Monthly Archives: January 2015

Lesson #7 – Sunday Rest

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I am looking back at some of my posts and I realize I am a bit negative about retirement!  Whoa is me.  I really don’t want to be all negative and as I have said early on I want to look at this phase with a smile.  I really do!  Sunday Morning helps.

‘Sunday Morning’ with Charles Osgood as host.  We try to watch this show every Sunday.  There is something very relaxing and uplifting about it.  Osgood’s voice is like the voice of Frank Sinatra crooning a love song.  The show is straight forward and the news portion of the show is the way news used to be given.  No political sides with the opinion of the newscaster being the prevalent mission.  Osgood says it like it is…..the news is reported without his feelings thrown in.  Just give us the facts and we will form an opinion ourselves.  I like that.  I have always been a person that has followed the political world but I am becoming less interested in the craziness of Washington and our elected politicians.  It seems to me we need more shows like Sunday Morning.

The features are inspiring and after I watch I wonder what it would have been like hiking in China looking for that snub nosed, pink lipped monkey that is so rare.  Or maybe I should have been a mountain climber trying to reach the summit.  It is like a good book really…  disappearing into the story and wondering what it is like.

Sunday is a day of rest and there will be no more political shows telecasting on my TV on Sunday.  I will not be thrown into a state of depression over this country and the Washington elite.  I will watch Sunday Morning and be uplifted into the dream world.  I will save the hard news and the outrage and outcries for the weekday evenings when our world seems to be going down the tubes.  That is when I will be anxiety ridden and depressed over what our government is doing and wants to do from both sides of the aisle.  My mother always used to say, “What is this world coming to?”  Today I say the same.  Like mother like daughter I suppose.

Sunday….a day of rest!  NOT!!!  Things to do, people to see and places to go….that is our real Sunday.  But for a little while on Sunday morning I can just relax with my cup of java in hand and escape with Mr. Osgood.  Wonderful!

Leigh

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Lesson #6 – Hey Mikey…..we have a contract!

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Yep…..a contract!

In five short weeks we had a contract very close to our asking price. Yippee! We won and the realtor lost although her commission had increased but I found solace that we were correct in the price setting department. However, in the middle of my gloating, depression set in and I wondered what in the world we had done??? Why were we selling? Can we get out of this contract? Remind me again why we were selling? Tell me again where we are going now? What are we going to do with all of our furniture?? HELP ME SOMEONE!

My husband had made the grand plan.  Sell this house and move to our lake house.  One problem with this plan.  Our lake house is just that.  It is a summer weekend house and not built for year round living.  That means very little insulation and no heat for that matter!  We do have a wood burning stove which emits quite a lot of heat but I find myself coughing at the mere thought of that wood burning heat.  I have gotten pneumonia in that house before and I fear the worse.  OK, I have to trust my husband.  He wants to take a year ‘off’ and decide where we want to live.  We can go to the beach mid stream during the very cold months.  Sounds ok but I had serious doubts about this plan.

No time, however, to dwell on my doubts.  We had to move out….. So we did what most intelligent couples would do.  We rented a storage unit.  Two in fact.  One for our furniture and the other for boxes and junk.  First, I sold quite a lot of my furniture since I saw no need to move furniture into an already furnished lake house.  I did wish to save favorite pieces of furniture much of which came with us from England and also furniture that originally belonged to my grandmother.  Through Craigslist I was able to sell a lot and I have no regrets.  My thoughts turned to Pottery Barn and buying all new!  If Bob was putting me through all this then I will have NEW furniture and price be damned! Just kidding : )

By the time we had the contract we had to patiently survive many showings and as is the rule we had to leave the house and escape for two hours with each showing.  I played a game when I returned after a showing.  I tried to see where the people had been and what had been moved and if anyone had sat on my couch or my bed.  Pillows were moved every time and once there was a little body imprint in the middle of my King bed…..my thoughts turned to who in the world would allow their children to lay on my bed?  And if you did, then for heaven’s sake, smooth out the quilt!  Wandering eyes went everywhere…..the pantry, linen closets…..there is no safe place in a house on the market for junk.  Hope they didn’t go into my underwear drawer.  Or worse….the dirty laundry hamper.

