Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The housing situation....

I have three posts in the "edit" stage that, when I finish, will be posted with back-dates from when I started them. It's coming.

But for now, I will fast forward and just speak in terms of the housing situation.

I think I've mentioned before that I own a condo that is for sale. Yes, I believe I even referred to it here in this blog as the "condo-that-will-never-sell." Now this condo is nice. Really nice. It's only 10 years old, and when I bought it in February of 2001, I still gutted it and redid it anyway, just because I didn't like the carpeting or the builder's grade eggshell paint. And, I wanted ceramic tile in the foyer and the kitchen. And.. Well, I could go on and on, but it doesn't matter. The bottom line is I put my heart and soul into the thing, and it's immaculate. So I had a nice (reasonable) idea of the profit I expected from it.

Reasonble, if the market were normal... But of course it's not. The whole complex is laden with units priced below market value, including, unfortunately, some foreclosures. Even though they are icky inside, they are priced low enough that someone could feasibly put in some sweat equity and have one looking as good as mine does in a few months or so. So my target market is someone who wants a turn-key home, in that general price range and style home. And it's not a very populated target market, because you can get so much more for that money right now.

Now the same exact week that we became seriously committed to taking in this child, we got a phone call late the day after Christmas giving us only a matter of hours worth of notice that an appraiser was coming to inspect the rental house. An uncle was intending to buy it. Before the first of the year, actually. I knew that was pretty ridiculous, but whatever.

To welcome an appraiser when you are the seller typically mandates that you put your home in show condition. This is not easy to do when you have pets, and you live life on the run in a constant state of "busy." I can welcome regular guests in the house with no notice, but an appraiser?

Now the youngest of the five heirs left to inherit the house, or the proceeds from the house, is the executor. She is currently in a very bad situation. She saved for years and years and years, bought a home on her own, fell in love with a guy who also had a home, and the put both homes up for sale while buying a third very large home with a bridge loan. In the midst of all that, the real estate market took a nosedive. And there they were. Both of their homes did sell, but not right away. When they did sell, it was not at a hugely attractive price. During some of this time she ended up without work for awhile. That didn't help the situation... Her cohabitating boyfriend, who runs his own flooring company, started working serious hours.

Anyhow, you'd think that this aunt, being the executor, would be very keen on fixing up the Grandmother's home and getting it on the market for as high a price as possible... But initially that wasn't true because, I believe in my heart, she just wasn't handling her grief very well over her mother's death. I can understand this totally. They weren't just mother and daughter. They were best friends and daily companions. So after talks of us renting the place instead of renting an apartment while the condo was on the market, all the things mentioned about how she would come work on the yard and fix things up, and come work on going through her mother's stuff, etc. never happened. In two year's time, she's been to the house three times, and that's including last week, which I'll get to shortly.

So despite the logic that she'd want the place to sell, and quickly, for top dollar, that was never the case. She didn't want to come around the house at all. We got keys from her at a local pub the night we moved in, and Grandma's teeth were even still on the sink. The house had sat empty for several months, with a visitor only once a week to deal with the cat who then lived all alone, and all the years of neglected dust threw my allergies for a serious loop. I couldn't breathe right for months when we moved in. Initially, we confined ourselves to the living room and downstairs bathroom. For everything. A bed on the floor, and piles of necessary clothing. Because there was no way to move into any of the bedrooms. I had to pack up much of Grandma's personal stuff just because it was so in the way that we couldn't move.

The aunt also made many comments about how she hoped someone in the family would step forward and buy the house. The reasons I wouldn't buy this house would be worthy of a post all their own. And perhaps someday I'll put that together. But anyway, I digress. The point was that the aunt did not want to part with the house, or even prepare the house for sale.

But even with wanting the house to stay in the family, why would she agree to an appraiser coming with no notice whatsoever to us so we could spit-shine the place? Why wasn't she interested in having notice enough to come here herself and do some spit-shining? Particularly when the uncle who wants to buy the place is the nut of the family, which I mean in a very endearing way, who is constantly chasing a get-rich-quick scheme and calls himself an inventor of sorts. Most recently, he's been trying to lift a movie production company off the ground.

I believe it's because she and the boyfriend have had a falling out of sorts. They went from making wedding plans to him moving out. And I agree, based on the facts, that he's likely been in the midst of some sort of nervous breakdown or mid-life crisis. I realize those terms are cliche. But suffice to say, it's a mental event. No doubt. And I feel terrible for him. But I feel even worse for her. And she struggles now because she doesn't want to turn her back on him when he needs her the most if this is all temporary, but yet, it appears to be getting more and more permanent. She does not make enough to pay the bills in their household. Now, to make matters worse, he's not getting much business. So there isn't much money. Money needed to pay for the bills in the house they live in that is entirely financially upside down.

A few things have slipped out of her mouth. Some pertaining to how if this uncle did buy the house, it would be here for anyone in the family to stay at. Some speaking of how she'd leave certain belongings here just in case he needed them if he moved in. And best of all... Grandma's bed is still up and in it's normal place. The aunt slept in the bed the very night after Grandma passed in that bed. And has often spoke of having the best night's sleep ever. Yet, she was terribly worried about preserving the spare twin mattress in the basement in case the uncle buys the house and moves in, because he doesn't necessarily have a bed to bring from out of state where he lives now. Why wouldn't he take the bed that is standing and fully ready to receive a tired body?

