Wednesday, September 03, 2008

My Real Estate Nightmare (Part 4)

With our home officially sold, and the cherished "Sold" sign now affixed to our realtor's signpost dug into our front lawn, we quickly signed away the condition that required us to sell our home prior to purchasing our much-sought-after new one. I've watched many episodes of the HGTV show "Buy Me" within 30 minutes, everything pretty much seems to go so smoothly. Everything works out. Both the buyers and the sellers (and the agent) are happy campers, the credits roll, and that's the end of the story.

Our story doesn't bode as well.

There was about a month and a half delay from the time all the paperwork was signed, to the time when we were supposed to meet at the notary to pass title to our buyers. This time was spent acquiring boxes, packing materials, and planning for the move.

Lesson 5 (about packing): Pack early. The more organized and clear cut you can be, the quicker the unpacking process will be (NOTE: We eventually settled into our new home within 1 1/2 days).

It was the end of June and there was a fair amount of time that had passed where we were in "radio silence mode." I hadn't heard anything from my agent, nor the notary, nor my buyers. I figured that this was pretty much normal. By the time June 28th had come around, and passed, things were still quiet. If you recall from my previous post, weren't my buyers supposed to have taken possession at this point?

Another week and a half passes by, and we are now into early July. By this time, it had occurred to me that something had gone wrong.

Lesson 6: Make sure your agent is proactive in adhering to deadlines.

When June 28th had passed, and we had not met at the notary, bells, alarms, and fireworks should have immediately gone off. Instead, my agent waited for almost 2 weeks before addressing the situation. At this point, my buyers were officially in breach of contract. It took a few more days to finally uncover the truth behind what was happening -- my buyer's own house hadn't sold, and were therefore unable to obtain their mortgage in order to purchase my home. We would later find out mid-August that my buyers were in fact mired in debt, further compunding the problem in obtaining financing.

So why hadn't my agent gotten to the bottom of this earlier? Why did it take several weeks before uncovering that my buyers were financially crippled? These were just a few of the enormous number of questions that we began to ask ourselves over the course of several weeks. Unfortunately, we weren't able to get any answers, and our own agent began to know less about the situation than I did.

Refusing to sit idly by, I began to make daily phone calls to my buyer's agent. This goes against protocol, however, I felt that my own agent wasn't able to get the information I needed. My buyer's agent, for some reason, also seemed more inclined to talk to me than my own agent -- for what reason I'll never know. Over the course of the weeks that followed, we began to hear confusing stories and melodrama, NONE of which ended up being true:

- My buyers home (a bungalow) is going to be sold in a matter of days. They're just waiting for the paperwork at the bank to finalize.
- The paperwork was final. We'll be getting our financing in a matter of days.
- The buyer's own a 4-plex and have actually sold it as well in order to provide a backup financing path.
- The buyer of the 4-plex is getting his mortgage approved in order to buy the property. It's just a matter of days.
- My buyer is working on paying off his debts. Once the debts are paid off, the bank will issue his mortgage to purchase my home.
- By August 15th, we will be meeting at the notary.
- By August 25th, we will be meeting at the notary.

As I write this, we still haven't met at the notary.

Of course, by now, my buyers had been sued for breach of contract, however, it was only suggested to me several weeks after the breach date that I proceed with a "lawyer's letter" in order to officially terminate the Promise to Purchase by providing a "rigorous date." Had my buyers not purchased my home by that date, we would be entitled to resell the home, and any costs associated with that would be borne by the buyer. This date was July 31st, ironically my wife's birthday. Unfortunately, it would turn out to be one of the worst birthday's for my wife.

On August 2nd, when it was clear that my buyers were in no position to buy my home, we decided to relist the property. By now, we had moved out and were in a delayed state of elation by being in our new home. It was difficult to celebrate with a 500-ton monkey sitting on your shoulders. We were mortified by the prospect of starting from scratch. It was as if the previous 5 months were a complete waste of time and energy.

By this time too, two auspicious events had transpired. One, my agent's broker's contract had expired, and two, my brother in law had just become and agent himself. This would turn out to be a fortuitous set of events that set the tone for the month of August.