Asheviller: Ron and Valerie Move to Asheville…

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Sat
31
Dec '11

Western North Carolina Report – Our Yearly Christmas Letter

 

Signed, Sealed, Delivered

March 8, 2011 was a very good day. That afternoon, with the aroma of fresh landscape bark and drying paint wafting through the air, the moving vans arrived at our newly completed home and after a long, arduous, twenty-six months, our relocation from Seattle was complete. Okay, okay, it wasn’t quite complete (more on that, below) but it was close enough to declare victory. We were officially moved in!

The whole construction process went very well. There were a few gotcha’s and a few coulda-shoulda-woulda’s and we ended up taking eleven months instead of the planned ten, but all-in-all everything turned out great. Valerie still calls it “Ron’s house” but she kinda likes her mega-sized pantry, great kitchen, and outdoor pizza oven. We both especially love the screened porch and spent nearly every summer evening out there reading, watching TV, and listening to the cicadas.

Camp Bell – We Hardly Knew Ya

Although March 8 was a milestone for moving into our new home, we did have the little matter of selling good ol’ Camp Bell, our temporary fixer-upper house on the other side of town. Although Camp Bell had good bones, it was vintage 1975 and was fairly rough around the edges. We spent a year-plus in remodel hell (there, I said it) painting, grouting, spackling, flooring, fixing, wiring, plumbing, landscaping, etc. Our goal was to make Camp Bell spotless and move-in-ready so it would stand out from the many other comparable houses for sale in the area.

Over the year we watched the real estate sales numbers decline and cringed at our prospects. The move didn’t kill us, the construction didn’t kill us, the remodel of Camp Bell didn’t kill us, but sitting on an unsold Camp Bell in a tanking market for who-knows-how-long might do us in.

Well…Camp Bell went on the market on Monday, April 11. There was a showing on Saturday, April 16. We had an offer on Sunday, April 17. And, we closed the deal on Tuesday, May 17, five weeks after Camp Bell went up for sale. With the right house in perfect condition in the right neighborhood at the right price being marketed by a super real estate agent it is possible to sell a house in today’s tough market!

Unfinished Business

We’re not sure what took longer, packing 369 boxes or unpacking them. Needless to say, you know what we’ve been doing since we moved in. The phrase “Hey, do you remember this thing!?” has been said too many times to count. As of last week there was still one unopened box under the living room bench seat. It has a label on it so we could look up what’s inside, but, as they say, if we haven’t needed it by now…

One thing that contributed to our long unpacking process was that we chose not to finish the workshop when we finished the house. Ron had planned to work on it, himself, but March became July became September and he finally (with Valerie’s prodding) decided to just let Steve, our builder, finish it. Wow! That was a great decision. Steve does awesome finish work and the shop came out way better than we expected! We’ve spent the last few weeks unpacking those boxes, putting away long lost tools, and getting ready to be crafty, again.

Our Local Fauna – Bear and Delinquents

Although our house is just one mile from downtown Asheville we live in the woods. Lots are large and homes are sparse and the further you go up Town Mountain towards the Blue Ridge Parkway the fewer people and the more wildlife you see. Turkey, fox, coyote, bobcat, and black bear are common sights. In the late summer and fall as the bear search for food they become a bit too common. We had bear within peach-throwing distance of our house or along Serena’s walk nearly every day. Ron had to shoo one away that was sitting in our front yard eating berries off a bush, and Serena, on two occasions, chased one down the street. They are skittish and will respond to yelling and hand waving but it is a bit unnerving to walk out the door or round a bend in the road and happen upon a 250lb bear sitting there staring at you.

While the bear come from the woods, our other local fauna, delinquents, comes from downtown. We live in the only house on a dead-end street about 500’ from the end. The dead-end was created in 1977 when Interstate 240 was cut through the mountain and split Vance Gap Road. Our neighbors tell us that since then our street has been a magnet for mischief-makers. Luckily, we only had one incident during construction when someone stole the American flag from our front porch.

