Fixer Home in East Sacramento Closes Escrow After Two Cancellations

new east sacramento listing

The seller of this fixer home in East Sacramento had asked me what kind of things a buyer might ask him to fix and what could go wrong with a sale. This guy lives on the other side of the country and has been through a devastating situation. Imagine just about the worst thing that could happen to a person, and it happened to him, twice. On top of which, he later had to undergo emergency surgery in the middle of escrow, which will take a long time for recovery. He is still not out of the woods by a long shot, yet he exhibits incredible strength.

I feel a special affinity for this seller, in particular because he is older and in a vulnerable situation. Our first escrow involved a buyer that I did not want to go into escrow with. Not for any reason other than I did not think this was a fit for his method of operation, so I did not expect him to close. Sure enough, conditions existed that he claimed he did not see, although he has two eyes in his head, just like me. But at least he canceled within a few days.

It is always hard to tell a seller that a buyer has flaked. Especially when sellers seem excited the property is sold. But it’s never really sold until we close. The listing expressly stated this fixer home in East Sacramento was sold absolutely AS IS and there was a death in the home. But for some reason, often buyers think they can negotiate around that later. Maybe they can with other listing agents, I dunno.

We encountered that scenario with our second buyer. Her agent seemed aghast when I let the agent know that my advice to the seller would be to cancel the buyer because the buyer did not remove her inspection contingency. The agent kept pressuring me to put the squeeze on my seller, and I won’t do that. I don’t mess around, especially NOT when my seller is under such duress as this guy.

Finally, we received 6 offers in all, and our third escrow seemed to be moving along well. One of the things we discovered in the second escrow of this fixer home in East Sacramento was a crumbled orangeburg sewer line. This was one of the problems I had warned the seller could happen. His inherited property was built in 1950. Many homes of that era were constructed with tar paper sewer lines after the war. They don’t last more than 50 years or so. You would never know unless you ran a camera down the clean-out.

Yet our third buyer also neglected to remove her inspection contingency. The buyer, believe it or not, after all we had been through, demanded a price reduction. We told her no. Close or cancel. In fact, after we emailed a Notice to Perform, we also put the home back on the market, pending rescission. Agents must have been wondering: what in the world was going on with the fixer home in East Sacramento! We told the buyer we are not kidding. We will sell to a different buyer. There is always another buyer.

But in the end, the buyer came to her senses, deposited funds and signed her documents. I also cannot count the number of times I asked for an amendment to the purchase contract because the terms of the contract had changed. The contract presented to us was not a cash transaction since suddenly the buyer obtained a hard money loan. Despite our repeated attempts, we never received the amendment but at least the file released for recording yesterday. Whew.

The seller got the price he wanted. Although it might seem less, it was not because the buyer paid most of the seller’s closing costs.

Now, a strange twist in this tragic story of awfulness. At the moment, we simply presume it has closed. On par with the way this transaction had gone, the escrow officer left her office early on Friday. Her assistant then followed, promising another employee would send us confirmation. My worst fear at that point happened: crickets. Hopefully, we will receive that confirmation sometime today. Better than trying to call the recuperating seller in a time zone 3 hours later from us on a Friday night.

Elizabeth Weintraub

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