“Frodo was now safe in the Last Homely House east of the Sea. That house was, as Bilbo had long ago reported, ‘a perfect house, whether you like food or sleep, or story-telling or singing, or just sitting and thinking best, or a pleasant mixture of them all.’ Merely to be there was a cure for weariness, fear and sadness.” ~ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
“A goal is a dream with a deadline” ~ Napoleon Hill (and possibly others)
Welcome to Part 7 of my series. If you’ve missed any of the previous installments you can read them here: Part 1-The Decision, Part 2-The Realtor, Part 3-Decluttering and Sprucing, Part 4-The Showings and Part 5-The Joy and Anxiety of the Inspection and Going to Contract and Part 6-The Search For a New Home.
We were now under contract both to sell our present home and purchase our new home. We’d come a long way, but we still had a way to go to reach the finish line, which depended upon two closings happening.
As we got into the details we wound up juggling dates, working out logistics and incurring more costs, as follows:
- Movers: The cost of the move itself was not insignificant, but was reasonable considering the company’s reputation for efficiency, TLC in the handling of its clients’ belongings and quality service and follow up.
- Moving Date (Based on the Closing Dates): Because we, as well as our buyers and sellers were in positions to move ahead relatively quickly, it was estimated that we had about five weeks until the closings.
- Packing Up: We had been busy packing, but were nowhere near finished. We had more than a month until closing. That would give us enough time. Right? Right?
- Repairs: In progress were the handful of repairs that I wrote about in Part 5, which we agreed to accomplish before the closing with our sellers. Each repair was not terribly costly, but altogether they added up.
- Swing Time: I don’t mean the Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers 1936 film or the dance style (although check them out if you want to put a big smile on your face!). I mean the time between closings — when we have to vacate our home directly after the first closing (because the house is no longer ours), reserve lodging for us, board our cats, store our furniture and other belongings, and then, finally, after the second closing move in to our new house.
Sorting Out the Details
Paul had scheduled our inspection (he recommended a trusted inspector from his magic Rolodex), and the four of us — the inspector, Paul, Ted and I — went through our home-to-be, this time with our magnifying glasses. The house was built just one year after our current home was built, so there were no worries about asbestos. Not surprisingly, we found a few minor issues to be corrected.
Following receipt of the inspection report and the results of the radon test (passed), we again met with our attorney to go over the contract with our sellers, which included our check for the binder. (In New York State, the usual binder is 10% of the purchase price of the home, which is placed in escrow to “bind” the buyer to the contract; this binder can be forfeited if the buyers withdraw from the contract without a good reason. There is usually room for negotiation, and at our request Paul negotiated a 5% binder with our sellers when he presented them with our offer.) This time I signed in the numerous places with a bit more alacrity. We were approaching the end of our journey and as autumn was around the corner I wanted to be somewhat settled in our new home before the beginning of the holiday season.
Our attorney provided us with tentative closing dates, with the caveat that they could change if any of a variety of holdups occur. Paul also warned us that original closing dates almost always change due to any of the various final moving parts stalling.
Being so warned, we met with our mover. As we discussed details and logistics, we were asked if we wanted to add packing to our moving agreement, for an extra charge of course. Ted and I felt we could handle packing with Lyn’s help. After all, Lyn and I had tackled the decluttering project on our own; the three of us could handle packing up the rest of the house. Plus, it would save us some money. That settled, we scheduled an early October moving date. Our mover advised that autumn was a busy time and he wanted to get us on the calendar ASAP.
Let the Juggling Begin!
Having scheduled the moving date, our attention turned to finalizing the half dozen or so repairs we needed to have completed by the closing of our house sale. (Paul and our attorney would keep on top of the items to be addressed by the sellers of our new home.)
On our end, two contractors came out promptly, fixing one minor problem and discovering that there was no problem after all with one of the issues on the list. That was a pleasant surprise! One issue involved replacing our outdoor meter reader because part of it was rusted (not uncommon over time due to the elements). The electrical company we hired quickly accomplished this task.
