Tuesday, June 14, 2011

House Selling Nightmare

Many people have asked me about how the process of selling our house has gone. In one word: horrible. But if you want to know more about how unlucky we've been, read on...

I'll start off with the worst part. We had a couple visit our home three times. After the second time, they called us on the phone to tell us they wanted to buy our house. They just had to wait until the closing on their house (which was about two weeks away). Then we could expect an offer. On the phone, the guy elaborated about how no other house they saw compared to ours. He explained that the house reminded his wife of the one she grew up in and how she didn't even want to go to any other open houses. This was the house for them.

During the third visit, we overheard them talking about where they were going to put furniture. They asked for and were provided with a blank offer sheet. My wife and I thought it was as close to a done deal as could possibly be. We cautiously, yet optimisticly, told family and friends that we thought we were about to sell our home.

But they never contacted us after their closing. After a few weeks, we called them to find out what was going on (although we pretty much knew we were screwed). They didn't respond to our voicemail. A week later, we called again. This time, we got a response. We were told that they were now trying to decide between our house and another. Hmmm...suddenly they were interested in another home too. It felt like the kiss of death.

In a last ditch effort, we called them back and left another voicemail. This time offering to lower our asking price by $12,000 if that would help them make their decision.

That was a month ago. We never heard from them again. That has been the worst part of this process. But that was just one morsel in a smorgasboard of crap.

Because we were trying to avoid the absurd commission required to pay a realtor, we have been trying to sell our house on our own. We've had guests just about every week (I'll tell you about one particular week without any visitors later). We've busted our butts to get this house in tip-top condition. And it has been. I feel like we've acted like drill seargants with our kids. We've been very strict about keeping things clean and putting toys away. They haven't even been able to use their Christmas present (a trampoline). We keep telling them that we'll set it up at the new house. I feel like they are suffering because of our efforts to sell our home.

So by not involving a realtor, we were immediately putting ourselves at a disadvantage. But we needed that money we were saving for a down payment on a new house. So we just needed a little luck. We thought we had some with the family mentioned above. Obviously not. It seems like bad luck loves us.

We spent hundreds of dollars to use a site called owners.com. We listed our house on their site and I'm not sure if we've had any visitors because of that listing. We also created our own web site (linked to our owners.com listing) with dozens of photos and a video tour. We put a lot of time and effort into that site and again, I'm not sure how many people actually saw it. Plus, owners.com will list your house on the MLS which we really wanted to do. But of course Richmond is in the 10% of Indiana that is not able to be listed by owners.com. So our exposure was very limited.

We spent hundreds of dollars on a newspaper listing for our Open Houses. During those weeks we had a grand total of (I think) two visitors. Both indicated that they didn't even see our listing in the paper. Hundreds of dollars down the drain.

We've had several of our FOR SALE and OPEN HOUSE signs stolen. Stupid kids? Realtors? Who knows. But one week we didn't get a single visitor to our open house. When I went to retrieve our signs (advertising and directing passers-by to our Open House) they were gone. No wonder nobody showed up. Somebody decided to steal the signs that advertised our Open House. What bugs me most about this is that our address was on the signs. It wasn't like they could be re-used. It was done out of pure mischief/meanness.

We even tried placing an ad in Craig's List. Didn't expect much to come from that, but it couldn't hurt, right? Well apparently with Craig's List, anyone can determine that an ad is offensive and have it removed. We tried posting an ad several times. But it kept getting removed within hours of posting. Someone no doubt with a competing house for sale.

We've had at least four realtors contact us and try to convince us to list with them. Most of them claiming to already have a potential buyer for us. The latest, one from Indianapolis (over an hour away), indicated he had almost a sure bet. We kindly offered him a 3% commission if he would send them our way. For whatever reason, he refused...even though he would receive a 3% commission anyway if we listed with an agent and his prospective buyers purchased our house. What's the difference? We just think he was full of crap and didn't have a prospective buyer to begin with.

I'm not a deeply religious guy, but we have buried a statue of St. Joseph in front of our house. So many people have told us that it works like a charm. Well, it didn't work for us with our last house and it hasn't worked so far here. We've said the "Novena" prayer too(for those of you who don't know, it's a 9-day prayer that's supposed to help with the sale of a home). I've also been saying my own prayers. In my prayers I've stated that I don't deserve the good fortune of our house selling...but my wife and kids do. I want the Lord to come through for us, even if it's only for a better life for them. That's the main reason I want to move: to make a better life for my wife and children. That's the bottom line. I don't want them to be punished because I haven't been the best human being I can be.

I've visited the grave of my father-in-law several times and asked him for help. I've even prayed to my recently deceased grandfathers, asking for any assistance they can provide. Surely they would want what's best for their grandson and his family. I'm not sure if they have any influence over what occurs in my life, but I thought it couldn't hurt to ask. I like to think that they are watching over us.

