House Saga – Buying (It’s easier to buy than to sell, and that applies to EVERYTHING!)

Right about January 20, when Hubby’s job ended abruptly, we started looking on-line at real estate In Memphis. Originally, our sights were set on small houses that we could rent on AirBnB. Later we thought we would look for a slightly larger house that we could live in and also rent the extra rooms.

With the help of our Son-in-law, we narrowed down our search into specific “good” areas in Memphis. Also on about January 20, we connected with a realtor in Memphis named Stacy. I loved her immediately, and I love her still. I’ve asked her to be my first friend in Memphis, but I’m not sure she is into that. Perhaps I should stick to quilting friends.

At first, every time I found a “good” house, I would email my SIL – he would say things like, “Too close to the railroad tracks,” or “That is in the ghetto.” Once in a while he would say, “Awesome location!” I would email Stacy, and she would say, “That one is already under contract.” Eventually, SIL sent us a map of Memphis with the “good” areas highlighted. That made things slightly easier. Every morning, Hubby and I would peruse the listings in Memphis and imagine owning some of those houses.

Sometime in April, a little 2 bedroom, 1 bath house in an historical area close to downtown came on the market. It was darling – it had red kitchen cabinets and an adorable front porch. I emailed Stacy that we wanted to make an offer. She let us know that the buyer was accepting all offers by 5pm in 2 days time. That is how houses under $200,000 in good areas in Memphis are selling. This thing had just gone on the market! We asked Daughter and Son-in-law to go look at it for us. They did and we decided to go forward. Full Price offer – cash. We learned the next day that buyer took another offer. Oh well, we were excited because we were, “In the game!”

Soon after that, another 2 bedroom, 1 bath house in an even better area came on the market. Showings and offers would start in a week’s time. There was only one picture on-line. Daughter and Son-in-law took a look and we made another offer – again full price, cash. This time we got it! Yay! Or, OMG… What have we done?? Closing on this house was scheduled for June 15. I planned a trip to Memphis near the end of April.

We continued to peruse listings, and a few days before my trip to Memphis a house came on the market that was perfect for us – perfect for us to live in and to do AirBnB in as well. It was more expensive that the other houses we had looked at, but it was beautiful and it was PERFECT!

I travelled to Memphis. Stacy took me to see many houses – the one that was in the ghetto, several I had selected from current listings, the house we were actually under contract to buy, and the PERFECT house. This all happened on a Friday. That night I went to sleep fine, but woke at 5 am in a panic. I didn’t like the house we were under contract to buy, not at all. What in the world were we doing, anyway?

The household was up a bit later, and Daughter needed something at the store. I offered to go. I came out of the store, into the Memphis 9 a.m. heat in late April and nearly burst into tears. I could not breathe. This is not my place. I do not belong here. I went home to Daughter’s house and did burst into tears. My two oldest daughters were in the house that morning. They immediately took me under their wings and made me feel much better – first by validating my panic and second by convincing me how “cute” the house we were under contract to buy could be.

The PERFECT house was on Peabody Avenue. I will from now on call it Peabody. There was an open house at Peabody on Sunday. We visited it again. It is still perfect. I flew home on Tuesday. Hubby and I talked about it. He agreed that it was perfect (though he hadn’t seen it) and we decided to try a contingent offer. We needed to sell our house in order to buy it, and our house wasn’t even yet on the market and wouldn’t be for about 3 weeks. We made a full-price offer. The seller was also the agent and we went back and forth for about a week. We weren’t being entirely reasonable, though we didn’t understand that at the time. Finally on our last counter, Hubby said, “And throw in all the outside furniture!” That pissed them off. And that was the end of that. All this happened during the first week of May.

From early May until middle August, we watched Peabody on-line. I constantly checked to see that it was still on the market. I was pretty sure that the seller would give us a chance to “play” if they got another offer. While we felt that Peabody was perfect for us, it has its downsides. It has a formal living area and formal dining, but no real bonus room or family room. It is largely bedrooms and bathrooms – perfect for our plans. Peabody remains on the market (with occasional price drops) all through us getting our house on the market, going under contract, going back on the market when our first contract failed. During the time we were newly back on the market with our house after the first contract failed, Peabody’s seller reached out and said they would be very flexible on price if we could close in 30 days. We had to sell our house first.

Then, on the 3rd weekend of our second time on the market with our house, as we were vacating our house for an open house, we got a text from Stacy. Seller of Peabody had reached out to let us know they had an offer they were considering. We were morose. We had visited Memphis again at the end of July, and Hubby had seen several properties, as well as Peabody. It is clear and uncontested: Peabody is perfect. We asked if seller would consider an offer from us. Their response was, “Only if there are no contingencies.” What to do?

We decided to find out if we could get a mortgage. Over the course of a few hours we learn that we “might” be able to qualify for a mortgage and that we can borrow from Hubby’s IRA account, tax and penalty free (he is not yet 59 ½) if we return the money in 60 days. Who knew? We get a letter from our broker that we have the funds to make the purchase. We decide to proceed, to use the IRA funds if we need to, and to get a mortgage. We make an offer that is under the current asking price, and significantly less that we had offered in May – cash, 30 day closing. Seller says they will let us know the next day. We are feeling they had probably only used us to get the other offer to go higher. At least we had tried.

Next day around noon, we heard. We got it. Peabody is ours. We are ecstatic.

To be clear, we understand that none of this was very smart. Turns out, we cannot get a mortgage. We have no income. My quilting business is clearly ending in Oregon, so that doesn’t count. Hubby is not 59 ½ for 18 months, so they won’t consider monetizing his IRA. My IRA is accessible penalty free on September 15, but mortgage people won’t consider that amortized over just the period until Hubby reaches 59 ½, it has to be amortized over 30 years and that amounts to just about nothing. Asset based mortgages don’t want to do what would clearly be a short-term mortgage to cover just the time until we sell our Oregon house. The bottom line: no mortgage. All the sudden, Peabody has become more expensive when you consider penalties and taxes. OMG, what have we done? We have contracted to buy the PERFECT house, that’s what!

We took the money out of the IRA on September 21. As long as we have it back by about November 20, all will be well. We feel a bit like we’ve borrowed money from someone who will break our knees if we don’t pay it back. If our Oregon house closes in the next few days all will be well.

Perhaps it is now clear why the house selling saga has been so stressful. We brought it upon ourselves. All for the PERFECT house!

Hopefully, this is a story that will end well. We are currently on our cross-country journey with all our “stuff” from Oregon to Peabody. We are 1,500 miles out, with 775 miles to go. And we are going to Peabody – the PERFECT house.2781fc42f6efa5321e4b83500777b3f3l-m0xd-w1020_h770_q80

Update 24 hours later: the Oregon house did close today! All is well. We are now 209 miles away from Peabody. We will sleep there tomorrow night.

One thought on “House Saga – Buying (It’s easier to buy than to sell, and that applies to EVERYTHING!)

  1. “We will sleep there tomorrow night.” That gave me chills!! You have your Peabody; we have our Toad Hall. We’re still struggling with making the decision right. No, that’s not true. It was the right decision, but WE NEED TO SELL THE OTHER HOUSE!

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