Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Saga, Pt. 1

Ok, so I don't really know where to start. At this point, I'm mostly categorizing this all for my future ability to remember. So, bear with me if it's scattered and all over the place...
Backing up, as most of you remember, we moved last June and put our house on the market a couple of weeks later. If doing it over, I would have made sure the house was on the market in March, even if it seemed impossible to keep show-ready with small kids underfoot, but hindsight is always 20/20, right? Anyway, it was listed in mid-June and showings began in earnest. We did some basic cleaning, pruning, minor cosmetic updates, but largely we left it as it was. We knew the roof would need to be replaced at some point in the not-too-distant future, but we were hopeful we could just negotiate some credit to a buyer at closing and not have to mess with the details ourselves. We had A LOT of showings and began waiting for someone to put an offer in...well, the offer never came.
We live in a town known well throughout the area for having great schools, this is a bonus, but it makes the housing market a bit more summer-sales heavy that it might otherwise be, so we knew it was really important to get something figured out by August.
August came and went with lots of interest, but no offers, so we lowered the price and, combined with the tax credit, showings continued in earnest throughout the fall. We really thought we had a buyer in mid-October (someone looked at it 3 or 4 times, but ultimately decided to go with another property) and it seemed our two-house-owning days were numbered. Unfortunately, we're still numbering them...
We've now entered into the winter phase, which as all of you from the mid-west (are there any readers NOT from the mid-west) know means lots and lots of COLD with some snow/ice/etc. thrown in for good measure. The biggest "flaw" in our house is that the previous owners decided to convert their garage space into a family room. This actually is great for the living space in the house, over doubling the non-kitchen/bedroom living areas in the house. However, the lot our house is on, while very deep (hello, HUGE backyard), is also quite narrow. Given that the home is ranch style, there is not room to get around the existing structure to put another garage in the back. So, we're pretty much stuck garage-less unless we want to convert the other area BACK into a garage. Anyway, this is a more obvious downside in the winter when it's cold and you're actively thinking about shoveling and scraping off your car every morning. So, showings crawled to a halt, our listing expired and we were in the process of trying to figure out what our next steps were.
We started seriously considering renting the property on a short-term basis, and even had a meeting with a potential renter set up. We went over to the house to meet with the person who was interesting in renting, but after waiting a few minutes and having him not show up we got a call. He apologized for not having called sooner, but let us know he'd found another place. During the conversation I noticed that the windows on the house were all fogged up--weird, since I'd been in the house earlier that day making sure all was in order. We decided to follow up on it and I'm quite glad we did. When we walked in the house all seemed to be normal on first glance except for the humidity level. But when we turned on the light in the stairway leading to the basement is became obvious what the problem was. The basement was COVERED in water...not just a bit on the floor, but several inches covering everything! We walked downstairs and the scent made it clear is was sewage water from the storm sewer and it was rising quickly!
The next several hours were spent on the phone to the city and working with their after-hours guy to figure out what was going on. Turns out the storm sewer had become blocked just past our house and we were the first lucky recipients of the back-up. However, the blessing in it was that we were there so quickly. From the rate the water was rising (over and inch per hour) we figure we must have arrived within the first 3-4 hours of the backup (this was at 7pm) and it was resolved by 9pm. Had we not had the no-show rental prospect, we wouldn't have been back in the house until the following day at the earliest, possibly not for a couple of days. I don't even want to think about what type of mess that would have been. Also, we were very fortunate that the city acknowledged its ultimate responsibility in the matter and fully took care of the clean up costs, since sewer back-ups are excluded under normal homeowners insurance coverage. However, we spent most of the rest of January working with water-damage restoration specialists and contractors to put the basement back together. And then we got the call...
To be Continued...

1 comment:

kristin noel said...

Oh Liz... I had no idea! I hope Part 2 is more encouraging!