A few definitions that will come in handy if you are not familiar with the home buying/selling process:

1. Centralized Showing – a service that handles the showing of your house (realtors subscribe to this service). A realtor calls Centralized Showing and they call us saying “X agent wants to see your house between 3:00-3:30 as a courtesy.

2. Earnest money – this is an amount (usually about 1% in Texas) that you give to the title company when you sign a contract. If you want out of the contract after the option period (see below), you lose this money.

3. Option period – when you enter into a contract you pay an option fee (say, $100) to have an option period. This is a period of time where you can have inspectors come and look at the house more carefully.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005
Late morning – Petie and Joelle are at home. Petie gets a call from Centralized Showing saying that a man is outside our house and wants to see it – he does not have a realtor. We say “no” (although tempting since we have had so few showings) – we’re not going to let some guy in our house off the street.

Early afternoon – the man calls our realtor and does come to take a look at the house. He seems interested. He is an older man (approx. 60)

Late afternoon – he and his wife knock on our door to see the house again. Turns out they live elsewhere in the neighborhood. Petie gives him our phone number if they have any other questions.

Early evening – the guy calls and wants to show it to a family member. He brings his wife and her sister and proceeds to measure every room in the house and even discusses the drainage grade for about 10 minutes. All three of them rave about how wonderful the house is. We never hear from them again.

Thursday, May 5, 2005
We’re coming up on three months and the start of the summer season when all the activity is supposed to spike upwards. We see a bunch of houses we like (to buy) but who knows how long we’ll have to wait? We decide to step it up. Our contract with Fiona ends May 6th and we switch to Michael. He’s more aggressive and we like him from our initial meeting. Confident and replete in his customized Black Hummer, he’s the guy we want to get it done.

We are now listed with Michael at $129,900 – $9,000 less than the original. If that doesn’t get people to look at the house, I don’t know what will. Fiona calls back saying “Oh, would you reconsider switching – I have some people who are interested.” If she was listing and gets someone to buy the house she would get 6% instead of 3% if we switch to Michael and she finds the buyer. Maybe she should have thought of that before not even calling us in the last three weeks of our contract.

Monday, May 9, 2005
Fiona’s prospective buyer comes for a showing in the evening. As usual we made plans to be elsewhere during the showing (Chuck E. Cheese this time) and come home to her purse sitting on our porch. After she figures out her purse is at our house she comes back to pick it up saying “They are extremely interested – I am pretty sure they are going to write an offer.”

Boy, this is going to be the easiest commission Michael has ever gotten.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005
9:30 am – A woman who is relocating from Arkansas and living with family comes to look at the house. She loves it and wants to show her husband that evening.

5:15 pm – The couple (the McKays) love the house and plan on making an offer the next day

Wednesday, May 11, 2005
Michael Zin calls – “Chris, lightning has struck.” We have two offers. We successfully bid them against each other until we get to both offering $132,900. $3,000 above the current list price. Now we have to make a decision:

Fiona’s buyers: – 0% down, working with Fiona (who both we and Michael had worked with) and wanting to close on June 30th.

Arkansas buyers: 5-10% down (so maybe better finances?), don’t know their realtor, wants to close quickly – June 1st.

Since we felt kind of bad for Fiona not getting any of the commission after having us listed for three months and her buyer giving us more time to actually find a house to move to, we go with Fiona’s buyer.

Thursday, May 12, 2005
We sign the contract with Fiona’s buyer and the option period begins on the next day.

May 13-May 22, 2005
Petie and I go to look at houses a number of times. We find one that we really like (on Woodthorpe) and think we will make an offer but want to wait until the option period is up for our buyers.

Monday, May 23, 2005
Option period is up for our buyers, so if they don’t buy the house they owe us $1000. Considering that and the costs of inspections and applying for a loan they will have spent about $2000 if they don’t buy the house.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005
We make an offer on Woodthorpe and it is accepted

Tuesday, May 31, 2005
We have mechanical, structural and termite inspections on Woodthorpe. No big problems but the inspectors recommend a hydrostatic (leak) test because of some house settling on one side.

Wednesday, June 1, 2005
12:15 p.m.
Michael’s assistant, Chad, calls me at work. “Michael wanted me to pass on a note to you that something happened on Fiona’s deal and that he’ll be calling.”

Their option period is over and our option period is almost up on our new house. I ask Chad if he knows what’s going on and he says “I’m not sure, I know Michael will be calling you shortly.”