Monday, January 30, 2012

Keeping Myself Occupied... by becoming a stalker

Today is confession day: I am a stalker. Specifically, I am stalking our across-the-street neighbor's home. I don't know anything about the couple, but their two boys are favorites of Little Man. Even though they are approximately 10 and 13 years old, they have always been really nice to him. This summer, Little Man regularly went over to "sweep" their driveway for them.

ATS Neighbors have been trying to sell their home for awhile. I'm thinking it's been at least a year at this point.  It was for sale for awhile and then we saw them outside once and asked how their recent open house went. Not well. No one came! We found out that day that they were building, or planning to build, a new home near the river. (I actually don't know if it is supposed to be 'near the river' but that is what Little Man always says when he talks about them, so I'm going to pretend that is true.)

Side comment: we live in one of the few places in the country where home prices are slightly increasing, and home sales have slowed but it isn't as bad here as other places.  The length of time that passes in this story is unusual for our area. 

Last winter, they took the house off the market for awhile, and re-listed it in the spring with a new agent.  We saw people come to look every now and then. I admit, once or twice I let the kids play outside a little longer than I planned so that I could check out the family walking through the house!

And then one day this fall, the SOLD sign was hung on their For Sale sign. It was a sad day for us, especially Little Man. The two nice boys would be moving away. But, hooray!, that means they get to build their new home.  The husband told Eric that they "had to be out" by Halloween, so we assume they were supposed to close then.

November came and went. The SOLD sign stayed out there, but no one moved in.  December, the same.  The exterior garage lights that were left on burned out.  Since we did a short sale on our old house this past summer, I am a Zillow fan.

And my stalking began... I checked out Zillow and learned that the house was taken off the market in October. And then, nothing. We kept waiting for someone to move in. Still nothing.

Naturally, I started regularly checking Zillow to see what was going on with the house! (Because wouldn't anyone do that?)  At the end of November, Zillow showed the house going active again as a listing. Same listing, same agent. And yet, the SOLD sign remained outside. A search of our local MLS doesn't show the listing number as active.

In December, as Little Man and I drove past, I noticed some kind of flier on their front door. No, I did not go to their front door, I saw it as I was driving by! I thought it would be bad in a "drawing attention to the fact the home is vacant" to leave the flier on the door. Not wanting to be spotted stalking, I made Little Man go get the flier. And it was essentially a utility delinquency notice! Oops! (So Little Man ran back across the street with it and re-attached it to the door. Told you he is smart!)

Now I feel really sad for our ATS neighbors. I think their sale must have fallen through. And maybe they are stuck with a half built other house. Our recent short sale experience has made me feel really horrible for them, and extra curious about the circumstances.

A few weeks ago, a sticker showed up on the front window of the house. This time I actually did go over to see what it was. You know, because of punk kids. (!!) It was the dreaded notice from the mortgage holder that the home has been deemed vacant and will be winterized, locks changed, etc. Yikes!

Then last week, Eric and I were outside (legitimately - shoveling snow after the "snowstorm") and a guy with one of those bluetooth ear piece things got out of a truck with some kind of metal pipe tool. He explored the yard, through 6 inches of snow, by banging the metal pipe tool thingy all over the ground. I didn't even pretend like I wasn't watching. Was he looking for the irrigation? Was he the realtor? So many questions! No answers!

This week, we had some excitement! 3 days in a row a white sedan was at the house. We thought maybe someone was moving in this past weekend. And there was a boy! Hooray! I told my mom to keep an eye out while Eric and I went to the auto show out of town on Saturday. Prime moving day!  When I got home she reported that there were actually 3 different vehicles outside of the house.

The For Sale sign with accompanying SOLD sign is still outside. We thought maybe the ATS neighbor decided to rent the house out. Or maybe the buyer moved in, but why would the SOLD sign still be there? And why is there now a lock box on the door?

Today, no action again. When Eric took our dog for a walk, I asked him to check to see if there is furniture in the house. It was dark, so he brought his cell phone so he could use the flashlight app to take a peek.

The mystery continues... the house is empty!

So many hypotheses! Now I think the action last week may have been the mortgage holder changing the locks, cleaning and doing other stuff to the house. Our maybe it was the real estate agent and people cleaning the house to get it ready for showings? My theory that it was home stagers is out since there is no furniture.

Part of me is a little bit ashamed of how much mental energy I have put into investigating the ATS house, but it is an interesting mystery at least, right? It leaves me wondering what I will do with myself when someone actually does move in!

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