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VOL. 36 | NO. 39 | Friday, September 28, 2012

‘Realatory’ pits buyers, sellers in ritual battle

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The residential real estate market is on fire, at least in the $150,000 to $600,000 price range.

As a result of the frenzy, contracts are being negotiated more quickly than normal for prices above or close to the asking price. Buyers have sought revenge through the inspections and, for the most part, are punishing sellers for having sold the property at market value.

With the contracts being executed in this accelerated fashion, many buyers and sellers seem to place more emphasis on the price. Possession date also has become the point of contention.

When people buy houses, they do not, it seems, really expect to have to move. The same goes for sellers. It’s their house, by golly, and they will move when they darn sure feel like it and not a minute before.

Sellers feel they should be given several days to move, all the while finding it incomprehensible that the occupants of the property into which they are moving cannot vacate prior to closing.

“We just need to move a few things in early,” they say. Define a few things. How about a piano, three dogs, a sofa and 40 some-odd boxes?

There seems to be a new ritual that has come into vogue, the “rite of moving.” It is an ecumenical celebration lasting a bit longer than Hanukah, but not as long as Lent, and it seems to involve quite a bit of clothes rending, gnashing of teeth and pouring dust over the spouse and children.

This ritual does not involve the mowing of grass. As a matter of fact, it forces its practitioners to abstain from any sort of yard maintenance once the contract is signed, except, of course, for the removal of all flowers, fruits and vegetables.

Buyers participating in the rite of moving are required to drive by their future on a daily basis and take note of any activity in which the current owner is involved and report their findings to their Realtor immediately.

If the grass is not mown and continues to grow, this must be reported. In the summer months, when rain is scarce and heat is abundant, buyers want their future lawn watered.

However, the seller is involved in the “rite” refrain from watering the lawn. This would be a sin of the third degree, resulting in being banished to “realatory,” only one level above purgatory.

Dante had finished his work by the time realatory evolved, leaving me to describe the inhabitants of the land below.

In realatory, buyers parade in front of the homes they have purchased but cannot gain access because the homes are surrounded by a moat that houses the souls of mold inspectors. These inspectors have taken the form of Howard Hughes in his later years.

They are constantly being sneezed upon by EIFS (Dryvit) inspectors howling in the agony over the fact that they are separated from their water supply by EIFS and it won’t allow the moisture to penetrate after all.

The sellers are being sucked from their homes as if by a tornado and are forced to watch all of their belongings being broken by demons dressed as moving company employees. They moan and writhe in frustration as the buyer’s furnishings are being piled upon their own furniture.

Back on earth, closings finally occur and houses are, in fact, cleared of the former owner and their stuff, except for the stuff they do not want anymore.

As a housewarming gift, sellers often leave buyers small, nasty tokens of their appreciation for having pummeled them for the entire rite of moving.

Perhaps some Campbell’s chicken noodle soup, circa 1956. Maybe even a set of Niagara Falls shot glasses, one featuring “The Flying Wallendas” as they tight-roped across the falls.

It seems simple enough to solve the problem and avoid the consequents of the Realatory.

Sellers can begin packing shortly after contract execution. As the closing date nears, they should accelerate the packing accordingly.

They can then have several movers prepare bids and describe their services, then choose one. The movers arrive at closing date and pack their van. After closing, the movers take the van to the new house and unload.

The rite of moving does not prohibit all involved in the transaction from performing these tasks simultaneously.

Sale of the Week

Just when it appeared that new two-bedroom condos in the university areas had escaped affordability, Melrose Park resales are appearing.

The unit at 2310 Elliott Avenue recently sold for $228,000 after being listed for $229,000. Aaron Armstrong of Keller Williams Realty listed the property and had this to say about it in his remarks: “Great open floor plan with crown moulding, granite countertops, stainless steel, maple cabinets, tiled bathrooms, double vanity master, extra closets, patio, and a ground floor entrance.”

In addition, the development includes a grand swimming pool, spacious fitness center and a clubhouse.

Richard Courtney is a partner at Christianson, Patterson, Courtney, and Associates and the co-author of Come Together: The Business Wisdom of the Beatles. He can be reached at

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