Tuesday, September 30, 2014

In which house-hunting takes a turn for the suck

We've identified a house we want to buy. We've actually had our eye on it for quite some time. In fact, back in June, when I first kinda semi-seriously flirted with the idea of selling our current home and moving, I searched some real estate sites just to see what kind of properties were available and whether or not a move would even be worth it. This house was the very first one I looked at, and convinced me we could make a move work.

So with our house under contract, our lender pre-approved us for a certain maximum price level we could offer on any particular property. Once we close on this home's sale, said max loan increases, as we'd no longer be carrying that mortgage. So we made an offer on the Prime Target.

A little background is in order. Prime Target is a Fannie Mae-owned property. It was a foreclosure. It has been on the market for 100-plus days at this point, and undergone several price cuts in that time to bring it close to our pre-approved loan amount before closing on our sale. Our offer was on the low end--our max ceiling was still less than the current asking price. We had reason for optimism, though. We were offering about 10 percent below asking price, and we'd seen Fannie Mae homes sold for that kind of price cut when they'd been on the market as long as this one. In addition to it being on the market for a long 100-plus days, other homes in this area and price bracket were newer and swankier. This one wasn't so much a fixer-upper as a cleaner-upper. We did some digging, and discovered it'd actually been on the market, off and on, since 2008 with no takers prior to going into foreclosure. I tracked down the original owners, and they were quite forthcoming about the circumstances of the foreclosure, their plans for the home (it's completed, but a lot of finishing touches such as replacing the vinyl siding with stone and stucco weren't accomplished). They want someone to buy and live in the house and bring it back from the brink of neglect Fannie Mae has left it in. They bid us good luck in our effort to buy it. There were quite a number of cosmetic issues that detracted from it's potential value to the average buyer. For us, though, it was a blank slate upon which to put our stamp. More than 3 acres of property, no HOA and a triple garage with upstairs apartment that simply begged to be converted into a full-blown studio for Lisa On Location Photography. It was perfect for us, decidedly imperfect for anyone else.

Today Fannie Mae responded to our offer, saying they had received a competing offer and inviting us to make our "best and final" bid.

You're telling me this house has languished on the market for seven fucking years without buyer interest, and the very week we make an offer somebody else does as well? Really? Really? Coincidence much? My gut tells me this is total and complete bullshit, a fake auction conjured by Fannie Mae to squeeze a few more pennies out of us. A little internet research turns up any number of people who've experienced the exact same thing as us. There's no way to prove the competing bid exists. There's no way to prove it doesn't. And there is no way for us to up our bid--at least not until Oct. 20, when we close on the sale of our current home (at which point this "best and final" auction will be ancient history).

At this point, there's nothing for it. There are three outcomes, all beyond our power to affect: 1) out current "best and final" wins the day and we get the house straight up, 2) we lose the house and someone else goes "neener neener" at us, or 3) all "bids" are rejected and the house stays on the market, or gets de-listed for a couple of weeks only to reappear at a later date. Regardless of how this shakes out, we'll be fine... given enough time. But again, I dread the prospects of having to go the short-term rental route as we hunt for a replacement that ticks as many boxes as Prime Target does.

Losing out on Prime Target is one thing, but the overwhelming feeling of being scammed is tough to stomach, regardless of the outcome.

Now Playing: Aerosmith Permanent Vacation
Chicken Ranch Central


  1. According to some quick research I just did, I'd vote for the "fake auction to make a few more bucks" scenario. Fannie Mae uses brokers to sell their foreclosed properties, and this smells like scam to me. The broker handling the sale either read your eagerness or tracked you down online and knows how badly you want this property and is now testing to see how far you can be pushed.

  2. Entirely possible, if not probable, this is an attempt to upsell the price. The past couple of days I've posted about this specific property, yes, but before then I've not commented very much at all regarding our house-hunting effort, so I doubt they spent much effort tracking me down online.

    As to how far we can be pushed, our "best and final" counteroffer saw us sweeten the deal by going for an epic split of closing costs. THAT will show them we're not to be trifled with!

    On the bright side, one of our second choice properties with slightly more usable land just reduced their asking price by $10K. So there's that.