In May or June of 1969 (an anniversary I forgot to mark — 50 years ago!), coming off Monarch Pass in a snowstorm that I don’t recall but my mom does, a Ford Falcon station wagon pulled up at 412 Tincup Drive in Gunnison and disgorged my parents, my two sisters and me to begin our life in Gunnison. Even more specifically, to begin our life in a blue tri-level in the Palisades neighborhood.
Life happened, and death (my dad’s). Kids grew up and eventually, in pieces, all of us moved away from the big blue house on Tincup Drive. I ended up not moving very far, just around a corner and up a block, to 15 Irwin, the same style of tri-level that spent much of its early life wearing powder blue and that since I bought it has either been gray with blue trim or blue with gray trim, as it is now.
And on August 16, probably not in a Ford Falcon, a family with two parents and three kids is going to pull up to 15 Irwin to start their life in a blue tri-level in the Palisades neighborhood.
Yes, late last evening we went under contract. The process to get here with this particular family and their offensive broker has been a lot more unpleasant than it needed to be, and at the rate they’ve gone there’s no guarantee we’re going to make it to closing, but putting everyone’s best foot forward, my long association with the Palisades and its tri-levels should be coming to an end in about two months.
Lynn and I may or may not have a place to move to in mid-August, so we might be wandering homelessly, aimlessly, as our home becomes someone else’s. We all need to hold good thoughts for not only speedy delivery of kitchen cabinets, but also a timely installation that has to involve Dusty’s crew, the countertop guys, the plumber, the electrician and I’m not sure how many inspectors. And yesterday Dusty physically hauled the natural gas guy out to the lot to see if he couldn’t get a start on the process Atmos had promised to begin in early May.
If we knock on your door seeking sustenance, please don’t turn us away.
And in the meantime a young family will be settling into their first house. They profess to be excited, and I want to believe them, but either they or their real estate agent, or perhaps both, have made this much more of an ordeal than it ever needed to be.
Most of us are blaming the broker, although there’s no way for us to know for sure. It’s easier, and better on the imagination, to blame her, and the way the evidence has shaken out recently, it seems to indicate that she’s the one thinking an aggressive approach is getting her clients their best deal. But all she’s done is cost them, and it nearly cost them the entire sale.
Which it still could, because I’m not sure their side is absolutely clear on the notion of “as is.” I feel certain that their house inspector will be sent in with instructions to find as much as possible wrong with the house, but their choice at that point will be to take it with every last flaw — including the sink with the leaky gasket I was going to have Dusty fix but won’t now — or leave it.
Do I sound bitter? And churlish? Possibly peevish? Well, I am. I was trying not to be, but every friendly overture they send gets followed up with an insinuation that we are lying slobs out to rip them off.
This is the same couple who started with an offer 20% below our asking price, combined with a letter spelling out just how run-down this house is, and how lucky we would be to have them willing to take it off our hands.
I don’t know whose idea the letter was. Their follow-up apology made it sound like their agent suggested they take that approach; their agent told Audrie she thought it was a bad idea. Audrie wonders, though, why she didn’t then try to talk them out of it. [It also turns out that back in March Audrie showed this same couple one house and then was “fired” by a very similar letter listing all of her faults. Their own decision, or something recommended by a friend trying to get them as clients?] The agent who allowed them to send such a crappy letter apparently specifically told them they couldn’t send a nice letter.
The apology, which sounded sincere and professed great enthusiasm at the notion of possibly buying our house, was followed by agent feedback saying they were only “somewhat” interested.
Their side asked ours to suggest a price, so we went with what we figured would be the maximum they could afford. We may have been off by $5,000, but I still don’t think they could have gone much beyond our suggested price. If it gives us the money we need, and it does, and allows them to buy a house in which they “can imagine ourselves living happily for many, many years,” then that seems like a win for both sides, right?
But that letter came with a contract that despite Audrie’s instruction to remove it included a clause extorting us of $10,000 if the house is not completely cleared of all our possessions by the time of walk-through prior to closing. While that clause is no longer in the contract, it comes with lasting effects: everything is going, including things we would have otherwise offered to leave behind, such as replacement flooring pieces, shelving and the full-wall bookcase.
The contract included demands for documentation of the upgrades we “said” we made to the house, because apparently their agent can’t recognize the difference between 1960s aluminum windows and much larger Sierra Pacific wood windows. (If they don’t believe the utility bills and unsolicited statements from Atmos telling us how low our energy use is, they can pay to have a blower-door test conducted.)
And the contract left explicit instructions on how we are to leave the house “broom clean,” along with an explanation of just how that should be accomplished. Well, okay then: I immediately scrapped plans to hire professionals to clean the floors, windows and walls.
So it’s not the feel-good experience I was hoping this would be. Could have been. I told Audrie I would love to sell this house to a young family, and this is what’s happening. We are in a fortunate position to be able to come down on the price enough that it approaches “affordable,” in a rather laughable sense of the word, and if it helps pull prices down in Gunnison, that’s not really a terrible thing.
Audrie, herself on the receiving end of the vitriol spewing from somewhere on the other side of this transaction —
(I really want to blame the broker and not the family; he works for the school district, so Tia knows he sent the nicest thank-you note in the world following a recent raise, telling the administration that the extra money would help his family realize their dream of owning a home.)
— said that if we take the emotion out of the equation, she can see this being a perfect house for this family. And I can too.
As I can personally attest, the Palisades is a great neighborhood to grow up in, and it’s a great neighborhood to be an adult in. Big blue tri-levels have offered me a very comfortable life, and while not as good as it could feel, it is nice to be passing this along to a young family.