Tuesday, December 18, 2007

An update on the house situation

First of all, thank you to all of the commenters yesterday: I put out a call for help and you responded in droves. It meant a lot to me, and it really helped firm my resolve to know that other people didn't find our distress unreasonable, our demands outlandish. I managed to only have a wee little cry today, and got a lot of strength from your support.

Second, we got an offer from them. What they did was pull together a list of ten 'comparable properties' roughly in this area that sold over the last year, and then circle the highest-priced one, directly across the street from us, and offer us at that much money. Yeahhhh, I went to their open house when it was on the market? And it's nice, but our house is bigger, better equipped, on a larger lot, has a garage ... When our real estate agent looked at the list, he actually laughed out loud: the list was cherry-picked for only the very cheapest properties, not actually taking into account, um, the actual houses being sold as actually compared to our location and amenities. Our lawyer also kind of chuckled, and suggested we firmly reject, changing all their ridiculous terms ($500 deposit, two months to just drop the offer completely, with no penalty, closing date six months away, ludicrous low price, etc, etc, etc.) to ones we feel are more reasonable and then dropping it all back in their laps for them to ponder over the holidays.

Third, our real estate agent seems to be warming to our cause. He's had a look at the aerial survey of the block in question, and it seems our property is so located as to quite likely make it impossible for them to even build a chicken coop without buying us out. Basically, they have an awkward, wedge-shaped property and to all intents and purposes, we totally cut off a good chunk of it. Pynchon and our agent are going to the City planning department tomorrow to investigate setback and parking bylaws. We begin to suspect that the reason these people haven't filed any formal development plans with the City is that they don't want us to be able to find out they can't do it without us. We imagine that this is how they intend to drive down our price. Our agent also loved Pynchon's idea of telling the condo developers that if they don't meet our price, we will simply move anyway, but keep our current house, converting it to a student rental to subsidize our new home. He thought that was a great card to play.

And so it dawns on us, slowly and magnificently, that we might be in the best position of all: we ask for the compensation we need to stay in the neighbourhood in a comparable house, and if they meet our price, then we happily move; if they don't meet our price, they can't actually develop the property, and we continue on here in our home as though nothing at all was ever amiss, building our equity month by month, paying down our debts, growing our salaries, watching Munchkin move from the toddler room, to the pre-school room, and finally out of that pricey pricey daycare. We would, that is, actually have a choice, actually be able to sell or to stay, on our terms and in our timeline and at our budget.

None of this is certain. But Pynchon says today, when he received their offer and told them our lawyer and agent would look it over and we would get back to them in due time, they looked ... a little nervous. We need to go to the City again, to try to find out how much they actually need our property. We're really not sure. But we feel a lot more confident today than yesterday, and it seems like our lawyer and our agent think we might come out of this better than we might have expected before.

Keep us in your thoughts, would you?

I promise, as soon as all this nonsense starts to settle one way or another, and as soon as I can relax enough to get my grading done, I will lavish all my attention on my neglected Bloglines: it's not you. It's totally, totally me. Sorry to have been so lax. I'll be back soon.

But for now:

I'm a 'Krimpas' elf! Cheer up!


Bee said...

Hi Mimi,

What a lovely photo! I've been sitting next to you in the Starbucks (long pink scarf, curly hair, scribbling on a notebook), and caught a look on your screen, so I thought I'd have a look at your blog. I wish you a merry Christmas despite the annoying time you're having. Best,


Omaha Mama said...

Look at that lovely Santa Munchkin, so grown up!

I hope that tonight you ARE feeling better. The lack of control, the total unknown, has got to be just horrible. I hope you'll lean on the people who can help you. And maybe take a little time to write a nice letter to your local paper's editor.

Mimi said...

Check out my shoulder lurker in comment 1 -- the moral of the story is that the innocent looking physicist sitting next to you might be writing down your URL!

alejna said...

Thanks for sharing that update. Things don't sound as scary today. I'm sure there are still hurdles ahead, but I'm relieved for you that things are looking more in your favor.

(Funny about the "shoulder lurker!" I keep feeling like some day, I'll meet another blogger, but I hadn't really thought about getting a comment from someone sitting next to me in a public place...)

cinnamon gurl said...

Thanks for the update... glad you're feeling better about the situation... I hope it keeps getting better and I will keep you in my thoughts! I've been thinking about you all day...

bubandpie said...

Phew! What a great update. It all sounds very good.

Bee said...

Ah, I'm not very talkative, esp. not when stuck in the middle of a computation. That's not the first time I met a blogger in a public place (I've seen plenty at airports for whatever reason, the atmosphere seems to inspire last thoughts or so). It's probably not polite but convenient to check out other people on their blog. Remains to say if I hadn't liked your blog, you'd never have found out I caught a glimpse on your screen. Best,


Jenifer said...

Why am I so fascinated with Bee's comments?

