One week ago, with tears in our eyes, we signed the “Cancellation and Release of Real Estate Contract” for the property that we had hoped would be the place to raise our kids and settle down for good. We were heartbroken… 5 months of precious time and over $1,000 in fees, inspections and tests wasted; not to mention all the mental effort, planning, dreaming and discussions we had as we looked forward with great anticipation to living in upstate NY. Now we are forced to start over from square one: looking at properties online, cold-calling realtors for aerial maps, begging for more information and spending money to travel and visit properties in person. Words only touch the surface of the emotions: frustrated, disappointed, angry.
How did it come to this? It all started with our bank’s appraisal, a normal and typically non-threatening formality towards the end of the mortgage process in which the property is almost always valued for the exact amount that it will be sold for. In our case, the appraiser mentioned two issues with the house that needed to be fixed in his opinion: the electrical system (breaker box and service to the house was very old and needed to be redone) and the basement support system (a few posts were just set up against the dirt floor instead of on concrete footers). The bank balked at approving the loan, without which we could not move forward. We had all the required work inspected at our own expense, and gathered quotes to accomplish the work. Then we proposed to the sellers that they pay for the electrical work (total of $2790, split between 3 sisters who co-owned the property = $930/family) while we tackled the basement supports at a cost of approximately $1000. After the work was done, we would have the property re-appraised successfully and move forward to close. What happened next floored us…
Cut & pasted from their lawyer’s email (emphasis mine):
“Sellers will not agree to a price concession nor to undertake any further work on the premises…”
“Sellers will permit [them] to undertake the electrical and structural repairs set forth in your letter, at their sole risk and cost, with no right of reimbursement and provided that (a) your clients waive the mortgage and inspection contingencies, and advise that title is acceptable, (b) release the downpayment from escrow to Sellers directly, making it non-refundable, (c) secure adequate liability insurance and execute an agreement indemnifying the Sellers against the acts or omissions of your clients or their agents in respect of the work, and (d) agree to a closing of on or before May 24, 2013, time being of the essence.”
Are they serious?! In today’s real estate market, they were willing to walk away from what amounted to a done-deal over $930 each… they are going to waste that much in the next 6 months worth of NY taxes while the property sits idle! All the experts (inspector, appraiser, bank underwriters, etc) were telling them: your house is not sellable in it’s current condition. Where else do they think they are going to find a buyer willing to work with them like we were, even fixing up their house at our cost in order to make it more sellable? And where do they get off trying to make a power grab for our downpayment ($5,000) along with requiring us to work on their house at our own risk?! It was absolutely ridiculous, crushing really, and we had no choice… we turned our back and walked away.
God give us the strength to persevere…