May 12, 2010

How a House Sale Dies A Quick Death

You might have noticed that for about the last month or so I haven't mentioned much about the progress of selling our or house or showings. That is because since the beginning of April, we were under contract! Right after the first offer fell through, we received a second offer and were able to negotiate ourselves into a signed contract with the potential buyer. Deep down, I felt really hopeful about the buyer. It wasn't like the first time we got an offer, where I could just tell it wasn't going to work out.

Pete and I decided that we knew the likely hood of the offer falling through was there, as real estate and mortgage lending all over the country is rocky right now, we decided to wait until the last minute to move out. We'd work along to get the deal going through of course, scheduling inspections, doing repairs and clean out our extra stuff. The cleaning out of the "extra stuff" was the catalyst for last weeks exuberant love of Craigslist posts!

However when it came to actually packing and moving our stuff out of the house we were going to wait. Even if it meant an extremely stressful week before closing where we packed and moved for 24 hrs a day until done. We just didn't want to have to pack and then unpack because the deal fell through. Along with looking for a new place to live (because the Wee house is certainly not habitable!!) No leases or contracts were going to be signed until after the house was sold. In the interim we were going to crash at Pete's parents house before finding a new place to live.

Inspection time came and I met the couple that was buying the house. I loved them. They were exactly the people I hoped to sell our house to. We talked for a little while until the inspector came and then I left them alone during the process so they could focus on the house without feeling awkward that I was there.

Inspection report came back and they asked for a few things fixed. More inspectors and contractors were scheduled to come out and give estimates on the repairs. All the repairs were going to be done and covered by us, despite them going over the amount that we were liable for in the contract. We wanted to sell our house to these people and it seemed like it was just par for course for doing so.

Appraiser comes out. She has the personality of a driveway stone and pokes around the house for an hour. We weren't that terribly worried about the appraisal because our house is going for way under as compared to all the comps in the neighborhood. It also has more bedrooms and is in better condition than most (if not all) of the comps. Add in our 2 car garage, shed and lot size and we really thought they would more than make up for the assessed lost value of the railroad.

And we were right. Despite coming in over a week later than promised, our home appraised for over the price of the loan! We got a mortgage commitment. Pete and I even let ourselves talk about how weird it was going to be to move out.


On Friday, less than two weeks out from the closing that is set for May 20th, the appraiser sent the agents the list of what she wanted done to the property in order for them to give the loan out.

You ever walk into a room and see the look on someones face and just know it isn't good news? That was me Friday. Come home from the bank all super jazzed after depositing our Craigslist sale money to find Pete sitting in the living room on the phone. His face told me everything and I felt my heart falling right there. I said a quick "please don't anyone be sick" prayer and I waited for him to wrap up the conversation.

That is when Pete told me the sale of our house was essentially dead because of the bank required repairs. He ran down the list and I mentally calculated the costs, time and probability of being able to fulfil the requests. Yeah, I struck out with that real fast.

If we did all those repairs with contractors working round the clock in order to get closing in before the federal tax rebate expires (which our buyers were taking advantage of) it still wouldn't even be enough time. Nor would we even want to invest the TENS OF THOUSANDS of dollars get the repairs done. We'd loose so much money on the sale it wouldn't even be funny (although I would laugh, cause that's what I do in sucky situations). All so we could be homeless essentially.

Not to mention, most of these requests bordered on ridiculous. One of my personal favorites include tearing up half our entire downstairs in order to dig out crawlspaces for access under the dining room, kitchen and mudroom and add a vapor barrier underneath. Here is a hint lady, my house has been standing for 150 years. Unless someone knocks it down or the train falls on it, it will be standing for another 150 years. I am not digging out a in-really-good-shape foundation to add a crawlspace and a brand new *bleeping* foundation because you are stupid.

And again, she said the house was worth the price of the loan.

One of the requests wasn't even doable, not even if I moved heaven and earth and somehow had enough political pull in the county to even get my request heard by the local politicians.

So right now, I think the deal is dead. And because of the mostly (I'm the first to admit our house isn't perfect) ridiculous requests from this appraiser- our buyers are out the tax rebate and a house they really wanted, their agent doesn't get her commission for showing them 25+ homes in a two month time frame, our agent doesn't get his commission after our house has been on the market for 8 months, and us? well we get to still own and pay for this house. Whoopie.

This might have been the longest post I've ever written.
Thank you for getting this far, as it felt really good to get this all out.


  1. I didn't even know appraisers could require repairs! I'm a total novice about real estate...I have bought one home (a condo) and sold none. I thought inspectors recommended the repairs and the appraisers just determined the value of the home.

    I'm so seemed like everyone involved was cruising along towards the finish line.

  2. ugh, how upsetting! we also had an issue with the appraiser when we bought our house, but it was because the house came in under the sale amount because it did not have air conditioning at the time of the appraisal (something the seller was installing as part of our agreement with them). there was a lot of back and forth, but it ended up working on in the end.

    i cannot believe that something like this would stop the sell of your house though - i thought that the appraiser was supposed to only appraise the house in its current condition (which is why our a/c was even an issue). maybe there are different rules where you live.

  3. Thanks everyone. It was a really low crushing blow. Pete and I have picked ourselves up and dusted off now, so hopefully the best course of action presents itself soon.

  4. You might know this by now, but I think it depends on what type of loan the buyers were getting. We just purchased a house and we were told if we went with an FHA loan (i believe), the appraisers can get extremely picky. We wanted a quick turnaround so we opted for a regular loan. Not sure if that's what happened in your case, but if so, maybe there's still hope!

    So sorry to hear what you're going through -- good luck!

  5. I know I'm a little late but some banks are known to have crappier appraisers and bring them in from different areas they're not familiar with. When I purchased my house I shyed away from Wells Fargo because I heard they bring in appraisers that aren't even familiar with my area! But I've NEVER heard of "required" repairs. Ridiculous. Sounds like it turned out for the best though :)