Monday, May 18, 2015

The roller coaster hell of selling your home

This whole selling process has been nothing but an emotional roller coaster. It's good news, then bad news, good news, more bad news. I just want it to end at this point. Part of me actually looks forward to Mondays now so more developments will happen, which in turn means the closer to ending this nightmare people call selling their home.

Some of the biggest bad news we received was after an inspection, it was discovered we have an abandoned oil tank buried under our front lawn. We were shocked. We had no idea it was there, nor had I ever heard of underground oil tanks up until that point. Apparently it was very common for people who were heating their homes with oil to have the tanks underground instead of in the basement like today. People who decided to upgrade to above ground oil tanks literally just left the old ones under the ground--some even still full of oil. We were freaking out learning all of this because if that underground oil tank in our front lawn was still full of oil, it could very possibly be leaking. Of course I then googled horror stories where EPA was then involved and costs went up to $100,000 to even $300,000 to clean up everything. We immediately called a environmental company who came over last week to assess and give us a quote. Luckily, the tank is full of sand--which is what is supposed to be done if the owner decides to leave it in the ground instead of excavating it. That was a huge relief, but we are still getting it pulled out this week to the tune of $2000. That's if it hadn't leaked though. If it leaked (and the guy said we'd be able to tell right away after it's pulled out just by looking at the soil) then we are going to have to pay a lot more. Fingers crossed it's fine.

Now, some good news. Soon after I wrote my last post, we got another--better--offer. More solid and with better financing. Of course, we went with the second offer. This guy wants a quick closing, and so do we. Hopefully this sale goes through, and soon, because I want off of this roller coaster.

Now for some hopeful news, we have an apartment we're really interested in that's available June 15th, which would be perfect for us. Jason has an appointment to see it on Thursday after work. I want this apartment so bad; two large bedrooms, two bathrooms (great for 5 people!), a washer and dryer(!!), it's right across the street from Prospect Park and with views from the windows, it's zoned for a good school, and with all this it's well below our budget. I'm trying to not get my hopes up, but yeah, I suck at that.

One good thing that has come from selling our house is that it is making it easier for me to want to leave it. I thought I'd have a really hard time with the whole nostalgia/memories thing, but all this headache is making me realize how much I want to leave this house behind and move on. It already doesn't feel like home to me anymore, and I think that has to do with all of these unexpected issues that came up (oil tank being one of them) and having to get kicked out of our house all of the time and it being picked apart. It doesn't feel like a safe place to me now. The kids have also started expressing excitement about moving--even Mason. In fact, this past weekend they all wanted to take a drive to the city. Mason brings up wanting to visit more often; he used to never want to go. So, that's a relief.

I have a feeling that by the end of this week we will have a lot accomplished and will have a more clear picture on what's going on with everything (closing date, apartment, etc.). At least I hope. All of these unknowns we're juggling up in the air is driving me crazy.  This has to end someday, right?

Sunday, May 10, 2015

An Offer

Lately I feel I'm living in a dream state. Things are going so fast. So many showings. So much cleaning. Our lives have been in a constant state of upheaval. So many dinners out since we can't go home with strangers touring it. Lots of time spent in the car. All of it feels so... strange. And again, as if I'm living in a dream.

What makes it even more unreal, is that our little house of 7 years was on the market for just 11 days when we got an offer. We were hoping, or course, that the house would sell quick, but really didn't think it would happen so fast. And for close to asking price. We will actually break even if this sale goes though--which is more than we though would happen just a few short months ago.

The offer came in on Thursday, at almost $20,000 below asking. Too low. We countered with $5000 below asking. They countered with just $4000 above what they originally offered. We said no way, still much too low. The came back with just $10,000 below asking price. We let them sweat it out a bit as we went over the numbers. It was just a few hours and I guess the prospective buyers were getting very worried--they really want this house. Their realtor asked ours if she had heard from us yet. She told them no. Somehow in the conversation the fact that we had a few showings lined-up for the weekend was brought up and suddenly the buyers came up to our original counter offer.

