Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A Realtor's Dream and Our Nightmare

When my mother died two years ago she owned a house in the North Carolina mountains. Anyone who knew my mother knew she went through mountain houses like most women go through winter coats - when they no longer fit , get rid of them and buy another. She was a realtor's dream. When she made up her mind she wanted another mountain house, it was not unlike her to find a realtor, list the current house, and expect him to spend the day showing her "new" houses that she would like to close on by the following week. She always paid cash. 

She started with our mountain farm and the house on it in Hendersonville, NC - that after 30 something years was never finished. In the divorce, that great unpleasantness we endured, she demanded (in a drunken stupor) the 200 acre cattle and horse farm. My brother and I tried to explain to her that given the annual upkeep and headaches (even though there was an overseer) that did not make a lick of sense. However, who were we to tell her anything. Several years later, when she had sobered up she realized that she indeed had no business with the farm and in true form found a realtor who marketed it.  In a week or two he had found a family who were looking for a farm for their Arabian horses and were willing to pay her asking price. 

By this time she was already settled in her new very large condo about 40 miles south west of the farm near Lake Toxaway. This gave her lovely views of the Jocassee Gorge. However after several years she decided perhaps this was a little large for her and maybe she needed to scale down a bit. Well this and her continual war with the manager/developer of the condominiums was enough reason for her to move on. Once again the condo was put on the market and within a matter of weeks, sold at her asking price.

Of course by then she had decided that maybe she would do better in a resort, so she purchased a small home in Cashiers, NC about 30 minutes or so south west from Toxaway. She was very happy. The place was small and neat and very low in maintenance.

The years went by and she was getting up in age, but not slowing down. She had a habit of deciding to go up to her mountain house and back in a day. (My brother swore he thought she went up there just to water her flowers.) Most of her friends now had houses in the Saluda - Tryon area which just happened to be an hour closer to home. So once again her realtor was summoned, the house was put on the market, and she was in Saluda house hunting.

This is where we get to today. She bought a house the first day she started looking, which was her MO. Now I never saw the house until after she died - which was a major bone of contention with her. But my brother kept telling me it was ugly. In fact he said, "There are so many lovely homes in Saluda, but I swear to God, she went and found the ugliest one and bought it." I found that hard to believe having seen her condo and house in Cashiers (the house on the farm being an exception but that had sentimental value). They were all very nice and extremely attractive. 

She wanted to be in a neighborhood so that she would have permanent residents as neighbors who could watch the house. Also, if something happened when she was up there, they would be there if she needed them. This made perfect sense to me. I did not expect some resort property or fancy condo. Months after her death, I finally went to Saluda to meet my brother and look at some furniture in the house. My brother was generous in his comments at best. The house is the most hideous, God awful single family dwelling I have ever seen. 

Now we have to sell this ranch style brick home that sits on a corner lot next to a busy street. The interior is in poor shape and has not been updated in the past 20 years or so. What is there reeks of the 60's and 70's. Oh no, she could not have left us a tony condo or cute mountain cabin to sell, she left this beauty. We found a realtor, held our breath, and prayed.

There is a God. After a year or so on the market, we received several offers that expected us to do a tremendous amount of work before they would buy or offered an unreasonable price. Finally my brother called to tell me we had an offer that was very close to our asking price. After a few counter offers which only dropped the price by a thousand or so, we had a firm offer and a contract. I asked my brother, "Is this buyer blind or what?"

"Better than that, he is from California, is buying the house over the internet, and has never seen it."

For days I have waited to either wake up and realize this was a dream and in fact the house was still on the market or have the phone ring at any moment saying the deal was off (for some unknown reason.) But a closing date was set for this week. When I spoke with the real estate attorney about the details of the closing he commented that the buyer would not be at the closing. He was handling all the documents via Fed Ex. I told the attorney that was great because the buyer had yet to see the house and it suited me fine to have his signature on the documents and money in the bank before he did.

"Oh, it can't be that bad. And even if it is, he's from California. With the real estate prices out there he probably thinks he is getting a deal and is going to spend money fixing it up."

"Sweetheart", I added, "You cannot put that much lipstick on this pig."

Yesterday I got word from the attorney that the date for the closing is not final. It may change. I hope I am not about to wake up.  

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