Tuesday, February 22, 2011

REO for the Faint of Heart

I was neither thrilled nor scared when the offer was accepted by the bank. The house needed a lot of work. The refrigerator was missing and the toilets didn’t work, among a long list of other things.

People tend to yank things they can haul away or break the ones they can’t when the bank tells them, shockingly, they have to go because they haven’t been paying the mortgage.

It was the thing we had to do, for the stairs will be impossible for mom to negotiate in the years to come, and all the half-way decent houses were out of our price range. I, on the other hand, had to suppress my tears whenever I thought about leaving the house and the city that have been my home for the past thirteen years.

I realized just now that I had lived like a gypsy until I moved to this city near the bay, and soon found out it was less expensive to buy this little house than to rent an apartment.

Things changed much downwardly after I read the inspection report. I called the agent and said I didn’t think I wanted the house anymore. It wasn’t painful to say it, because I didn’t fall in love.

Adding to the long list of repairs, the foundation was uneven from the moisture in the soil. The inspector said the problem was common--every house in that area had this problem and it was not anything serious.

Foundation lifting? Not serious?? I wasn’t going to buy into that. I wanted my deposit back.

He immediately came up with a great idea, which made me wonder why he didn’t say so earlier. I had my theory, or course. Anyway, his idea was to get repair quotes from two companies and submit an addendum to the bank. They might agree to credit the repair fee after the sale.

The bank was more than generous--they agreed to lower the selling price in the amount comparable to the foundation repair. That squashed my hope for skipping the deal and staying put for now.

With the same price I could buy two houses in Sacramento area. I can rent one out and, combined with the rent from the house I’m in right now, the income could be a big help for us. Mom said she could live in a townhouse with stairs, so we could afford one in this low-crime high-class area nearby and preserve my back from not having to maintain a house. Numerous scenarios ran through my mind during the ten-day “weasel” period I almost went mad. In the end though, I had to nip these ideas one by one.

Mom was thinking only the present. Her health will make climbing the stairs feel like conquerring Mt. Everest soon. The suburb of Sacramento is not suited for someone like her at all. The whole town probably has one Chinese restaurant. If you don’t like it, well, you just have to learn to love it. I’m not sure if I’m ready to listen to her constant complaint, giving that she likes to eat out so much.

So, with much dread and a trembling hand, I signed and released the contingency on the tenth day. Reluctantly, I will be moving to a strange city and living among strangers soon. The only relief is the tiring process of house hunting, that includes driving all over the places, the letdown after looking at the houses and their prices, the realtor who didn’t show up at the property because he simply forgot (and was promptly fired by me), or we couldn’t get in because the key didn’t work, or the renter changed the locks and refused to open the door so all the time and effort were wasted, or the strange remodeling work done to the house that made me think "WTH were they thinking," or the previous owner’s wife died in the house so I walked through the house with a repeated silent prayer, is behind me.

Now the new chapter begins--remodeling. I’ve heard that dealing with contractors is a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to it.


  1. This doesn't sound good, Sarah. I'm sorry you're stuck with a less-than-ideal situation. In time, hopefully, it will become a comfortable home.

  2. Hi Robyn, it may not be too bad. I'm dreading the repairs and the move to a different city, but I might get used to it given time. After all, I didn't know a soul when I moved here thirteen years ago.

  3. It's a new adventure, and a new source of writing material. Somewhere in your new neighborhood there's a person who knows the best and most reliable contractors. People like that are eager to share their A-team list with others. Oh, and tell Mom, that you expect her to paint her room. There might be a good laugh in that one.

  4. Bruce--mom can hardly stand for five minutes, but I'll tell her it's good exercise for her and see what she says. She doesn't complain too much anyway... :)

  5. Apologies for my absence from reading and commenting on your blog, Sarah! I've been super busy!

    You bought a house! That's amazing. Sure, it might need some work. But think of it this way: you can shape it into the kind of house YOU want to live in. It can be great. It'll be hard work but it'll be yours. That's something. I only wished I owned a house. Best of luck with it. :)

  6. Sarah, this thing is going to work out--you know that it will. It just may take some time, though. Please keep me updated, and if you want to scream and cry and stamp your feet, you know where I am!

    There is really no way anyone can say for certain just how Tut died. I think we are just lucky to have been able to see all the relics!

  7. Lou - good to see you here! I hope I could manage to shape it into what I want. For cost saving sake I may have to compromise a lot--story of my life! I still think townhouse is the best way, but it's not for us at this time.

  8. Judie - It will work out one way or the other, right? Right now I need to find a good plumber and electrician. Chiching!! I will keep the progree report here as long as I can swing it.

  9. Thanks for your comment on my post. Chiching is sright! Keil came over last night and has helped me all day today painting the guest bathroom. I never could have done it without him! Everything is coming together, now, and I think i will be ready for Rod and Chris to get here tomorrow evening. We went to Olive Garden to dinner tonigh, and I am soooo ready to collapse and get a good night's sleep!

    If I lived closer, you can be assured that I would help you with your move. I know just how stressful that is!!

  10. Congrats on this big step! My advice is to BREATHE. Oh, and get EVERYTHING in writing, including the exact work, the price and the time. And, only use contractors who have REAL companies with insurance. If anyone sends you their friend or brother "cuz he will give you a great deal" - don't walk, run. Good luck!

  11. Charlene - thanks for the sound advice. I already lined up a guy who will do the floors for free. You have no idea how stressful it is!

  12. Sarah, check on line for recommendations. I've been lucky finding good people that way. The rest is just time and patience. Try not to get overwhelmed and do too much at once. One project at a time.

  13. Ok my dear friend, so you have taken on yet another adventure. I have nothing but the deepest respect for the way you are honoring your mother. I know from experience that in the end, it will all be worth it. I am NOT saying this journey will be easy because the truth is, it won't. It will however be worth it one day.

    I'm here if you need an ear.

  14. Good luck! I've been trying to talk Mr. Fairway into a little remodel, but he's not biting...

  15. np - that's a good idea. I'm trying to decide on just the color right now.

    Marla - I'm not that good--I'm really reluctant to move, but the stairs are dangerous for mom.

    Melissa - maybe he's smarter than you think? :)

  16. Sarah...you're so right about the stairs. My mom...same thing. Except she is farther along and now no can do stairs. I don't think I've seen you since I was Just Playin' (my alias)months ago. Can't wait to hear about the remodeling and how you get to make it your own.



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