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?