A to Z: Selling Our House (Letter S)

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Today’s S sign features the words SLOW, SPEED and SENIORS. I’m feeling all three in different ways…

S for Staging

I have looked at a lot of houses for sale. To my knowledge, not one was ever staged. I always felt that it was up to me to imagine my own things in the spaces, ignore other people’s furnishings, and make the appropriate decisions. I don’t think I ever turned away from a place because it wasn’t cleaned. I know how to clean. Nevertheless, staging has become a “thing” in selling real estate, thank you HGTV.

A staged house is decorated tastefully, with interesting furniture (which you might like better than your own), cute throw pillows (dented “just so”), a smell like your mother just baked cookies in the kitchen and, of course, you will want to move right in. The psychology of selling has gone into high gear, for sure.

Lindsay the designer (back on letter D) made an initial visit to my house, which was full of our things and made suggestions as to what we should remove, what we should leave. Since then I have realized that I’m moving. I have tried to get rid of things that I don’t want to keep and store. I have packed our belongings to the point of making life uncomfortable. My house is now staged with cardboard boxes and no furniture that would appeal to anyone. Ooops.

Lindsay did not get to see the rental house because it was full of renters and a big dog. But now it is empty except for a glass top table and four chairs with no seat cushions. I wouldn’t exactly call that staged either.

So, I’m wondering. Do I really have to rent nearly two houses worth of furniture here? Staging is getting a little scary. You see, I don’t have a warehouse full of couches, tables and decorations that I can choose and have a crew transport to my location and put in place. Don’t forget the fresh flowers and the bowl of fruit, please. I’m wondering where I’m going to hide all these boxes.  I could put them in the container from Pack Rat, except that container can’t appear in the outside pictures, so it has to go away.  But it also has to come back for whatever furniture I do have in my house. Logistically, I’m a little confused.

There you have it. Staging is wonderful but will someone please appear and buy my houses before I have to do it? Please?

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The perfectly staged living room in which no one has lived ever (probably). 

A to Z: Selling Our House (Letter R)

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This is a truly Remarkable furniture store whose entry sign features the letter R.

The last couple of days since the painter left I have been cleaning and playing handyman again. I found out I can change bathtub drains, fix door latches, buy and install new fan covers, and install new electric outlets. Although I get things done, I’m not always efficient – I spend a lot of time looking for my phone and the last place I left the screwdriver…

R Realtor

I have a friend who has been hearing all my woes about downsizing and selling our multi-family property.  One night she call, excited, to say,  “I was talking to a realtor that I know very well, and he was looking for a property with two houses for a woman and her parents. He said he was having a hard time finding anything of that kind, so I told him that I knew just the place. Yours!”

I know it sounds like my friend was trying to hasten me out of town, but no. She understands and even though she didn’t want us to move away, she had to tell the realtor about the Oneacrewoods. Unfortunately, our property wasn’t quite right for that woman but the realtor came to look and was impressed with what we had, and that is how we met Tori Uccello of Atchley Properties, a BH&G realty company.

The very first time he came, Tori sat down with us and told us exactly what he had to offer as a realtor. He convinced us that he was willing to be fully involved with getting our house on the market and, most importantly, selling it for what we felt it was worth. He listened to our feelings, plans, and reasons for selling and then he answered questions about the process. He told us about the designer services that came with his package, how the property would be displayed online, and seemed to be very aware of the multi-generational marketing aspect. I thrive on positive energy, and he had it.

And so it all began.

True to his word, Tori has been involved beyond what I’m used to seeing in a realtor. He has experience as a contractor, and a financial advisor so whether we’re talking about electrical panels or investing income from a sale, he knows what to say about it. He knows plumbers, electricians, roofers and handymen, and knows them well enough to ask for quick response when things need to be done quickly. He even came out to do a couple carpentry projects himself when we needed some creative ideas. He checks by phone every few days to see how things are coming and always has a positive encouraging tone in our discussions. (And he likes to text!)

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BEFORE: A little problem – how to hide our reverse osmosis water filter without being weird…
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AFTER: Our realtor Tori, designed and built a surround for the system that pulls out for servicing. What a guy! (I painted it.)

