Okay, I have a little more energy, and I think I need to process this a bit. Summary of why we lost three houses:
- House #1: Homeowners weren't happy at our inspector's critique of their house maintenance and estimate of cost to repair (the husband is a contractor and had done the work himself) -- refused to give much of a credit for repairs, which we weren't thrilled about, but were willing to go along with if we could close on schedule (the same day we were closing the sale on our condo). But more of an issue: they were trying to buy a house themselves (a short sale), and didn't get it as quickly as they expected. So they insisted on delaying closing, kind of indefinitely, rather than have to deal with moving into a rental, etc. Understandable, I suppose, given that they have three kids, but a risky move for them, I think. We gave up.
- House #2: Divorce situation -- it turned out that all of our negotiations were actually with the wife, who doesn't live there anymore. The husband hadn't agreed to any of the price stuff. She took him to court, and the court said that he had to sell the house at list price -- which was $30K more than what we'd agreed to with the wife. Plus, it seemed certain that he'd refuse to any price concessions on inspection, and there was a scary chance that he'd rip up the house if forced to move out. Again, he'd been living there for over a year since the divorce, with their two kids, so understandable -- he had no incentive to move. If we'd realized the situation, we probably would've never even tried for it. Although still wondering a little what he's thinking -- does he think he can just stall forever and never sell the house? Maybe he can.
- House #3: We really don't know. We agreed to a contract, we thought fairly amicably. Price was about 90% of list price. Their realtor found this blog, and apparently got pretty upset, but seemed to calm down within a day or so. We inspected, and were close to an agreement on price concessions from them on repairs. And then, they cancelled the contract last Friday, saying that they wanted to show the house over Labor Day weekend (when their realtor was out of town). What? And then they just fell silent for much of a week, despite our trying to get in touch and ask if they wanted to renew the contract, etc. and so on. We think maybe they were in negotiations with someone else? But if so, apparently it fell through, since they've relisted now at a lower price.
We're still not sure what we did wrong. I don't think it was because of using Redfin, although it's possible a regular agent would have been more aggressive or more in contact with the sellers or something? I just don't know.