and I have nine thousand things to put away. But, you know, this is where I remember things and also I know you love the angst. AAAAANGST!

The first thing that happened was that I fell in love with and lobbied hard for a real estate agent who, once he scored our listing, promptly disappeared behind a cell phone and, dare I say it, oftentimes seemed to be representing the buyer. Good one, Me!

The second thing that happened was that we got an offer. Certainly not our best case scenario offer, but probably the best we could hope for and we deemed, and still deem, ourselves pretty damn lucky considering. We did not have to, say, pull our house off the market after a year without any takers. So, let's keep that in mind as I rant and whine my way through the rest of this post.

The THIRD thing that happened was the inspection report and this was, BY FAR, the most difficult part. For me. Because my agent was in California and my husband was in Georgia and I was at home trying to talk on the phone while my kids were clobbering each other in the background. This is also where I started to get suspicious of my agent, because while Twitter, my family, my friends, and the agent's ASSISTANT were thinking that the List Of Demands (as they came to be known) were a bit... persnickety at the very least, HE thought they were typical, normal, no big deal, we can handle it, blah blah blah. HRRMMM.

Eventually we agreed to certain items on the List of Demands and threw money at the rest. We also asked our agent to clarify a few of the items since, after careful and meticulous Poking Around, we could not figure out what the inspection report was talking about. I still have no idea which sink required caulking. And we weren't big fans of the final two items on the list, but our agent said, for the zillionth time, that they were commonplace requests and no big deal. Those things were "professional cleaning" and "final walk through". I had a very frustrating conversation with our agent in which he refused to directly answer my very simple question: "What happens if they don't like our repairs/cleaning at the final walk through?" The most I could ever get out of him was that "there might be tension" but he basically treated me like a neurotic 50s housewife who just needed to be calmed down. In a very smooth and suave way, of course, so that I didn't even notice I was being talked to like a neurotic 50s housewife until after we'd hung up. "They just want to see the house again," he said. "They just want to take measurements."

And we had our own crap to do. Like finding a new place to live. So we made our list of things we had to fix and moved on. We found a house. We scheduled moving dates. We made babysitting arrangements and took off work. We wrangled eight other people into helping us move and oh, we love those people, thank you thank you thank you. We slowly crossed items off the list and since we never really did receive clarification on the confusing items, we just planned to do our best. "There's a language barrier," our agent would say, whenever we asked him if he'd talked to the buyers' agent. (Remember, my assumption that our buyers were recent international student grads, most likely from China, using their honorary uncle as a real estate agent was proved correct.)

SO ANYWAY. We moved. We're looking forward to our closing date and never answering another agent call ever again. I'm sitting in our car in a parking lot waiting for Phillip to outlast the idiots at the U-Haul rental (he did and NEVER AGAIN, U-Haul) when the phone rings and it says "Agent" and because I'm so tired and I don't have all my wits about me, I answer. It's the buyer's agent. (We were using a Google Voice number (I don't know, ask Phillip) for all house-related phone calls and it shows up on my phone as 'Agent' no matter who it is.)

And oh, we have a cheery little conversation. How are things going! How is the move! Are we taking care of the inspection items? Anything a problem? Professional cleaners? Oh good! Lovely! Maybe we can set up a time to meet with the buyers and share our "secrets" about the house! Wouldn't that be cute! Sure! We'll call him back! And OMG YOU GUYS isn't this why I hired a real estate agent in the first place? A full service one? From a giant real estate company? SO I DON'T HAVE TO TALK TO A BUYER'S AGENT?

Later Phillip calls him back and it's not so cheery. He's using his Polite But Firm voice which is never good. He's telling the agent to meet him at the house to specifically point out what is supposed to be fixed, because we're STILL unclear on certain things. Then he's telling him that we're having it professionally cleaned - even though we struck 'professionally' - but we're not having it professionally CARPET cleaned. We did that before we listed. We aren't doing it again. Yes we did too strike it out. We don't even HAVE to have itprofessionally cleaned. We are doing that out of the GOODNESS OF OUR HEARTS. (Actually we are doing it because I am too exhausted to care enough to do it well. And I want to do it well. This is an important point.)

He waits while the buyers' agent reads the inspection contract thing and is duly informed that while we DID strike the 'professionally' we did not INITIAL it. Therefore. We are supposed to have the carpets professionally cleaned. And again I say: isn't this why I hired a "full service" real estate agent? To make sure I initialed things?

The buyers' agent then informs us that the buyers are waiting to sign the papers until after the final walk through. Phillip goes to the house (and does not come home for many many hours) to paint and spot clean and fix up. I stay home and stew. I call my mother. I call Liz. I write blog post after blog post in my head. I skewer my agent in imaginary Tweets. I am livid, frightened and hurt.