 

Best of all, I get no strange looks when I talk about God’s timing for this whole project of selling and moving. Tori not only respects our belief but shares it. I think that enables him to take the ups and downs, the schedule changes and delays, and all the hard work in stride and remain upbeat. He needs to be a cheerleader in this tough game to keep clients like me going during the preparation stage. He has even more work ahead when the property begins showing.

Down here in south Florida, every other person you run into is likely to be a realtor and choosing one is often just a “shot in the dark”. I’m glad this doesn’t feel that way. I really think God has paired us together for this adventure and I have confidence in our team. Bring it on!

 

A to Z: Selling Our House (Letter Q)

In the midst of all the house fixing confusion our cat disappeared sometime Monday night. We have been looking for her and fearing that she might have come to a sad end. Tonight, up in the loft of the rental house, the husband and I were talking when I suddenly heard loud cat yowling. We jumped up and went to the attic door and found our Foxy, rather disoriented, but ready to be rescued.

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Foxy almost got sold with the house…

 

She had gone exploring during the night and found the doors to the rental house open and beckoning…  The next morning the painter had put the hardware back on the attic door and shut it. We’ve been calling and looking for three days and she never said a word until now!

 

Q Qualified Buyer

Q for Qualified Buyer is so very important to us as we set out to sell our house. I am not a financial whiz kid but I gather that being “qualified” means that a buyer has some money and has good credit, according to a bank who will lend him the money for a mortgage.  Does that sound simple, and isn’t that what we want? Yes.

I didn’t learn much about being qualified as a buyer when we bought our first house, because we bought that one for $1. That’s a story for another time, in fact I may have already told it somewhere in this blog.

When we bought our second house, the amount that the lender wanted us to put down was about 20% of the price of the house. I think that’s what they would like to see. If you have a good record of paying off credit cards or other borrowed money, the bank may lend the other 80% at whatever interest rate is in fashion at the time. All this takes some talking and filling out forms at the bank or home loan company. They will also want to know things like how long the buyer wants to take to pay the loan back. A buyer can do all this before they even find a house. The bank will tell them how much of a house they can afford, so they can shop in that price range.

When a buyer (or his realtor) comes to us, in the near future, and says “I want to buy your house!”, the next thing we want to hear him say is “Hey, I’m prequalified. Yea!!”

On other property, we have had buyers make offers which we accepted, and then found out later that they were unable to get a mortgage. This is sad because it wastes a lot of time, and you, the seller, are back where you started.

This is very simplistic, I know, but as I said, I am not full of details about the subject. I have to confess, the details bore me, and I can never remember them from one time to another. I’ve only bought 3 houses in my life and they’ve been very far apart.  But, qualified starts with Q and that’s what counts.

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We’re aiming at quality. The discount, not so much.

A to Z: Selling Our House (Letter P)

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Another P word is Pop! That’s what our contrasting door color is supposed to do for our rental house, makes people want to come in. (HGTV wannabe)

P Painting

There is nothing like a good paint job to change up the world. No matter what lies beneath it, that fresh new surface is like a start over, a clean slate.

This is the first time I have been involved in a whole house paint job. There have been numerous DIY, one room at a time projects in my past, but to have a professional painter come in and do the complete job – well, who would have thought it? Our rental house needed a fresh face, and the magnitude of the job required someone like Ed, from HIS Painting. Ed works alone, doing all the steps himself. It was interesting and educational to watch his progress.

The paint job included kitchen cabinets, which are always a bit of a challenge, spraying all ceilings including a high cathedral one, all walls and trim and front doors. It took the better part of a week. The prep probably took more of that time than the actual painting, and that is what bothers me about this kind of work. Taking off hardware, cleaning, sanding, priming, taping, ad infinitum to the point of despair – and then maybe you can paint. But, of course, Ed does this for a living and accepts it graciously.

The organizational aspect of a whole house job is something I hadn’t thought of before. To have something drying, while you’re preparing the next thing is a learned skill.  To do trim first without worrying about the edges, then finishing with the walls and brushing in details. Knowledge of specialized products is another element a professional painter brings to his work. The ability to patch, disguise, and transform depends on knowing what’s out there that best completes the job.

It was costly, but it was worth the price. The house looks great – better than I would have thought possible.  That was Ed’s part, and we hired it done knowing that the rental house was going to be empty, making it easy to work.  Our house is a different situation. We are still in it.

