When the Poirots lowered the price, a couple returned and made an offer, which the Poirots accepted. They hadn't expected their house would sell within three weeks. Now they had to scramble to buy a new house.
When Catharine Meketa-Poirot and Jeff Poirot sold their home and bought a bigger property for their growing family, they found the sale process more challenging than the purchase. They rolled with the punches and solved all the problems, including that nettlesome dilemma of what to do if your old house sells before your new one is ready.
"We bought at the height of the market," says Catharine, "but we knew we would buy our new place at a price less than five years ago. Our daughter is 4, and if we do it next year, we don't know that the market's going to be much better. We wanted to get settled before she starts kindergarten. We were looking for the 'forever' house that we can build and add onto."
Nevertheless, the initial pricing of their Dumont house was too high. "You do feel your house is worth a certain amount," she says, "and you don't want to have to sell it for less — you have an emotional connection."
One couple spent a lot of time looking at the house, but they were renting and weren't in a hurry to buy. When the Poirots lowered the price, the same couple returned and made a nearly full-price offer, which the Poirots accepted. They hadn't expected their house would sell within three weeks. Now they had to scramble to buy a new house.
Their 'vision' home
They had been doing plenty of research on towns that "hug the Palisades," says Catharine, so they could commute easily to jobs in New York City. She works for a beauty magazine, and Jeff works for a company that manages extended-stay temporary residences, similar to a community in Clifton where the family is living for a few weeks.
They liked the feel of Haworth, where home lots were bigger than in some other towns. They had the assistance of Roseann Coppola of Re/Max Integrity Real Estate in Dumont. "She really helped me hone in and understand the communities," says Catharine, who was concerned at first that Haworth might be "a snobby town. We do well financially, and I want good schools, but I also want diversity for my children. She introduced us to people who were nice and down-to-earth."
For $600,000, they found a three-bedroom house they could renovate immediately and then expand next spring, adding a master bedroom and front porch. Although the house wasn't exactly to their taste, says Catharine, "We had to have a vision. As our broker says, 'Put your Pottery Barn goggles on.' "
But the scheduled closing date was several weeks after the closing on the Dumont house, and the buyers' landlord already had a new tenant for their apartment.
Through Jeff's employer, the Poirots found a sister company, AVE, which manages furnished and unfurnished apartment communities in Clifton, Union and Somerset catering to short-term and long-term residents. They expect to spend seven weeks in the Clifton AVE while renovations on their new home are under way.
"This particular location is in our price range, and it has a pool," says Catharine. "For the kids in the summer, we needed an activity. We have two bedrooms and two baths. It's not home, obviously, but it's very nice."
Post-inspection negotiations on the Dumont house were ticklish. "The house was in great condition, certainly move-in," recalls Catharine, "but the family had a nephew who was an inspector and had his friend do it. He asked every possible question. We stuck to our guns in negotiation."
The inspector felt there were issues with the air conditioning, so the Poirots hired someone who cleaned up the system. But the buyers brought in their own person, and he thought it should be serviced.
"We said, 'We never told you you were buying a brand new system, it's in the middle of its life. You got the house for a fair price, but if we have to put it back on the market, we will.' In the end, our lawyer, to make the process move along, paid for a $400 one-year service warranty."
When it came to inspection of their new home, the Poirots were prepared to be flexible. "We did have issues," Catharine says. "The roof was not in great shape, so we asked for a credit. We didn't expect an entire brand new roof."
They obtained estimates on the roof repair and split the cost with the owners. Adding the cost of other repairs, the sellers gave them $6,400 toward closing costs.
With the help of a friend in the mortgage business, the process went smoothly and quickly.
Renovations are in progress, with the Haworth house stripped of its old doors, carpets, and wallpaper. "We skinned the place," says Catharine. "My dad redid all the moldings throughout the bedrooms and den."
They will be moving in shortly. Last Sunday they were looking forward to their first block party.