Neither option, as we saw it, was likely to have a good outcome. Short sales can scare off potential buyers, take a long time to close and have potentially bad long term financial side effects. Renting the house is risky too. Renters may damage the property, pay late or miss payments. The house may require major repairs. It may be difficult to find renters and the property may sit vacant for months on end. The market value of the rent may not cover the mortgage, insurance and the other costs previously mentioned which, like the short sale, would have potentially bad long term financial side effects. After hours of computations and discussions there was no clear cut answer.
I was really confused. I wanted to be free of the financial burden of the house. I was worried about the cash flow problems that renting would cause. I was worried about the cost of repairs to the house that both selling and renting would force. I was afraid to trust a renter to take care of the house when I was going to be too far away to do anything. I was worried that short-selling the house was dishonest. We decided to pray and think about it for a few days to see if we came up with any solutions.
I had kinda decided Sunday night that I just needed out. I needed to not have to worry about the house. I set my sights on April 4th as my deadline and concluded that I was going to use the following two weeks to finish up all the last details that I could and put a for sale sign up. I was determined but I was still confused and frustrated. I couldn't figure out what to do about a few must-do repairs and the few things that had to happen in conjunction with them: new flooring necessitates the dog find a new home ASAP but can't find a home for the dog; need new garage door but don't have the money for the door until the car sells and can't find a buyer for the car. etc.
I got a call from my dad on Tuesday, two days after our discussion. He had an agent in his office (my dad is the broker for Coldwell Banker Real Estate in Tacoma) whose client was looking for a rental in Lakewood. "Something to think about", he said. I didn't want to think about it I wanted to sell the house. I continued working on my "for sale" to-do list and suddenly my list started to grow instead of shrink. The minute I put new lightbulbs in the bathroom the cupboard door broke off. And once I got the sewing room all prepped for painting the ballast in the downstairs light fixture shorted out. Throughout the week, every time I fixed something at least one more thing went wrong.
By the following Monday I was in tears on the phone with my dad again. He listened. He asked questions. But he wouldn't give me any advice, he knows me too well. I got off the phone and crumpled into a big ball on my bed. I cried about the carpet and the garage door and the ballast and the cupboard and the boat and the closet door and the holes in the wall and everything else that was getting in the way of selling the house. I cried about selling the house and short selling and renting. I cried to the Lord asking for an answer, "What do I do with my house?"
And then I realized I already received my answer. I received it on Sunday when I decided to sell the house but was still confused about what to do with repairs. I received it on Tuesday when my dad called and told me he might have a renter. I received it every day that week when everything that could go wrong in preparing the house for sale, did go wrong. There, in my curled up crying mess of a puddle, Monday, I received my answer, "Just call the potential renter. Don't commit to anything right now, just call that one renter and see what happens."
When Dave got home that Monday night I told him what had happened and the decision I had come to, to call the renter. He responded, "I was thinking we should rent it too."
"Why didn't you tell me that?", I blurted out, annoyed.
He answered softly, "I know you. You were so set on selling if I said anything you wouldn't have listened. But I knew you'd come around."
Tuesday morning at 10am I pulled up the phone number of the Coldwell Banker agent with the potential renter. Called him. He picked up on the second ring. I talked to him for a few minutes and found out that this potential renter wasn't even really his client, she was a "floor call". She had cold called the office looking for a house to rent. This office does not have property management but the nice agent offered to bring it up at sales meeting--perhaps a house that had been on the market for a while would need a renter instead. At sales meeting there were two interested agents, one was my dad the other had a house that was out of her price range. He gave me her phone number and her email and then offered to call her to give her a heads up. He called me back 5 minutes later to say that she would be expecting my call.
At 10:32 am I called her and introduced myself. She introduced herself and her situation. I described the home and the neighborhood. She said her parents lived right up the street. We discussed the rent and deposits, pets and made arrangements for her dad to walk through on Thursday or Friday. Thirty minutes later we were off the phone and I got busy looking for a rental application and researching rental property law.
At 11:15 am I received an email from the potential renter stating that she had talked to her dad about walking through the house for her. He would call me to set up an appointment. She said "I'm glad you decided to rent it out because we have been praying for a house in my parents neighborhood that was big enough for our family."
At 11:50 am I get another phone call, this time it is the potential renter's father. We decide Friday morning at 10am works for both of us. He will bring his camera.
Wednesday I email her a rental application.
Friday morning at 10am her father arrives. I've met him before but didn't know he lived in the neighborhood. He came to my moving sale a few months ago and purchased a whole bunch of vintage fabric. I like him already. He tours the house and takes lots of pictures. We sit down and discuss the cost of utilities. We mention that we are selling most everything and he is interested in the piano.
About 2pm I receive her completed rental application including credit reports. I spend the next 4 hours on the phone with the applicant, my dad and her references. We reach all but 2 of her references and determine, with the information we have, that she is "golden". We will finish contacting references on Monday.
Come to find out the fabric that her dad bought was for her. He had shipped it to her. She will buy the piano and is excited to have room for a garden.
Monday, April 4th was the deadline I had given myself. Monday, April 4th I was able to contact the final references and I sent her the lease contract. She and her husband signed and mailed it that day with the deposit. I received it on Friday, April 8th at 11am.
Isn't it miraculous that a woman in Texas is praying for a 4 bedroom home in her father's neighborhood in Lakewood, Washington. She cold calls a random real estate office in Tacoma, Washington (I asked her and she said it was the only company that she could remember at the time). The broker of the office has a daughter who owns a home in that same neighborhood. She is moving out of state and is praying to know what to do with her house and wants to have something figured out by April 4th.
Thank you, Heavenly Father, for answering our prayers.