Because I do clean occasionally, and I do paint occasionally, I didn’t think our house needed as thorough a paint job. However, there were a few relatively small projects which I have been working on myself, slowly. It would have been great to have Ed do it for me, but I can’t imagine him working around all our stuff as I sort and pack.

If there were paint police, they would have taken away my brushes long ago. I hate prepping, I hate paint clean-up, I hate having to mask things, cover floors, remove hardware, … all of it. I hate it.  And, if there were a painting hell, I would most certainly be assigned there for my many painting sins.

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My previously unfinished wood closet, now white and almost the same color as the walls (don’t look too close). I did the painting myself.

I hunted for several days for the right white to match our major walls – never found it. I wish I had labeled all the partly used cans of paint in the garage, another major frustration. Those edges where one color meets another are a constant challenge to me. I paint over cat hair, spiders, and dust. Latex splotches adorn many of my clothes and shoes. I just hate painting, but there is no escaping it.  Even this will come to an end, and I am looking forward to that.

I am sorry about my attitude toward painting and I will work on changing it, if God gives me time. There are very few things I hate, and hating anything really takes more energy than it’s worth, just sayin’…

 

 

A to Z: Selling Our House (Letter O)

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The letter O is featured prominently in this compelling, informative, and well lit sign. Hats off to the Irish for this one.

Still feeling under the weather so this will be short.

The sign went up. “Open House today 10 am – 2 pm”  The listing had run for several days with a fair amount of interest. The realtor and assistant were manning the event and were optimistic. The place looked great, and well it should have after the month of preparation, and thousands of dollars of love and care. The owners had opted to be out of town which was fine with the realtor. It was always easier that way.

Although it doesn’t often happen like this, except in movies (or on HGTV), the first couple in the door spent a long time looking things over, looking at the house from different angles and wandering the shady yard. They were interested and planning.

The third party came 45 minutes later and were clearly investors looking for income property. They were setting up an offer, unofficially, when the first couple came back in and overheard their conversation. By this time, the planners had already envisioned themselves living in the upper story of the loft house. Their kids were happily taking over the bedrooms on the ground floor and their parents were living next door in the second house. The investors were a threat to the plan. There was nothing to do but offer full price, immediately. Or maybe over the asking price just to make sure.

And so it was that the house elicited an offer on the first open house, having only been on the market for four days. The couple was pre-approved with a credible loan. Since the house was empty and waiting, had been inspected and certified, there was nothing to delay the sale. The closing was set in two weeks and went off without a hitch. The Oneacrewoods passed to new ownership, and it was bittersweet.

 

Disclaimer: This account  is entirely fictional and is the product of the letter O. The house has not yet listed or had an Open House. But, it is possible something like this could happen, just sayin’…

A to Z: Selling Our House (Letter N)

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I came across this charming sign, starting with N, painted on what was clearly a door with steps outside, but also, clearly, not an exit.

N Networking

Networking is a fancy term for “who do you know who can help you?” or “who might need your help?” with the presupposition that both parties will benefit sooner or later. The more people you know, the larger the network, the more things get done.

Selling the house has been made immeasurably easier by the networks developed by my realtor and by me as well. I don’t want to give everything away about my realtor until we get to letter R, but I will tell you here that in getting houses ready for the market, he drums up a lot of business for tradespeople. He becomes familiar with companies that will work to his standards and treat his clients nicely.

We wanted to know what work the house needed. He knew a good inspector.

A section of roof had a leak. He knew a roofer who came out and gave a bid right away.

The rental house needed a lot of cosmetic repair. He knew a good painter.

Electrical work needed to be done. He knew an electrician who was reasonable in price and did good work.

I needed an extra handyman. He found one.

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I do not mind giving these guys some free advertising and a good reference.

I have done pretty well for not being in the business of fixing houses. I have Joe, who is a super networker among his friends. Joe and his crews have done cement work, lawn work, pressure washing, tree removal, appliance repair, and today they took away all my recyclable metal, and old sheets of plywood. What a relief.

Through years of being hospitable to my daughter’s friends (who have grown up and now have jobs) I have a supplier of packing boxes, and a great plumber.

Best of all, my own networking has supplied me with a great number of good friends who are praying me through this whole ordeal, bit by bit.  God alone knows how many times he has stepped in and helped us along because of them.  Y’all know who you are – thank you so very much!