People would drive by our house very slowly taking a peek and I often wanted to yell at them and say….”What the hell are you looking at?”  Not a very good attitude when you are trying to sell your house.

One woman in our neighborhood actually called our realtor and told her we should cut some bushes on the street and that it would look a lot nicer!  Really?  Apparently, she was a master gardener and had a strong opinion about our landscaping.  Why in the world wouldn’t she just put a note in our mailbox?  Odd she called our realtor.  Have to say, though, we did pull those bushes out and it did look better!  Thank you master gardener neighbor.

Many a night after the manual labor was completed I would sit and look around my house and remember all the good times our family had there.  When it was quiet and peaceful.  That was the hard part.  Remembering.  But, I know that my memories will always be with me and they aren’t left in the house.

We are moving on into this retirement phase.  Lord help us.

Leigh

 

 

Lesson #5 – STAGING

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We had an interior decorator come into our home (sent and paid for by our realtor) to give us pointers as to staging our home to sell for the asking price.  This was a selling point for the realtor since we wouldn’t have to pay for it!  Woo Hoo!  Not.

I have often wondered about ‘staging’. In many of our past homes I have stared and stared at a ‘blah, boring’ room and wondered to myself just how would a ‘stager’ ‘stage’ it! I have never actually called a stager but I have always wanted to!

This was my experience with this particular stager sent two weeks ago to this home.

I felt her desire to ‘let’s do this’ quickly as she told me .. ‘these are the rules’. She was obviously paid for a particular length of time and she wasn’t going to spend a minute more! You can understand this really. ‘Time is money’ as Bob always said when he didn’t want to cut grass or weedwack! That, by the way, became our mantra when we didn’t want to do something and we would then hire someone to do it. Ha!

Back to the stager…I was told to take notes as we would walk through every room. She wasn’t actually going to ‘stage’ but would tell me what had to be done! I took notes frantically for fear I would miss a brilliant tidbit.

It was quick, mind you…..very quick. Not a lot of time was spent staring at a room and I felt the anticipation that at any moment I would, indeed, learn that staging secret which would result in our home being sold NOT for the asking price but thousands over…maybe a bidding war!!! It was intense for me if not for her.

It was disappointing that the time went by too quickly. I never did learn the ‘secret’ to the bidding war but this is what I did learn (I knew many of these pointers but who has time in day to day life to do them???)

If you have lovely granite/stone etc. counters, show them off and don’t cover them up with cute little STUFF with which I love to decorate bathrooms and kitchens …..I always heard that bathrooms can be the place to have fun with decorating…..NOT so much when you want to sell. Show that granite and the room you have on your counters off. Take all those necessary day to day objects off. Think cleaned off…no toasters, coffee makers, blow dryers, straighteners. Pretend you don’t live there and you are actually in a posh hotel spa setting. You get the point.

Soap. MUST be a new bar, preferably a sweet smelling bar of soap but not too overpowering in case someone has allergies. NEVER use it.

Toilet Paper. MUST be a brand spanking new roll. Never used. Don’t even if you really feel you have to. Keep an ‘old’ roll by the seat! Use that one. You could even fold the end of the roll like they do in fine hotels! Elegant!

Towels. The NEED for white fluffy towels is absolutely necessary. Think spa again. Hotels have white towels. Enough said. But, for goodness sake, don’t use them. NEW again. Keep the old black towels in a closet somewhere to use.

Throw rugs. NOPE. Pick them up and hide them or throw them away. Show off the tile floors or the wood floors. People may trip (really?)…..

That deck outside. It really NEEDS bright colored pillows…outside pillows of course….the ones that slide off the chairs or are tossed aside when someone actually wants to sit down. One for each chair in different colors.

On that table on that deck….placemats perhaps? Plastic glasses? Faux flowers in a vase? You can get fancy and put wine glasses out with a bottle in a wine decanter but that would attract the bees so scratch that.

FLOWERS everywhere! Don’t think about them being kept watered just PLANT lots all around the deck. A buyer may think/dream about spending hours on that deck reading surrounded by all the greenery. (Don’t tell perspectives that mosquitoes are quite bad in the summer on the deck and with the flowers…well…..oy!)