Things were moving along! Repairs were nearly completed, we had our closing and moving dates, and we had made reservations at a nearby motor lodge to stay for two nights and at our favorite boarding kennel for three nights for our two cats (we wanted them out of the way as we cleared out our soon-to-be former house and moved to our new one). We are so fortunate, I thought happily, that we had hit none of the snags about which Paul had warned.
And then, naturally, we hit a snag.
While all the repairs were completed and documentation submitted to the buyers through our attorneys, it turned out that our local utility company (UC) had to inspect and sign off on the aforementioned meter replacement. Okay, no big deal, we thought.
Our electrician had routinely reported the replacement to the UC, which in turn advised us that we would receive a certificate of the successful inspection when it had been completed. However, because our buyers’ attorney wanted that certificate in hand prior to the closing, we needed a definite date. Unfortunately, the date the UC gave us resulted in having to reschedule the closing dates. And that caused three families — us, our buyers and sellers — to reschedule moving and other dates (lodging, kennel, etc.). We were now pushed to the end of October.
Meanwhile, we were busy packing up our house for the move, and were actually thankful for having some extra time because the task was a bit more time consuming and labor intensive than we anticipated. The moving company provided us with free recycled boxes, but we had to purchase a ton of packing materials, which was costly. And we seemed to run out often. It took a lot more boxes and packing material than we estimated, especially to pack china, crystal, flatware, cookware and bakeware, utensils, small appliances and, home office equipment and supplies, and we had to keep purchasing more. And, then there the marketing and training materials, books, games, keepsakes, holiday decorations, clothing, shoes, accessories, pet accessories and various supplies, and one or two million essential and otherwise odds and ends, etc., etc., etc.
In the middle of everything, we received a notice from the UC that our inspection date had been rescheduled! We appealed through our attorney to the buyers that they waive awaiting the inspection, as the repair was very straightforward and routine and the inspection would be completed eventually and the certificate provided. We offered to establish a contingency fund on the off-chance the inspection failed and additional work was required (highly unlikely, according to Paul and our experienced electrician). When the inspection was finally completed and the certificate issued, the contingency funds would be returned to us. But our buyers’ attorney held fast. We couldn’t blame him; he was looking out for his clients, as our attorney was looking out for us. But here’s where the juggling over a relatively minor issue got a little insane. And we were worried that the delays would cause a problem for our buyers and sellers with regard to any mortgage rate locks expiring.
Both we and our electrician went back and forth with the UC. Several dates were scheduled, canceled and rescheduled for various mysterious reasons — causing everyone to reschedule moving dates, and us to reschedule lodging and kennel boarding multiple times. Finally, our wonderful electrician managed to get the inspection pushed up and waited for the UC rep to arrive so he could ensure that the inspection went well and we would have the required certificate in hand, saving the day. But now we were into November.
And because of all the UC delays, we hit another snag in finding new closing dates that worked for everyone. After many frantic telephone calls and juggling of dates, our attorney’s brilliant associate was able to work some magic and got us all back on track with closing dates on which everyone could agree. (I was assured by family members that the nervous tick I had developed in one eye would go away when everything was over.)
Ah, but there was yet another snag: It was looking pretty grim in getting a new moving date before the end of the year, including the two-day storage on the moving truck of our furniture and boxes to accommodate the swing time. As I was about to unpack the liquor cabinet for a large bottle of Merlot into which I would insert a straw, our mover called with the great news that he had been able to do some of his own juggling and had us back on his schedule!
We had, however, missed so many of the deadlines we had set. Gone was the revised goal of moving into our new house before Thanksgiving. But if no other delays cropped up, we would be in our new house by Hanukkah and somewhat settled by Christmas.
We did not have to attend the closing with our buyers, as Paul and our attorney represented us, having all of our documentation. Paul called us afterward to tell us that everything had gone smoothly. We did attend the closing with our sellers that was scheduled for the next day. There were many documents to sign, and unseen funds were being moved around on paper; it was a bit surreal. Finally, it was over. The atmosphere became relaxed, there were congratulations all around, and we were handed the keys to our new home.
All this seemed like an anti-climax after all the logistical juggling we had gone through to get to this point. But we were not quite at the finish line.
Join me for the final installment of my home selling and buying journey, as we say good-bye to our home of three decades and finally move, using those keys to open the door to another adventure.
Until next time,