The moment our home was listed, our agent immediately started getting calls. By that weekend, we had our first viewing. And within three weeks we had our first offer. It was a nice couple from Canada who were really excited to hear the cows that sometimes wandered through the canyon. And we were just as excited to get started on our new journey; we had been approved for a mortgage, and the real estate season was in full swing up in Washington and there were a number of homes we really liked and were interested in.
Unfortunately, the offer fell through during the park approval process. See, all purchases in our park had to be cash only – meaning you could not finance your mobile home (though you could get around this by using your 401K to buy, and then pay your 401K back over time). Also, all purchases had to be approved by the park management, and prospective buyers had to have good credit and make at least three times the space rent – which, at that time, was $1590 a month for new occupants.
We were disappointed, but optimistic that a new buyer would come along eventually.
We had an open house the following month. That generated some interest, but no offers.
Two months later, we decided to drop the price on our home. We found out that a neighbor had sold their home recently for a little bit less than what we were asking. Since their home was bigger, that sale changed the comps for our area. I mean no one would pay $30K for our home when they could get something bigger for a little bit less – even if the other home wasn’t as updated as ours was.
Dropping the price stirred up a bit more interest in our home and we ended up getting another offer. Unfortunately, it, too, fell through during the park approval process.
Now John and I were beginning to get frustrated. Our agent was doing everything she was supposed to – so we knew this wasn’t a her issue. Was it possible that the park manager was out to get us? We had never really gotten along, and the rumors from our neighbors and from reviews on line said that the park owners were known to deny sales especially if they knew the current home owners were suffering from financial issues. That way, when the home owners couldn’t pay, they could evict them and then resell the home. Since we were seeing a number of homes in the park with eviction notices in the windows when we went on walks, we couldn’t help but wonder if there was some truth to the rumors.
Summer turned in to fall, and interest in the house started to wane as the holiday season approached. We dropped the price again when a park owned home that was damn near identical to ours (however it did not have any appliances) was put on the market. Our realtor wasn’t really thrilled with that move, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
In addition to dropping the price, we also started making some additional improvements around the house. When had first listed our home, our realtor had encouraged us not to do anything more to the home; her reasoning was that we had already done so much, and there was no way we would be able to make any money off of any other upgrades we did. But since we weren’t getting any bites, we had to do something to try to help the situation.
So we kept the improvements small. We painted the vanity tops in the bathrooms using Rustoleum appliance paint. Originally they were some weird, ivory and gold fake marble from the nineties. After a coat of white paint, they looked a bit more reasonable. We painted the shower in the master bathroom with appliance paint as well, which was a step up from the golden harvest color it had been. We redid the tub too and added tile trim around the tub wall. All in all we only spent maybe $60, but it made a huge difference.
We also replaced the carpet on the patio – which had seen better days – with a new outdoor rug, and took down the fish net we had hung up to keep the Boyo from throwing stuff into the neighbor’s carport. And we painted our white fridge black to match the other appliances.
Last but not least I spent at least three days cleaning the kitchen sink. The previous owners had dumped paint down it, and it took a combination of Goof Off, Barkeeper’s Friend, and quite a bit of elbow grease to get it all out. I was damn proud of that sink by the time I was done.
While our Realtor was impressed with what we did, and for how cheap we did it, all that work didn’t seem to do a bit of good in finding a buyer. Two more months passed with no interest whatsoever – no calls, no emails, no viewings, and no open houses. Because what’s the point of having an open house if people aren’t interested?
By now it was nearly Christmas. The holidays are a notoriously hard time to sell a house – no one wants to move with all the get togethers and celebrating that is going on. And up in Washington the market was just as dead. There were a couple of homes we liked that were still on the market, but the majority of them had either been snatched up by previous buyers or had been taken off the market by their owners until the Spring. For a moment we considered doing the same thing, but our Realtor convinced us to keep going.
While all this was going on, I was in the thrall of making bridesmaid dresses for a friends wedding. As much as I wanted to sell and get going on our new adventure up North, a part of me was glad that I wasn’t having to pick up every weekend. That I could leave bits and pieces of fabric out while I toiled away over the sewing machine day in and day out.
Then shortly after the New Year a cousin passed away unexpectedly. While an open house or two would have been a great distraction from that, I was grateful for the peace and quiet.
And then in February, it happened. We had an open house, and a young woman put in an offer. Was this finally the one, we wondered. Was this it? We weren’t thrilled at the idea of moving up to Washington in the middle of Winter, but beggars can’t be choosers.
John and I prayed and meditated like we had never done before. We started seeing even more signs than ever before that this was what God wanted for us. And two of the homes we really liked, that we could see ourselves living in for the rest of our lives, were still available and were affordable.
Unfortunately the sale fell through again. However, this time the buyers went MIA before the park approval process even started. They were younger though, so perhaps they panicked, or they were worried that they were biting off more than they could chew and changed their minds.
We began talking about maybe taking the home off the market so we could finish making all the updates we had originally planned for the house when we first bought it and then trying to sell it again. But we knew that in just six more months, the space rent would be going up again, and our budget would be tighter than ever before – and we still had another year and a half to go before I could go back to work.
Then we got a phone call from our realtor. There’s a couple, she told us, they’re really interested in the home and they want to come see it. Can they come by tomorrow?
Sure, we said. John would be at work, and the Boyo had occupational therapy, so the only things she would need to worry about was our cats. Normally you’re supposed to remove your pets during open houses and viewings, but since the cats always hid whenever strangers came over, we never really bothered with it. We did always make sure to hide all other signs of them – like food, water, and cat boxes – in places where the cats could get to them but where prospective buyers wouldn’t notice them.
To my surprise, the couple our Realtor was so excited about was still at the house when the Boyo and I returned from his therapy appointment. We did three laps around the park and the neighborhood across the street before we got the ‘go ahead and come on back’ text.
When I pulled up into the driveway, our realtor was waiting for us. They liked it, she said. They were going to make an offer! She was really sure that they were finally the ones!
And to our shock, she was right. By the following week we had an official offer. An offer that the park had approved.
This was finally it. We were moving to Washington.