Likely because she'll be sleeping in it. The boyfriend has been pushing her to just sign the house over to him. She's openly admitted she's considering it. And there is no doubt she'd move in here in a New York minute.

So why hasn't she already? Mostly because her dogs can't come. We have two dogs, which are the limit for the city, and our dogs aren't necessarily going to take kindly to a couple labs in their turf. The dogs can't be separated because we already have three areas of animal zones. Our cats are upstairs, the dogs remain on the main floor, and Grandma's nasty cat who won't be civil to others lives down in the basement by choice.

So, it's no wonder that she was okay with an appraiser coming with no notice and likely lowballing the value of the house. The distant uncle purchasing the house would be the best thing that ever happened to her. She wouldn't have the full responsibility of fixing the place up, and she'd have an immediate place to go without appearing inappropriate to the rest of the family.

We told her the truth. We couldn't receive the appraiser because we were scheduled to be in Lansing at that time to meet with the Department of Human Services about this child we wish to take in. It turned into a big thing. Needless to say, we postponed Lansing, and spent an entire night spit-shining the house. When the came at 9 the next morning, we had intentions to go to sleep aftewards. But those plans were thwarted too, when the aunt decided to stay after the appraiser guy left. She not only decided to stay, she stayed from a bit before 9 am until a bit after 5 pm. We were exhausted. I got nearly no sleep at all for three days straight with everything that happened in that time. Then on her way out, she announced she'd be back the next day around 5:30. We were irritated, but we made the best of it. I even made dinner. Enough to feed her too. And she called around 6 to say she'd be over later in the evening. She showed up at 9 and stayed until after midnight.

As if this weren't all enough to be seriously annoyed with and ready to move out and be done with this situation, there is some icing for this cake.

First of all, we have another uncle. One who lives close by. He wanted some sort of things from the attic. The executor told him he could come while she was here and get his stuff. He was rude, basically accused me of moving something of his that he later found in the basement, and even had the balls to go through my closet after I told him it was my closet and contained only my clothing. And just before that happened, I had emerged from a quick shower up to my bedroom. I was fully clothed, but still... Both doors to my bedroom were closed and the aunt and local uncle just opened them up and walked on in.

Next we have a conversation with the executor. The same one who asked us to rent this house instead of renting an apartment, then stalled and cancelled meetings with us for several weeks, allegedly because she was having second thoughts since she didn't want any of her other siblings in the house without her until everything was divided and taken care of. So she asked us to not let anyone in the house unless she was home. Pretty cool position to be in, huh? When other family members came to the house, we'd have to pretend were weren't home or go outside and cut them off at the pass, suggesting we all go out and spend some time together. The same one who waited until we were in the house for several months to ask us if we'd also pay the property taxes while we were here. And then to ask if we'd pay the property insurance too. Anyhow... Back to the conversation.

She had three complaints. Yes, complaints. First, she claimed that she wasn't informed or asked before my little sister stayed with us for three weeks in this home. First and foremost, I did discuss this with her. She doesn't remember. But there were witnesses. And it was three weeks. And my sister contributed to this house in a serious way. She should have been glad my sister stayed here.

Next she compained about the two foster cats we have. Legitimate. I truly didn't talk to her about it before taking them in. This is the family who takes in anything with four legs and fur, but somehow these cats were a problem. That is her perogative. I apologized for the lack of disclosure and discussion on the cats. And I truly meant it. Had I realized it was something she'd have wanted to be bothered with, I'd have surely discussed it with her.

Last, she wigged about the future foster child joining us. And her complaint kept oddly going back to how she wants everyone in the family to have a home in this house for as long as it's in the family. (Somehow this child's presence hinders that?) Then she continued asking questions all pertaining to whether she would really be a foster child, or if we'd consider adopting her right off the bat. All i could think at the time was, what would be the difference? But later it hit me. There was a difference. When you have a foster child in Michigan, all adult inhabitants of the house have to go through the same type of background screening and criminal checks. But if you adopt, you don't have to worry about that. So possibly, there are skeletons in her closet.

So when you put all of this together.... The spontaneous appraisal, the rudeness and expectation that we put our life on hold at the drop of a hat, the uncle going through my closet, the overall interruption occurring during the first and only week we've both had off since long before our wedding, and the foster child becoming an issue, we were clearly out of here.

So we went house shopping for something we could buy and manage to afford while we still have the condo. We met with a mortgage broker and our realtors just a couple days after this whole aunt fiasco happened.

We put a bid on a house last Friday. They countered this morning, we countered back, and they accepted. Verbally, at least. The written one is coming. Our inspection will take place Thursday. Our last mortgage broker meeting will be Monday, and we close January 30 or 31.

As expected, we haven't heard any more regarding the uncle buying the rental house. And we are slightly worried about sticking his aunt with the responsibilities of the house if she doesn't have a buyer. But we can't make that our problem anymore. Not when worrying about her and trying to hold the fort and make improvements on her behalf only lead to her disrupting our lives and walking all over us. I'm no longer happy that I replaced things like the 1923 thermostat and painted the downstairs bathroom. The paint I bought for the upstairs bathroom? It's going with me. I'm all done here. We may finish fixing the washing machine, but that will be it. In three weeks, we'll be in our own home again.


Blogger Jen said...

I told you by Feb. you will have a new house and a job!!! Now you are even closer and I can walk to your house...with charlie ofcourse. =)

Sat Jan 13, 11:39:00 AM GMT-5  

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