If you have a dark room and being in an early 1980’s home…we have that dark family room…the one with judge’s paneling. In our defense we were told it was going to come back into vogue. STILL waiting so STILL dark. Anyway, white rug will work. We originally did buy a white rug but now it’s grey. Can’t clean it but trying. I shopped for a new and improved but…have you seen the prices of 8 x 10 white shag rugs? NEVER mind. Again, my husband said a new rug won’t make or break a sale. He says that a lot lately!

In that same room….white ‘things’ on every shelf will brighten the room. Hmmmm
not sure it has but those white things ARE on every shelf. White lamp shades, white pillows. You can’t actually live in that room because the white would become the same grey as my shag rug. Ho Hum.

Now, this is interesting….and I know this is becoming quite L O N G ….  Please bear with me…or is it bare with me? Whatever…..

Dining tables. Haven’t you always heard to set the damn tables? NOPE! Not anymore. Maybe a runner and a pretty glass bowl in the center. Napkins in napkin rings max. Check.

Pillows on the couch. There is a certain way to do this. Look at pictures on the net. There is a ‘back’ pillow and the comfy down pillow in the front is ‘V’d’ in the middle. Fist it down in the middle and whoa! staged!!!! They all do it. Quite interesting. Much like that toilet paper ‘V’.

A spot of vanilla on light bulbs so that when the lamp is on…and it needs to be on all the time while showing…that sweet aroma of vanilla will permeate through the room. I thought of this myself or read about it many many houses ago. I think it works. Something akin to smelling freshly baked chocolate chip cookies but that is much too time consuming every time someone wants to look at your house : )
plus I have that weight problem everyone is talking about.

The coffee table. Never thought about staging but ooooh sooooo important! Something very tall and a few things with different ‘feels’…..such as a tall vase with flowers or a piece of tall artwork…..a round tray with a glass something or other….a wicker something or other….perhaps three books atop of each other. So you will have a tall, a medium and a short something or other. Coasters? No. Remotes? No. Hide all those little things. All 10 of them.

I was always under the impression that faux greenery is gosch. I don’t even know how to spell gosch. Don’t think anyone ever uses that term anymore. Maybe not politically correct. Anyway, I grew up hearing that BUT….wait…..when you put your house on the market….you MAY use faux greenery and faux flowers! Exciting news.

At the end of the staging tour the stager, as you may guess, told me I could hire her to actually stage my house at only $150 per hour or $200….I zoned out when she started talking about money. It sounded expensive to me but she said she works very quickly using whatever I have in the house. I still wonder what she would do with my grey/white shag rug. She handed me her card and left as quickly as she had come. Half hour probably tops. Whooosh.

I didn’t call her nor can I find her business card. Much of it didn’t impress me except those V’s I learned about. I am considering a career in staging. We will need a little bit of extra income!

Get in touch with me if you want help in staging.  I’m magnificent!

Leigh

Lesson #4 – Realtor? On our own?

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We haven’t had to sell a house on our own for our entire married life.  We have been so lucky and so thankful.  It’s a nightmare to deal with a realtor and walk throughs and negotiations.

When we were married, my husband and I bought our first ‘real’ home since I was pregnant on our lst anniversary!  Bob owned a condo in Ft. Lauderdale a block off the beach and facing the intracoastal.  Beautiful!  A small one bedroom condo…a bachelor pad really.  We decided to sell the condo and buy our first house when a Board member told us we couldn’t have a baby in the building!  Really?!  Do these all adult condos still exist?  I would think this would now be against the PC patrol guidelines.  Who knows!  Probably so in Florida with all the condo commandos…..WAIT……I’m one of those now!

This was the only property we sold on our own….second one really.  But, it was simple.  I put an ad in the NY Times and WHOA….sold in one week sight unseen.  I should have collected my commission on that sale.  Just thought of that now.

We moved every 3 1/2 years or so until we moved to Marietta, Georgia.  With each move Bob’s company told us they would buy our house if we didn’t sell it within a certain amount of time.  Those were the days!  In those days, too, new recruits were moved across country lock, stock and barrel and no one had a thing to worry about.  The process was easy and we had very little contact with our realtor because we had moved on.  I have to say though with each sale we always listed the house for more than the suggested sale price.  I never took it for granted that the realtor knew best.  They just don’t.  We know our neighborhoods better than anyone and we also know what our house is worth and how it compared with those comparables.

