By Diane Saatchi
Ask any broker: There’s always a story at the ready about buyer-seller conflicts. We expect them and are very rarely disappointed. At best, we hope to get to the closing table without some horror.
So when the opposite happened, I knew it would be a story I would tell on Valentine’s Day. It’s not romantic in a Cupid kind of way, but it’s a heartwarming tale of a how two very different parties, who only had love for a house in common, made good real estate karma.
The seller, a youthful, much-traveled senior with a large house holding a lifetime’s worth of collections, decided to simplify in a not-so-good market. After her house spent quite some time on the market, a younger couple with teenage children decided the house was just what they wanted.
As much as the would-be buyers loved the house, they were not quick to offer. Shortly after they finally did, another potential buyer came along, so we had dueling bids– a certain recipe for contention. The competition led the ultimate buyers to increase their offer and accompany it with a written letter. It was not just a letter – it was a knock- your-socks-off, touching message that went right to world-worn seller’s and skeptical agents’ hearts.
The letter was handwritten and, in the seller’s native language, it offered not only the asking price but a closing date that would enable the seller to take whatever time needed to prepare for her move. The purchasers mentioned that they had interest in also purchasing furniture and furnishings (separate from the real estate deal). Their message was: We love your home and everything in it, and we know when we meet you, we will love the person who created this home for us.
There were several months from agreement to closing and an unusual amount of contact between the parties. The parties kept the agents in the loop and each time we read an email exchange, we wondered aloud, “What can go wrong? This is way too good to be true.”
Time is generally not kind to deals. This one had some real challenges: Some work needed to be addressed before a certificate of occupancy could be updated, the buyers had an approved mortgage loan with a rate lock date to be met, and the seller needed to find another home and move way more treasures than would fit in the next home. Much of the work happened over the year-end holidays, when things that often need a week to accomplish can take a month.
The closing was set to happen with no room to spare. It was the very last day for the mortgage rate lock, the updated CO was picked up just the day before, the seller’s attorney was on vacation and the seller had to postpone a long-planned vacation to finish packing. The morning of the closing, at the time scheduled for the pre-closing walk-through, I arrived expecting to see an empty house and to greet the purchasers. Instead, the seller and a small army of helpers were packing, a dumpster and several trucks were in the driveway and the purchasers and their agent were nowhere to be found.
Eventually the purchasers arrived, surprised and thrilled to see seller still there as they thought she had gone on a trip. She was all apologies for the condition, they were nonplussed. After a very quick look around, purchasers left with the message that they hoped she would still be there when they returned later as the homeowners – she would be their first guest. They offered a room for her to leave whatever was not yet packed and extended an invitation to come back whenever.
It was an easy decision. It was also probably not a good one, but at that moment, I decided it was best that no one mention any of this to the attorneys at the closing.
All parties agreed.
© 2019 Diane Saatchi