HURT! Because, and this should be no surprise, I am taking this VERY PERSONALLY. It has never once occured to me to stick our buyers with a dirty banged up house. I mean, you know how embarrassed I was/am about the patch in the orange wall. I just... I am NOT THAT KIND OF PERSON. I have even given large amounts of thought to the bottle of champagne I plan to leave on the counter, and what I will write in a little note: we hope you love this house as much as we did. I mean, BARF, right? But I'm BARFY not SNEAKY. I am not out to con the buyers and I hate having to be on the defensive about this.

And this is when I mentally/emotionally/physically check out of my house. I'd hoped to go back and have a Last Moment, but I know if I do, I'll just take note of everything Phillip hasn't fixed and obsess over what the buyers will think during the walk through. It's best if I don't even think about it. So I don't. And my rockstar husband handles absolutely everything - the repairs, the phone calls, the potential fall out. I am busy unpacking my kitchen la la la.

Phillip does his last trip to the house late Wednesday night - after the professional cleaning, after the walk through. He says it looks amazing. I feel sad. Overwhelmed. Bummed out.

And the next day we get the call: we've closed. They accepted our dirty carpets. We are done with this whole process. Phillip even agrees to meet with them on Friday morning and I contemplate going with him, but ultimately I have to stay with the kids. And he says it's a good thing I don't go. They're not friendly, they've got a long list of questions and Phillip comes home rolling his eyes.

So I've been thinking about this a lot and part of me is like: GOOD! Perhaps you won't walk into your next Very Big Transaction trying to make friends with everyone. Perhaps you will have a brain and realize everyone is in it for themselves, that no one is on your side, and you need to be aggressive and speak up. You're not 18 anymore, you're a grown up with two kids and a tweaked shoulder from your volleyball game. YOU ARE GETTING OLD. It's ABOUT TIME, is what you are saying to yourself.

But another part of me is like: but I had a strong feeling about these people when I saw them with my own eyes, and then they DID make the offer and they DID buy the house. Maybe it didn't work out exactly the way I imagined it in my sunshiney rainbowed brain. Maybe they didn't have that feeling about ME, that they were supposed to buy this house, from us. I mean, that much is obvious, I think. And I can't blame them. Some of this is cultural, some of it is just plain common sense. It's free to ask! It's a buyer's market! Why not?! So why do I feel sad for them?

Anyway, I have absolutely no intention of falling in love with another real estate agent ever again. On the other hand, I still want to be someone who has bizarro and unfounded Strong Feelings about certain things and gets inadvisably and often regrettably emotionally involved (see: hiring our agent!) I think that is just ME. I think that's okay. I hope to deal with the fall out a little better than I did this time, but I have time to work on that. Right?

We drove back to the house on Sunday to pick up our old neighbor for church. The kids were confused. "We going home, Mama?" And I was confused. There was a big van parked in front of my old garage, and someone else's stuff was being hauled inside. I'm not sure I was ready to see that.

Then again, this house? This new old house with three bedrooms and a fun yard and a kitchen full of windows? It already feels like ours, like this is where we are supposed to be. I have Strong Feelings about this too.

Comments

LenaDeeAnne

It sounds like you learned a lot from the experience and you're satisfied with where you are now, so in my estimation, the move is a success. It feels good though, doesn't it? To see where you went wrong and to know what to avoid next time? And also to accept that getting emotionally involved is just how you are, and it's not a bad thing- it means you have a heart! I think you deserve to keep that bottle for yourself and celebrate your own self-discovery! (Sorry, I might have been around my therapist too long!)

AsMommy

I'm with you Maggie. I always think people are Good, and not Out to Get Me. But my husband is the total opposite...so we can balance each other out! Congrats on your new place!

Christiana

I fell in love my realtor when we were buying and it didn't stop. but then, I knew her from church and while we had never been close, I knew what kind of person she was. And she stuck by me when we had some problems, and ultimately it was her who said "I've found your house." and she was so right.

Anyhow, at the same time, I was not touchy-feely happy about the seller - when his agent mentioned "oh, that will work out, he's really nice" I was like "but this is MONEY. NO ONE is nice about money and strangers!"

The walk-thru was normal, sure. We did that when we bought - didn't sign the papers until we walked through one more time and made sure it was in the condition it was supposed to be... but I still think you got taken on that professionally clean thing... :)

Raven

I totally balked at the way our seller treated us in buying the house. I argued and dug my heels in and my husband and agent steamrolled over me and then it came out how much our agent and the seller shammed us in buying this house! UGH. I felt SICK! I still feel SICK. I knew we were being taken and every year when we open our appraisal and it's sooooo many thousands of dollars less than our loan? I just want to die.

I hate the whole process and I am totally not looking forward to having to go through it again when we sell this one and move on, especially because of the added stress of dealing with both sides.

Plus, our agent was the sister of a friend so I can barely be around her anymore either.

Jess

We did a final walk through after our inspection objections were addressed, but it wasn't a Big Deal that we refused to sign the papers before. If we had found something that hadn't been dealt with we would have just casually said oh by the way this still needs to be fixed. And they did clean the house for us but our agent told us that was exceptionally nice of them and definitely not the norm.

