The Journey Wraps Up

Yesterday, October 28th, was the Closing on the sale of my parents’ house. It has been a lengthy process getting to this event – 15 months after my father passed away in July, 2010. The house needed lots of clean-up and repairs. Paneling was removed throughout the first floor, built-in shelving units were removed, and carpeting and floor tile was removed or replaced. The whole first floor and parts of the basement and top floor got a fresh coat of paint. The master bedroom was turned back into two rooms, though both have no closets now. The wood floors were refinished. A new window went into the porch where the ancient greenhouse windows were falling apart and broken. There were loads of little things done throughout, too. The house went on the market in March. Unfortunately, the housing market and economy in general was in turmoil, but we got two offers on the same weekend a few weeks after listing the house. I accepted the lower offer as the other one had raised some red flags. As that pending sale progressed, the inspections revealed that the septic system had failed and the underground oil tank failed a vacuum test. I knew that both needed to dealt with, so we agreed to address them, but shortly thereafter, the buyer failed to obtain her financing, so the deal fell apart. I took a gamble that the oil tank had not actually leaked and arranged to have it replaced with an above ground tank in the garage. I hired an engineer to do plans for a new septic system. The oil tank had not leaked, so I dodged a major bullet there. The septic replacement came in under the rough estimate, but it was still expensive. Both the oil tank and septic used up over $15,000 of the Estate funds. Another offer came in at this point and it looked like a good deal. Unfortunately, that one also feel apart when the buyer’s own condo sale fell through days before their Closing. We were back to square one and the clock ran out on the extension for the Reverse mortgage. The rules for a Reverse Mortgage are set and managed by HUD. Basically, the loan must be paid in full 1 year after the borrower no longer lives in the home. If not paid, it is in default and the servicing bank must assign it to a collections lawyer and it moves towards foreclosure. Fortunately, that process is slow as molasses, but it does add a complication to the settlement.

Fast forward to the weekend before the hurricane that plowed up the East coast in September, causing significant flooding in the area. My realtor held an Open House and there were a few interested parties. One of them was a young woman that knew the house from when she delivered the newspaper to my parents 20 years ago. She liked the house, but thought that it might be too much work for her. The hurricane hit the following weekend. Sunday afternoon, with floodwaters rising, and the winds continuing, my Realtor called me with an offer from that young woman. We finalized the offer 2 days later, after they were able to confirm that the basement was dry with all of the flooding in the area.

The inspections revealed nothing new, but the buyer requested some repairs. We agreed that I would fix the front and rear steps – basically repairing cracks and removing the fake brick veneer on the stringers for the front steps – and we agreed to a concession for some other requested items.

It was exciting to finally make it to Closing yesterday. As I left with checks in hand and the knowledge that the mortgage was settled I reflected on the road I’ve been on for the past several years. I spent so much of my time visiting and helping my parents as Mom’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease progressed and ended. I then spent so much time with my father in his last months. And finally, there were the hours, days, and weekends spent cleaning up and fixing the house, as well as maintaining the yard – mowing, leaf removal, snow removal. All of that is now behind me.

I’m very happy for Jill, the buyer of the house, since she had a connection to the house and she can now build her own life with memories there.

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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4 Responses to The Journey Wraps Up

  1. Glad to see that this long, backbreaking and heartbreaking process has some to a happy conclusion…and now you can go forward. 🙂

  2. Greg Edwards says:

    Congrats, Stephen. My wife and I are currently in the early stages of planning to sell our house (i.e., thinking a lot about it, but too lazy to pull the trigger). You’ve inspired me to believe it is actually possible to sell a house in this market, even if it takes several months. Well done!

  3. Best of luck to you, Greg. I don’t look forward to selling our house one day in the future, but I did learn much from this process. Houses are selling still, but at a much lower price point than a few years back.

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