Monday, Jun 18, 2018
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Mary Alice Powell

No sale: Real estate tale ends in disappointment, confusion


Mary Alice Powell.

The Blade
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Noting on the cell phone screen that the incoming call was from the person who had committed to buying my farm house was welcome.

I answered it cheerfully and with warm, friendly comments. After all, eight months of encounters with him and his wife and numerous telephone calls had cemented a pleasant relationship.

But the call I answered that morning was cold, heart-wrenching, and left a question that will never be answered.

Had the property been listed with a Realtor, would I have avoided the dilemma I am now in?

The call was to inform me that the couple — who had said they couldn’t wait to move into the house — had changed their minds.

They were more than just prospective buyers.

They had made arrangements to see the house several times, had also brought parents to see it, and had made such glowing compliments about it and the grounds that my pride for my home was even greater than it has been since 1980.

She liked everything and had expressed being eager to move in and to entertain at large family dinners despite a kitchen that is functional, but not upscale. Did I want to sell my large dining room table for those dinners was a question asked at the negotiating table.

After weeks and months of deliberation leading to their loan approval in the spring, a meeting was set for a May Sunday morning at the house.

Calls from my vacation spot in South Carolina reaffirmed their enthusiasm to buy the house. I was told May 1 was the day they would go to the bank. I called in late April and sure enough they would be going to the bank as planned the next day.

I knew the steps to be taken and had checked with Realtors and legal professionals on the rules that precede the final closure. Those include earnest money that is not refundable. It is also customary for the buyer to make an offer, for the property to be inspected, and for the seller to fill out a disclosure form.

I expected all of the above and had my notebook handy to be sure I understood everything and that the agreements would be fair to both parties.

The buyer brought a buyer’s agreement and filled it out to include the price, $1,000 earnest money, the June 25 closing date, and other information.

No offer was made and the buyer did not want an inspection of the property.

The agreement was forwarded to my attorney who, for the most part, was satisfied except for changing the earnest money to $2,500 and asking the buyers to pay half the closing cost because it was such a good price. I was assured that both changes could easily be declined.

Based on faith, which turned out to be blind faith, I began the exhausting trauma of moving that is now about 80 percent complete.

As I review the long period leading to what I honestly believed would culminate in what both parties wanted there was never an indication of dissatisfaction. From the first time the handsome couple came to the door to tour the house until their last visit, they were pleased.

I believe that my extreme patience was based somewhat on their instant attraction to the 1920 house on two acres on Posey Lake. It reminded me of the first time I saw it and loved it. I still do, but the years have a way of altering our lifestyles, whether we are ready or not.

Perhaps my experience will be beneficial to other homeowners with For Sale By Owner signs. I will never know what changed the eager buyers’ minds or if a Realtor would have sensed the turning point in the screening and the legal footwork that is instrumental in the real estate profession.

Mary Alice Powell is a retired Blade food editor. Contact her at:

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