Wait, what? Someone stole your flag? Yep. It was a she, last January, in the dark of night. She ripped it from the flagpole and ran back to her car. We caught the whole thing with our security cameras. Ron reported it to channel 13 and sent them the video. Next thing we know the news crew is out front and Ron is being interviewed on TV to tell the sordid tale. They ran the story, “Our Top Story, Tonight”, for several days. The thief was never caught, but hopefully, with her picture splattered all over the TV, she and her family were thoroughly embarrassed.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor

Our neighborhood is not all bear and delinquents. The people who live here are fantastic and are a good match for us. Everyone’s laid back, friendly and inviting. Being on a quiet street, we have dog walkers going by the house throughout the day – Serena likes that. Wayne and Sally hold fantastic, over-the-top, dinner parties. We held a tamalada (a tamale making party) and have had neighbors over for ribs and pizza. Ron’s found a couple BBQ buddies and Valerie will be looking at starting a Town Mountain Book Club.

A Walk in the Woods

With our relocation fun behind us and our hiking boots unpacked we were able to get out and explore the area this summer. Every Friday the Blue Ridge Parkway rangers hold guided hikes on trails along the parkway and we made it out for at least a half dozen. The rangers talk about the history of the area, the geology of the region, and the plants and animals we might see. This was a great way for us to learn about the mountains of North Carolina and to get some exercise as well. We also went hiking several times on our own. One of our favorite hikes was on the Laurel River Trail, and old abandoned railroad bed, near the North Carolina/Tennessee line. On that hike we got to check something unique off our bucket list: “Saw a live rattlesnake in the wild!”

Other fun things we did…Asheville Tourist Baseball, Brewgrass Beer Festival, Texas Instruments/Siemens reunion, Ribfest, Asheville Food and Wine Festival, Western North Carolina Chef’s Challenge, Biltmore House, Grove Park Inn Gingerbread Festival, Belle Chere Summer Festival, Southern Highlands Craft Guild Show, Big Crafty, numerous plays and shows at the Diane Wortham Theatre, and last but not least…Discount Shoes! Hey, even Ron has been seen shopping there!

Miles and Smiles

It had been a long long time since we had been on a vacation so we made it a point to get away this year. Our first trip was to visit Cara and Mike in Phoenix. We had a great time doing the educational-tourist thing visiting Meteor Crater and the Titan Missile Museum (two must see sights). We got our vortex spiritual fulfillment walking around Sedona and, Cara and Mike, being fellow foodies, took us to several great restaurants for hot and spicy Southwest food.

In November we returned to St. John, USVI, for ten days. It was our fourth visit! We love the place for the views, beaches, snorkeling, food, and relaxation. It’s so much easier to get to now that we’re on the east coast. We rented One Particular Harbour, a house that we stayed at in 2004, high on the hill overlooking Coral Bay. On this visit we found a couple new bays to snorkel (glad we had a Jeep) and we sampled true local food at two hole-in-the-wall restaurants – Clean Plates (love that name) and Vie’s Snack Shack. We had a surprise, but very welcome, guest this time. Valerie’s sister, Pat, called the day we arrived and said she was coming, too. To quote Southwest Airlines: “Gotta Get Away!”

In June we attended a mini-reunion of a bunch of the people we worked with at TI and Siemens. My how we’ve grown up. We were just kids back then. It was great fun reminiscing old times and hearing what everyone has been doing for the last twenty years. The common theme seems to be that they’re all very ready to become empty-nesters.

Living closer to family we had lots of visitors this year: Mom and Dad Patton (twice); Linda, Steve and Sarah; Pat and Jack; Cindy and Jeremy; Aunt Edith and Cousin Denny. We also made some family visits: Ron to San Antonio and Pittsburgh and Valerie to Indiana.

Next Year

What’s in store for next year? Hmmm…Making a trip to Seattle. Crafting in our new shop. Celebrating Ron’s big Five-Oh birthday. Volunteering. Taking classes at Blue Ridge Food Ventures. Chasing Bear. Europe? Ron might even look at finding a paying gig…

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Ron and Valerie

Fri
20
May '11

I Won’t be Needing this Anymore

We moved nearly everything out of Camp Bell in preparation of today’s 5:00pm closing. We did leave behind a few little things: a half bucket of moisture-proofing concrete paint, a couple ratty window blinds, an empty beer keg, and an old ironing board. We also left a “Side Swiper II” hanging on the wall. A Side Swiper II (no doubt an improved version of a Side Swiper I) is a tool that I purchased specifically for Camp Bell, a tool that I used to make several repairs, and a tool that I don’t plan to ever use again. Stumped? Never heard of it? A Side Swiper II is a vinyl siding removal tool. It’s specially shaped to reach up underneath vinyl siding and pop loose one piece from another. You can then slide it along the length of the siding and separate the pieces so you can remove them for replacement. I won’t be needing it any more, but the new owners will. So long Camp Bell and my Side Slider II.

