Monday, October 29, 2012

Lost a Sale, But Not a House

(First post that isn't about education)

This summer we put our house on the market and last month my wife and I got our hopes up.  We had a buyer who seemed genuinely excited about buying our 100+ year old farmhouse.  Our realtor was pestered by their realtor to get our answer first to their offer, and then their counter-offer.  They eagerly wanted us to find another house to move into in order to settle on a closing date.  Everything was moving along perfectly.

And then the home inspection report came.

They wanted us to reduce our price by about 16% due to severe structural issues in the basement.

It was as if someone punched me in the stomach.  They couldn't be serious.  We had a trusted friend do some work in the basement to prevent bounce (the beams, which are old tree trunks, are too far apart and there was some spring to the floor) and to provide extra support due to a heavy entertainment center.  Was there something with the foundation I wasn't seeing?

Did I let down my wife in choosing the house?  We knew we were buying a project 10 years ago.  I told our home inspector at the time, "I know this house has many issues, but is it going to fall down?"  

His response was, "This house has been standing for over 100 years, its not going anywhere."

It was a long first night for Alisa and I as we grew more and more despondent over buying this old house in the first place.

The next day our attitude changed from sadness to anger as logic replaced emotion.

Alisa and I went into this process knowing that we did not have to sell the house.  

In 24 hours we went from figuring out ways to calm the buyer's fears and give them what they wanted to not wanting to offer them one cent.

We looked over the home inspector's report.  It was as if he believed that everything done to the house was completed by me (and for anyone who knows my mechanical skills could tell you, that is laughable). Among the inaccuracies was the statement that the replacement windows are supposed to have the ability to tilt in, and they do not (I have tried every window in the house since and have not found one window that cannot tilt in for cleaning). And then there was the lack of details of what was wrong with structure gave no clue why they were asking for a 16% reduction on our house.

We then considered our friend who has been in our basement and we realized that if there was something terribly wrong with things down there, he would have pointed that out to us.  (In fact he did point out an issue with the support under the front door and we had him fix it.)

Our home inspector, our friend, and my brother-in-law (who has done a lot of work for us here) never warned us about issues with the structure because there wasn't any.

For under $200,000, these people were getting a 100 year old 7 room, 2 bathroom, farmhouse that isn't perfect (there's a reason why its under $200,000).  And what you are getting is a house that in the last 10 years had the following done to it new roof, siding, insulation, all new windows, and new water pump.  We bought it with a newer furnace and updated electrical so all major systems were in excellent condition. 

But was their home inspector right and everyone else wrong.  Did we have serious structural issues?

We decided to hire a structural engineer to allay our fears.

His response can be summed up with the line he repeated just in his initial inspection of the basement, "My gosh this in good condition considering the age of the house."

After an hour he called me down to the basement, he suggested a few fixes (well under what they were asking), complemented our friend's work saying he did what was supposed to be done, and declared the house structurally sound.  

And at one point he stated, "This house has been standing for over 100 years, its not going anywhere." Sound familiar.

We presented the structural engineer report and countered that we would pay for half of the fixes.  They still wanted their number.  After the laughter died down on our side the deal fell through.

The past few weeks have been a roller coaster for us.  But God is good.  He helped us to avoid rash decisions and showed us somebody with a better understanding and love for this house will come along.  

And through it all, I gained a deeper appreciation for the house He has given me.

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