Back in the late 90s, we didn’t have zillow and few people had the internet. Searching for a home was about driving around neighborhoods calling the number on the sign, or getting a Sunday newspaper to see which houses were open that day.
I was working with a realtor, but I found a for sale by owner and never thought to call her first. I was in the car and called the number from my 4 pound cell phone that was 2 inches thick. I could see the seller get up to answer his landline phone. Next thing I knew, I had bought a house.
Like a lot of people, I never thought of all the time the realtor had spent with me. I also never realized how the sum of all the little decisions that she had input on had lead me to THIS house. I still feel bad about that.
However, I wish she had been involved in the sale. This was looooong before I became The LEXpert. I thought “How hard can this be?” While none of real estate is what I call hard, there is a lot that experience can do to make it a smoother, better process. I’ve loaded boxes at UPS in the middle of the night. That was hard.
The seller and I kind of just made up a contract with the help of my mom. I wish I still had a copy, because I doubt it covered things like if all the appliances stayed, when the seller would move out, what happens if things get sideways and the seller and I need to break up.
I did have a home inspection. Kind of. I was a broke twenty-something so a friend of my mom’s did it. The roof was originally wood shakes with two layers of asphalt shingles over them. It is a house that today, I would tell my clients to run from. While we were there, my mom looks at the house two doors down and asks the seller “Is that the house where the shooting was last week?” The seller told us that that guy only shoots at people he knows. This is why I keep up with crime and tell people to look at the crime map online.
I had no idea that it was typical to negotiate with the seller to do repairs. I just thought since I wanted the house still, I would have to deal with any issues.
The seller moving out didn’t go that smooth. They kind of never fully moved out. I kept calling him to come get his stuff. He eventually brought a trailer over to clear out a shed. As he was loading all the junk, he would occasionally ask if I wanted any of it. He had several cast iron weights from old windows. He said they would make great anchors for my boat. I joyfully told him I did not have a boat, so he could keep them. This is why I tell clients not to close until the seller is out. Sometimes I have to be the bad guy and tell the listing agent or seller that they aren’t done moving out and no, they cannot come back later…..we close AFTER we see the place empty. I’ve had to do that twice this summer.
While this house was a total dump, my wife and I loved it. We brought both of our boys back from the hospital to this house. Lots of great memories were made there. We have since moved 3 times and life has taken me in a direction I always hoped it would. I’ve been a realtor now for almost 12 years. The experience of buying this house has helped ALL of my clients because it was one step towards becoming The LEXpert.