When short is anything but

In which real estate entanglements mean Christmas is spent with ex-in-laws; hilarity ensues

ktanner@thetribunenews.comJanuary 24, 2013 

If I learned anything in 2012, it was that 1) there’s nothing short about a short sale, and 2) divorce doesn’t have to produce a permanent state of acrimony and bitterness.

In a short sale, the bank or lender is paid back less money than it loaned out. But in terms of time allocation, short has absolutely nothing to do with the process.

Neither does predictable.

A short-sale purchase is how we came to have Christmas dinner at the home of Rick (ex-husband of our daughter-in-law Kim), along with six kids; Rick; his wife, Pam; our son Sean; Kim; and Kim’s mom, Cheryl, who was visiting from Florida.

The saga of how we and they got there is a typical Tanner tangle. (Why is nothing ever simple in this family?)

Sean and Kim have a blended family of four girls, ages 17, 13, 13 and 10, also known as Estrogen City. Until recently, they lived in Davis, as did Rick and Pam.

The four adults all are exceptionally good, devoted parents who share custody with their exes.
In June, Rick told Sean and Kim he wanted to buy a big house on five acres about 40 miles from Davis. However, Rick didn’t want to live that far away from his two daughters for even half of each week. So, unless Sean and Kim also were willing to move to the lower Gold Country area east of Sacramento, Rick would reluctantly forego that great, foreclosed property, which had enough room for his three horses (for which he’d been paying substantial boarding fees).

Hmmmm. Kim works near there, and the move would bring Sean 13 miles closer to his two daughters. Other than good friends, there were no compelling reasons to stay in Davis.

So, Sean and Kim listed their house on a Thursday — and sold it that Saturday with a 30-day escrow, because the buyers had to be out of their house by then.

That’s little enough time to pack and move a family of six, let alone do it when you don’t yet have someplace else to live.

Fortunately, less than two miles from Rick’s new place, Sean and Kim had found a beautiful, spacious home for sale.

But, you guessed it — it was a short sale.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of bumps, lumps, pauses, hiccoughs, delays, twists, turns, reports and potential cliffs to fall off between signing a short-sale contract to buy and closing the deal.
Rick kindly suggested that Sean and Kim move into a vacant wing of his new home, rather than searching for rare temporary housing for six people. After all, it wouldn’t be for that long, right?
Alas, short sales aren’t necessarily short.

The deal progressed with the speed of a three-toed sloth. The lenders required three separate “broker’s estimates.” There were several dates set to auction off the house (all of them canceled at the last minute).

Short sales must be underwritten by Advil and Valium.

Sure, investors love short sales — they’re a great way to buy property at a substantial discount. A long wait? Who cares, when you’re not waiting to move in. But when your interim quarters aren’t meant to be a full apartment, and nearly all your belongings are stuffed into a transport pod, the process loses some of its luster.

Labor Day. Halloween. Thanksgiving, and they were still waiting. Surely the sale would be done before Christmas.

Sigh. Despite the fact that it wasn’t, the holiday celebrations were lovely and loving, cordially warm and welcoming, with lots of laughter, shared meals and cooking, and never even a hint of irritation between the families or visitors.
The escrow finally closed Jan. 3.

Sean and Kim started their move that very afternoon. Impatient? Well yeah, but entitled to be.
In the midst of those months of upheaval and uncertainty, we were totally impressed that, if there was any lingering post-divorce angst, it never surfaced or interfered with the really important things — such as getting the deal done, getting along and proving to six kids that people who are no longer married to each other still can be good friends and graciously help each other, even under highly unusual (and decidedly un-short) circumstances.

Kathe Tanner is a reporter for The Cambrian and The Tribune. Her "Slice of Life" column appears biweekly. Email her at ktanner@thetribunenews.com and follow her on Twitter @CambriaReporter.

The Tribune is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service