Our Summer Home Buying Experience, Part 4: Wait, There’s More!

After over a year of getting our house ready to put on the market, and a summer of Real Estate process, we had two signed deals. We had a new house to look forward to moving into, and our old house was sold. All that was left was to move, clean, and turn over the keys to the old place.

The lessons weren’t over yet though.

On the buy-side, we had an issue come up over a contested property line. The neighbors have a rock retaining wall, and a few of the rocks cross over the property line as surveyed a few years ago by our house’s sellers. In order to ensure no future problems, we needed this issue resolved. We were satisfied with anything that would prevent our neighbors from claiming the land under those rocks. There were a lot of wranglings between the sellers, the neighbors, the agents, and the Title company, but they reached a resolution: the neighbors would remove the rocks that crossed the line, as none of them were structural to the wall.

I learned months later that this was likely the last manifestation of a property line dispute. The neighbors disagreed with the survey, and believe they own about six inches more land than the survey states. It’s not crystal clear either. In the end, I don’t care much, and don’t want to be embroiled in a feud that started with the previous owners. I don’t get the impression the neighbors do either.

On the sell-side, we learned that Title companies are a pain in the rear-end. They are meant to cover the rear-ends of the side they represent (buyer or seller,) but really only look out for their own. I really dislike them a lot. As much as some people dislike Realtors, I really dislike Title companies.

Also, just before closing, our buyers came back for one more poke-in-the-eye. We were feeling pretty shaken up about the negotiations for awhile afterward, but by the time closing came around we had let it go.

So one thing the buyers loved about the house was that I had put in a Smartthings home automation system, and replaced almost all of the light switches in the house with smart switches. They’re not cheap! A regular light switch ranges from $1-3, but smart switches are in the $30-40 range, and I had replaced all of them that didn’t require significant rewiring (they require both neutral and ground wires, and a couple of my existing switches had no neutral in the box, only a wire coming from the light and another returning back to it.) The (now) husband-buyer is a mechanical engineer, and a millennial, and was really into this system.

I’ll come back to that in just a moment.

As a service to our buyers, even before we put the house on the market, I put together a document that had all of the information I’d like to have if I were moving into the house. There were a lot of things that took me considerable time to get figured out, like how it was wired for both power and TV. I also knew my Smartthings system was going to need a little explaining.

The buyers’ agent thought it would be nice if I’d walk them through the house and give them a sort of orientation for the house. I thought about it for about a minute, but realized that the document I wrote was for that exact purpose. I declined, but said there would be a document waiting for them after closing that would explain things, and that they could email me questions if there was something not covered in the document.

Well, I commented to my agent that I left the document in a drawer in the kitchen, and it would be there when they moved in. He relayed that to their agent, who relayed it to them. It had slipped my mind that they’d be walking through the house prior to closing for a final inspection. When the showing request came in for the final walk-through, I scurried over there to get the document out until after the walk-through. There was information in the document that the buyers had no right to until after closing, such as account login information for the Smartthings and other internet-enabled systems.

They were really upset. They walked through, and apparently the first thing they wanted to see was the document. When it wasn’t there, they lost it! My agent called frantic at how upset they were. I reiterated that there was info in the document they were not entitled to, in the same way they weren’t entitled to their own keys to the front door before closing. Demanding such things before closing was unreasonable.

In the end, I copied and pasted the part of the document relevant to the Smartthings system, minus login credentials, into a new document and emailed it through my agent just to shut them up. I wish I hadn’t though. They rekindled the flame of our frustrations that we had allowed to burn out weeks prior, and we were to the point where we would have been willing to put the house back on the market. I also amended my promise to answer emails. I insisted that they go through the agents. I didn’t want to become this guy’s tech-support, or get harassed for who-knows-how-long after the sale was final.

I think their agent realized they were getting unreasonable too. Turning over a portion of the document ended up being a mistake in another way. In it, there was an explanation of how to use a remote control to pair two switches so they could control the same lights. Sometimes the pairings get messed up and they have to be re-paired (no pun intended.) Seeing that the night before closing, they went to closing asking where that remote was. Since it wasn’t attached to the house, the purchase agreement didn’t require me to turn it over, so I kept it for use in my new house. The buyer got upset (I didn’t mention that we didn’t go to closing, we pre-signed everything and our agent went in our place), and wanted it. His agent didn’t want the frustrations though, and said he’d pay for a new one.

In the end, I see why Realtors get the commissions they get. While I don’t want to pay any more to get my house sold, I think a good agent deserves every penny of his/her commission. Dealing with unreasonable people is a big part of the job.

In addition, ours also went above-and-beyond in many ways. Just before the open house, he offered to come over and edge around the driveway, which helped make the place look sharper. I mentioned that he repaired a couple rotten deck boards. He also paid for house cleaning just before closing, to take that load off from us. In addition, he threw in a nice housewarming gift for our new house. His biggest negative in the whole process was that I would have appreciated more sensitivity and patience during the negotiations when selling our old house, but he didn’t do anything unethical during the process, and he did even warn us beforehand what to expect. I’d give him an overall grade of A- to A, and would certainly refer potential home buyers and/or sellers to him as a good agent.

Comments are closed.