Monday, August 17, 2009

Continuing Agonies

Firstly, I want to thank you for your comments and emails on yesterday's post regarding my blog shadows. All I can really say is that if they are telling you how to throw a party and have not been to or thrown the parties, made the food or the cocktails, or ironed the linens themselves, well, they are not me, er, I mean, the Blushing - or any other sort of - Hostess.

So, I took myself to a happier hostess moment:

Because this next bit really knocked me on my tail this past week. It is pouring in Blushingdom.

Seeing this home outside Charleston on a MLS listing did nothing for me. But it was big enough and then some for what we needed, 3000 square feet. Near decent schools, albeit private, like most of the south. And it was newly within our price range after the price had, the week before we saw it, been slashed 23%. But it was newer, built in 2005, and had asphalt shingle siding, both of these factors, I assumed, would cause it not to have enough character. There was a lot of builder-grade things apparent in the MLS photos, which can be both asset and issue at times.

On the upside though, unlike most homes in the Charleston environs, it was not in a Home Owners Association (I am no fan of landscaping-by-committee), had 9 foot ceilings, and the double gallery Charleston porches you see here (can't you just see my ferns hanging there, there, and there?). It had a recent small renovation project to lay in some hardwoods in the kitchen, formal living and dining, and the foyer.

And maybe best of all, the had a huge 300 or 400 year old oak to the front right which lazily breezed across the top gallery. And it is a clean slate: but for the floors hardly any color in the whole place; it was easy to imagine the color and wall colorings.

I found myself in the front hall imaging the draperies hanging delicately from near the ceiling mouldings and pooling just a touch on the floors. I remembered a yellow floral fabric I meant to ask The Asethete about because it had not been identified in the photo in which I had first noted it. And the house, it was bright, sunny and cheerful even with these boring colors everywhere. Sun light penetrated and dominated. Aglow and brilliant.

All this light is necessary for me: I have a hard time with darkness. I don't know if I have told you that before. But I cannot tolerate it. And especially not in winter. I prefer the south for many reasons, not the least of which is endless summer.

On the same day, we looked at a home in a highly desirable neighborhood near this house: It was in an HOA. It was oppressively dark, most of all in the kitchen where I spend most of my time. Completely intolerable for a number of reasons and they wanted a comparative fortune for the heap.

I am lucky to be looking at these homes with two remarkable men who kind of get all this: My amazing Husband, and our only slightly less amazing Charleston realtor, Shane, who is definitely the kind of guy you want around when you need to buy a house or do any other stressful, agonizing, mind-bending, exhausting, nightmarish task. If you are looking for a realtor there, send me an email and I will send you a realty angel.

Anyway, I loved the house. Went back twice in the same day and tried not to get attached to it because I know how these things can go. Don't I? Besides my own experience I remembered while there trying not to decorate in my imagination, the story Mrs. Blandings told me the last time our deal fell apart how she had wept over losing a in their home search, only to later land on the Dream House. But noting her remarks also: I knew, standing in that living room and under the oak tree, that my heart was beating; I largely take my cardiovascular system for granted, but not on that day.

It was listed as a short sale and owned by another Charleston realtor. We considered making an offer but since the price had been reduced so dramatically, decided to forward the full price offer with 24 hours to accept and a requested closing 30 days later.

While we were waiting, and waiting, and waiting to hear back on our already-by-then-expired offer, Shane and I tracked down some facts about the house: The realtor who owned the place had never paid a dime in property taxes on it. Which was kind of interesting - you know, the idea that if we did not buy the Sheriff would be out on October 30th to auction it off. But that was second in compelling facts: The Sheriff would never get the chance to auction it because the first private mortgage holder was scheduled to foreclose on September 1st. Did I mention our offer was dated August 9th to close on September 10th? Yes.

Our bank, in short, said absolutely no dice on a closing before September 1st because they could not speak for the timeline of the appraiser. The seller initially said the private mortgage holder would work with her and as long as she had a full price contract, would hold off the foreclosure to allow the closing to proceed. Failing that, the second mortgage holder would buy the first out.

Confused yet?

A day later, Shane received a call from the seller asking if we would agree to use her mortgage broker to speed up the process and close before September 1st. I agreed to talk with a couple of other people and said I would look at whatever company she was suggesting but that my inclination has always been not to deal with brokers: They would cost us more and we have had a great relationship with the bank we deal with directly. And frankly, I did not think that any bank mortgage would go through in two weeks regardless of who serviced it. Just the nature of the mortgage industry at this point and their due diligence is necessary in these times.

I received an email a few hours later from a mortgage broker with the same last name as the seller. I could not track Shane down, and called the guy myself and sure enough: He was the sellers husband. And in some listings on the internet, he is also listed as the owner.

Interesting. Right?

Just to be clear then: She is in arrears on her taxes and will be foreclosed on immediately, in the hole for about $100,000 and although we had a full price offer in her hands, wanted us to pay her husband - also one of the owners - to broker our mortgage.

