Buyer Beware or Buyer Be Aware

Hello everyone:

After a month off for moving houses and buying a new one, I have a fount of new information to share with you, my beloved readers. And it deals with the purchase of your home-on-your-own. Even if you have purchased a house or condo as a single before, things have probably changed since the last time you made such a huge purchase. Here are some tips for navigating the new waters of home alone.

When I purchased my new house, little did I know that my seller would take it upon himself to spackle over all of the nail holes in all of the walls. The dear fellow also sanded over his handiwork. And then he left it. Every wall in my new house has huge blotches of white spackling compound on top of the dark brown paint he apparently found attractive, since he used it throughout the house, except where he painted the walls a medium gray.

Well, he was correct in assuming I would repaint. He was incorrect in thinking I planned on doing it before even moving in. But, with the mess he made, it became necessary for my personal sanity to, in the very least, repaint the walls that I would see every day.

Fortunately, I have a new dear friend whose family thrives on remodeling. She and her kinfolk repainted (beautifully, I might add) my entire first floor the most gorgeous shade of light blue with white trim, while I was in Florida visiting my family over the Christmas break. Bless their hearts.

Another interesting tidbit is that I have textured walls. In Florida, they call it “orange peel.” In Virginia, it is simply “textured.” Do you know what happens when you sand textured walls, like my seller did? It removes the texture. This means that your entire wall is textured, except where you sanded it. This makes it necessary to re-texture the wall where it was sanded, unless you are fond of glaring smooth spots on an otherwise textured wall. Not fun, folks.

Did you know that, if you have light fixtures that look like something from Dungeon and Dragons, they shed a yellow light on everything? The really good news is that they are pretty easy to replace with more palatable light fixtures (palatable from a decorating standpoint, that is) AND some consignment shops will sell your old fixtures for you! Don’t throw them away, offer them in the re-sale market. Someone whose taste is more reflective of their design might fall in love with them.

Finally, as a former settlement clerk, I found it fascinating that buyers and sellers do not attend settlement together (at least in Virginia), nor do they see one another’s HUD- 1 settlement sheet. Privacy laws have apparently hit the world of house buying and selling, so don’t expect that you will meet your counterpart, unless you happen to run into one another. The HUD-1 is now a two-part document with only the information appropriate to you in front of you.

If you live in a state where they will meet, you should become concerned if they don’t show up. In Maryland, where our marital home was sold, my real estate agent and I sat for two hours and fifteen minutes before the buyer’s agent called to say the settlement was not going to happen that night. Yeah, fella, we did kinda get the idea that something was wrong when the buyers hadn’t done their walk through yet, after we had already been there for an hour. Make sure that your agent keeps on top of things and that he or she makes phone calls and sends emails and texts, if things look dicey.

Happily, the settlement did happen the next morning but, because of the way things were conducted, we won’t get the proceeds of the house until…whenever. A too-similar event happened with the sale of another property we owned. The buyers had been in the property for a month and a half before the settlement check showed up. Have any divorce papers handy, showing who gets what money. Do not assume that they will automatically split things in half. They have to see certified court documents before the title company can disperse the funds.

Again, stay on top of things as best you can but do not plan that you will have your exit money right away. Plan for the worst while hoping for the best. I hope you found this info helpful!

Best,

Dr. Sheri

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