Closed

On or about 19 July 2007, we put our house (in Parish) on the market. Seven days later, mirabile dictu, we get an offer, and after a bit of back and forth, come to an agreement. Purchase price is right at what we’d hoped to get. Closing to take place on or about 12 September.

Early the following week is the home inspection. We are told the inspector was concerned mainly about two things: some cracked windows, and some minor structural issues in the basement, and that the buyers would pay for the basement work if we’d get the window glass replaced. Of course the window glass was evident and should have been taken into account in the buyers’ offer, but we agree anyway.

After that we don’t hear anything from our realtor (Betsy) for a while. Finally she gets in touch and tells us there’d been some problems but they’d been taken care of. Seems the buyers’ lawyer, Scrofulous Fuckwad (S.F.), had decided he needed to conduct a home inspection of his own, so he did, and subsequently sent our lawyer, Barbara, a 3-page list of things we needed to address before he’d approve the contract. Barbara merely pointed out that the contract contained the standard language saying the lawyers had 3 days in which to object to the contract, and his 3 days were up several days previously. First blood: Barbara.

S.F., we are told, is the biggest pain in the ass real estate lawyer in our area, the one every other lawyer hates having to deal with because he’s a bully who just likes to make trouble for everyone else. This comes as a surprise to us, because we thought we’d already had dealings with the title holder in a previous aborted transaction, but no.

Betsy also tells us she and the buyers’ realtor (Karen) are going to pay for the window glass. Oh.

At around that time I belatedly get in touch with our insurance agent to let him know the house is vacant. Our policy is duly cancelled as of 17 September. We figure we’ll close by then, and that seems to be that.

Time passes.

We get a letter from our mortgage company saying if we don’t get a new insurance policy they’ll automatically put a fire policy in place and charge us the premium.

Around 10 September (maybe a little earlier) Barbara lets us know S.F. is continuing to make trouble. He’s sent a list of things he wants her to supply. She says they fall into three categories:

o Reasonable requests for things she has already or can get easily
o Requests for things he’s probably legally entitled to, but which no other real estate lawyer on the planet would bother asking for
o Things he simply isn’t entitled to.

She says she’s giving him the stuff he’s entitled to and saying no on the rest. Heather and I have to sign a deposition regarding who, to our knowledge, has used the woods “road” (read path) and abandoned road which are legally public rights of way on parts of our property, how frequently, doing what. (The kid next door, before he was killed in an automobile accident, used to ride his ATV and snowmobile with a friend or two on those paths. His parents walk on them sometimes.) S.F. is also asking about the access road. In the winter it’s plowed by the town. He wants details. Apparently he sent a letter to the town asking them to confirm the plowing is their responsibility. The town, needless to say, files his request. Why would they put that in writing if they don’t have to? Anyway it’s already on a document. (I think it’s in our deed.)

Around 17 September, five days past the contract closing date, Barbara has heard nothing from S.F. in a week or so. She sends him a “time is of the essence” letter giving him until 26 September to close or we consider the buyers in breach of contract.

26 September comes and goes with no word from S.F. This despite a report from Karen that the buyers are still very excited about the house, very much want to go forward, and have instructed S.F. to go to closing. He apparently is ignoring these instructions. This is also when we first learn S.F. is not only the buyers’ lawyer but the bank’s. (Credit union, actually.) Yes, the buyers went to the credit union to get their mortgage and the credit union told them, “Need a lawyer? You can use ours!” without exactly belaboring the fact that if the buyers’ interests are ever not coincident with the bank’s, the lawyer is going to look out for the bank. Then again it’s not clear the bank has any reason not to close. Apparently they say at around this point they’ll tell S.F. to go to closing.

He doesn’t.

Still, it sounds as if we shouldn’t walk away from these buyers. We do not declare them in breach just yet.

Also, another letter from our bank seems to suggest, and a follow up call confirms, that no insurance policy is in place on our house — they won’t automatically instate one for about another month. So I call our insurance agent. He gets a quote. For a vacant house with a coverage amount somewhat lower than what we’d previously insured it for, a fire policy will cost about $3500 a year. I tell him I’ll call him back.

The next day — about 2 October — we hear Karen thinks closing is “imminent” and is surprised Barbara hasn’t heard from S.F. Later Barbara does get a message from S.F. saying he has “just been informed” the buyers want to close. This is a lie, of course: they let him know that at least a week earlier. That’s all the message says — not that he proposes to schedule a closing, only that his clients want him to.

A couple days later, at our instruction, our house goes back on the Multiple Listing Service. We can show it, but can’t accept any new offers yet until we’ve released ourselves from the old contract.

On or around 7 October a high ranking executive in Gallanger Real Estate — Karen’s and Barbara’s company — who happens to be a close friend, or maybe a relative, of the buyers calls S.F. up and asks what’s going on. S.F. promptly lies to him, saying he’s just left several messages for Barbara that morning, and then tells him he’s waiting for the town to acknowledge their responsibility to plow the access road. High Ranking Executive says no, he isn’t, he’s forgetting about that and going to closing the following week. S.F. says he will.

Most of the following week comes and goes. Given that the imminent closing still hasn’t happened, I call back the insurance agent, but he’s out of town.

Thursday morning we hear from Barbara that S.F.’s office has been in touch, proposing to close on 16 October — one day shy of five weeks after the contract closing date. She agrees.

He proposed it, but did he mean it?

Apparently so.

Closing was this morning. We no longer own a house in Parish. JUBILATION.

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