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Tue
17
May '11

We’re In!

Yesterday the movers spent three hours moving the last bit of furniture from Camp Bell. The most important pieces were the dining room table and the buffet. Our new dining room that Valerie feared was way too big – several Parade of Homes visitors thought it was the living room – is not. Our 5′ square table, 10′ square rug, and the buffet fill it up perfectly…and it all looks pretty good, too. Let’s eat!

Today we signed our half of the selling paperwork and Friday the buyers sign theirs. The lawyer has the check in-hand from the buyer’s bank for the down payment. Later today we’ll move out a couple plants, vacuum, and grab a pickup load of apple wood sticks from Camp Bell’s tree (for the smoker and pizza oven). We’ll leave the keys and garage door remotes on the kitchen counter and lock the doors on Camp Bell for the last time. We’re out. We’re in!

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Sun
15
May '11

Moving Day – Part 2

Tomorrow is Moving Day – Part 2. At 8:30 the movers arrive at Camp Bell to load up the rest of our furniture that we left behind for staging. There’s not much left, but the biggie, both figuratively and literally, is our dining room table, chairs, and buffet table. When that gets set up in our new dining room we will be officially moved into our new home. 

Unfortunately, since we did downsize from our McMansion in Woodinville, we have extra furniture. Our two big beautiful, essentially new, living room chairs have no place to go, nor does our huge umbrella plant. We’ve decided to donate them to Pet Harmony. They’ve recently remodeled and updated their store and could use them in the entrance reception area. We hate to get rid of them but we just don’t have the room. We’re also donating our mirrored dresser to Goodwill so the movers will be making multiple unloading stops on their way to our new house. After we get settled and determine exactly what we have and where it will go I think the plan is to sell a few more pieces of furniture and buy a large, comfortable, sectional sofa (with recliners) for the living room.

On Tuesday morning at 10:00 we sign the closing paperwork to sell Camp Bell. We’ll also turn over the garage remotes and keys to the lawyer. The new owners sign on Friday and at 5:00pm that day when the proceeds from the sale are wired into our account we will be – at long last – DONE relocating.

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Fri
22
Apr '11

Just this one little thing…

The buyers of Camp Bell had their home inspection performed today. The inspector climbed all over the house for several hours looking for problems. The inspection report we received when we bought Camp Bell was about 60 pages long, much of it a long list of issues ranging from chipped porcelain in the bathtubs to dangling outlets to “the front deck is totally rotted through and unsafe” to damaged vinyl siding to a cracked chimney.

Shelle called this afternoon. The written report won’t be done until Monday but the buyers told their agent to relay to us that the inspection revealed something that needed to be fixed. Something. One thing. Wait…just ONE thing?! I took a deep breath. What could it be? How bad could it be? How much would it cost? 

Well, we had a portable dehumidifier in the basement. I didn’t want to dump the tank all the time so I connected its drain to a garden hose. Luckily there was a rough-in pipe coming through the concrete floor for a future toilet.  There was a cap on it and I had drilled a hole just big enough for the end of the garden hose to fit through. When I removed the dehumidifier from the basement I pulled the garden hose out and didn’t plug the hole. The ONLY thing that the inspector could find wrong in the entire 36-year-old house, the only thing that the buyers want repaired, is this quarter-sized hole—and it wasn’t even there when we bought the house, I put it there. It’s a legitimate concern as methane gas could leak out into the basement and I give him credit for being thorough and having a good eye. We’ll be into Camp Bell another $5 and 15 minutes of my time to buy and install a rubber cap…but then she’ll be perfect!

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Mon
18
Apr '11

Deal

This afternoon, just a few minutes shy of Camp Bell being on the market for one week, we signed around an offer with prospective buyers. I can’t elaborate online because the buyers are computer savvy and could find and read this blog, but I can say that we feel pretty good about the deal. We think it’s fair. Did we get back every $ we put into Camp Bell? No. Did our improvements (and even the original choice in the house) make it so we could get an offer within just one week when hundreds of other Asheville houses are languishing? Did our crazy good agent, acting on a hot-tip, set the wheels in motion on this deal weeks ago? You betcha’. You make your own luck in this world. Now we need to wait six weeks for closing (their loan approval, home inspection, appraisal, etc). By June 1 we could, finally and happily, be out of the land baron business!