The husband and I are suddenly sick with headaches and colds, making it difficult to think and work. Nevertheless, the busiest Monday so far was today. Painter, electricians (2 of them), handyman were all at work. I took some Excedrin and starting painting in my house. I can hardly wait until letter P to tell how much I hate painting.

 

A to Z: Selling Our House (Letter M)

We had discovered a big time delay in our schedule when planning the electrical upgrade on the rental house. The electric company (FPL) could not schedule the power cut off until May 7th! The best we could do was to get on a cancellation list. When there’s nothing I can do, I’m pretty good at saying I’m leaving it in God’s hands, it’s his timeline I want to follow.

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A sudden change of plans. This is getting interesting.

 

Suddenly, there’s been a cancellation and the electrical work is getting done this Monday. I’m overwhelmed with the speed at which this house could go on the market, overwhelmed with all that I have yet to do. I’m finding that it actually requires more trust in God’s timing when there are things I can and should do. Will he equip me in necessary ways? Will he bless my time management?

 M for Management

Being a general contractor is a complex job. When a house is being built, it’s not easy to get all the specialists on the site at the right time, with the right supplies and equipment. I think I’m getting a small taste of what that is like as we orchestrate this sale and this move. It’s a little like reverse house building.

Some days I have two or three workmen stopping by either to do work or to look and give proposals. I take them around and go over our lists with them. Sometimes I watch them work, or pitch in and help. Our houses are not brand new. As we “peel off layers” of furniture, dirt, etc… we find new things to fix or clean up. The plumber, bless his heart, has been back three times for small things that have come to light.

It’s almost looking like the rental house could be ready before my own house. I haven’t finished a couple of paint projects on my side, and then there is the packing… The packing, yes. The rental house is empty, our house is definitely not. Realizing that we could actually leave, once the pictures are taken and the house is listed, I am trying to figure out what should be stored long term, and what should be available for our use until we have another house. When should I order the storage container? How long will it take to pack it? Should we leave any furniture in the house? If we pack it all, how will we manage ourselves and for how long? How will all this coincide with the husband’s plans to give notice and stop working?

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Raggedy Ann, which box would you like to rest in? And could you please fix your skirt – there’s a scary clown sitting next to you, Thank you.

Even today, as I struggle to rest and restore, I am trying to figure things out. I am answering calls about the furniture listed on Marketplace. I am thinking about which box to put my daughter’s keepsake Raggedy Ann in. I am wishing I had mowed the lawn yesterday. I am wondering who might want our grandfather clock.  I am thinking, thinking, thinking, and not resting, resting, resting.  I struggle to be still.

Big changes require a lot of physical work and maybe more importantly, for me, a good deal of spiritual work. I am discovering what God’s plan for us is, by seeing what he makes possible. He is an excellent manager and he will thoroughly equip us to do what needs to be done.  I am comforted by that… just sayin’.

A to Z: Selling Our House (Letter L)

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I confess, I ate this.

Had an “angst day” today. While researching moving and storage options online, I ate a whole pint of Brookie Dough ice cream (which I found when I cleaned out the renter’s freezer). It was good.

“Lower the Price” starts with L

I’m getting so tired of the suggestion to lower the price for my things I want to get rid of, when the price is going higher for everything I need to get. How does that happen?

Today I posted some furniture for sale on Facebook Marketplace. I really like that option for selling things – it’s like having a garage sale without a lot of uninterested people involved. I often start getting responses in minutes.

But, just like at yard sales, online swap shops are full of bargain hunters that will usually offer half or less than my advertised price. (sad face) Sometimes I go with whatever is being offered because the objective is only to get the item out the door. Anything I get is a bonus. To be honest, some of the things I’ve sold were free to me and I had no idea what they would cost if I’d bought them. I list them as free items and they go pretty fast. The frustrating times happen when I have something nice to sell, something which I had to wait to afford, and paid for dearly.

As soon as I list it, Facebook Marketplace has an option for me to lower the price! It also gives me the prices of similar listed items for comparison, which is helpful, I guess. However, it gives me the same feeling as when I trade in a vehicle and the salesman starts telling me how little my car is really worth.

The really scary price lowering is probably going to happen when we start bargaining with a prospective house buyer. Deciding what to ask in the first place has to take in account that someone will offer a lower amount, almost assuredly. It also has to take into account that we are spending somewhere around $15K just to make the houses nicer for someone else. It is a bit of a numbers game and depends so much on the market, and the individual buyer’s love for a particular place.

