The Irony of Life, Part Two

When the man I had never met invited me to Arkansas, said he’d even load and drive the U-Haul truck, it looked like I could have my dream.  So, naturally, I wanted to list my house for sale.  Here’s how that went:

January 14, 2020

I showed the property to Daniel, the realtor, and told him the complete “house story.”   He said, “All houses on the south end sit on rocks.”  He had shared his list of “Who Can Do It” so I could finish the 2019 triplex maintenance when my handyman took off without a word, and he listened to me, so I chose him as my realtor.  I asked what he thought it was worth.  He said, “$600-700K.”

But his market analysis was only $510-529K.  I told him to list it for $550K.

January 28, 2020

I met with Daniel for two hours today, and we talked about the 1031 Exchange.  I’m more confused now than I was before he came.  His “guesstimate” of walkaway money without the 1031 Exchange gives me enough to buy a little house in Arkansas, furnish it, and buy a vehicle to transport my cats in a mutually comfortable way. I drive a 2004 Honda Civic.

 February 4, 2020

The house is officially listed with Daniel, but it won’t go live until Sean’s photos are processed, and Daniel writes the text–maybe next week.

 February 7, 2020

A relative and VP of a California investment firm called.  He had just returned from China and talked about the coronavirus.  I had not yet heard of it. He asked questions, crunched the numbers, and said, “Rent, don’t buy.  The money you’ll walk away with will last you 15 years if you only draw $1,000 a month.”  But there isn’t anything in Durango that rents for less than $1300!

 February 8-14, 2020

Because this is a tenant-occupied triplex, we got to limit showings to 10-12 am, three days/week.  On the 14th, Daniel stopped the showings, and I accepted the best offer.

February 18

My realtor is going out of town 2/14-3/2 when I have to decide what to do next if the buyer submits a counter-offer after the buyer’s appraisal and inspection. “Kill the deal” was the first thing that came to mind. Like the rest of life in this crazy world, selling real estate has become a tangled web.

February 21, 2020

The two buyers who are contractors and partners did their inspection today. Lucky me!  I came home to find them talking in one of their trucks.  One of the buyers said he owns several rental properties.  And then, Daniel handed me a pile of paper to sign, including Title Insurance.  Next is the appraisal they ordered.  It is all happening so fast!

February 22-March 2

After Daniel went to Florida with his mother, suddenly, COVID-19 was real!  All I could think about was being alone, seventy-three years old, with two cats.  What if the house sells, and I can’t find a place to live?  I was in crisis!

Ever since I signed the counter-offer, I’ve been hearing Joni Mitchell singing, “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone…” Every day, I have more reasons to be grateful for all the time I’ve spent in Durango, especially the last thirty-nine years in this old house in a relatively quiet neighborhood where I know my neighbors, and where everything I need is a five-minute walk or drive away: three organic food stores, my dentist, family practitioner, vet, and hardware store.  There is even a modern hospital 15 minutes from my house that I’ve needed only when I had an accident (twice in forty-four years). Did I mention the redwood ceiling and skylight over my shower or the door-sized living room skylight?  Those were gifts from a boyfriend years ago who happened to be a contractor.

I can kill the contract, but I won’t.  I’m trusting that if it’s in my highest interest to leave this place, the closing will go as planned on Friday, March 13.  My realtor has assured me that it will.  But I’m not in a hurry to move because moving is such a big deal, especially now.  I’m alone, and, as a former friend said, “You’re too old!”

 March 1, 2020

I emailed realtor Daniel this morning and said I wanted to kill the deal.  If that happens, I’ll be like

March 2, 2020

Daniel was just here.  He said, “This is the first time a seller wanted to break the contract.”  He asked why I suddenly wanted out.

I listed the reasons:

  • Every time I’ve sold a house, I had already moved to my new destination.
  • If I sell this house, I will not be able to afford another one in Colorado.
  • My financial life will change drastically.  Here, I can save a little money from my meager retirement check because the rents are finally high enough to pay the mortgage and most of the repairs.  If I sell, that changes.
  • I am not willing to drive more than half an hour to buy organic groceries.

He pulled out the contract and explained the consequences. They’re ugly if the buyers don’t just walk away with their earnest money.

I asked why he didn’t protect me by putting contingencies into my counter offer in the first place—like “new home contingency.”

He said he’s going to talk with Todd, the buyers’ realtor, and he’ll get back to me at 3:30 pm after he shows another property.

I’m skating on thin ice here, trusting that their reputations are more important in this small town than the contract.  The minute Daniel left, I knew I had handled it wrong.  I was a warrior, equipped with phrases I’d found online about sellers breaking contracts.  But I soon realized that I should have been crying like a helpless female: “Oh, God!  What am I going to do?”

Later that afternoon, my computer crashed.

(to be continued)

Till next time,

Please be kind to everyone you meet, for we all have our hidden sorrows. ~Tzaddi


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