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Mon
11
Apr '11

Beautiful Camp Bell

After over a year of blood, sweat, and tears (really, there were all three) rehabbing Camp Bell, we put her on the market today. We treated ourselves by paying professionals to give her a good thorough spring cleaning. We just didn’t have it in us to go back and do it. Now the carpets are clean, the windows sparkle, everything is bright and fresh, and there’s not a thing in need of repair. After seeing the real estate pictures this morning I think she cleaned up pretty well. It’s not the same house we bought two years ago. It’s a truly remarkable transformation. Hopefully a young family looking for a nice little house in a great neighborhood will appreciate what we’ve done and make it their home.

Here’s the link to the realtor’s website…

And, the video tour (complete with jazz nightclub piano music)…

 

 

P.S. It better sell quickly…not only because we need the money, but because we want our dining room table and buffet!

P.S.S. We see much more sun and blue sky in Asheville than we did in Seattle and although it was a sunny day when the pictures were taken, the sky wasn’t as pretty as it is in the first picture, above. That would be called Photoshopping…

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Mon
21
Dec '09

Sold

May the wonderful house in the wonderful neighborhood at 13404 184th Ave NE provide Jonathan Shapiro and Lauren Williams with at least as many good times and great memories as she did for us. And, may Jonathan and Lauren love and care for her as much as we did. We will miss her.

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Tue
15
Dec '09

Roller Coasters and Merry-Go-Rounds

Today was a sad day. We signed and mailed the closing papers on the sale of our house. Shangri-La, as Barry named it, will be transferred to Jonathan Shapiro and Lauren Williams on Monday (we have until January 21 to move out). We sat in the car for 15 minutes staring at the FedEx envelope wondering what the Sam-Hell we were doing. I actually debated whether to mail it or not. It was a pretty emotional moment in time. We kissed the envelope goodbye before we put it in the box. What made it worse is that we had just dropped off Serena at Happy Tails Country Club for her 6-hour interview. No dog. No house. Just us, sitting in the car with our future, literally, in our hands.

 

“You know, when I was nineteen, Grandpa took me on a roller coaster. Up, down, up, down. Oh, what a ride! I always wanted to go again. You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited, and so thrilled all together! Some didn’t like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it.”

We drove the 50 miles down to the Spartanburg, SC, Costco to buy stuff to stock up Camp Bell. We stopped at 12-Bones on the way back before picking up Serena. She passed her interview (except for scaling the 5′ door and escaping her kennel during quiet time) and is welcome to stay at Happy Tails while we return to Seattle to pack and move.  

Tomorrow I’ll book our flights, schedule the movers, meet with our architect, and we’ll stop at the Charles Schwab office to talk about getting a construction loan/mortgage.

Target dates for being back in Seattle are January 7-18.

Roller Coasters and Merry-Go-Rounds.

Sat
12
Dec '09

A Little of Everything

Our friends Luis and Jolie visited Tuesday evening through Saturday morning. Luis’ mom lives in the Raleigh area and they visited her for a few days before coming over to Asheville and then heading back there for a few more days. While they were here we checked out the Gingerbread houses at the Grove Park Inn. The top 10 finalists in each category were simply amazing. Valerie was considering entering next year until we learned that many of the entrants spend 600+ hours working on their houses. That’s a bit much and hard to compete with. We also went to the Biltmore to see the decorated house. It was nice but I don’t think really remarkable – except for the 35′ tree in the banquet hall! Now, that’s a tree. We’ll try to go back for the Candlelight tour where they have choirs singing European carols, vintage ballroom dancers, and dramatic Christmas readings. That’s the nice thing about the annual pass, we can go as often as we want.

Today. we’re back to painting the bedrooms, hallway, and bathrooms of Camp Bell.

The escrow company has FedEx’d our closing paperwork. It should arrive on Monday. We sign and FedEx it back. The buyers sign and on the 21st we become renters of 13404 184th AVE NE. Incomprehensible.