I want to come away from this experience with the feeling that we have been fairly rewarded for the care and attention to this beautiful property. I also want to feel that we have passed on the blessing to the next owner and been fair to them. I am praying for this to happen and am confident that it will, even if we have to lower the price.

 

 

A to Z: Selling Our House (Letter K)

Kilz Is Not A Scary Word  ( a poem of a different kind )

 

Kilz is a homeowner’s friend.

It is an amazing paint product, not an evil act.

Actually I think it is a play on words, being similar to Kills,

Which is an evil act most of the time. Kilz was probably fashioned after Kills

Because it does “do away with” some undesirables, like stains, like mold.

It covers and traps resins and penetrating colors and hides them, so

You could say, Kilz kills them.

 

Kilz can make your walls lovable again.

The handprints, the crayon pictures, the pet stains,

When you want them gone, are all hard to cover.

Ordinary paint may allow these stains to bleed through, and then

There they are again, resurrected. Kilz will fix it,

Although I don’t know how.

 

It’s a primer, and that word means it comes first.

Sealing the porous surfaces, creating a base for color.

Hiding the surface underneath, Kilz makes paint colors

Truer, brighter, and helps them stick to

Most any surface, which is very handy.

 

Have you heard of mildewcide?

It’s in Kilz, and mildew can’t abide

The surface primed with this special stuff.

Good to know. Use it where mold might grow.

 

It looks like paint, it comes in a can.

Put it on with a brush.

I’m a big fan.

 

Another handy feature,

It cleans up with soap and water.

 

Kilz is a homeowner’s friend.

 

This is an awful poem, if a poem at all, but it does have decreasing number of lines in each stanza. There may be a name for this form, or I may have made it up. It does give it some distinction, I think.  

 

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A sign featuring the letter K in a prominent spot, but having nothing to do with the poem above.

A to Z: Selling Our House (Letter J)

Tomorrow will be another busy day, scrubbing grout in between grocery shopping and a trip to the airport to pick up my cousin. I’m posting early so I won’t forget and be late. 

Junk is a J word

As I consider PAYING to store things during our move, I look at my possessions with a different perspective. I cannot afford to box up and store anything that I consider junk. But the definition of junk is very subjective – kind of like beauty being in the eye of the beholder.  You’ve heard it before, one person’s junk is another person’s treasure. There is a reason almost every house has a junk drawer – true?

I may not be in my next home, one that I will be required to furnish, for months. When that time comes will I have a place for the collections, knick knacks, throw pillows, books, etc… that I have now? I can’t count on that. It might be much better to wait and see, and furnish a new place with things that fit in its spaces. So having adopted this sane way of looking at paring down, why does it all fall apart when I go up in the attic and find this…

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Look at those precious little pig faces, and the rooster and hen. I love the little clear glass pitcher too. I love it all.
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That white vase is so unusual, and the blue and brass Delft vases could be valuable, couldn’t they?
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This vase has always made me happy. I have to keep it. It won’t take up much space in storage (rationalize much? yes).

I just can’t help hanging on to precious, unique things, even if all I ever do is look at them. Like my chickens (or maybe they are roosters), whose heads are salt and pepper shakers and bodies are cream and sugar servers. Or my funny little vases that have a Delft label. They are either things I’ve had passed down from family or things I’ve miraculously come across in a garage sale for almost nothing! Definitely meant to have a forever home with me, I’m thinking.

Then there is my blue glass collection. I love blue. And my John Deere collection which bears witness to my farm girl soul – it’s all boxed up, ready for transport. It’s not junk when I see it and think about giving it away. So then, how is it that some of these things have been put away in the attic for years and I didn’t even remember I had them? Would that be the definition of “junk”, stuff you don’t miss enough to know that you miss it? Maybe.

I have found things that I hope will be someone else’s treasure. In fact, I make such frequent trips to the donation center that I drive to one farther away where they won’t recognize me. But I’m hoping that someday I’ll enjoy unpacking the things I’ve kept and finding just the right place for them.

This moving process is useful in that it has helped me limit those collections to a reasonable number. Best of all, I think I’m really going to avoid that last-minute frustration of throwing all those left over things in a box because I don’t have time to thoughtfully sort through them.

Do you have precious junk? Would you put it in a box and pay to store it?