House Buying Sucks

Oh, my friends. We have had a WEEK. I always knew that buying a house could be difficult and stressful, but nothing I had heard could possibly have prepared me for what we are going through.

Last Monday, we submitted an offer on our dream house: a lovely little 2 bed, 2 bath ranch on 6 acres. It backed up to the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail, my favorite place to run. It had apple trees and lilac bushes. It had a detached 2 car garage. Basically, it checked every box for us. We knew that the owner was old, and possibly not of sound mind, and that there was an estate lawyer involved in the sale. We figured, hey, they’ve got their stuff covered. Things should be fine. We started thinking about where to put furniture, planning what we would need to buy. We got excited about being in a place of our own by Christmas.

The deadline on our offer was that Wednesday at 10 am. The deadline came and went with no news from our realtor, so we emailed her after work that night. As it turned out, the estate lawyer had decided the seller was definitely not of sound mind, so he needed to involve her family in the sale. Both he and the listing agent thought our offer was solid, and would encourage the family to accept, but it would take some additional time. OK, fine. We loved the house and were willing to wait a bit.

Thursday came and went with no update. Friday came and went with no update. On Monday, we emailed our realtor again, emphasizing that we still really wanted the house, and asking if there anything we should do. She emailed back with good news–the estate lawyer and selling agent were meeting with the seller on Tuesday at 12:30, and she would sign the offer. Our realtor was told this by both the listing agent AND the estate lawyer. We breathed a sigh of relief. The next day, the contract would be signed. We once again started making plans, allowing ourselves to get excited.

Tuesday at 12:30 came and went with no news. We agonized all afternoon, waiting for an email, a phone call, SOMETHING. At 6 pm, our realtor called me. No, the offer had not been signed. Seemingly all of a sudden, the estate lawyer had realized that if they signed the contract, the seller would have to be out of the house by closing, but she didn’t have anywhere to go, and they weren’t sure they could find somewhere for her within the timeline laid out by the contract. So they didn’t sign. Our realtor presented three options:

1) Bail on the house entirely.
We weren’t super excited about this option because the house, the land, and the price point are all pretty much exactly what we’re looking for. But on the other hand, the estate lawyer and listing agent have demonstrated that they can’t adhere to deadlines, and also straight up lied to us about signing the contract, so we’re reluctant to continue doing business with them.

2) Walk away for now, but ask them to call us if they figure their shit out.
This option is attractive, because it allows us to explore other houses in the meantime, and leaves us free to put in other offers if we find something we like as much as, or better than, this place. It’s unattractive because it also means other buyers could potentially swoop in and outbid us because the house is still on the market.

3) Offer a new contract with a two week or one month housing contingency built in.
This would mean that the house is technically ours, but if the seller can’t find someplace to live within that one month, we can bail on the contract and move on. It’s a bad idea for several reasons. First, there is absolutely no guarantee that the seller will find housing within that time frame, meaning we could be back in this same position in another month. Secondly, we’d be under contract for that entire time period, meaning that if another, better house came up, we’d be unable to move on it. Thirdly, an extra month in the contract would push us into the new year. Ben’s new contract, with higher pay, goes into effect 1/1/18, which could potentially affect our financing. And of course, I refer you to the part where the estate lawyer and listing agent have repeatedly missed deadlines and lied to us. So yeah.

Obviously, we are devastated and beyond frustrated. This is a highly unusual situation. Typically, an offer is either accepted or rejected within the specified time frame, and that’s that. Sometimes there’s some countering back and forth, but it’s generally resolved within 48 hours of the initial offer. We’re now over a week out from our original offer and still in limbo. We love, love, love this house, but we need to be intelligent and rational too. We contacted our mortgage broker to see what effect increased income might have on our financing, and we’re taking a couple of days to cool off and think things over. I don’t think either of us want to walk away, but it might be the smartest move.

Have you bought a house before? How was the process for you?

9 thoughts on “House Buying Sucks

  1. txa1265 says:

    Yeah … that sucks. Sorry you’re dealing with it and hope it works out! 😦

    It is similar to a story from a neighbor the next street over who is also a runner. She and I were talking after their house sold, and she said that they were going to have to rent a house in their new town (about an hour away) because the seller kept not doing things … also an older woman who I think really didn’t want to move but had no choice (but at least was of sound mind). ugh.

    For us, we’ve been screwed over one way or another BOTH of our home purchases, I think I mentioned this before but will quickly note:
    – First house: a new septic regulation was going into effect 1 month after our closing, we got the seller to do the test as a condition of sale. When the septic system failed within a year, the septic contractor looked at the test and discovered that the system had actually failed, but it was all worded in a way to make it look like it passed and was non-binding and we had absolutely no legal standing to go after anyone. Yay!
    – Our current house (it was a ‘flip’, contractor completely gutted and rebuilt, so basically all new), during the walk-through there were a number of small issues, door fittings, etc. that were on a punch list … and we held back $5000 or something to ensure completion. During closing, we discovered water in the basement in spite of them ‘guaranteeing’ water-free basement … so it was something they needed to handle. It was supposed to be separate – and that was how the addendum was specifically written and signed. Yet the lawyers just gave them all the money and they never completed any of the punch list items.

    Every time, we learn. We tend to be trusting, which is generally good but sometimes not.

    Good luck!

    • Rae says:

      Oh man, you’ve had quite a run of poor luck on the house buying front! We’re still weighing our options, but leaning toward staying the course with this house. We really love it!

      • txa1265 says:

        Important thing – we had to do a lot of work on that first house, but we really loved it and made it our own. Current house – we have a dream kitchen, awesome huge master bath, huge house … so yeah, there were issues in the buying process, but we have had two awesome homes.

  2. Kimberley@Black Dog Runs Disney says:

    I know it’s far from the ideal sitch, but you also know I am a strong believer in everything happens for a reason. maybe you and the boy need to take a step back and re-evaluate the whole situation. Perhaps all of this nonsense is trying to tell you something? Something to consider. I KNOW you guys will end up exactly where you need to! 🙂

    • Rae says:

      Thanks, chica! I also try to believe that philosophy, but I also believe in perseverance and making your own luck whenever possible. We’ll see how things work out! ❤

  3. Heather [is probably running] says:

    I’m not sure if it varies by state/other factors, but when we bought our house we had our offer accepted in early November and didn’t end up closing until late January. Even if your offer had been accepted, you might not have closed and moved in by the holidays.

    But yeah, house shopping was a major pain in the ass. Good luck with your search!

    • Rae says:

      Well, our realtor led us to believe that closing within 6 weeks was reasonable, but who knows what’s normal? At this point I just hope we end up in a good place, period!

  4. (kris)tinaboucher says:

    I’m a real estate agent and experienced something similar with a buyer. We decided to wait it out so she could continue looking, which is a bummer, but we both felt it put more control in her hands. I know the whole house hunting process can be a bit frustrating!

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