Thursday, October 29, 2009

And now I am ready to talk about what happened to our contract.

Maybe. I might still be too mad. We'll see. Some of you have already heard this, or parts of it, on angry e-mails or phone calls. Here's the whole thing.

Five years ago, we put a contract on our lovely house in Dallas and had it inspected. The inspector reported that there were cracks in the sheet rock and the brick exterior, and that we needed to get the foundation inspected. Our sellers produced a report from a foundation expert stating that the foundation was within acceptable limits, and that the home needed to be watered regularly.

Being not from Texas, we were perplexed at these instructions. We came to learn that this region has a very shifty soil type, and the soil contracts by several inches in times of drought, and expands just as much in times of rain, taking all the houses along for the ride and leaving them with cracks and frequently needing foundation repair. Therefore the house must be watered like a plant. Our realtor assured us that this was normal for this area, and we would be hard pressed to find any home in Dallas that did NOT have cracks in it. Over time, we have found this to be true of our friends' homes as well and have accepted this as a fact of life, as do all of the homeowners in this area. And we have watered the house faithfully.

When we put our house on the market, we noted in the seller disclosure that there were indeed cracks on the sheet rock and the brick exterior, but that the foundation was within acceptable limits and the cracks were normal for the age of the house and the soil type. When our lovely buyers came on the scene, they asked some questions about the foundation, and our realtor again relayed to them our disclosure about the cracks.

So we all signed the contract and awaited the inspection. The inspector (shockingly) found that the sheet rock and the bricks had cracks in them. He told our buyers that this house had MAJOR foundation problems (in all caps) and then proceeded to note every other little flaw of the house, as is his job. We received several angry e-mails from the buyers' realtor demanding to know why we hadn't disclosed this MAJOR issue (all caps) and what we were planning to do about it.

Well Greg and I were very upset to learn that we had a MAJOR issue, because that means major dollars to us. We reassured the buyers that we were looking into it, and had several companies come out to give estimates. Two of the companies told us that we had MINOR foundation shifting, that could be fixed for about $3,000, with a lifetime transferrable warranty. (While that is a lot of money, please bear in mind that we know people whose homes have required $10-20,000 in repairs. $3,000 is minor.) Meanwhile, the third company informed us that all of the cracks were cosmetic, and that there was no actual problem with the foundation itself, so no repairs were needed. Their estimate was zero dollars. Seriously.

However. While we were still getting estimates from the different companies, we received a termination of contract notice from our buyers, stating that we were liars and had intentionally deceived them about the foundation, and that we had broken the law by not disclosing this MAJOR issue.

Several days went by. Our realtor, in a peace-making effort, forwarded all of the reports to the buyers, plus a copy of the bill for some electrical work we had done after the inspection.

Finally, we heard back from our angry buyers. They would like to renew the contract, they said, for the previously agreed on (and very low) price, plus a few extra things, such as:

Fix the foundation (which we had already offered to do).
Plaster all cracks in the interior and exterior of the home.
Rehang all of the doors in the home so they would be perfectly perpendicular.
Dig out all of the flower beds and grass so that 4 inches of the foundation is visible all around the house.
Recaulk all of the exterior windows where the caulking has become separated.
Replace the driveway because it has cracks in it. (?)
Regrade the yard. (!)
Fix a loose faucet handle in the guest bathroom.
Replace cracked tiles in the walkway off the patio.
Install two extra fire alarms because there just aren't enough in the house.
Have the dishwasher repaired (It is not broken. I use it every day.)
Install a pan under the hot water heater.
Have the chimney cleaned.
And by the way throw in an extra $3,000 in closing costs.

There were actually more requests, but I can't remember them right now and it makes me too mad to look at the e-mail. I need to assert here that in our original contract our buyers were getting our house for at least $11,000 under its appraised value PLUS a $7,000 stimulus rebate from Uncle Sam. That is what is known in financial circles as A Good Deal.

We responded that they could have the original price and the foundation repair and a few extraneous things that we'd already done since the inspection. We didn't hear back from them, and we were not sorry to see them go.

Then this week, we got an e-mail from their realtor, stating that his clients continued to be "very angry" over our deception and lies, and that they were taking legal action against us because they had to spend $300 on an inspection to find out about a MAJOR foundation issue that we knew about all along and should have disclosed.

The issue we had offered to fix. And give them a lifetime warranty.

Which we now know isn't really even an issue.


