Selling the Unsellable

By Cosette Snarr

Several years ago we were living in a twin home. This is before they were called townhomes and became a real viable option for home ownership. For the most part these places were considered low income housing, which when me moved in that was exactly the case.

For four years that home was perfect for our needs. But it was inevitable for our situation to change—our four children were growing and I’d gotten a job in a city 50 miles away. We decided it was time to move to a bigger place in a more central location in between my job and my husband’s. We looked around and found the perfect house in the ideal neighborhood. All we needed was a down payment which would come from selling our twin home.

This decision to move was made during a time when the real estate market was severely depressed! Interest rates were about 13%. Homes in our neighborhood were not selling. In fact, many people were simply walking away from their homes, giving them back to the bank after trying to sell for a couple of years. We didn’t allow that to discourage us.

The agent through whom we’d be purchasing/building our new home instructed us to put our house up for sale by owner and then he’d help us with the paperwork. As my husband pounded our little sign into the front yard, our neighbor stared at us incredulously. “You’re gonna try and sell your place?” she asked wide-eyed.

“No, we’re going to!” replied my husband emphatically.

“Good luck!” she said chuckling and shaking her head in disbelief.

A few days later we got a call from our realtor. They had a customer who couldn’t qualify to buy a home from them, but he was interested in looking at our place. We were thrilled! Then the realtor hit us with the caveat—this guy had no money to put down, but he did own 2 Mercedes Benz vehicles. Would we accept that?

The question should have been will the bank accept it? We didn’t care how this man financed the purchase, as long as it gave us what we needed for our house. Luckily, with the market as bad as it was, the banks and the realtors were getting very creative in their financing. They accepted his cars, which went to the down payment on our home. We got the approval and ten days after putting our sign in our front yard, we took it down. Our neighbor came over and said, “Giving up already?”

“No,” said my husband proudly. “We sold it!”

The look on her face was priceless.

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