A to Z: Selling Our House (Letter X)

Kind of a sad day, really. I’m surprised I’m not more bummed out.

 X

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See the X?

It looks like an X, doesn’t it? To the left of the X is part of what the roofers found when they uncovered the lanai roof – termite damage, maximal termite damage. Evidently they’ve been feasting for a while (dry wood termites eat slow but some of these boards are nearly gone). The good thing is that they are dead now, since we have had the house tented. But what a unXpected mess which is making no one happy.

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Termites, and how weird to find a hook on your roof joists. I’m thinking reclaimed lumber… 

In a way, it is good to feel that we are making the house safer and more sound for whoever lives here next. We really don’t like to run away from messes if we can help it. This is, of course, going to be much costlier than we had thought, or the contractor had bid. All I can say is that God is not surprised to find out about the termites, He knew. Nothing has changed except that we are also now “in the know”.

Also, today we were apprised that the handyman we have been waiting for all week has decided he is too busy to do our work. (Sigh) He Xed us out.  I think that the husband and I will be going to the home improvement store to buy our new door tonight, and some of the other things the handyman was going to do will have to be done by the handywoman. Like I’m not already wondering how I will finish the things that are on my list…

One good thing is that the photography is going to be a day later than I thought – on Friday now. Another whole 24 hours to manipulate all our stuff. I’m not kidding about this, when I wake up at night or early in the morning my mind goes to planning how it will all fit in the container, and then I decide to get rid of a few more things, and plan the next box I’m going to pack, etc… Last night I planned when and how to get the piano in the container – no small matter. Please don’t tell me I should sell the piano. I just had it repaired and it is my one weakness.  I’m getting real good at leaving other stuff behind.

Signs of the times: X

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You just don’t see a lot of X signs, so I had to snap a pic of this one for sure.

 

 

A to Z: Selling Our House ( Letter W)

Today the roofing contractor called with the good news that our DekTek roofing has arrived and his crew will be here in the morning to start that long awaited project. With that out of the way, and our storage container coming on Monday, the realtor thinks we can plan on the picture taking event on Thursday and listing the house on Friday. I’m a little panicked and not feeling ready yet, but then maybe in a week I’ll feel different.  

W Windows (Washing them)

For a long time I couldn’t think of any issue starting with W that I’ve been dealing with but that was just because I hadn’t gotten to that point yet. Without going through this whole preparation for the photography process you wouldn’t necessarily know that windows, clean windows to be specific, are so important. For the best pictures the windows have to sparkle in their transparency.

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What window? Exactly! It’s there but you can’t see it. #cleanwindow

We’ve just gone through this annoying season (spring, they call it down here) when leaves and tree dirt fall from the live oaks, followed by greenish-yellow tree pollen that clings to everything. The leaves get wet and stain the cement walks and drives. Mold thrives on the siding that’s in the shade. Even though we just pressure washed both houses after the hurricane (October) we did it again. Our well water has a lot of minerals in it and leaves spots and streaks on all glass. They needed washing badly.

People joke about “not doing windows” even when they clean other things. I guess it’s not great fun ordinarily, but for me it was not bad at all. I have a wonderful friend who agreed to come and help me with window washing. You don’t find someone like that every day, and I am thankful for her. We got a lot done because, as it turned out, she’s good at it.  She washes her own windows in the same way I do mine – white vinegar and water scrub followed by a squeegee.

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Who can find a faithful friend, especially one who will spray the screens and wash the OUTSIDE while you wash the INSIDE where it’s air conditioned? Not many.

Two houses = lots of windows. We left a few because I’m sure the roofers will mess some up tomorrow.

Sign of the times for W:

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Just because it’s a good idea, As long as you’re washing windows do some of this too.

 

 

A to Z: Selling Our House (Letter V)

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Signs of the times: V for Vacuum. Have you cleaned the inside of your car lately?

V for Vacate

“To give up possession of property and leave the area totally devoid of contents.” According to Miriam Webster dictionary.

Being a landlady for years now I am very familiar with the word vacate. Today, I have struggled with it for the last time. The last vestige of life with boarders has just rolled out the driveway, and none too soon.

I should never have been a landlady (I should not be allowed to paint, or have tools, or sell Mary Kay, the list goes on…). My heart is too soft and I seem to be a magnet for people down on their luck. God has been at work full time protecting the husband and I from all these mistakes and it is by his grace alone that we have not suffered anything but monetary loss here and there. Many times I have breathed a sigh of relief as I inspected a condo or a house that had finally been vacated.

There was a hurricane last September and we took in three men who had no place to sleep.  They were starting jobs but didn’t have paychecks yet. All three were struggling to have or keep vehicles.  Their vehicles were always needing work and becoming disabled. As they moved on, two of their vehicles were stranded in our yard and they could not afford to move them or fix them – so they said. For months I have called, nagged, and threatened to no avail.