We met with Steve Farrell, our architect, and Steve Williams, our builder, to knock out a few details and discuss the path forward. We may go for permit this month just to get the ball rolling and could start construction in late January. We need to meet again early next week. Still lots to do. 

We stopped in at one bank that our builder has worked with. I wasn’t too impressed with them and will talk to a couple more this coming week about their construction/mortgage programs. Interest rates are at an all-time-low and we’ll never see money this cheap again. Need to take advantage of it and lock in before rates go up to pay for TARP and Obamacare.

We and Serena have an appointment on Tuesday morning at Happy Tails Country Club to see if Serena would be a good fit to stay there while we go back to Seattle in January to pack and move. They seem to be pretty thorough and don’t take just any dog – and that’s a good thing! Our decision as to where we leave from and where Serena stays for our 2-week Seattle trip will be made after our visit.

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Sun
6
Dec '09

What Now?

So what happens now? Well, closing is still scheduled for Dec 21 and so far, so good on that. The buyers have closed on their house in Baltimore so their only other outstanding contingency is the appraisal. As long as it comes back more than the selling price it’s all a done deal. We’re supposed to get our paperwork FedEx’d to us next Tuesday. We’ll meet at Shelle’s office to sign and get it notarized and FedEx it back. The buyers will sign on Monday the 21st and on the 22nd we’ll be 30-day renters of 13404 184th Ave. That’s weird.

Some time the first week of January we’ll head back to Seattle and spend two weeks packing so that the TBD movers can load up the week of January 18. What we don’t know is where Serena will stay and where we’ll leave from. One option is to drive to Indianapolis and have Serena stay with Valerie’s sister or mother. We could then fly Southwest from IND to SEA. The other option is to find a caring, reliable, trustworthy, qualified dog sitter in Asheville and then leave from here. We’re going to the vet on Monday and will ask them for recommendations.

I’ve been reading the online reviews of the major moving companies. All of them are highly negative (except for ABF’s). Basically people think they hire convicts off the street who steal their stuff, pack it poorly, throw it in the truck, drive it cross-country on bumpy roads, loose it, damage it when unloading, charge them extra, hold their stuff for ransom, ignore their complaints and never reimburse them for damage and loss. I’d love to use ABF, as we did for our first load, but this load will be mostly furniture which won’t pack well in a tall truck and will require lots of blankets. We’re just going to have to chance it and use Mayflower or Allied.

Thu
19
Nov '09

You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

Less than 48 hours after our arrival in Indiana on our way to Asheville for the holidays, because we needed to get away from the drudgery of living in a staged house with none of our stuff and having to deal with random showings…we sold our house. Yep. That’s right. We sold our house. I need to say that again so it sinks in. We sold our house. Five months of frustration and when we finally give up and leave town to clear our heads, we sell our house. If I was writing a TV drama that would be a great monkey wrench to throw in to screw with the plot—but I’m blogging our real life adventure. You can’t make this stuff up!

We’re happy (I think), relieved, sad, excited, and pondering what happens now. We watched the movie Up last night. Lots of it hit home with us. “It’s only a house.”

The offer seems solid and is only contingent on an inspection of our house and the buyers closing on their house (in two weeks) that they’ve already sold. Our closing is December 21 but the buyers are willing to let us stay in the house until January 21. Thank You! That will give us assurance that the deal will really happen before we start the ball rolling on moving, signing construction contracts, etc. and will give us time to pack and move.

Since we have that extra time, one option is to just continue on with our plan. We could stay here in Indiana through Thanksgiving then drive down to Asheville to stay through Christmas. While there we could talk to the bank for a construction loan, sign the building contract, find a cardiologist, and take in the Christmas season. If we can find a place for Serena for a couple weeks we could fly back to Seattle in early January, hire movers, pack up, say our goodbyes, then fly east. Another option is to turn the Jeep around and drive back to Seattle—now. Valerie’s not too keen on that idea. Can’t say I am, either. We don’t have to decide, today. We’ll figure it out. In the mean time, we’ll try not to stress and will enjoy Thanksgiving. We have lots to be thankful for.

