|The House Sale from Hell
||[ Friday, 07 Jan 05 | 14:35 ]
It has been four months since I accepted an offer to buy my house back in September. My real-estate agent had called me around midnight just as I was heading out for some bar-hopping in Sitges, a beach resort about 40km (25 miles) from Barcelona. I talked to my agent for about a half of an hour and had some misgivings about the contingencies in the offer. In the end I agreed, and I sent a FAX with my signature accepting the offer.
The buyer first saw my house at the end of June and was very interested in buying it. He agreed to buy it at the asking price (which was somewhat depressed because the house next-door had sold for less than it should have).
I was led (or misled) to believe that the escrow would be short, around 45 days. That would have meant that after I returned in early October for my daughter’s wedding, I’d be very busy getting the house wrapped up. Of course when mid-October arrived so did a request for an extension from the buyer in order to secure a loan to purchase it.
The first extension came and went like an autumn breeze. Three more extensions were asked for and given. Finally in early December I had had enough. So I told my real-estate agent “no more extensions.” Either the buyer could obtain a loan to buy the house or couldn’t, in my opinion. I also kept insisting on being given a timetable for the close of escrow so that I could make plans to move to Barcelona.
On Friday, December 10th I was called and told that the sale would completed the next week. I quickly secured a flight to Barcelona knowing that the holiday traffic could make it either very expensive or impossible to travel if I delayed.
So on Monday the 13th I signed all the papers and noticed that the close of escrow was set for that Friday, the 17th. That sent me scurrying to get the house completely empty by that Thursday. By Wednesday I could tell that there was no progress on the buyer’s side and that escrow wouldn’t close as expected. the last few days I was reduced to eating on paper plates and using plastic cutlery as well as sleeping on the floor in my sleeping bag.
My son Jon took me to the airport on Sunday afternoon and I left for Barcelona hoping that by the time I got there on Monday that the sale of the house was finalized. What a shock I had when I talked to my agent on Tuesday and learned that I had to wait until after New Year’s because the buyer’s lawyer was on vacation! Chuck’s Christmas stocking would be empty after all...
This put me in the position of not knowing how long I had to wait until I could actually make an offer on place to live here in Barcelona, since I have to put up 25-30% of the purchase price in earnest money.
So this Monday, January 3rd I called my real-estate agent to determine the status. She said that the loan docs were at the title company, but the buyer’s lawyer wanted more time to read everything. She said something about Friday being the date that appeared on the papers. I was furious. I said that these continual delays were unacceptable.
This evening (Thursday) I was waiting until it was midnight here or 3pm in California before calling my agent for a status update. Around 9pm she called and said that the buyer was ready to sign, but I had to grant a concession (meaning that I had to pay) 100% of the transfer taxes. Another $5K reduction in retirement funds that I hadn’t planned.
The title company agent called and said that she had prepared a revised seller’s estimated settlement statement that I had to sign and FAX back immediately. I noticed a settlement date of January 11th.
I called my real-estate agent around 17,30, California time, and she said that the buyer had signed the papers and that the papers had been packaged and were to be sent to the loan company overnight in nearby Novato. So everything seemed to be on-track.
Ah, but there was a fly in the ointment, as big as the jar. The buyer’s wife still had not signed a quit claim for my house, and without it, the sale cannot be completed.