At Some Point We Didn't Think It Would Happen, And Then It Did

So here we were, late into March, just days away from supposedly closing on the house, and major details were still being ironed out.

That's not to say that we weren't close. The mortgage was ready to go: We had our paperwork in order, the termites were taken care of (or at least we got a treatment for termite damage that may or may not have been from 30 years ago) and somehow the bank had decided that we deserved a huge loan. Our file was cleared by underwriting and was getting a final review from "Quality Control."

The details of the real estate transaction itself were mostly ironed out: The Florida judicial branch approved of the sale, both buyer and seller agreed on the various concessions and although there was some "big issue" with the title, that part was apparently straightened out. In short, it seemed that we were inching toward a positive outcome. There was one lingering issue, however: There was a tenant still living in the apartment upstairs.

It's not necessarily unusual to have tenants living in a house one is trying to buy, but as the house was to be delivered vacant, it was problematic. Not to mention that Michael had already told his management company that he was planning to move out by the beginning of April.

Now you might ask, as we did, How did this happen? The problem came about because the seller waited to give the tenant notice until the Florida court approved of the deal. And since the court took so long to do so, it meant that the seller took a long time to tell the tenant. In the end, he gave her less than two weeks to move out.

So then you start to feel bad for the tenant — it's not terribly fair to tell someone that they have two weeks to move out of an apartment they've lived in for five years. Clearly the seller was trying to have it both ways with trying to squeeze as much money out of the house as possible. The tenant seemed sympathetic to the strangeness of the situation, and she even met with the realtor to see if she could find another apartment. The realtor, wanting to see the deal go through, even offered to waive any fees to get her into another apartment. (An aside: Obviously realtors get a lot of money in commissions, but sometimes they have to put in an awful lot of legwork to see a deal through.)

At the same time, it's sort of like, What did you expect? Not only was there was a for sale sign out in front of the house for over four months but that "In Contract" shingle-dingle had also been dangling there for at least a month or more. You can't possibly come home each night and not think that you'd have to move out sometime soon.

Then again, landlord-tenant law in New York City stipulates that a tenant has to be notified in writing at least a month in advance that he or she must vacate. The seller didn't do anything in writing, and only let her know a few weeks in advance. So she was well within her rights to stay put.

We were just like, Dude, what the fuck?

I mean, on the one hand, the seller was just a person in Florida who was trying to unload a house that his uncle left him; conceivably, he had no clue how landlord-tenant laws worked in New York. On the other hand, shouldn't the attorney have advised him about what to do?

The key sticking point was that the seller and the seller's attorney couldn't give us any indication that the tenant would be out of the apartment in any particular time frame. We were all beside ourselves trying to take in what it meant, including our attorney. He wouldn't let us go through with the sale if we couldn't work out this tenant situation. He was adamant that we shouldn't get ourselves in a situation where we'd be forced to evict someone. Meanwhile, since the process was dragging on so long, our mortgage was in danger of unwinding itself; certain parts of our paperwork and the rate lock we set were close to expiring (at this point in time the rates were inching upward from record lows, something that reversed itself later in the year).

So as late as a week before we finally closed, the three of us were coming to terms with the possibility that not only would we not have a house but we also might be looking for a new apartment to rent. Our landlord was hounding us wanting to know when we were leaving, and all I could tell her was that we'd know something soon.

Michael was of course in the same predicament, although his management company was less understanding; when he told them that he would have to stay another month they threatened the forfeiture of his security deposit. And he, sensitive guy he is, felt bad that the tenant was getting jerked around. This was too much for our attorney: "But who looks out for Michael?" he demanded to know. He took up Goober's cause.

Eventually the attorneys worked out an agreement: Basically, they agreed that the seller would be liable for the tenant as long as she remained in the apartment after closing and set a date for her to leave, with the seller being penalized $250 a day for each day the tenant was there past that date. We'd hold back $15,000 in escrow for these penalties, which wouldn't be released until the tenant left.

And then, suddenly, miraculously, somehow, someway, our closing was scheduled. We were ready to get the house.

Posted: December 16th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: The Cult Of Domesticity | Tags: , ,

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