Mon
16
Nov '09

Mauston, WI, to Fishers, IN

We’re here! 2355 miles. 4 days + 2 half days. 19.4mpg in our gas guzzling Jeep. We lost an hour with the time change and didn’t arrive until 6:15pm. It rained a little but was very, hold-on-to-the-steering-wheel, windy through most of Illinois. We decided not to go through Chicago on I90 and instead went south on I39 then cut over on I74. That may have added a bit of time but eliminated the variable and the stress of driving through Chicago. Instead we saw corn, corn, and more corn which followed the cheese, cheese, and more cheese (signs) in Wisconsin.

American_cheese_jpgFunny thing about that Wisconsin cheese…We had breakfast at the restaurant next to our motel. Valerie ordered a mushroom and cheese omelette with cheddar figuring she’d get some nice local cheese. Nope. It came with a semi-melted slice of orange American processed cheese product on top and the same thing inside. You would think that fake chemical stuff would be illegal in the grate cheese state. Guess not. Mmmm. Mmmm. 

We’re going to get settled in here at Valerie’s sister’s then after our hindquarters have recovered from 6 days in a car go visit the rest of the Himes family. We have no schedule other than heading down to Asheville a day or two after Thanksgiving.

P.S. Our realtors report that the Saturday and Sunday open houses at our house were busy and productive. There was lots of traffic and several interested parties. They’ll be following up with them this week to try and reel them in.

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Fri
6
Nov '09

Eastward Ho!

Wednesday after lunch we are handing the house keys to our realtors and heading east. At least that’s the plan. We’ve tried this before and, well, you can read what happened between the end of August and now. We’re tired and frustrated of not being able to live in our house—keeping it spotless and showing it at a moment’s notice. Five months of “For Sale” and we are at our breaking point. We need to get outa here!

Tomorrow (Saturday) we have FOUR! showings starting at 10:00am. Don’t know what that’s all about, but hey, people are looking and that’s a good thing. Sunday from 1:00-4:00 is an open house so we need to find something to do both days this weekend. Molbak’s Poinsettia Festival begins Saturday and we’ll be there. We may then say “No Showings” until we leave on Wednesday to give us time to pack and to clean the house one last time. You watch, we’ll get ready to leave and someone will make an offer on the house and we’ll have to cancel our trip. At this point, I’d believe anything.

We’ll leave Wednesday afternoon and the first stop is Spokane. I have an appointment with my surgeon Thursday morning. After that we’ll continue heading east with the route and stops determined by the weather. Around the 16th or 17th we’ll arrive in Indiana. We’ll spend a week or so through Thanksgiving with Valerie’s family then after turkey day we’ll drive down to Asheville. Our return date is unknown but we’ll be there at least a couple months. We have tons of work to do on Camp Bell but we plan to enjoy the holidays in Asheville, too. There’s lots new to explore and experience. Can’t wait to see the National Gingerbread House Competition at the Grove Park Inn and Christmas at the Biltmore. Somewhere in there I’ll figure out how to get an out-of-town echocardiogram and maybe our house will sell and we can start building and moving. After the last several months I’ve given up trying to plan things. It’s time for an unplanned, unexpected, positive adventure!

Sat
31
Oct '09

Trick or Treat Day

Today was a trick. We got a call this morning from a real estate agent and scheduled a showing for between 2:00 and 3:00. It has been a few days since the last showing so the house needed a bit more tidying up than normal. Being that I’m on a “can’t lift more than ten pounds” limitation because of my angiogram, Valerie had to do most of the work. It took us about two hours to get everything looking good inside and out and we left the house at 12:30 to go the the Redmond Farmer’s Market (last day of the season), have lunch out, and run a few errands. We got back home at 3:30. There was no sign that an agent had been here. The lock box hadn’t been moved. No business card. No show. No notice. No cancellation. Just Trick or Treat. See my August 18th entry.

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Mon
26
Oct '09

Waving the Magic Wand

The fundamental problem with our house is that it has been advertised as only having three bedrooms – because it only has three “obvious” bedrooms. When buyers and agents search the MLS they select the city/area, a price range, maybe the minimum square footage, then the number of bedrooms they want. No one will select our price or square footage and only three bedrooms. Nearly all houses of our price and size have four bedrooms (or more) so our house never shows up in anyone’s search results. They simply never see it. That’s why we have had such limited traffic.

