I haven’t written a ‘throwbacks’ post in awhile, but was prompted to last night when I came across an email from my old real estate agent. I’ll get back to the significance of that email in a minute, but first, the story of selling my (marital) home.
When I went through my divorce, selling our home was one of the biggest stumbling blocks that stalled the process more than anything and was one of the hardest parts to swallow, because not only was my life being turned completely upside down, my home was soon going to be taken away from me too, leaving me with nothing but a blank slate (in hindsight, of course, having a blank slate and starting fresh elsewhere was the best and fastest way for me to heal, but it doesn’t mean it wasn’t an extremely hard decision).
The process itself was completely eye-opening, because navigating the mortgage waters put me in an utter tailspin. I had no idea where to start. I didn’t know if we could even keep the house, if we tried. And tried, we did. Attempted to refinance it so the mortgage might be feasibly affordable for one of us to maintain. Fail. We had an 80/20 mortgage (which mortgage companies now no longer do), which meant 80% on one mortgage and 20% on the other (to avoid PMI), and neither mortgage company was willing to consolidate into the other and neither would refinance since we – surprise, surprise – had little equity in the house since buying it 3 years prior.
Once we realized that there would be no way either of us could afford to keep the house, we shifted towards selling. Another tough pill to swallow, because at the time, I was hell-bent on staying in that house. We’d both put so much time, money and effort into it, and I loved it, from the yard, to the pool, to the home gym I’d created. Home appraisal came back and when I opened it up, I almost passed out. Since buying in 2005 (now, in 2008), the house had depreciated by almost $100K. $100K. Yup.
What’s next? Short sale. Short sales were, at the time, just becoming more commonplace for all of those people that bought at the height of the market, when prices were high, but interest rates were (relatively) low. It felt like a scarlet letter to me, though, because I always equated short sale homes to beat-up, abandoned homes for some reason. But ours? Was beautiful. Brand new remodeled bathroom to the 9s (for 5 figures, no less. gulp. that would bite us), new roof, floors redone, walls redone, basement floor retiled (it was a finished basement) and the list goes on. In those 3 years, we’d put about $40,000 into it, upping the loss that would come. I utterly hated the idea at first, and as I’ve mentioned in prior throwbacks on the end of my marriage, this was one of our biggest fights…to sell, or to try and fight for it. We eventually agreed to sell, no matter how badly it would hurt our credit, no matter how low the price.
And the price…was low. Less than HALF of what we paid, and completely obliterating that $40,000 we’d invested into it, to boot. THAT hurt. THAT was hard to swallow. Especially as the mortgage companies ordered us to pay $12,000 at closing in order for them to wipe the debt clean (where we wouldn’t be taxed on the loss, but our credits would nose-dive). Ouch. And back to the part about the email from my old real estate agent? When we closed on our house, our agent, to his credit, got us a buyer faster than I ever thought possible, but how? He was an investor. Rolled up in his nice shiny Benz, dressed to the 9s. And we were literally handing our home over to him for pennies on the dollar.
That real estate agent is this man…now starring in a show on A&E called ‘Flipping Boston’ (on the left)…he’s profiting from his smarmy ability to short sell homes and flipping them, to boot. I had my reservations that he was tied in to the investor he sold to, and that he would profit, personally, from our short sale, but this confirmed it, to me. Reading that email last night…and my blood boiled. It brought all of those feelings back, the pain, frustration, anger and sadness.
But, then, once I ranted a little bit to M, and to my sisters, I realized something. It wasn’t worth it. Fighting for the house wouldn’t have been worth it for a number of financial reasons, but also? Why would I have wanted to fight for a home that was akin to the shell of my marriage? Why would I want that shell hovering over me day in and out? I wouldn’t.
And as M hugged me tight, and told me that we will have a bigger, better, and more soundly-invested home in the future…together? All of that anger and frustration melted away…into the most perfect evening together. Everything truly happens for a reason…even if it may not seem like it at the time, it truly does. And this was just another reminder of just that. And I am firmly planted where I am meant to be.