The end of the story (up to this point) is that I wrote out a description of our knowledge of the foundation from the very beginning, quoting directly from the report from our seller and describing our meticulous watering and monitoring of the cracks should they move (they have not) and quoting from all of our current reports, etc, etc. I hope this will make them see that they have no case, however these people don't strike me as being exceptionally rational.

Anyway, that is all I have. Please cheer me with your incredulous and incensed comments.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Another Example of God's Grace in the Midst of Things

Y'all. Last week was crappy. The events of last week will take me way too long to explain but the result is this: we no longer have a contract on the house. There was much animosity involved from both parties. Losing the contract makes me both happy and sad, which are the same emotions I felt about actually having the contract in the first place, but let's move on. In addition to Real Estate Crap/Emotional Roller Coaster, I got some less than stellar test results back from the doctor, the weather was gloomy, and working 21 out of 25 days at the fair had left me wiped out and fighting both a cold and two weeks' worth of laundry.

Now to a new story. I have this neighbor; her name is Ms. Elaine and she is 85 years old. She reminds me an awful lot of my own grandmother, which is odd considering my grandmother was a Southern Baptist from rural Louisiana and Ms. Elaine is a Jew from New York City. She is very giving but at the same time brutally honest and blunt (therein lies the similarity). If she cooks a big pot of soup, she makes sure that we come over to get some. If I don't run into her or call her for a few weeks she gets extremely worried that something is wrong. She likes to lecture me about how leaving the outside lights on is a huge waste of money. She scolds me when she catches me at the mailbox in bare feet and she gasps in horror when the kids come running out behind me with no shoes on either. My kids have never left her house without a pocket full of lollipops.

On Friday, at the end of my Super Crappy Week, I got a call from Ms. Elaine wanting to know if I was headed to the grocery store, and if so, could I get her a rotisserie chicken for her dog? (She feeds her dog deli meat, I have no explanation for this.) I told her no, I was just leaving to get the kids from school, but that I could go for her tomorrow. Then she told me that she had been going through her things (she is getting ready to move out of her 5 bedroom house and back to New York to be close to her family) and that she had a gift for me. She had seen me walking down the road while the kids were out riding bikes, and wondered if I would like to have her bicycle. This bicycle:She bought it 50 years ago in New York, and she used to ride it with her kids to Coney Island. She kept it all these years because it was so dear to her, but she knew she would never ride it again and she also knew that I needed it. She made me promise not to sell it or give it away, to which I readily agreed. I LOVE it. LOVE. I am so grateful for this gift. It is SO beautiful and has been very well cared for, and it just gave me immense joy that was sorely needed at that moment. She could tell I was thrilled, and I could tell she felt good about thrilling me.

As I promised to come over right after school and started to hang up, she slipped in a quick question, "Now, what about that rotisserie chicken?"

Yes ma'am, I was just on my way to the store.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Final Scenes from the Fair

The Great State Fair of Texas: Where No One Has Died on a Ride Since 1986
(fried moon pie)

Monday, October 12, 2009

One more week

Seven days left of the State Fair and I am working every single one of them. Oprah was there last night, reportedly eating a turkey leg wearing a cowboy hat; that is, she was wearing the hat, not the turkey leg, but anyway, watch for those hijinx on her show sometime soon, I really have no idea when and I am too lazy to check her website.

The feller in my picture is Big Tex, the mascot of the fair, whose jaw moves freakishly as he talks. He says things randomly like "Howwwdy Folks!" and "Don't forget to wash yer hands before ya eat" and he is a giant freak and I love him. I met the real life man who does his voice, and his belt buckle was more bejeweled and bigger than the one on the statue. He was awesome.

So anyway. I'll be back in a bit and P.S., I'm going to the U2 concert tonight, I just thought I'd brag on that real quick.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Under Contract.

Well we have a contract on our house. It's an answer to four long months of prayer and a huge relief, but my heart is completely broken. It still hasn't completely sunk in that I have to leave my beloved home. We'll be moving to Georgia in about five weeks. I can't even really talk about it yet.

Instead here are some Texas-themed photos. Here are my girls' toes after they stayed with the babysitter last week:

What, you don't paint your state flag on your big toe? What is wrong with you?

And here is my boy, who lately seems to have a All-Texas wardrobe, thanks to his Daddy.

The kiddos

The kiddos

Kidney Peril Updates
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chrissyinthecarpoollane at g mail dot com.