The saga of the house that crack built…

Yesterday, after reading about yet another thing that is wrong with my house, someone asked me how we ended up with the house that crack built.  I realized I never fully explained how we ended up there or the whole process of buying the house, which was…interesting. 

So, I’m going to tell you that story now.  It’s a long one, but it’s pretty entertaining…especially the day of our closing.  That was a day that will live on in our relationship history forever as the most ridiculous day on record.  But I’m totally getting ahead of myself.  To really tell the story right and for you to completely understand why we chose our house, I have to start at the beginning…

In 2005, J was living in the city and I was living in the suburbs and we were paying two separate rents even though we were together pretty much all the time.  Real estate prices had been going crazy up to that point, but were starting to come back down.  We decided that we wanted to start looking for a house so we could stop paying rent and finally just move in together.  We wanted to get away from the city so we settled on Connecticut, called a realtor and started our search. 

At first we didn’t know what kind of house we wanted, but we knew we wanted a water view, so our realtor took us to any house that had water near it.  Seriously…if there was a puddle in the driveway, she took us there.  We quickly ruled out a lot of things and we settled on what we wanted…a large-ish center hall colonial with a big backyard in one of a five different neighborhoods in Stamford, CT.  J also wanted that water view…which is pretty easy in Stamford since there are ponds and lakes and rivers everywhere. 

We had seen about 8 houses over three weeks and I didn’t like any of them.  It was a Saturday and we were almost done for the day, but a house had just come on the market and the realtor wanted to take a quick swing by.  She told me not to get my hopes up as she hadn’t seen it yet, but someone told her that I’d probably like it.  Well, that someone was right. 

As soon as we pulled into the driveway, I knew this was the house.  I mean, it was THE HOUSE…the dream house.  It was perfect…everything I pictured when I thought of a house in CT.  We went inside and I was madly in love.  If it had been up to me, I would have bought the house right then and there.  J wasn’t with me and I wanted him to see it right away.  The realtor agreed to meet us there the next day…which happened to be Mother’s Day…so J could see it. 

I have to say, J’s reaction was a little less enthusiastic than I’d been hoping for.  He liked the house, but he wasn’t having the same love affair with it that I was.  We spent a good hour there and J looked over everything from top to bottom and then sideways.  He looked under, over and behind everything.  He checked the outside, inside, basement, attic and yard.  By the time we left, I’m pretty sure he could have found his way around the house blindfolded.  In the end, he was sold…the house passed J’s rigorous inspection and we agreed to discuss it and call the realtor back.

We discussed it for a week…non-stop.  We went back to look at it three different times.  We researched the market and looked at comparables.  We talked to our realtor a lot.  There was one major stumbling block for us…the price.  It was out of our price range.  We tried to run the numbers every way we could, but they just didn’t add up for us.  The house was also very overpriced.  The asking price was on par with some of the very high-end, custom homes, but it was pretty standard with a lot of builder grade materials.  It would have needed a lot of upgrades that were definitely not in our budget. 

So we moved on and looked at pretty much every other house in the entire Stamford area.  We saw a couple of things that were ok, but nothing that we liked as much as THE HOUSE.  We looked for a year and I think in total I saw about 45 houses.  During that time, the sellers of THE HOUSE realized they needed to lower their price and they did a series of reductions.  Finally, in April of 2006 they came pretty close to a number that we felt was reasonable. 

We decided to make an offer. 

We went to look at he house again.  We did more research.  We looked at more comparables.  We made lists of pros and cons.  We picked a number and did all our paperwork and submitted an offer.  Then we crossed our fingers.

Our offer was low…very low…but we thought it was reasonable and we were confident we could negotiate a deal that would make everyone happy. 

We were very wrong. 

15 minutes after submitting our offer, we had an answer.  No.  But not just no.  We were told that we were completely ridiculous…that our offer was insulting…that we were out of our minds…that we had no concept of the real estate market in Stamford…that there would be no negotiating. 

Did I mention the seller was a total douche…an investment banker who thought he was brilliant and knew everything?  He didn’t have a realtor…he was selling the house on his own because realtors didn’t know anything and he could do a better job.  Also…his ties were arranged in his closet in perfect rainbow-colored order and they were all perfectly line up and even.  Total douche. 

We tried to explain how we’d arrived at our number.  We showed him our research, our comparables, our list of needed repairs and upgrades.  He didn’t want to hear it.  We either paid his price or we could go fly a kite.  We chose the kite. 

I was really upset.  I seriously loved that house.  I was also sick of looking at houses.  I’d seen so many and I spent so much time driving to CT and back.  I needed a break.  So we put our house hunt on hold…

Oh…did I mention that THE HOUSE sat on the market…empty…until 2008 and then sold for $150,000 less than what we’d offered?  I still chuckle when I think about it.

To be continued tomorrow…