Sunday, January 23, 2011

opening gambits, closing costs

Today Joe and I got a babysitter and looked at four more houses. I'm not quite sure why we did this, because we actually had a check for the earnest money for a house on which we were 98% sure that we were going to make an offer in our back pocket all the while. But our realtor (a very good guy, we actually like him a lot and he's much more honest and helpful than any agent needs to be) encouraged us to just look at a few more that were closer to our original search parameters prior to making an offer on a house which we really like, but turns out to be more of a departure from what we had thought that we wanted. Which reminds me:


A SHORT PLAY ABOUT TRYING TO BUY A HOUSE

JOE
So I have to get a check for the earnest money.

MICHELLE
To show we are Earnest.

JOE
Earnest Goes to Jail.

MICHELLE
See, you went lowbrow. The first thing I thought of was the Earnst equation.

JOE
That's the Nernst equation.

MICHELLE
Doesn't matter, it's still funny.


Anyway we looked at the houses and three of them were awful and one of them was pretty nice, but it was nice in a grown-up way. You know, like it had nice granite countertops and, like, crown molding or whatever. The other house, the one that we originally liked, is a house that while it looks a little haphazard (it seems like they redid the house room by room, but each room that they did it seems like they decided to do in a different style, such that the end result is a little calico) it's a house that's going to be fun for kids. It has a good play space and a good family room and a fun backyard and a nice garden and the stairs are not the kind that Mack can hurt himself too badly if he decides to go paratroopers over the side. (And he did indeed try to do just that several times when we went back to visit yesterday.) So at the end of our four house second-guessing tour, we did what we knew we were going to do, which is to say that we made an offer on the first house, which is the house that we liked all along.

So.

Well.

(Crickets.)

They could decide to accept the offer or not. Our agent seems to feel like we'll hear back from their agent tonight, but we might not. Who knows, maybe they'll think our offer is insulting and they'll just ignore us. Most likely they'll parry back and ask for something higher. Maybe something too high, and we'll have to walk away. And lord knows, if that happens, there are tons of other houses out there empty and ready and waiting for people like us to swoop in, with our compressed cardboard furniture, mismatched bedding, and many many Legos and broken crayons to secret in the heating ducts.

Or maybe it will work out.

(Crickets.)

Man, there are a lot of crickets out here in the suburbs, aren't there?

17 comments:

  1. fingers crossed!

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  2. So are you moving out of the incredibly dangerous neighbourhood then?

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  3. This part sucks. Just make sure that you and Joe agree on your number. That is, the number that you both agree you WILL NOT go above, and you will be fine.

    Good luck! My fingers are crossed for you.

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  4. No, no, no. If they ignore you, which they won't if the house has been on the market for that long AND if your Realtor says he thinks you'll hear from them soon (this means that your Realtor has already been talking to their Realtor), then you'll hear from them soon. If they tell you to pound sand (which they won't, I'm betting) or just don't respond, you wait a bit and then submit another offer with a bit more money. But I would bet that you'll hear back quickly.

    This whole price negotiation thing really is a huge mind game/power struggle/battle of the wills. It's sort of like chess.

    What's nice is that: 1.) You're not in any sort of bidding war or anything, and 2.) The sellers don't have any other offers on their plates. You're the only show in town, folks, so that give you the strong upper hand. Don't ever forget that you guys are the ones in control of the situation, and that you are the ones in control of each part of the process. You really are. You have a much more powerful position than they do.

    If they counter with a much higher price than you offered, then please remember that you can counter their counter and they can counter-counter, etc. If they counter with a much higher price, you have many choices. I will tell you what has worked for us in every single case, without fail.

    They counter with a much higher price than your offer. DO NOT DISCUSS ANY OF THIS WITH YOUR REALTOR. LEAVE IT ALL BETWEEN YOU AND JOE. Decide on a price a *bit* higher than your offer... give a little bit of ground... but not not much. For example (let's use fake numbers), say they're asking $130,000 for the house, you initially offered $100,000, and they counter with $125,000. They've come $5,000 down off their price, but not far. They're sending the signal that they want you to come way up. DON'T DO IT.

    You counter with something a bit like what they did, and then - this is the key - tell them this new offer is firm. Firm, as in, if they don't accept, you will walk away. With our fake numbers, I would counter their counter at probably $107,500 (mirroring how much they came down, plus a tiny bit more) and then tell them THIS OFFER IS FIRM. That you feel that this is a fair price. And then just wait. Silence is strength.

    If they come back and say pound sand, you've lost nothing. You can offer a bit more later. But 99 times out of 100, they will jump at what you offer if they really, truly think that you will walk. Please don't forget - it's your money - you can ALWAYS offer more. But you can NEVER offer less. I hope this makes sense.

    Best of luck!

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  5. Good luck! This is an exciting time.

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  6. Anonymous7:54 AM

    Stop posting about this please (and I'm saying this for your benefit and not mine because I love reading your posts) until the deal is signed and any waiting period is done. You are the top hit if "Michelle Au" is googled and they will (or their agent) will do that.

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  7. Anonymous10:41 PM

    Good luck!

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  8. Valerie10:12 PM

    Agreed - stop posting if they or their agent know your name! If the seller hears about how interested a buyer ("offerer?") is via facebook or other internet media, all that power "A Daring Adventure" mentioned goes out the window.

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  9. Valerie10:12 PM

    PS...Good luck! How exciting!

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  10. Anonymous6:13 AM

    did that other author make you take down the post about her blatant stealage of your book cover? wow, she just got even more whore-y.

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  11. Kristi7:32 PM

    I doubt she could have made Michelle remove anything from her own blog. Besides, I think that we should not judge the author based on her publishers. She may be a wonderful human being.

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  12. Anonymous9:00 PM

    Dammit-you're not coming back to NYC....

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