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.