Are you with me so far?

In the conversation with her husband, I told him I was not comfortable with even the suggestion of such a thing and I was uncertain as to whether that is even legal (and certainly, I thought to myself, not ethical).

And do you want to know what the most fun thing that happened was?

Okay. No word of a lie, here it is, cut and pasted, an email from the sellers to our real estate agent (just keep in mind, that she has in her hand a letter from our bank confirming funding for the full price offer):

-----Original Message-----
From: Shane

Sent: Thu, Aug 13, 2009 12:17 pm
Subject: RE:

Her most recent response was:

Your clients refused financing since chip is my husband, so I will proceed with the other offer. I actually got to more offers today, so finally!!

In other words, law-loving readers: Use her husband as a mortgage broker or no sale.

Ohhhhhhh. How I fumed. And then how I laughed. Cackled. And toiled.

I am not still paying for law school for nothing, am I? I don't know if you have ever read Section 40-57.145 (A)(12)(14) of the South Carolina real estate transaction law...


The Third Place said...

Are you going to file a complaint? Please keep us appraised (no pun intended) on your next steps. Those without legal backgrounds need to know!


Peace.Love. Lipgloss. said...

How disappointing! Buying a house is stressful enough, it's becoming far too common to hear of these sneaky tactics. Hang in there, you'll find the house you were meant to have!

Pigtown-Design said...

Reading her e-mail shows how illiterate and ignorant she is.

Laura [What I Like] said...

Oh the nerve! And good lord the woman can't even spell. As amazing as those porches are (really, it would be a dream to sit out there with a cocktail or two) god knows what secrets the house holds. If they can't pay their taxes or mortgage, it does make you wonder if critical maintenance has been ignored as well...a frustrating experience, but I have no doubt you'll find the house of your dreams in the end.

Kristin said...

It amazed me how people want to twist ethics when it comes to buying/selling a house! We saw some nasty things when we bought last year too!

The Countess of Nassau County said...

One word - Karma. They have no doubt tried to shake down others, and some mystical force in the universe delivered YOU to their doorstep. Had they called the guy from the party rental company you used last Christmas, they would have known better than to mess with the Blushing Hostess.

I have to agree with Laura's comment. Given the financial tightrope they are currently walking, I doubt quality was the operative phrase during construction.

Dumbwit Tellher ♥ said...

I am fuming for you! I just received my real estate license on Saturday of all things. But does this not violate the 'truth in lending or anti-trust' law(s)? This is so crooked in just makes me crazy. Shame on them & I hope their the individuals attached to those "new offers" finds out the truth as well. Sicking! Best of luck to you. I feel really horrible but I am pleased you have an 'angel' of an agent. Your dream home is just around the corner xxdeb

LPC said...

Go get 'em girl. They are probably fooled by the blonde thing. That's taken down more savvy people than they are. Many times. Go get 'em. They don't get to operate outside the law and rules of common courtesy. At least I certainly hope they don't.

Southern Aspirations said...

Oh, wow. No other words, really. You will find a much better home- one that won't run the risk of having collectors visiting the house just in case!

Mary said...

I've been a realtor for over 30 years, and have yet to hear one as bad as this. Here in California, they would lose their licenses...I hope you file a complaint, as I'm sure your state would not want them operating, literally, on the unsuspecting public. I'm looking forward to seeing the home you eventually purchase...this one wasn't meant to be.

Erika said...

It's strange how that e-mail even has me aggravating, and I'm not even involved in the situation - just a bystander. I would file a complaint if I were you. Why should you deal with such a headache at such a trying time as it is?!

An Aesthete's Lament said...

This would make a lovely little article for the local newspaper's real-estate section, don't you think?

Debra said...

Are you KIDDING? Your dream home awaits. Something fabulous will come your way.

Joyce said...

The woman can't spell and the whole thing is nutty. Bad Karma from those people. Run as fast as you can away from that house. Lot's of decent people with decent homes out there.

little augury said...

You have been through the fire- tests abound.This has happened more than once to several friends and clients- and something always- Always reveals itself to hidden for the best. There is little to be trusted with the sellers- as another reader said. Good Luck on the perfect house that is out their for you. la

teaorwine said...

Apparently, she mistook you for one who could be manipulated and coerced. Shame on her! An alternative and equally as lovely home awaits you and your family, for sure.

bluehydrangea said...

I use to sell Real Estate and I don't remember the exact terms and wording but I do know someone's in trouble!!! That's not the kind of welcome we usually give in the South! Shame on her!!

"Blossom" said...

So sad that people act this way.
I would keep looking but I'm so glad that you told them exactly what you did. I don't know where others get off that they can treat people like this. Too sad.......

Julia @ Hooked on Houses said...

This is ridiculous. And I think behavior like that from the seller would make me glad I couldn't buy a house from them anyway. Who knows what other "surprises" might lie ahead?

Sorry you couldn't get the house you wanted, though! I know what that's like, and it can be so disappointing.

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