We actually have an offer. And so soon. I still can't believe it. We are supposed to sign the paperwork today, and our lawyers are rounded up tomorrow (funny enough, we are using the same lawyer that we had when we closed on this very house). Inspection and appraisal should be next week (I'm already stressing about those things), and fingers crossed their financials are in order and we can seal this deal and move to the city by July 1st.

So, there's where we are now. Just sitting and waiting for this deal to go through, and hoping it does.

Friday, May 1, 2015

This is really happening

These past few days have been a whirlwind. The house was put on the market on Monday, but there were no calls for any showings that night, or Tuesday, or Wednesday... but on Thursday we finally got our first showing at 7 PM.

Now it's like the dam broke, because the calls started coming in. We had a showing scheduled earlier today that cancelled, but there is one tonight at 7, tomorrow, and another on Sunday. It is a total pain in the ass keeping this place show-ready with three kids and dealing with entitled buyers and realtors, but I just throw myself into it and think about why we're doing this.

It feels so surreal. I still can't believe our home of 7 years is really, finally, officially on the market. Wow. This is real. It's happening. I'm excited, nervous, you name it.

Fingers crossed that someone will make an offer soon--maybe even this weekend. Fingers crossed that it will be at full ask or close to it.

Monday, April 27, 2015

...And we're off (or should I say on)!

I'm so physically and mentally drained, so here is my short update to whomever is still reading:

We are officially on the market!

The last few days were full of packing, donating, cleaning, staging, more packing, more cleaning, fixing... it was was relentless. Now that we are officially on, my body is shutting down; I feel like I could fall into one exhausted heap onto the bed and sleep for days.

So, goodnight, and wish us luck.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Still at the starting gate...

So, yeah, we're still not on the market yet. We just weren't ready. We actually have a plumber here as we speak fixing up some last minute issues. Now it's the 27th. Monday. Stretching it out like this is torturous. I want it just started already so we can get on with it all.

We are basically ready now though. Outside is done. Inside is done. All that's really left now is some more deep cleaning and packing up some more non-essential junk. I've must have packed at least 10 boxes yesterday and it was all coats, shoes, closet stuff, and pictures. After thinning it out it's crazy how much stuff we still have.

The house looks and feels great though. I hate clutter. It looks clean and fresh. Our voices actually echo inside now. Love it.

Hopefully the next post will be all about that long-awaited fore sale sign out front.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

11 Days(!?)

Benjamin Franklin once said that in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes. Well, he was wrong. For me anyway. While I'm definitely certain about death and taxes, I'm also pretty freaking certain about never selling a home ever, ever again.


It's not even on the market yet and I'm just done. Physically and mentally. Spent. Kaput. Finito. I can't believe all we have to do to get it market ready. We have done so much--the breezeway and sunroom are done, the garage almost there--but have yet to get started outside thanks to the cold weather and snow. But now that we can start outside it's rain, family events/holidays, birthday parties. It seems every weekend there is something we need to attend and that's the only time we can really bust through anything. During the week I try to do what I can, but it's difficult with a needy 3 year old. So, because of these setbacks we are pushing the market date to the 20th. So that makes just 11 days until go-time.

I also can't believe all the junk we have accumulated in these past 7 years. We filled two dumpsters to the brim with junk that was sitting in the garage and around the house. It's embarrassing, actually. I have never in my life acquired so much useless junk as I did after I became a homeowner in the exurbs. It's mind boggling. If this isn't yet another excellent reason for leaving this kind of life behind, I don't know what is. All this"stuff" just feels like a huge ball and chain. I can't wait to live with less again. Life was so much easier. Good riddance to it!