One day one of them actually made it to a repair shop. That left the one with two flat tires, no registration, no title, no key. Sadly, I know the owner and would have loved to have gotten a couple hundred dollars from the scrapyard, but in Florida, without the paperwork, they won’t pay money for it.  I found that out after a couple hours on the internet, trying one place after another.

Today I called the sheriff’s office. The deputy said to call a tow truck and they would take it away, for free. What!? Yes, but because they have to do paperwork and it costs them, they keep whatever the scrapyard pays for the vehicle.  It was so simple I almost cried.

I got a call from the truck driver, he was in the yard ready to take the van away, bless his heart. He was a rather burly, rough hewn guy that I had trouble understanding but I did catch “you have a big ass place back here”. “Yeah, thanks.” And now that the yard ornaments are gone we’ll have a better chance of selling it, I hope.

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There it goes.

I also did a little painting and made a doctor’s appointment for my cough, but both of those things were totally overshadowed by my complete relief – my yard has been vacated!

A to Z: Selling Our House (Letter U)

We are still waiting for special roofing material for the deck over the lanai of the rental house. It didn’t get ordered when it should have and we aren’t sure where it is en-route… Even this is for a purpose as it gives me needed time to pack and touch up.  I am being slow and would be getting a lot more done if I could stop coughing – it takes so much energy away. 

U for Upgrading

Upgrades are a common bragging point in many real estate listings. Something better than what was there before. But, better according to who? The whole upgrade issue is more of a problem with our rental house because upgrades are usually done by people who are living in the building themselves and care. Renters very seldom care. Renters are more associated with downgrading.

With an older house that has not been remodeled for a long time, the upgrading does not have a clear endpoint. It grows and grows. If we had been going to keep the rental and live in it ourselves I would have upgraded the kitchen with new cabinets, countertops, flooring and appliances. I would have taken out a half wall and made a peninsula with a seating area. I would have opened up the view to the living room. All this because I do watch HGTV. It would easily turn into a $15K upgrade. Instead, we painted the cabinets white. We left a lot of potential for the next owners.

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Cabinets went white and we did upgrade the lighting from old fluorescent to LED.

The house we live in has some nice upgrades. The master bath is newly remodeled and handicap accessible. The kitchen has been remodeled and is still fairly contemporary. There are no smelly carpets anywhere – to me that is an upgrade. Our lifetime metal roof over the whole complex and the easy care vinyl siding could be considered upgrades.

My final thought on upgrades is that they are okay for a seller if they are cost effective. Can you add the price of the upgrade to your asking price and get it back? If not, don’t bother. An upgrade usually replaces something that can be considered functional and comfortable as it is, and it is fine to leave it alone.

The sign of the times for U:

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Can you guess whose sign this is?

 

A to Z: Selling Our House (Letter T)

T  for Touch Ups, Thresholds, Tools, Titles, Timetables, Temporary Troubles, Trips, Tired, Thankfulness

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I should have added Trash to the T list because it seems we do indeed have a roomful of it to go to the curb each trash day.

At the beginning of this project, selling the house, there were big endeavors like whole house painting, like reworking an electric panel, like moving the renters out. Now some of those things are past and for the last two or three days I’ve been working on smaller details. I call them touch ups.

The rental house with fresh paint looks (and smells) better, but amazingly I was left with more touching up than I expected. I didn’t think I was that picky about paint, but I’ve found that the line between baseboard and wall is more important to me than I remembered. I was glad there was left over paint. And as I scrubbed the floors around the edges, there was paint spatter to be scraped off.

There’s something about a completely empty room that draws attention to things like switch plates and electrical outlets. Really, what else is there to look at? Some of them are beige, some are white, sometimes the cover plate is one color and the switch itself is the other – so noticeable, in not a good way. I am not ambitious enough to make them all the same throughout the house but I did try to deal with the ones that were close enough to be seen together. I like white.

All the heating/cooling vents had been removed for painting, and I guess I must have said I would put them all back. Some of these were really old and rusty so “touching up” means cleaning and painting them. Bath fans needed new grills put on. One of the bath vanities had curiously lost two door knobs and a drawer handle which needed replacing. Light bulbs were missing or burned out in numerous places. Door stops and wall protectors were needed. Today alone, I made two trips to the hardware store and it’s been this way most of last week. I am getting very familiar with the layout, and it’s a big store.

All those other T words in the title have meaning for me, especially the last one – thankfulness. Time, another T word, has brought great changes. I am amazed that we are this far along and thankful that each day brings a little more progress.

 

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’…