Earlier this year, we agreed to purchase my grandmother’s house from my father. We moved in, and moved most of our possessions from the old house. It took us a while to get the old house on the market. We interviewed a number of realtors, before settling on J.P. Faulkner. Then we had a fair amount of work to do to get the house ready to sell: several ceilings needed to have fresh drywall hung, and we had the entire interior painted, which required a tremendous amount of wallpaper removal and mudding and sanding. We had some trouble with a few of the contractors we used, which only made things drag on even longer.

Finally we got the house presentable and ready for market. The very first showing resulted in an offer for our asking price, which we promptly accepted. The home was built in 1911, and although it’s a comfortable home it does show its age, so I was more than a little worried about the home inspection. Most notably, the basement walls are bowing. They were bowed when I moved in, and my home inspector at that time suggested that I have steel I beams placed along the wall in order to reinforce it.

I had one contractor come investigate the walls for me shortly after I moved in. He said he’d be happy to apply the beams, but that it wasn’t really necessary. His comment to me was “The house hasn’t fallen down yet; it’s really unlikely that it will!” Just to be safe, I had a structural engineer come to the house this summer to evaluate the walls. He spent a couple minutes walking around the basement before declaring “This is fine.” He sent me a letter stating that he certified the walls as structurally sound.

Alas, the home inspector used by the potential buyers didn’t agree. He put a whole lot of fear into the buyers that the walls could collapse at any moment. We went round and round several times with the buyers, culminating in a meeting at the house with the buyer, his realtor, my realtor, me and the structural engineer. I respect that the buyer’s realtor was doing what she felt was necessary to advocate for her client, but she really came off looking foolish. She asked a lot of questions, all of which the structural engineer addressed in full. Unfortunately for me, the buyer still didn’t feel comfortable with the walls, and requested that I have them all reinforced with steel beams.

The expense was non-trivial, and scheduling the work delayed our closing date. Finally the work was done, and (almost) all of our stuff was removed from the house. The buyers then asked if they could move in prior to closing. I consented, since I wasn’t using the property. And today, finally, we closed the deal.

I learned a lot about buying and selling a house through this process. I feel that selecting a realtor is one of the most important things you can do. The realtor should keep you informed of all the little things it’s easy to forget, and should work hard to set you at ease about the complexities of buying or selling a home. J.P. Faulkner was fantastic, and I strongly recommend him for anyone looking to buy a home in Clintonville.

I also learned a lot about home repair while getting the house ready for inspection and possession. The buyer requested a few small remedies in addition to the steel beams in the basement, most of which I handled on my own. For example, the buyer wanted a new door handle and lock installed on the back door. Let me give you some advice if you’re thinking of asking the seller to do this for the home you intend to buy: don’t waste your time. The seller will do what I did: select the absolute cheapest handle available at the hardware store. Do yourself a favor and keep quiet. When you move in, select and install whatever quality handle or knob you think best suits the decor you desire.

I had to fix a few plumbing issues, too. On the day before the home inspection, I discovered that the drain pipe from the kitchen sink had become disconnected in the crawlspace. I have no idea how long it had been disconnected, or how much water was simply poured into the crawlspace, the floor of which was very damp. I was terrified that the inspector would fault us for this; but thankfully no mention of it was made on the report. Fixing the problem was easy: a $2 coupler from the local hardware store. Getting into the crawlspace was more difficult than affixing the coupler!

Thankfully, it’s all over now. I deposited the check immediately after leaving the title agency’s office. There is a tremendous amount of stress and worry lifted from my shoulders.

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