Closing a Door and Opening a Window

IMG_20140604_202753The first attempt to close on our house was put off for around a month while the seller got her paperwork in order. The second attempt was delayed because the seller’s moving van arrived just after we did for the final walk through appointment and the movers in it were greeted with “We don’t have enough boxes”. There were signs of packing since before we wrote the offer, but somehow that didn’t translate into finishing the job before either closing date. We gave her another three free days and took off for Memorial Day weekend. We had a nice but brief interlude with a night of primitive camping at a national seashore, a get together with one side of the family and a Memorial Day cookout with the other side. Refreshed and ready, (sort of) Tuesday it was time for the third attempt at closing. Would it be the charm or the strike out?

It was both. We did close, but it was not a happy day for me. The extent of the pet problem had been softened in my mind by the potential of the property and now I had to face the realities that the seller had not. A friend brought congratulatory flowers and surprisingly, they did not wilt on exposure to the house.

Tax records indicate that the seller bought the house as a foreclosure at a steal of a price, but I paid generously considering the condition and the contract said it was to be turned over clean. I didn’t expect spotless, there were too many renovations needed. But, I had mentioned my allergies to her agent in reference to the requirement since she was over the max HOA allowed number of pets and dozens of perfumed odor masking products were not equal to the task of making the place breathable. I break out in varying degrees of bright red welts on contact, so it’s not a euphemism or a cover for repulsion, comparatively small exposures have been known leave me swollen and tearful. We had plenty of cause to re-negotiate at both contract extensions, but I was tired of being unsettled and she (actually, her agent) knew it. I didn’t want to start over and wasn’t sure I had time to. We closed the deal, changed the locks and started to clean up the mess.

The problems were not small though. After leaving the house on the first day (when all we did was move trash off the carpet) I decided to wipe down my phone that had been sitting on the counter and hair came off in sheets like tissue paper.

During the actual final walk through I gave some clearly sentimental items to the agent for her seller and we put a 4-foot cat tree and some other things on the street and let her know they would stay till they were picked up, or till trash day. The seller never seemed to recognize the existence nor extent of her transgressions and she hasn’t stopped calling to ask for things that she didn’t actually leave behind.

The house wasn’t just covered with hair, dander, urine and even some dog food and cat litter, the seller unscrewed things like the bathroom mirror (an appurtenance, i.e. part of the house) while leaving things like a large box of spices. Things were strewn carelessly all over the house, mostly trash. She took appliances that were supposed to stay, even to the point of detaching those that were wired in under the kitchen cabinets, leaving the bare wires hanging. At the same time she left sacks of expensive toiletries. The consistency with which she took things that should have been left and left things that would cost her much more to replace (while costing us to dispose of) was pretty complete.

All that was distressing and I was uncharacteristically overwhelmed. I didn’t know where to start and wanted to just leave, but I didn’t. I started to go through things and seek order. That’s when I found it, the thing that distressed me more than all the rest. It was basically a Molotov cocktail. What you see in the picture below is a 5-quart Pennziol jug full of oil (likely used, of unknown vintage) with a paper towel stuffed in the top, not happiness to find for a person who lost her last house to a fire. I took it out to the truck as soon as I photographed it and dropped it at Jiffy lube (the nearest oil change place) on the way home.
I wonder at the risks and carelessness people carry through their lives and how they never seem to have the self awareness to realize that the consequences they experience (if any) were their own making. Made clear by looking at her trash, the seller had plenty of money for expensive luxuries, but she failed to protect her biggest assets. She “couldn’t afford” to treat for termites to avoid potential damage, even when I offered reimbursement for that treatment at closing. Still, as I sat across from her at the closing table, what she talked about most was wanting to visit to the Ritz-Carlton. She liked to tell hoteliers that it was her honeymoon to get free stuff. I’m sure she wanted to escape her mess (and it’s not lost on me where she’s getting the funds to make this potential escape), but her desires and her ethics heightened my frustration having just bought that same mess. Still, I didn’t have the expected difficulty sitting across from her at closing. I giess there were too many new frustrations to replace the old ones. I had a vision of some lower amoeba like form of life that indiscriminately consumes without thought or consideration. She called just now asking for something she thought was in an empty closet, after failing to come get any of the things that were left out for her. I didn’t share my thoughts and I’ll try not to think too much about her overstepping, inconsistencies and lack of manners as I clean her filthy house and catch up on her overdue maintenance. Thankful to be finally moving forward, I’m getting ready to wash the inside, from ceiling to basement and seal it with a fresh coat of clean.