Monday, July 16, 2007

A Moving Experience...
(an ongoing series) — Part 7

Maybe this diary thing isn't so bad after all...
The more I write about this new house deal in ‘diary’ mode, the better I'm liking it. It’s a helluva lot easier to just sit down and spew out few stream-of-consciousness paragraphs on the previous couple day’s events than it is to try and weave a structured story out of the same, which is essentially what plagued me the last time I tried to attempt this kind of story treatment last summer, when I had my mini-career crisis at work.

So despite the fact that I will definitely be going back in to alter the structure of this material at some point, for the time being I’m going to just continue trying to post a few blurbs every couple days or so, as much as is possible for me right now.

At least it will make it less work later on, while providing valuable therapy for me along the way, fleshing out my various thoughts and emotions on the subject as they happen.

Weekend Update
As I mentioned on Saturday, we basically had to slap ourselves out of the post-rejection funk that we were in. We just needed to get back on our horses and ride.

The Realty gals placed the house back on the market and we went back into 'hotel' mode, which I’ll talk more about later. They had one showing on Saturday afternoon and an open house on Sunday, in which two couples (young ones this time) came by to take a look. Apparently one of those two families really expressed an interest, so hopefully we’ll hear from them again this week.

April’s not foolin’
I’ve gotta say, I’m extremely encouraged by our agents’ enthusiasm. They’ve been a great source of encouragement after a tough week following the unexpected rejection last Tuesday by our initial buyer.

But now in the wake of all that, it’s almost as though one of the two women working with us has kicked it into a higher gear that we hadn’t seen from her previously.

And speaking of our agents, I suppose it’s time to give these ladies names for the sake of reference in the story. We’ll call Realty gal #1, Leslie, and #2, let’s tag her as April.

Now the only reason I would even think to rank these two women numerically, is that so far Leslie has without a doubt been the alpha-female. She has the most experience of the two, and while we actually met with April initially, Leslie took over the show soon thereafter.

Prior to the initial offer, Leslie had arranged all the showings, provided all the paperwork and made 98% of all the direct contacts with Michelle and me regarding the business and developments of our homeselling process.

Leslie is tough, fast-talking and self assured. She’s extremely nice and easy to deal with, but certainly compared to April, can come off as a bit pushy. However in this case, I would think that's what you’d want in an agent: a go-getter; someone who isn’t going to sit back and play things passively. Particularly in our circumstance, where time is a crucial factor, we needed someone who would do everything in their power to get our house sold fast!

The other agent, April, is an absolute sweetheart; tall, blond, and extremely gentle in spirit. Her only detractor in my opinion was that while enthusiastic, she didn't seem particularly aggressive. So when Leslie came in and pretty much took the ball, April seemed to just sort of stand back and let her, which was actually okay with me.

But that was then; this is now. A new April seems to have emerged. She might have come in like a lamb, she seems to be going out like a lion.

April was the one who took the most offense at the seemingly incomprehensible rejection of our house by the first buyer, an old gentleman who will be referred to forthwith as Mister Potatohead, or MP for short.

I’ll explain in greater detail later about how it all went down, but for now let’s just say that MP’s justification for reversing his commitment to buy our home wasn’t exactly on the up-and-up. Nevertheless he had one legal ‘out,’ and he took it.

MP used the findings of the home inspector’s report as basis for weaseling out of the deal, which was his right. The report was somewhat lengthy, but in it the inspector emphasized that the the issues listed were neither alarming nor out-of-the-ordinary for a home of thirteen years’ age. They were all routine maintenance issues which were easily correctable.

Nonetheless, ol’ Spud Melon insisted that the number of items were more than he thought should need to be addressed in a house he wanted to buy.

But April smelled a bad ’tater.

She was the one of the two Realty gals whose indignation surfaced enough to challenge the old fart. Politely, she contacted MP to inquire further as to how he arrived at such a decision. He stuck with the party line. Undaunted, April assured MP that we could deal with the most serious of what were at worst routine issues. Still he remained firm; he wanted out of the deal.

But what she did next is what cemented my affection for her and in my mind, earned her the commission for which she toils. She wouldn’t take no for an answer.

She pressed MP, pushing the envelope even beyond the extent for which she had the authority; she simply went with her gut.

She asked him point-blank: “If every single item on this inspection list were fixed, would you THEN be interested in the house?”

“No,” he replied, predictably.

That bit of information was invaluable to me and my peace of mind. It told me that the actual reason MP walked away from my house had nothing to do with any fault on our part, but instead was based some other impetuous factor he had essentially created in his own mind.

That’s not all of that story; there’s also another highly significant detail I don't have time to elaborate upon now, but which I’ll touch upon in a future post. Quite entertaining, actually...

The point of know return
Prior to these developments however, Michelle and I added a new level of permanence to our home buying experience. We pushed forward in the process of finalizing the details on the new house, which should begin construction in the next week or so.

On Friday afternoon, we finished up the various color selections for the new house. We selected our colors for the exterior, stone, shingles, etc. as well as the interior color and styles for the walls and trim, carpets, and kitchen cabinet configuration.

This was all supposed to have been done a few weeks ago, but because the house is a brand new floorplan and ours will actually be the first of its kind ever built, some of the selection criteria wasn't completed until late last week. The delay actually worked to our advantage since it gave us about 10 days longer to think about what we had seen in the initial meeting. This allowed us to refine our choices instead of making more-or-less snap-decisions as we would have been forced to make in the normal one-day process.

Immediately following that meeting, we rushed out to the new subdivision for our meeting with the construction foreman. There we hammered out all of the construction-specific details and decisions regarding the addition and/or optional placement of electrical outlets, cable and network/Internet connectors, hose bibs, patio extensions, exterior lighting; any additional options that we might want to add in the standard construction phase of our new home. This was where it all had to be decided. Any changes made thereafter would cost us — prohibitively so.

Since our current house was our first new-construction home, and given the shoestring budget we were on at the time, we did without a lot of extras that later I wished we would have just bitten the bullet and paid for. We didn't realize how little an extra $200-$500 impacts the monthly payment on a 30-year mortgage. On that note, we lived and learned, deciding years ago, that the next house we built we would get everything that we wanted, within reason of course. And this time, I believe we did.

There were a few upgrades that we knew we didn’t really need and held back the urge to splurge upon, but for the most part we got everything we really wanted. But lest you think us a couple’a spendthrifts, this was stuff we had planned about for years, identifying in advance as agreed-upon expenditures, and all within the amount we had budgeted for this house.

We’re not into spending willy-nilly. We just wanted to make sure that twenty-five years from now we wouldn’t be saying, “I wish we had done 'X'.” This house will be the place we intend to remain for the rest of our lives, or as close to it as possible. I wanted it to be ‘the house of no regrets.’

But while we came away from those meetings excited and full of anticipation for the wonderful home that awaits us in five months, we also experienced for the first time, the sense of foreboding that can only come from knowing that you’ve made a huge commitment...and there’s no backing out.

That being said, while I have no doubt that we’re doing the right thing, I’ll just feel a lot better once we get our current house sold, y’know?
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