We are days away from closing on our new house in Raleigh, and things are getting down to the wire. One of the ongoing difficulties is that our offer, and the standard offer contract for North Carolina, apparently, specified that the current homeowners would leave anything attached to the walls where it was – this includes shelving, curtain rods, and so forth.
Imagine our surprise when we arrived at the house a few weeks ago for the house inspection and discovered curtain rods jammed willy-nilly into the trash can on the street. The owners had left the downstairs rods but taken every rod and mount out of every bedroom and left all the holes unrepaired. When we inquired, apparently they wanted to take their master bedroom rods with them, and the kid bedroom rods were "broken" (they certainly had to break them to get them into the trash can) and they did not want to leave them, so did they want us to patch the holes or put up new rods?
Well, all the bedrooms are painted specific colors, and trying to patch them to match would not be something I would trust an average homeowner to do, so we requested they just put up something, and if we did not like it we would take it down and figure out a fix later.
The response back was that the home owners would not be putting up curtain rods, and their realtor was offering a $50 Bed, Bath, and Beyond gift card to compensate for it. No explanation was given for the change in tune.
The current homeowners are unquestionably in breach of contract – something our realtor and their realtor both acknowledge – and we would be well within our rights to simply walk away, over something as stupidly inconsequential as curtain rods, but the homeowners still dug their feet in. Further, understand that their house has already almost-sold once (that it fell through previously was not their fault, though the public perception of sales that fall through is negative regardless of who is to blame), and us backing out now would cost both parties somewhere on the order of thousands of dollars in unrecoverable costs. Each.
Over curtain rods. That they contractually agreed to leave in the house.
So their realtor sucked it up, and rather than lose his ~3% cut of the sale price, offered a way to fix the situation himself.
These homeowners have children, and I can only imagine – and fear – that they will pass on the same character qualities that cause someone to conclude that a contract for a multi-hundred-thousand-dollar house is worth breaking over <$50 in parts and 30 minutes in labor.
People see our country and our culture slowly rotting around us and understandably cast about for explanations; unfortunately, the big, flashy items – things that are more likely symptoms rather than the core problem, if even related at all – grab their attention right off the bat. Personally, I contend it is the little things, things like keeping the terms of a contract you signed, where you will find the true source of a society’s success… or failure.