The advice we receive is to interview at least three realtors.  Everyone has advice to give.  Much like when you are having a baby or how to lose weight!  Well, we didn’t follow that advice and we suffered because of it.  Yes, a mistake and I consider us to be somewhat sophisticated and worldly…..I guess not.

We hired a realtor who snowed us during the initial interview process.  She was charming and outgoing.  Beware!  She suggested a selling price which, after the signing with her to be our selling realtor, was not spoken of again.  In fact, the selling price should be $30,000 less than what we talked about.  Wait a minute……let’s get this straight.  We hired her with dollar signs dancing in our heads but THEN were told the selling price should be $30,000 less?  REALLY???  I didn’t buy it and I had learned from previous experience to look at the comps and come to our own price based on our neighborhood.  The realtor reluctantly put the price we decided on (not her) the listing agreement.  Ho hum….’if it’s not sold in two weeks’ she said, ‘we will have to lower the price’  Two weeks?  You must be joking.  I don’t think so.

Now, mind you, we had spent months getting this house ready to be put on the market.  It was finished, complete, and ready to go to a very lucky family.  We had hired the realtor’s contractor to do whatever had to be done (big mistake-find your own), and we were ready to sell.  One problem with this picture….as we got closer and closer to actually selling, I was very unhappy!  As I have talked about before, it is a huge transition and this shakes up your security blanket and throws it in the wash only to come out in shreds.  My whole life as I knew it was coming to an end.  I am, perhaps, being overdramatic but that’s me….overdramatic.

What I have learned so far:

Talk to at least three realtors and make sure they know your neighborhood!

Hire your own contractor at reasonable rates.

Look at the comps in your neighborhood and evaluate your house yourself.  Be damned with what just sold and the asking prices of other homes.  No one knows your house better than you.

For petes sake, clean up that garage!

Prepare your house and then do even more.  It will sell more quickly for a higher price.  People like ‘nothing to do’ houses.

Stage that house!  ….  that’s another story.

Leigh

 

 

 

Lesson #3 – Cleaning Out ie “Good Lord…what is this?”

 

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IMPORTANT LESSONS I HAVE LEARNED WHILE PREPARING THIS
HOUSE TO BE PUT ON THE MARKET:
(This isn’t the Letterman show so not necessarily in any special order)

1. DO NOT keep clothes to wear if a. you gain weight, b. you lose weight,
c. for the ‘in between’ stage, and d. there is an important occasion in your future when you MAY wear that outfit.

2. DO NOT keep your children’s preschool and elementary school papers in the attic. They will NOT want them when they are 27 and 30. That attic rat may love them also.

3. Likewise, DO NOT keep your children’s artwork 29 years. They DEFINITELY will NOT want it.

4. Clean out under the sink at least yearly and NOT every 22 years. If you don’t you may be able to open a cleaning supply house.

5. DO NOT keep paint cans to touch up those rooms. They will just dry out anyway waiting to be used.

6. NO kitchen needs five frying pans, a wok, two juicers (when you go on that juice diet), three sets of flatware, four graters, 20 dishtowels (most stained), four cutting boards, five sets of dishes, and 40 mismatched juice glasses. JUST keep beer glasses and wine glasses because they WILL be used A LOT during this process.

7. DO NOT keep your set of 300 vinyls and 100 45s. YOU will NEVER NEVER listen to them again nor will you record them onto CDs. It would take the rest of your life to do it and who has time??

8. DO NOT start a collection of Monopoly games when your travel to faraway places. You will NEVER play them nor will you ever frame every one. Idea is good but don’t bother because they take up a heck of a lot of space in that linen closet. Collect spoons instead.

9. NOW this is ‘iffy’……I say DO NOT save your husband’s Tshirts he received when he ran all those marathons, triathlons and 10 Ks. BUT Goodwill them when he is NOT looking. Better yet, trash them. Two hips later … he will still hold on to them. Tread softly.

10. Lastly, keep those tools in the garage and organized for your whole life. If you don’t, you will find you have five hammers, four levels, three sets of wrenches….you get the idea. If you can’t find it…..DON’T go out and buy another. JUST keep looking. Mothers should teach this.

Deep in Muck,

Leigh

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