One positive that has emerged from the junk is coming across our new living room set. Well, part of it anyway. When we moved in here there were some old mid-century pieces left in the basement. At some point they were thrown into the garage. We rediscovered them as we were clearing out the garage last month. They are in great condition, incredibly sturdy and well-made. I ordered some new cushions (in green!) and should be getting them soon. Afterwards we ordered some really cool end tables and a new TV stand from mid-century handmade furniture shops. We should be getting those next month. I'm really looking forward to putting it all together.

This weekend Jason and I have a date (probably our last for a while!) to celebrate his birthday. I am really looking forward it. It's getting me through this week. With only a handful of days until we put the house on the market, I could really use a day of great food and a few drinks to calm these butterflies and jitters.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Choosing to Jump

It's funny how when we were a year out from moving we'd research areas and apartments to get an idea of exactly where we'd be moving to and how much money it would cost us. Now, as our moving date is just around the corner, we barely even speak of it. We simply paint, clean, and pack away -- oh, and drink many glasses of wine at the end of the day.

On Saturday we met with our realtor to touch base and sign some paperwork. The ball is rolling. Tentative date for the house hitting the market is April 15th.

Three weeks away.

To say I'm freaking out is an understatement. It's going by so fast now. Too fast. It seems there is not enough time to get everything done. I'm feeling very overwhelmed. I worry how the kids will do-- sure, they're okay now, but what about when we start packing away their room? Pulling away from the house for the last time? These last 7 years have been in this house. So many memories were made here. It was a pain in the ass at times but it always made some sense in this crazy world; a security blanket. Of course I am second guessing our decision. I'm scared.

But, I tell myself we need to move on. We're all together. We're healthy. We love adventure and hate regrets. This decision has been a long time coming and pretty well thought out. It's like standing at the edge of a diving platform and having lots of time to think about your decision to jump or not. You fret and worry and have anxiety and second guess yourself. But then at one point you say 'fuck it!', and you either close your eyes, jump, and hope for the best, or you turn and walk away. So, we're jumping. Pinch my nose, close my eyes and hoping for the best.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Not My Deam

Here I sit on a Tuesday night, still recovering from yet another clip of harried renovation projects this past weekend that this house just continuously spits-up at us. I'll think we're almost done, and then I see the dirty walls (never even crossed my mind that walls actually get dirty until I had kids) and realize okay, they really do need to be repainted.

And so we painted the living and dining rooms. For the third time.

And now the sunroom needs some help. Then we still need to finish our master bath. And then the basement. The garage needs lot of cleaning. Then we need to make our yard all pretty and shit so people can envision their happy little lives here. I need to scrub the bathrooms on my hands and knees like Cinderella.

Oh my god will this ever end? The house isn't even on the market yet and I just want this to go away. I don't want this fucking house anymore. I don't want to clean it, fix it, or paint one more goddamn wall.

I'm already stressed out, and to top it off my dad is also in the hospital, so that doesn't help. It's times like this where I simply loathe this place. I want to go back in time and kick myself for buying this house. What the hell were we thinking?! I am beyond burnt out with all of this house crap. If we didn't need every cent in the bank for this move I'd sell this house for next to nothing just to get rid of it.

We have one month. One more month of working our asses off to get this house ready to be someone else's dream. This isn't my dream. This isn't what I want for me or my kids. It's a nice house I guess; it deserves some love, and I will gladly hand it over to somebody who will love it like I never could.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

If I Could Talk to Myself 7 Years Ago

Wouldn't that be nice? To be able to go back in time and warn yourself somehow and give yourself some good advice? Maybe hopefully avoid a giant screw up? And in a way that wouldn't completely freak your younger self out--like a mysterious letter or something. I'm sure we all have at least one time in our lives that we could have used the knowledge from what we have since learned, and today I'll share mine.

The time would be 7 years ago, while Jason and I lived in an apartment in the quaint town of Branford, CT with our son (an only at that point). Oh, how simple life seemed then. We feverishly scanned daily and were dead-set on buying our first home because, well, raising children in an apartment? How irresponsible!