I am so glad this is looking up...I think feeling a bit more in control and the fact that you are holding more cards is going to give you a bit of peace of mind.

Of course we are rooting for you!

Kyla said...

That real life lurker (Hi Bee!) story is awesome! I got a kick out of it.

And I am so glad today finds things better. See, you just needed to talk to the wise Internets and your luck turned right around. ;)

That is the CUUUTEST Krimpas elf I ever did see.

Mad Hatter said...

OK, that's kinda weird.

As for the house, I will breathe a temporary sigh of relief.

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...


nomotherearth said...

So glad you're feeling more confident. I was worried.

Pitbull said...

What irks me more is that our government helps corporations do this to us. Whatever happened to the freedom this country proclaims loudly?

Hang in there as long as you can, but do not put your safety at risk. Who knows what companies will do these days. Be careful.

Beck said...

I sat there yesterday and fretted for you so much that I ended up reading my dad your post and he suggested that you mention casually in your next conversation with the Evil Condo People that you're planning on starting an outdoor pigeon-raising business/rat farm.
I'm so glad that you're feeling more hopeful. I'll keep you guys in my prayers for a happy outcome.

Bon said...

i'm relieved that you've gotten some support from your real estate agent and that things may be looking up. as i see it, you really potentially DO hold the cards over these bullies, and i encourage you to use, use, use them...as they simply aren't playing fair.

Munchkin is gorgeous.

slouching mom said...

how cool is that about bee? cool, and a little spooky!

munchkin is delicious.

and this?

And so it dawns on us, slowly and magnificently, that we might be in the best position of all:


Renée said...

Ah, your post is so great it inspired me to de-lurk momentarily.

YES! :pumps fist most indelicately:

It really does sound as though you have these greedy Scrooge-like bastards where you want them. They need your property and probably can't proceed without it. Awesome. That THUNK you heard was the sound of their heads hitting their desks when they realized you had figured it out.

I think the very best thing you can do is tell them their pathetic offer (the one with the "comparable properties" you described) is not acceptable, and just sit back and let them come back with something better.

The Empty Nest Blog
Sharing laughter, experiences, and resources for fellow parents of college students.

It's Something To Do
Reviews and commentary on websites, TV shows, and movies.

Mimi said...

Thanks for delurking Renée!

Here's the latest: the city is willing to bend over backwards to get approvals for projects to redevelop the area. The city, that is, wants them to build, and warns us that we are in prime redevelopment area. But it still looks like they would need to get exceptions granted to build around us, and we can delay them like crazy if they don't deal with us.

So it looks like: we continue to play chicken with each other, to see if they will actually try to go ahead without us.

We've said all along: we don't want to extort money from anyone. We just want to make enough on the sale of this house to buy another similar one in the very same neighbourhood. It seemed reasonable enough to us.

Joyce said...

Hi Mimi,
If you love your home and your location, don't sell! Or, think of some ridiculous number and tell the buyers you'll take that. Make sure it's VERY high and then tell them you want free residence for a year after the closing, along with anything else you want. The comps are just a scare tactic. They'll also tell you they'll build around you, which is ok, isn't it?? If they want it, they'll pay your asking price. Good luck!!

Debbie said...

I've just had a moment to catch up on your ordeal. I'm so glad things are looking up for you. There is absolutely no way you should have to leave before you're ready for less money than you're entitled to.

You've gotten some wonderful advice so far!

Cloud said...

Oh, this is great news! It made my day to read this. I was strangely worried about you and your family, people I've never met who live on the other side of the country. I hope your best case scenario comes to pass, and that the condo developers eventually realize what a big mistake they made by trying to screw you. I suspect they will end up paying you more than they would have if they had just been as reasonable as you were from the beginning. I hope someday they realize that and feel very, very bad about it, as a sort of karmic payback for all the grief they are putting you through now.

Hang in there, and take comfort in your adorable little Munchkin!

Patti said...

I am also briefly de-lurking...


I told so many people about you yesterday, and I'm glad to hear that things are possibly balancing out.

HumboldtsClio said...

My guess is that the developer hoped to intimidate you out of your house before you noticed that you were in the better bargaining position. Hence why they came at you hard and fast. Good for your for not caving in, and consulting your lawyer.

Best of luck, Merry Christmas!

Jo said...

...also "delurking"..

I'm so glad things are looking much rosier for you today. Hopefully you can relax and enjoy Christmas now you have a firmer plan of attack.

Happy "Krimpas" to you, hubby and gorgeous, clever ( yes -it's fine to acknowledge it- Krimpas elf!

Jo in Aus

kittenpie said...

Mimi - I am so sorry I missed that post! How gut-wrenching! I am glad to come to this next one, where things seem better, like you may have some options and some bargaining chips. Still, having that over you is horrible, especially when you are supposed to be enjoying a bit of time off, some family holiday time, and need it even less than ever. I hope that your agent and lawyer are right and you can get something similar and close by. I will be thinking of you!