Officially Official Contract

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I have a home!  Officially!

Officially, I have a purchase agreement for a home.  The contract was signed yesterday and I am officially in escrow.  Close is tentatively set for June 30th, but could also be July 6th.  Inspection tentatively next week.  But the officialism of the situation is that a home is under contract and I am officially on the way to owning it.

What’s with all the “Official” business you may ask?  Well, the one thing about most of the work up to now is that all of it was painfully “unofficial”.  But that of course means I have a story to tell.

It all started just nearly six weeks ago.  Shortly after the moment that “Stuff Just Got Real” in my house hunt (see Stuff Just Got Real).  In fact, that blog post I even mentioned I was touring homes that night – well, the winner was one of those homes.  While on the tour, I met the home owner, chatted with him for a while, and got to know both the property & the neighborhood.  The seller had no interest in selling it to an investment group, and wanted it to go to someone who would not only live there, but love living there.  It wasn’t a perfect situation, but I always knew I wouldn’t find a perfect situation.  So the following day, I contacted the leasing agent and requested she submit an offer on my behalf.

The house is in Pasadena, and is a single family bungalow with a detached garage, a well kept front yard, and big back yard for a patio and places for the dog to run.  Until we come up with a more creative name — I’m just calling it “Lincoln Ave” since … well … it’s on Lincoln Ave.  It’s also somewhere between Big and Huge for me.  Three (3) Beds, two (2) baths, 1,403 sq feet, and nearly 8,000 sq foot lot.  It’s bigger than my Alaskan house, nearly as big as my first house in Kansas.  This doesn’t even count the ‘detached garage’ which in SoCal means ‘an extra room that you can use for storage or a man cave since no one really needs a garage around here’.  The house is located in one of those boarder-line parts of town.  On a major street that is a mix of commercial, industrial, and residential; it’s been targeted by the city as an area of economic growth with the expectation of building up condos, shops, and restaurants over the next 15 to 25 years.  It’s also less than a mile as the crow flies to the Rose Bowl, a short distance to Pasadena’s Old Town district, and a ten minute drive to work.  I got it at a little above my price range, but between the taxes being a little lower in that area and the upside of the long term, it was an easy decision to make.

What wasn’t easy was the process to get there.  As I mentioned, I made the offer through the listing agent – taking the chance that someone with the opportunity to get commission for the buy and the sell would work on my behalf.  In all honesty, I wouldn’t have gotten the house if I didn’t use the listing agent – but it wasn’t exactly well managed.  To be fair, real estate is this agent’s second job and asking her to make this a priority when her first job is tax preparation (I called her on April 14th by the way) to make the offer.  For the next week I pushed to have the offer get to the seller, and pushed for an answer.  I knew the property was under priced, and it was marketed incorrectly (basically it had sat under the radar for three months giving the appearance that it was on the market well before it really was — so people thought there were problems).  My main fear was losing it because the bidding became competitive.  Finally after a week, the agent called me to tell me that she shared my offer … and a second offer came in (exactly my fear).  At that point, I had no choice but to walk away.

Then another property came along, I fought for that for two weeks, and lost.  When that was done, I noticed this property was still on the market, so I followed up.  The details came in that there was a fundamental issue with the other offer.

The seller was selling the house with the intent to move to Palm Springs for work.  His relocation didn’t have to happen until he sold his house in Pasadena.  That being said, he had a son in high school & a wife teaching school.  Of course, once he sold the Pasadena house, he still had to find a place to live in Palm Springs.  Fundamentally, he was in no rush.  The other buyer … was.  They needed to be in the home by mid-June.  Their price beat mine, by a lot, but the timing gave the seller fits.

So, I decided to improve my offer.  Raise the price a little, but still where I can afford it, and include a real kicker.  Since I didn’t have to be out of my rental until the end of August – I would rent the house back to the seller through the end of July.  With that – we had a deal.

Two weeks ago, I received word we had an ‘unofficial’ agreement.  Not wanting to mess around, I requested an offer be sent to them immediately to get pen on paper.  It turns out with this agent “immediate” meant, two weeks later.  This after kicking back the offer just to get the fundamental information filled in correctly or not left blank.  Then a very slow last few days was waiting for the agent to get the seller to sign.  But as of last night, a signed purchase agreement hit my e-mail inbox, and I could officially begin the work towards closing.

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