If I could slip a letter to my younger self, I'd tell myself to not do it. To please for the love of anything sacred in my life just step away from the computer, don't contact that realtor, and just shut the hell up about it all. Not only do I wish I could give myself advice from what I've learned over the years, I want to give it to you too. If you're currently renting or just even thinking about buying your first home, I have some unsolicited advice (well, you are on my blog, so maybe it is solicited... ).

So, here's my advice after being a homeowner for nearly 7 years:

First, a question, do I really own this home? Because last time I checked I was paying the bank every month, and if I don't pay, I get kicked out, much like if you don't pay rent. So... maybe I am renting it from the bank for 30 years with the bonus of painting without asking them for permission?

Do not buy a home if you are in debt. Seems pretty obvious when you hear somebody say it to you, but surprisingly we do it. I did it. I know people who have done it. And then we're even further down the hole. If you have a few hundred--or even just a few grand--in debt, then maybe that's not too bad. If you have a stable job with good income and a good amount (a really really good amount--I'll get to that next) in savings then have at it. You'd probably be okay. Maybe. But when I hear of so-and-so who buys a house with tens to hundreds(!!!) of thousands in debt, I can't help but cringe and feel terrified for them, followed by my mind being blown to the sheer irresponsibility, which is then followed by the realization and commiseration of that powerful societal pull and lure of owning a home. I've been duped too.

But really, if you are in debt don't do it. Those with large debts usually don't have a great amount in their savings account. Your house will need repairs and upkeep (and at some point a huge unforeseen expense), which all costs money, which will only add to your debt.

Do not buy a home if you don't have any savings! This one is tied in closely with the one above. If you don't have anything in savings--meaning not enough to live on for 6 months to 1 year without income--then step away from the realtor. Please.

We had "savings"when we bought this house. It was about $6,000--which we naively thought was enough--and it didn't do anything to save us from the unexpected. Jason's salary was cut, a huge hospital bill emerged, and some pretty big house repairs required our immediate attention.

Bye-bye savings account.

Hello living on credit cards and racking up debt.

It took us years to get out of that debt (and it's still not all gone!). It was stressful, frustrating, depressing, and at times terrifying. You may have a great paying job now, but what if your salary is cut? What if you lose your job? What if you need medical care and are left with a massive hospital bill? What if you need a new roof or electrical system? Maxing out credit cards for home repairs or renovations is foolish. And good luck trying to actually start saving money while trying to pay down debt and attempting to pay for house repairs or upkeep all at the same time. Houses are a huge money and time suck; if you can't give either one than you have no business buying one.

Don't buy if you can't put at least 20% down. Those first-time homebuyer programs are enticing, aren't they? You don't even need to put any money down when purchasing a home. We didn't. It sounded awesome at the time. The closing costs were wrapped into the mortgage--we didn't need to bring any money to the table.

Now I realize how terrible that is. Our mortgage would be a lot smaller if we had at least put 20% down. But honestly,I think that should be the absolute low-end. I think 35% would be even better, and in a perfect world--50% or just cash. If you are looking at those programs, don't fall for the 0% down jazz. If you can't put anything down on a home--say it with me now--you have no business buying a home. Why? Because if you can't put money down, you have no money. If you have no money, that means no savings. If you have no savings, you have no cash resource to protect yourself from the massive sinkhole of debt and the huge financial burden of homeownership.

The End.

If you are not ready to settle in an area for the long haul, do not buy. If you are still climbing that corporate ladder, not in love with the town, or totally unsure of your life plans, the last thing you should do is cement yourself in one area. Of course, this is what a house does. It prevents you from just up and moving to take-up new (and probably better) job offers or any other life situation that would require a hasty relocation.

Jason and I thought we'd live here for 5 years (at the most), fix it up a bit, and then sell it. You can't see me, but I'm laughing so hard right now. As if selling a house (for a PROFIT, mind you) is a given and oh-so-freaking-easy. What the hell were we thinking? Were we thinking at all? Sometimes I don't know; I think the ideal was the leader in this gem of a decision.

