“There’s a feeling of elation that comes after getting off stage and then there’s a feeling of utter sadness that comes after getting off the stage.” ~ Neve Campbell
“I feel lost and confused, but happy and certain. I am like a ball of tangled yarn. The parts that are untangled are available, useable; the rest is a mess, useless until it is untied. That mess feels endless and at most times unyielding.” ~ Recovering is an Art, by
If you’ve made it this far in my series, “Your Home/Selling & Buying, you are probably either considering or on the way to selling your home and/or buying one. And if you are just now joining us, you can read the previous Parts here: Part 1-The Decision, Part 2-The Realtor, Part 3-Decluttering and Sprucing and Part 4-The Showings.
Not to be overly dramatic, but the reason for the Comedy and Tragedy masks graphic above is to illustrate the swings between joy and angst as I proceeded through the next stages of my house-selling adventure. And, again, these stages illustrate the importance of having the best professionals on your team to have your back. So, let’s continue the journey!
In Part 4, I ended with our acceptance of a great offer on our house. Joy! We had done it. All the work, inconvenience and stress of decluttering, sprucing and getting through the open house and all the showings had paid off. Beyond the offer, there was the prospect of a lovely family moving into the house that we had lived in and loved.
And now we were poised for the next step.
Paul advised us that the buyers’ agent would be scheduling an inspection of our home. Typically, an inspection accomplishes two goals: One, to give the prospective buyers a perspective on the overall condition of the house and, two, to provide them with leverage in negotiating the contract. And, yes, they were still prospective buyers at this point because they hadn’t yet entered into a contract with us
Now if I thought the showings and open house were nerve-wracking, they did not compare to the angst at the idea of an inspection. This was beyond the white glove test! This time, the magnifying glass was being whipped out!
But inspections are a necessary part of the house-selling process (and the house-buying process, which will be addressed soon). Ted did not seem worried at all. “This is a great house and we’ve taken good care of it,” he declared. Paul took the practical approach as our realtor and advised us that a house inspection always turned up some items to be addressed; no house was perfect. Neither man was any help, so I was resigned to having anxiety attacks all by myself! Oh sure, deep down I, too, felt that all would be fine. But having lived a relatively long life I was aware that just when I am confident that all’s well is when something unexpected comes flying out of left field.
And like showings and open houses, buyers’ inspections are conducted without the sellers or the sellers’ agent being present. Generally, the prospective buyers, the buyers’ agent and, of course, the inspector the buyers have hired are the only parties involved. Understandably, they should be able to do the inspection without the sellers or their agent hovering and distracting. The buyers’ bear the expense of the inspection because it is for their benefit. Included in a home inspection are such basics as checking the foundation, roof, plumbing, electricity, the general structure, radon levels, termite activity, for some examples, to ensure that everything is in good condition and up to code.
On the day of the inspection, off to the village coffee house we went! Yes, the same one I have mentioned in previous posts — where we once again passed the time while people ambled through our house. More coffee. More biscotti. More finger drumming on the table for me, more leisurely reading for Ted. After a few hours — which seemed like forever — Paul called to say that he had been notified that the inspection was finished and that we would have the results in a few days.
I am not the most patient person in the world, so waiting for the inspection report produced more anxiety. The days rolled by and then Paul called; he had the inspection report in hand. A few issues had been uncovered, but the good news was they all were fairly easy to remedy. The required repairs would become part of the contract and had to be completed before the closing. Professional contractors would be required to complete the necessary repairs and provide documentation to that effect.
As it turned out, one contractor that we had used in the past had retired and another was not available. For the remaining repairs we either had not required a particular kind of contractor previously or at least not for many years. Fortunately, Paul’s network of contractors produced most of the help we needed, and I found one contractor through my own research. The issue was not just finding the best contractors, but finding those that could fit us into their schedule within the required time frame. In selling and buying real estate deadlines begin to accumulate, adding more layers of anxiety.
For the moment, though, there was relief and joy that the inspection had been completed and the handful of issues uncovered were not major and relatively economical to address. Ted and Paul had been right in their respective outlooks. So now, in real estate industry jargon, it was time to go to contract.
New York State requires that you hire a real estate attorney to negotiate and draw up the contract between you and your buyers and represent you in all legal matters in selling your home. If you know any attorneys — among family or friends or one that you might have consulted on something or other — you can request a referral by them to an attorney that specializes in real estate law. And, of course, your realtor should be able to recommend one or more real estate attorneys with whom they have worked. Paul recommended a top-notch real estate attorney who joined our team to see us through the remaining home selling and buying stages.
After a preliminary telephone conversation with the attorney in which the required fee and documentation that was needed (deed, title, mortgage information, etc.) – were discussed, they sent agreement and authorization forms to complete, sign and return. Once all that was accomplished, we made an appointment to meet.
As we sat in comfortable chairs at the long, polished table in our attorney’s conference room, we spent some time chatting over coffee to get to know each other before we got into the nitty-gritty of the contract. When we did get to that point I had many questions, perhaps more than usual. My numerous questions and dissection of details partly stem from the many years over multiple industries I spent as an executive assistant and later as a department manager protecting my managers, employers, department, staff and coworkers from undo professional exposure by poring over agreements, policies, procedures, proposals and practices that affected them. And that pales in comparison to my intense scrutiny of doctors, school officials, individuals, practices, choices, decisions and so on in the protection of my family, friends and, of course myself!
Our attorney took us patiently through the process and also asked many questions to ensure that we were optimally represented. We returned a second time to go over the actual contract point by point, examine our buyers’ requests and stipulations, and discuss any issues we had. And then the moment of truth arrived.
As I was now faced with affixing my signature to the contract, the realization that we were at a point of no return in the selling of our home, hit home. There was an anxious and emotional lull as I held my pen poised above the place where the attorney’s finger was pointing — one of very many places my signature would be required. Our attorney looked at me questioningly, and my husband placed a reassuring hand on my shoulder. I closed my eyes and sighed. An inexplicable wave of sadness washed over me. Then, as though invisible hands grabbed my shoulders and gave me a shake, I remembered why we were selling! I said a bittersweet and silent good-bye to my home. Opening my eyes, I lowered my hand; and as our attorney pointed repeatedly to the many places in the contract that required my signature I resolutely signed, again and again and again, until the deed was done. (No pun intended.)
I sat back in my chair, a bit dazed. Our home, essentially, was no longer ours. The process of handing over our house to our buyers had begun. Also, essentially, we were now homeless!! Talk about anxiety! It was our turn to go house hunting, which could be joyful. But we were also up against those aforementioned anxiety-producing deadlines.
Paul was already on the case, though, lining up properties for us to see. Come along with us as we become the prospective buyers!
Until next time,