When the seller first came to me in March, 2019, I thought that this would be a relatively simple, straightforward transaction. Boy, was I ever wrong. Through many trials and tribulations, and 23 months later, we finally closed escrow a couple of days ago. This was, by no means, a simple transaction.
After first meeting with the seller and her partner, I laid out an aggressive schedule that would have the home ready for the market by the middle of May so that they could catch the spring selling season and get the highest possible price. However, this was not to be. The seller after first agreeing to the proposed scheduled, balked at the timing just a couple of days later. Work that had been agreed to was put on hold; the timetable was redrawn. What I didn’t know at the time was that the seller had inherited the home from her husband who had passed away several years earlier; she had raised both of her kids in the home; she had made a significant emotional investment in the home.
In short, she simply wasn’t ready to move on because she was still grieving the loss of her husband.
The potential sale of her home only reinforced the need to deal with her grief. It was a long, difficult process for her. After several months and multiple conversations about how to make the process work for her, we finally got to work in the fall and were able to bring it to market in December, 2019. Unfortunately, the timing didn’t work out in her favor. We came to market in the middle of a wet December and some of the work that had been on the property was less than stellar. In the middle of all of this, the seller went into the hospital with kidney failure and she received notice at the end of December that she was in default and that the mortgage holder would begin the foreclosure process. We had had very few showings in the three weeks that it had been on and had one low offer on the property which we had rejected.
When I had the opportunity to see the seller in person for the first time in a few weeks just after New Years Day, 2020, I saw that she was in serious poor health and that it would be imperative to take the only offer that had been presented to us. After speaking with the prospective buyers’ agent again, we agreed to the terms initially presented and raced to close escrow. Unfortunately, just one day prior to close of escrow, the seller passed on. The contract was effectively null and void…but this is not the end.
The seller died intestate which means that the estate would have to go through probate…in the middle of the pandemic. Meanwhile, the mortgage holder continued to press forward with the foreclosure process. The buyers’ agents presented a memorandum of understanding to the presumptive administrator of the estate (the seller’s son) and we agreed to continue to try to keep the contract moving forward between the estate and the buyers. Again, as the Solano County Superior Court continued to adjust to the ongoing pandemic, there were significant delays to getting the property back into contract so that we could close escrow.
Finally, at the end of December, 2020, we received the all clear to head back into contract to resume the purchase agreement. Only now, the mortgage holder continued to move forward with a non-judicial trustee sale at the end of January. Both parties worked together to delay the trustee sale. We were notified the afternoon before that the sale had been delayed until March 1. Through hard work and a round of additional negotiations we were able to bring the saga to a close on February 17.
The loss of a loved one is not the only reason that sellers grieve when leaving a home. It is important to honor and acknowledge the memories – good and bad – that were made in a home. Items that may seem unimportant to a buyer, may have strong emotional attachment for a seller. Consistent communication and understanding is key. It’s important to be flexible and try to get to where the other side is in order for there to be a positive outcome.