Also, our closing was nice. The owner was a little grim because he was losing so much money on the house but he was very nice to us and gave us a lot of info and told us that he was just glad the house was going to a nice family.

I'm sorry this experience was so stressful. And that your agent sucked. And it sucks for him because if he hadn't sucked he could have been your agent when you looked to buy your next house down the line. Lost commission for him!

Maggie

Oooh, I forgot to add that when the agent came to the house to tell Phillip exactly what to fix, there were PICTURES. And DETAILED NOTES. Perhaps this could have been included in the report! Perhaps our agent could have acquired these when he called to "clarify"! AAAARGH. I'm going to stop now. Promise.

Sarah in Ottawa

You could, of course, harness the power of your blog to suggest to locals that there's an agent that they may not want to use. You know. If you want...

And it wasn't a perfect process but it is OVER! Hooray! And I am so happy that you are already feeling at home in the new place.

FWIW - if ever again you use an agent (now as a buyer), I will repeat my Dad's advice. Pick an experienced woman - ideally in her late 40s or 50s. If possible, one who specializes in the area you like. Tour a few houses with her before you sign - an pay attention. Does she point out the flaws, rating the stuff that is fixable or not? If so - a keeper.

We followed that advice and LOVED our agent (my parents had a similar selling agent when they sold my childhood home). Seriously - I found that judgey Mom-like agents rock!

Manda

OHEMGEE Maggie, that is just RIDONKULOUS. Isn't part of moving into a new house like, CLEANING it and painting it and getting it up to your own anal specs? MY LANDS. I would like to kick that language barrier straight in the teeth. And your real estate agent as well. Because when I sold my house? It was very clearly stated to the agent that SHE? Was working for ME. And she sold my dirty, abandoned house. Oh yes she did.

The Life of Blights

Moving, buying and selling homes are stressful! Sorry that your agent disappeared after he "got" you. That stinks. I am a realtor and it really infuriates me when I hear stories like that. It gives us a bad rap. There are amazing amazing realtors out there who work so hard to make the deal work (I like to think I'm one of them). Next time, go with a referral. It doesn't matter what gender they are, how old they are, if they're purple, yellow, black or white...if someone has had a great experience with their realtor, you can count on one too, because their business depends on referrals.

antonia

They say selling/buying a house is a major stressful "life event"....so you're not alone! It sounds like it was indeed increadibly stressful!

But it's all over now! hooray! enjoy your new house!
xxxx

Lindsay

Wow. That is just wild. This post very much reminded me of our move. It's just horrible to have your last associations with something that was so positive for the most part, go up in flames at the very end. It sounds like you and P really supported each other, and made it to the other side though and that's great. For me, our experience moving here gave rise to several opportunities where it was revealed to me how lucky I am to have my husband and my parents, and it is just so nice to know that for all the people that might cause me hurt there are a select few who just never will and I love that. Enjoy your new house!

Brittany

Our agent told us we needed to do a walk-thru before closing and that it was standard to do so, just in case. But we didn't have a list of things to fix like you describe. The only thing we asked them to fix was some ungrounded wiring in the kitchen, and that was a safety thing to me. As for cleaning, our agent told us that "broom-swept" was all the sellers were required to do, and we cleaned ourselves when we got the keys. I would have been ticked off if I were you!

Angela Noelle

I know exactly what you mean, I absolutely go into every transaction--personal or business--desperate to make friends with everyone and have it be some sort of sunshiney experience. You'd think after buying two houses, I'd know that's never the way it works out. The buyer is always frustrated with the seller and the seller is always frustrated with the buyers. I try so hard to remind myself that IT'S BUSINESS, but oh, tis hard. Congrats on the new house though--that's amazingly exciting :)

barbetti

I'm sorry for all this angst, all this stress. UGH. Our agent didn't do a whole lot either, because she didn't enforce any of our stipulations in our agreement with the seller of our home. It was supposed to be simply "clean swept" and while it was "swept" there was a damn deer head in my fridge. And there were no fire alarms or carbon monoxide alarms, but we didn't notice these things until AFTER we signed our lives away. Also: LEAD PAINT.

So I haven't been on your end, the selling part, but I understand how frustrating it can be.

Christina

You know what, I would have been hurt too. And when we bought this house, the old owners met us at the house on closing day and gave us a walk-through and shared secrets in a way that showed me how very much they loved raising a family here and then the wife asked me if they could PRAY for US - and the two of them held our hands and asked God to bless us in this home. And so despite the fact that there are very many things I do not like about this house, I know deep in my hear that it was Meant To Be and that covers over a lot of stuff.

PS... when our house *finally* sold in WA for a good 200K LESS than asking? Not such a wonderful experience. I'm still trying to think nice thoughts about our buyers. So I can relate a little to what you just went through.

Christina

ack, that is supposed to be "deep in my hearT" ... stupid typos.

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