And So It Goes

It has been months since I last posted to my blog. I didn’t realize that it was actually the 2nd of January! With Facebook for quick updates, I tend to forget about the fact that I’ve had this blog for ages to write more lengthy things.

When I wrote that last entry there was still lots of work underway at my parents’ house, getting it ready for sale. That work continued through February and we finally got the house listed in March for $299,900. It had quite a few showings, but no offers until the middle of May, after we lowered the asking price by $5,000. We got two offers on the same day, but both were quite low. We spent a few days going back and forth with both offers, countering a few times, until we settled on an offer that was decent, though considerably lower that the asking price. Despite this, I felt good about the decision.

Well, the process of getting to Closing has been painful, to say the least, and I’m not sure that the deal will hold together, but I remain hopeful.

The buyer’s Home Inspection was pretty thorough, with lots of negative items highlighted on the report. I had the in ground oil tank insured prior to having the house listed, which involved a soil test surrounding the tank and it passed. Despite this, the buyer ordered another test. This time it was a tightness test which involves creating a vacuum in the tank, measuring the pressure, ad listening for tell-tale sounds with a microphone. The tank failed and the sound suggested that the piping was leaking (most likely) or that there was a hole in the tank above the liquid line. Unfortunately, the tank insurance considers this an inconclusive test, so removing the tank and putting one in the garage is considered a voluntary removal, which is not covered. And, if the tank does have a leak and the soil is contaminated, cleanup is also no covered. The only way it could be covered would be to excavate the tank, remove the piping, test it, and if it passes, re-pipe it and cover it up. Or, if it fails, contact the insurance company, pay the $500 fee to have them come and decide whether to fix it or replace it. If there was soil contamination, it would then be covered with a sizeable deductible. I’m taking a big gamble after talking to the oil company, insurance company, and testing company. The odds are very good that the piping is leaking. The soil is very sandy and no oil was detected when we did the soil testing. I’m having the tank replaced with one in the garage. The permit should take about a week to get, so it should happen in about 2 weeks for $3,600. When the tank is removed from the ground, the township building inspector looks at it to decide if we need to test and/or deal with soil cleanup. If that happens, we’re talking $10,000 or more for removing and replacing soil. My fingers are crossed that we don’t face that. Because…

We had another failure. The septic system (no sewer in that part of town) is original to the house. It is a cesspool behind the house. I remember it being pumped once. It may have been pumped more times, but certainly not every 2 to 3 years, which is apparently the recommendation. The design of the cesspool is a two compartment tank. One part is for solids and the other is where liquids flow. The solid part should not leach and the liquid part drains into the soil. Well, the solid part was completely full and the wall was degraded, meaning that solids went to the second compartment. This cannot be repaired, so we need to replace the septic system with a completely new one. I am meeting the engineer and contractor next Wednesday at 9 am. They will dig a 10 foot deep hole to determine the soil conditions for a design. The design is submitted to the town and a permit is then granted (after paying, of course). The entire back yard that was graded and seeded last year will probably be torn up in the process and the weeping cherry tree will likely be lost. I am hoping that the patio doesn’t need to be disturbed too much, if at all. The engineering cost, test trench, and permits will be close to $2500 and the ballpark estimate for the new system is $12-15,000. Ouch.

Needless to say, the minor items called out on the Home Inspection are indeed minor. The buyer had requested that we take care of some electrical items such as GFI outlets in the garage, kitchen and upstairs bath. The only other thing they asked for was to repair the front and back exterior steps. Both need some patching on the cement covering of the structure, particularly the back steps. We notified them that we were not going to take care of any of those items, but were taking care of the oil tank and septic at considerable cost.

Hanging over my head is the reverse mortgage. The loan is considered in default as of July 23rd. I received two 90 day extensions after the initial 6 month period we are allowed after the last party on the mortgage no longer lives in the house. I sent them a letter on Monday with a ton of paperwork to advise them that we were under contract, but that the Closing was at risk due to the major repairs required. I’d rather not have to fight a foreclosure after all of this.

To make matters worse, I received a call from the lawyer this past Monday morning. The buyer’s financing was denied. They were pre-approved, but apparently there was an issue with the remaining duration of alimony payments expected. When she qualified, she was fine. They didn’t tell her that she needed to get a house immediately, so six months later she doesn’t have enough remaining payments to qualify. Ouch. My realtor, her realtor, and her mortgage company are all part of the same company. Apparently, the realtors pulled some strings to get a meeting together and they are now all working hard to get the deal through. If they cannot, then my realtor wants the buyer to get her monies back so that she can go to another lender who will work with her to get the loan. We shall see.

Once the work on my parents’ house was completed, we did some work at our house. We decided to get the kitchen re-done. We contracted with Home Depot for re-facing the cabinets and a new Silestone counter. I had Lou, the carpenter who helped at my parents’ house, put up a new layer of sheetrock on the ceiling. Pennie and I removed the old tile backsplash. I removed and rebuilt all the doorway trim and patched some of the sheetrock. We selected a lovely subway tile for the backsplash which I installed over 2 weekends and we bought new stainless appliances from Lowe’s and Best Buy. The photos of the project are in the album below. We still haven’t selected the paint color for the walls, but we are thrilled with the results even before the painting is done!

About Stephen Boots

I spend too much time at the computer, but I also share responsibility for the care of our dogs and cat with my lovely wife, Pennie. I have been honored with a Microsoft MVP award since October, 2004.
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