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Home sale turns into price war

Sunday, June 13, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 9:55 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Our house at the lake has been on the market for about three months. Selling my house has always been a bit emotional for me, but quite frankly, I’ve never liked this particular house. We bought it when our grandchildren were little and several of our kids would come down almost every weekend. Now that the grandchildren are older, they have so many activities that the house is abandoned most of the year.

Last year we found some land and decided to build a “smaller” home where we had everything on one level. With three levels, the old house is a devil to keep clean. But it has a major selling point — it’s less than a minute from the outlet mall.

Since we’ve had the house on the market, it hasn’t been much fun going to the lake. I have to keep the house in pristine condition at all times because I never know when someone is going to show it.

About three weeks ago we got an offer. It was more like an insult. The bidder offered $70,000 less than our asking price. In addition, he said we needed a new driveway and new siding and he wanted some trees cut down to better view the lake. I was ready to reject the offer with an exclamation point behind it, but my agent begged us to counter.

We came down $5,000 and ignored his “concerns.”

He came back with a price $10,000 higher than before (that’s still $55,000 less than we were asking), but he also wanted us to throw in the furniture — all of the furniture. And the sale was contingent on him selling his house!

This time we rejected his counter. But that didn’t stop him.

The next offer was closer to our price, but this time in addition to the furniture he wanted all of our pictures and accessories. The contingency remained.

This back and forth went on for almost 10 days, and I was growing weary. My husband and I dropped the price another $10,000 and wrote a vague exclusion list.

The next offer was even closer to what we wanted, but the list that was attached made my blood boil. Not only did this guy want all of the furniture, all of our pictures and accessories, he added that he wanted all of our dishes, pots and pans, linens and towels. He even wanted — and listed — our oven mitts!

I couldn’t speak when I received the fax from our agent.

About 20 minutes later my son called. He and his family were at the lake house for the weekend. He said the oddest thing happened. When he was driving down our street at the lake about 8 p.m., a car was pulling out of our driveway. He went to the answering machine, but there were no messages.

“Aren’t they supposed to call first to ask to show the house?” he asked.

“Indeed they are son,” I replied. A light bulb was going off in my head.

I immediately called my agent, who after some checking confirmed that the selling agent had taken the buyer to my house so he could catalog everything!

That did it, I was angry. I took everything off the table and countered with a price for just the house. If he wanted anything else, he would have to pay for it.

Next came an offer that matched our asking price, but for some reason they didn’t hear me when I said NO furniture. My husband and I discussed the dilemma and decided we would go through the house and list what we would not sell. We must have gone room to room five times — each trip adding another item. I was scared to death that if I forgot to exclude an item, the seller would demand its return at closing. By the eighth look around we had six pages of hand-written items that were excluded from the sale. I even listed food and alcohol. Our counter also included the removal of the contingency that he sell his house before buying ours.

When we showed the exclusion list to our agent and told her that we weren’t going to wait until the buyer sold his house, she looked surprised.

“You know, you take the chance that he’ll walk,” she said.

“Good!” I said proudly. “I can’t believe that he would just stop trying when he covets not only my house but everything I own.”

I was also tired of showing the house. I knew if a higher bid came in we would still have to sell the house to “HIM” with most of the furniture included.

On the way back to Columbia, my husband was pensive.

“You’re pretty sure of yourself,” was all that he said.

“Don’t worry,” I replied. “It’s a done deal.”

The next day I received a phone call from our agent. It seems the buyer walked.

If you have a comment or want to bet the guy will still purchase our house, please e-mail me at jdh@socket.net


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