And We Wait…

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Yep, that’s our house.

Life is strange now. I want to be out of Florida before hurricane season, but I’m horrified by the finality of a sale and having no home. It has taken so long to get ready and yet something about it seems to have happened so fast it’s scary.  Hurry up and wait is an accurate description of what has happened.

Having a house for sale means we are in a state of constant tension. Showings are requested at random times, and of course we don’t want to say no so we must be ready. Part of the tension is being ready and then having nothing happen when it seems that something should be happening, or being ready and full of anticipation only to have the showing cancelled. It seems to happen frequently.

We’re eating out a lot. People want to see the house over lunch or dinner time when they are free, so we make the house presentable, turn on all the lights and make sure the AC is going, then we vacate so as not to interfere. The logical place to go? A restaurant where we can sit and eat and not mess anything up in the kitchen at home. It works for every reason except our so called “diet”. We have pretty much left that behind for the time being.

Last night we went to the local diner, “The Recipe Box”, during a showing and I was feeling a bit frazzled. I noticed immediately the relaxing music – soft jazz, recognizable songs, like at a piano bar. It was such a different sound from normal restaurant background music, because it was live with a real person playing a keyboard. She played during our whole meal and it was a gift from God to my house selling soul. She was so good that I bought her CD. There were only a few of us having dinner and we all clapped and commented on the songs.

The immediate result of all this showing is that we find out new reasons why people don’t want to buy our house. They have reservations about getting their RV down the one lane drive, reservations about the kind of neighborhood we’re in, reservations about whether they could remodel the way they would “have to”.  Hmm… I don’t remember having any reservations when I moved here. I thought it was heaven on earth and could hardly believe it would be my new home. Was there something wrong with me? Thankfully, most who have looked have felt it was unique and fairly priced.

At this point, I can honestly say that I’m not upset about waiting. I am expectant of something interesting, and happy, and good. I fully trust that the process was started by God, in his timing and we’ll be looking back on it at some point and marveling at how it came about. Something is going to happen. I can hardly wait. No, wait, I am waiting. Whatever…

A to Z Reflections, 2018

I knew April was going to be a difficult month. My full time job was going to be getting our house ready for the market and there was not going to be time for researching blog posts or coming up with clever (worthwhile) subjects. But I did not want to forgo the famous A to Z Blogging Challenge, which I have come to view as my April habit. The only solution was to blog about what I was going through and knew best. It turns out that it was not only the easiest subject to write but it also helped me to vent a lot of frustration and angst.

I didn’t go in for every bell and whistle offered. I skipped the daily logos, opting for the general one which stayed on my sidebar. I didn’t use a lot of hash tags, which I would have if I had been more familiar with Twitter and other social media sites. I thought the master list, and the daily lists were easy to use and not at all time consuming. I posted often on the night before since the list was always open at the earliest time zone. I never missed a day. It was probably my easiest year.

My theme was not one that garnered as much interest as other years, but I did find a few friends and appreciated them all. I had interesting comments and I think I answered them all. I was able to read some, but not nearly as much as I wanted to. I have a catch up goal of doing two or three a night for the next month. I like that the lists give each blogger’s theme or category, although I don’t just read the categories that match mine.

Our house prep was timed just about right to fill up the month, and I’m happy to post one last picture on my theme. We are finally listed for sale! The video and photos are awesome and we are hoping for a buyer soon. I’m sure I will probably blog about that too, so stay tuned…

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Finally.

Selling the House: Photo Shoot

To me, a landmark is a memorable object or moment marking a significant change in direction. A couple of whirlwind days (and nights) have resulted in what I would call landmark moments. In fact, it seems there have been amazing events, one after the other, most of the month as we progressed toward the listing of our house for sale. The most satisfying deadline came this morning – the taking of the pictures.

As scheduled the photographer was here at 7 am.  That’s really quite early for people who are still living in their home to be ready, completely staged and photograph worthy. Clearly we were those people who weren’t quite there. Our realtors arrived and helped us hurry around and clear last minute items (the morning coffee cup), unfinished cleaning (the windows in the re-roofed area), and stuff we just plain forgot (the vacuum cleaner left in the middles of the floor). All this in a great hurry because the sun was coming up and putting a whole different light on things that wasn’t as photo friendly.

After we got out of his way, the photographer did a video panning the neighborhood and then proceeding through the house, to show the general layout. click here for video tour

Next he took still photos in each house. click here to view stills

Multiple listing service allows a video and 25 stills. This didn’t allow for shots of the garages. We were thankful. That’s where we hid all the personal things that didn’t belong in the pictures (think like a giant junk drawer).

We, on the other hand, got taken to a much-needed breakfast. This was the first time in several days that I’d actually sat at a table for more than five minutes. We signed the listing papers over our coffee cups. It was a landmark moment.

Another thing that made this a landmark day was later, watching two of my favorite “friends” go down the road to a new home.

One of the days that our realtor helped us as a handyman, he noticed my kayak and asked about it. He wanted to get one for his wife, so we bartered for his labor. Also, we had decided that we wouldn’t need my car in our new location and would sell it. In another conversation he asked about my husband’s truck. It wasn’t for sale but when he found out I wanted to sell the car, we immediately began to discuss that. He needed a “first car” for his daughter.

That’s how it turned out that after our signing breakfast, we went back to the oneacrewoods, put the kayak on top of the Mazda, and drove down to his house to complete the sale. I followed in the truck and took this picture.

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The kayak and “zoom zoom” en route to their new home.

Changes seem to be coming fast. I’m now a truck girl. Although I don’t have my boat anymore, I can still rent a kayak if I want to. More likely, I’m going to concentrate on hiking plans. And the biggest change, of course, is that we will probably not be living in Florida much longer.

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 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 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 I)

I for Inspection

There is often a misconception that homeowners know all about their houses and that buyers will be told everything they need to know to decide on the purchase. What often happens is that a buyer who is applying for a loan will be required to have the house inspected by a certified professional. The lending agency wants to make sure it’s a good purchase. The careful buyer can request an inspection on their own as well, and it’s a good idea especially if the house is aged.

Lastly, the seller can decide to ask for an inspection if they want to ensure a quick sale that won’t be held up by needed repairs. Since it is optional in many cases, and is an extra expense, many sellers sell their homes “as is” and wait for a buyer who doesn’t mind finding things out on their own. I’ve heard sad stories of people buying houses and finding out the foundation is cracked, or the roof leaks, or the plumbing or electric is outdated and dangerous. A certified inspector should be able to discover these faults and give the buyer a chance to address them in the contract – if they still like the house enough to buy it.

Because we want this sale to go as seamlessly as possible, our realtor thought it would be a good idea to get an inspection. Mr. Owens was the recommended specialist. He gave me a prompt proposal for the two houses and came out the same week. He is a building contractor himself and has years of experience. His son, also experienced, took one of our houses and he took the other. A few days later I was emailed a report with the findings. The report has detailed pictures of their findings and a written summary of their recommendations. It’s very helpful.

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Yes, olive green tile from the 70’s. Today the plumber replaced the sink stopper. Cross that one off. See how easy this report is to follow?

Of course, we are living in our house right now without much notice of the faults that were called out. Most of them were not serious. The rental house is a little more problematic, but now we know and can fix it up. Having that list gives us direction and a way to measure our progress. At the end there will be a few things that we have chosen not to fix, which is always our prerogative. Since we do know our house much better after the report we can be sure we are making the sale with full disclosure. That feels like peace of mind to me.

I’m glad we had the inspection.

How would an inspection of  your house, right now, make you feel? Nervous? Confident?