In the Suburbs / Light at the end of the house-selling tunnel
Updated 6:29 pm, Thursday, June 5, 2014
Congratulate us! After four years of trying to sell, we've finally got a sales contract on our house.
It comes after a series of "price adjustments," taking the house off the market, listing it again, and failed deals with difficult buyers. The closing is scheduled June 26, and our attorney and broker Amy have assured us this is really it.
On June 24, we'll move to a ranch-style house we'll rent in north Bridgeport.
Our friends have been wonderfully supportive, assuring us that by hanging in there since late 2009 when the market was at its worst, we would ultimately succeed in selling. Family, however, often pushed us to cut our losses and move on, and I remained the butt of bad-house jokes until I asked the naysayer to walk a mile in my shoes.
The experience has taught us a lot, and I have enough material for a short how-to book. And once we've moved, I may just write it while the dust is still settling.
The worst chapter in this saga began on a cold morning in November 2012 when I got the call from my broker saying that we had a buyer and could finally think about renting a house and getting out from under our burdensome mortgage. There had been one other potential buyer, but we lost her when it took us a bit too long to come back with the price she wanted.
Did this deal go through? No! After polite back-and-forth negotiations and an agreement on a price, the couple (from New York, we understood) did their inspection the following Saturday while we found a wonderful place to rent in Stratford. We waited through Monday for the inspection results, and at 4 p.m. our broker received a short email that the buyers had backed out. No specifics.
Thus began a string of 150 showings over the next year and a half, another failed deal in March 2013 and another nine months of mortgage payments. My wife and I cleaned up and mopped our floors so often during that period that I thought of starting a cleaning service.
Potential buyers were all ages, and on days when we couldn't get out of the house with our three neurotic dogs, my wife hid in a corner, on the porch or in the basement as folks gushed, said they'd be back, but then evaporated. Feedback ran the gamut, and some of the opening offers were so hideous we'd barely have been able to afford a tent after closing.
Then, on the day before Thanksgiving 2013, the broker called to say that a young couple who had seen the house a month before was very serious, but needed our commitment that we'd be out by New Year's. I wondered how I'd break that news to my wife that we'd have to be out in four weeks, but I said we'd do it.
We signed the binder on the day after Thanksgiving, I created a blast email that began with something like, "It gives me great joy to say that at long last ...," and within a week we were trudging through snow to look at rental homes in Stratford.
We started packing, settled on movers and prepared for our Dec. 30 closing. Our lawyer called and said the buyers had signed the sales contract. Then he called back a few days later and said the buyers were backing out. We were stunned beyond words.
By the time the long, snowy winter ended and the spring market began, I was in a serious funk, worrying that we'd never sell the house. But thankfully, after nearly four years, a delightful buyer emerged.
We're preparing to move, and the mover's representative remembers us from the last aborted sale.
But I think it's all right to say that this sale is finally happening, and I'm no longer the boy who cried "Sold!" too early.
Steven Gaynes is a Fairfield writer, and his "In the Suburbs" appears each Friday. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.