Do NOT settle. Jason and I knew we never really liked the town we bought in. We knew walkability and convenience was important to us. We knew we hated living in small and isolated areas far from public transit. But when we saw the house we could buy, we were smitten with the idea of it all. "Oh", we told ourselves, "it'll be okay. We'll have our own house, after all!"

Nope. After those highs wear off you are left with everything you hate. And then you'll have a house to take care of on top of it. If you know something is really important to you, do not settle on taking anything less.

Do not buy if you don't like a lot of responsibility. I'll admit it; I don't like a lot of responsibility. I like to keep my life simple and as stress free as possible. Why I have three kids, I don't know, but every other aspect of my life is kept as clutter-free as possible. I don't like to own a lot of stuff (that sounds like a house, and they're pretty big, too). I don't like owing people lots of money (hey--sounds like a house again with that hefty loan you have to pay back). I don't like having to keep throwing money at something that I hate (House). I don't like having to take care of something so intensely (again house--but it could be kids too... at least they grow-up, right? Oh, and that's why I have cats instead of dogs and I kill everything I try to grow).

So why in the world did I think buying this house was the right decision?!

I honestly don't know. But after all of this, I do know that houses are always needing something. They require a lot of your attention and bank account. You become enslaved to it. I don't like slavery.

So, if you are like me, you really have no business buying a house.

Those are my main sticking points, in a nutshell anyway. I could go on a tangent with this stuff. If you're wondering if I will ever buy again, the answer is maybe, but only if every single one of these requirements are met:

6 figures in our savings account--even after a down payment . Sounds like a lot, doesn't it? Not if you live in one of the most expensive areas of the country with the most expensive real estate, want to be able to retire, help with college expenses, and to keep up with those damned house repairs.

We have enough money to put down. Yup. Not doing it otherwise. I'd really like to put down 50%. Being able to buy it outright would be even better. If that takes until I'm 90 then so be it.

It is not a single family home. I'm not worrying about a yard ever again.

I want to die there. I'll have to be living in a place I love so much that I could die naked in the middle of the street and be okay with it.

You won't listen to me. I probably wouldn't have listened to me either. I'd think, "That was just her experience with it; I know mine will be better! Besides, I am just dying to paint a room any color I want (I don't know why but that is always the #1 or #2 reason for buying a home I hear people rattle off)!" I guess that is the beauty about making mistakes and learning from them on your own.

So, future first-time homebuyer, good luck to you. If you don't want to take my advice, maybe at least let it take some space in your mind if only for a minute or two. But... even though advice is great, maybe the best thing really is just finding out for yourself. You might love it. You might get lucky. A letter from the future might be the worst thing right before you're about to make a mistake. I mean, that's life right? Learning from your mistakes and making changes. Besides, if there was a letter sent to you from your future self right before every big mistake, that would surely be a lot of letters.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Two Months!?

So here it is, January 2015. It's strange, but when it was December--just last month-- this whole moving thing seemed years away. Now, since it's January, time seems to be in warp speed mode and it just crept up on us.

We are putting the house on the market in about two months. That seems like nothing considering all that's still on our list. We are almost done with the ceiling, but then there is the garage, the master bath, and just decluttering and cleaning. Did I mention cleaning? Ugh. The worst part in my opinion. If there is one thing I hate it's deep cleaning, though it does feel awesome after its actually done.

I still can't believe this is really upon us; it's crunch time. Finally!

In other news, my first guest post is up on the Family Friendly Cities site. I'm really looking forward to contributing more--especially as we're transitioning into an urban lifestyle. It should be interesting so stay tuned.

I'm nervous. Excited. Overwhelmed (feeling mostly this right now with the sale of our house looming overhead). My mind is going a mile a minute with all we have to tackle before spring, but I need to remember to take a deep breath and just put one foot in front of the other.
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