We've even done silly things. For some reason, my youngest son thinks that his rear end is lucky. So he has rubbed his butt on our FOR SALE and OPEN HOUSE signs. It hasn't yielded any significant results, but it at least provided us with some much-needed laughs.

Now my wife is doing the Feng Shui thing on our house. I really don't believe in that stuff but it can't hurt right?

I've asked everyone I know to keep us in their thoughts and prayers. When school was still in session, I even told my students and their parents about our predicament. One girl told me that she had been praying for my family. Isn't that sweet? There are even 10-year old kids and their families sending positive thoughts our way and praying for us.

We thought of another option. We are selling another home on land contract (our first home in Ohio that, surprise, wouldn't sell outright). After some phone calls to our bank, we found a way to have that famly buy the home outright, eliminating the need for the land contract. Then, we could use a property management company to rent this home. It wouldn't be that different of a situation as we are in now. Well, that family was very interested in this idea. It required no down payment and no closing costs. They just had to "pass" a credit check. It's been a few days and we haven't heard back from them. I guess we can't be lucky enough for them to have good enough credit either.

And now, after all our hard work and determination to avoid paying a realtor's full commission, we have decided that it is now come to that. So we've called an agent who we've spoken to a few times previously. But would you believe it...two phone calls and one email over the last two days and she has yet to get in touch with us. Now suddenly even realtors don't want to help us out. Sure, we can easily call another agent, but we kind of liked this one.

I honestly, truly feel like we have done EVERYTHING we possibly could to sell this house. Nothing has worked. We need some luck and unfortunately can't find any. My wife and I are incredibly stressed out. This situation has created a lot of tension between us. It's not like we're arguing all the time or anything, but the sale of this house is always on our minds and has negatively affected our marriage.

I know this is not the right word to use because it sounds childish, but it really feels like this is unfair. We've tried everything. We couldn't sell our last house. Aren't we due for some luck with this one? It's bad enough we can't sell our house, but then we have to get teased by that family who said they wanted to buy it? It really feels unfair. When I complain about my luck, some people say that I am lucky to be married with three beautiful, healthy children. Yes, I am lucky to have that. But trust me, there are PLENTY of people in this world that are married and have beautiful, healthy children...and they have much better luck than me.

To conclude, there are so many people in this world that have it worse than us. I am thankful for my family, my job, and the fact that I even have a house to live in. There are so many people in this world that need your thoughts and prayers more than I do. But after thinking about them and praying for them, if you could take a few extra seconds to do the same for my family and our situation, I'd greatly appreciate it.

EDIT (6/17/11). Just to follow up, the realtor did end up calling us back. Of course (what a suprise, more bad luck), she never got our first message or our email because she was out of the office. She finally got the third message when I called her cell phone. So we are now listed with a realtor. Who is going to be the hero? Who is going to come through for us? God? St. Joseph? Our newly hired realtor? Or (gasp) nobody. Time will tell but we don't have that much time. We need to be moved by the end of the summer so my kids can start school in Troy.

EDIT (6/18/11) Something I forgot to mention regarding that family who said they wanted to buy our house. About a week ago, being without an email address to contact them, I searched for and found them on Facebook. I decided to email both the husband and the wife. It couldn't hurt, right? I was VERY polite. I apologized for contacting them on Facebook and explained that I was only doing so because I didn't want to put them on the spot with a phone call and did not have their email address. I simply asked them to let us know whether we were "still in the running." I explained that even if they were no longer interested in our house, we would just like to know for sure. I sent the message and became kind of a Facebook stalker. The husband did not have his profile set to "private." So I checked in once in a while to see if he posted "We bought a new house today!" or something like that. I didn't see a status update like that, but since I sent my email message, I did notice that he became friends with someone. That means he received my message but has chosen not to respond. That just screams out jerk to me. If you want me to screw off, fine. Just have the courtesy to tell me.

EDIT (6/22/11) Well, that guy finally returned my email. He informed me that they had an offer accepted on another house. What a huge surprise. He also felt the need to comment that the inspection process was a "headache." You want to know what's a headache? Being told to expect an offer on your house and then have it COMPLETELY backfire. That's a headache. He also told me that we had a great house and that he was sure it would sell soon. You know how many people have told me that? Too many. I certainly didn't need him, of all people, to tell me that too. I did not appreciate his comments (although I'm sure they were made without malicious intent), but I was polite and thanked him for letting me know what was going on.

So. The smallest ray of hope to which I was clinging is now completely gone. Deep down, I really thought they would buy our house. I thought the lack of communication might have been a bargaining strategy of some sort. I was dead wrong. That's what I get for being optimistic I guess. Back to the drawing board.

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