May 22, 2009

Real estate hangover.

We had another set of buyers back out this week, which forced us to come to terms with the simple fact that we are never going to sell this house. Why? Because the neighbor might put in a driveway that would cozy up to the front yard and side of the house. We all know he won't do it — he split the cost with us of building a fence that sits smack dab in the middle of the easement; he built a lovely retaining wall in front; the current renters have planted a garden and decorated a backyard patio that would both disappear if a drive were put in. Problem is, not only can we not get him to express his intentions (or lack thereof), we can't even find him or get his lawyer to return phone calls.

There is nothing we can do. The initial letter that torpedoed our first sale was blatantly false, which the neighbor's lawyer conceded in writing. (The legal equivalent of saying, "I take it back.") No, the house will not have to be moved. And they are not actually doing anything wrong now, but they managed to open a can of worms. There's the easement; maybe they'll build a drive, maybe they won't.

Apparently buyers are wary about the unknown, so when they see that disclosure and read the explanation of the easement, they get all twitchy and imagine, I don't know, a driveway with an RV and a boat parked outside their living room window. Drive around Portland and you'll see similar scenarios everywhere (minus the RV and boat). Drive around Chicago and you'll see L tracks that run past someone's bedroom window. Ditto for any other crowded urban space. But I suppose nobody wants to deal with the uncertainty.

I've been trying to track down the owner, with no success. So I went back to the house the other day, hoping to catch the neighbors and beg them for his phone number so I could talk to him in person and make him take pity on me (my realtor asked me if I wore a low-cut shirt; I did not). But nobody was home next door, so I walked around inside our house, thinking how beautiful it is; it even still has new-house smell. The single reason I left was that I couldn't swing the mortgage. (I feel guilty typing that, as if I'm cheating on this house.) But here we are, STILL PAYING THE MORTGAGE. So my next hairbrained scheme involves finding a renter who will keep the place spotless, be willing to vacate for showings at a moment's notice and not object to the possibility of having to move out quite suddenly. Any Portlanders out there like the sound of that?

1 comment:

Girlbert said...

I have quite the real estate hangover, too, so I completely feel your pain. As someone who is currently renting a house that is for sale, but can't get out from under my mortgage with my ex-husband (three states away) despite having spent tens of thousands on a lawyer to "help" me - I think all landlords and lawyers (and ex-husbands) should be...

I'd better not finish that thought.

Hang in there!