Two months ago, my newsletter featured a post about the inevitable surprises that arise during real estate transactions. (You can read it by clicking here.)
In the interim, new astonishments have risen, written their stories and become the stuff of legend.
There was the hair-raising Case of the Too-Fast Closing.
And the confusing Case of the Car Included in the Sale.
And who can forget the just-plain-dumb Case of the Last-Minute Pre-Closing Lender Requirement to Paint a 2’ x 4’ Patch of Exterior Wood Siding.
The latest thriller I’ve encountered is one I’m entitling the Case of the Emotional Roller Coaster of Trying to Buy a Bank-Owned House. It bears telling, though some details have been changed to prevent identification of property or players.
The house in question was a cozy storybook cottage in a quaint San Francisco neighborhood. It had languished on the market for 45 days at a too-high price of $1,000,000.
Jack and Jill—the cutest couple of first-time homebuyers you’d ever want to meet—encountered the house on a hot, sunny, slow-open-house Sunday. It was love at first sight.
(I’m talking about the sort of love that’s reserved for the runt of the litter down at the SPCA. The house was going to need some grooming and fattening up, but its basic bones and personality were great.)
Jack, Jill and I talked it over and decided to write an offer. Soon, the horror began.
Monday, 9:00 am: We offered $975,000 ($25,000 less than asking) with clean terms. Sensible.
1:00 pm: The listing agent called me to say the bank (which owned the property) was considering our offer. Encouraging.
Tuesday, 9:00am: The bank countered us at $999,000. Discouraging.
12:00 pm: We restated our offer of $975,000. Persistent.
1:00 pm: The bank agreed verbally to $975,000. Amazing.
4:00 pm: The bank sent its version of the contract for Jack and Jill to sign. Bureaucratic.
4:05 pm: Jack and Jill signed the contract and I prepared to return it to the bank for signature. Procedural.
4:15 pm: The listing agent informed us the deal was off because a competing offer had been submitted by another agent in the listing office! Bummer.
5:00 pm: The bank countered Jack and Jill and the competing offer with a simultaneous “highest and best” demand. Depressing.
Tuesday, 9:00 am: The listing agent called to say the bank had changed its mind and was honoring and accepting our $975,000 offer after all! Wonderful.
9:15 am: The listing agent called to say the bank had changed its mind again and wanted our “highest and best” instead. Cruel.
11:00 am: Jack and Jill submitted their highest and best offer of $1,05,000. Courageous.
5:00 pm: The listing agent called to say that the competing offer from his/her colleague’s clients was just a little higher and just a little better than Jack and Jill’s highest and best. Utterly deflating and upsetting.
And so the tale ends. Jack and Jill will not be buying THAT cozy storybook cottage, but I trust we will soon find a far superior house in which they will live happily ever after—or at least until it’s time to upsize.