Shazam! You now have four bedrooms!It was apparently a BIG mistake for us not to put another bedroom and shower in the basement when we finished it off and turned it into a game room/shop/theater. Who knew? I thought the average children per family was now under two. But we’ve gotten feedback that people want a place for their guests. Hey, there’s a Comfort Inn just down the road…

Legally, you can’t advertise a house as having four bedrooms when it only has three. But…the definition of a bedroom is that it has a door, a window, a closet, and that the septic system is rated for that number of bedrooms (ours is rated for four). There is no minimum or maximum size limitation for the room. Wave the magic wand and it sounds to me like our basement could be considered a 4th bedroom, eh?

So…effective at noon today, our house just became a four bedroom house. We changed the verbiage in the description to say that the “lower level can be used as a 4th/Guest Bedroom” and with a full-price offer we will give the buyer $5000 to add accordion doors (location tbd) and a shower so that the basement could truly be a guest suite or the ultimate teenager’s pad. Our agents may be getting a divorce over the decision (Michael okayed it but Dana is still shaking her head) and there may be some pissed off agents when they show the house and look for the 4th bedroom, but so what? We meet the legal definition and we are upfront in the MLS description. Hopefully, this will get us more traffic and some potential buyer may think it’s a great idea to have guests stay in the basement and not waste the space for an extra, normally unused, bedroom. We’ll soon know.

P.S. We just got a call, five hours after the change, that we have a showing tomorrow at 10am.

Wed
21
Oct '09

Let’s Play, “Deal or No Deal”

Before the contract made it back around for initials (deleting the card table and altering how the allowance for adding a shower and a fireplace would be paid) the “minivan” family decided to walk away from the deal. I can’t reveal their reason on a public blog but I can say that from day-one my “flaky flag” was up. I had a sixth sense over this and told Valerie and our realtors that I wasn’t getting my hopes up because it just didn’t smell right. In a previous post I said something about there being “more to the story” than I could publicly comment on. That’s what I was referring to. I don’t mean “flaky” in a bad (wacko) way, just in an unreliable, erratic, unpredictable way. Turns out I was, unfortunately, correct. No Deal.

So, we’re back to square one. The showings will continue for now. Argh. We need to decide if we can afford to lower the price (no) and try to keep selling or give up this whole relocation idea. Maybe our densitydestiny is really to stay here. Either way, we need to go to Asheville for a couple months to work on Camp Bell. That will probably happen in early November if I get the okay from Dr. Maidan for travel/driving.

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Tue
20
Oct '09

Did I Say “No More Showings”?

We aren’t finalized on the contract, yet. We needed to make some adjustments to a couple pages and everyone needs to sign again. We are also going back-and-forth (actually it’s a non-issue in my mind) over them wanting us to throw in the card table. Not happening. One, we’ve given too much, already. It’s not a cheap table. Two, it’s our Y2K Party card table. Besides breaking it in for New Years 2000, we’ve had lots of great times playing cards and games on it since then. We want to continue the tradition in Asheville. Third, it’s a piece of furniture, it’s not attached to the house. The most recent version of the contract, which they now have in their possession to sign, does not have the card table included.

Last night at 7:15 our realtor calls us and asks if we could show the house. Huh? What? Apparently the “minivan family” is borrowing some $$ from relatives and they wanted to see what they were buying. So, we had to do the production number one more time. Sorry, we didn’t vacuum. We were out by 7:45 and back home by 9:30. Our realtor said the family was happy with the house and was even taking measurements of rooms. Sign. Sign. Sign. Dagnabbit. And, no, you don’t get the card table.

P.S. They have explicitly said that they don’t want the pool table.

Sat
17
Oct '09

Just Hold Your Nose and Sign It

We got an offer on our house last night from the “minivan family” (see yesterday’s blog) and we signed it. We did wait until this evening after we heard from the folks who looked at our house at 4:00. They said our house “wasn’t for them” so the decision was easy. Assuming the loan goes through and there aren’t any issues, closing is scheduled for November 25 (the day before Thanksgiving and Valerie’s birthday) or before.

Although I held my nose when I signed, it does mean that WE NO LONGER HAVE TO SHOW THE HOUSE! It also means that the next 4 weeks will be CRAZY getting ready to move.

I talked to our builder in Asheville and he’s finishing a house now and will be building a garage for his daughter next. Our architect needs to finish our plans and get them to the City for permit and I need to talk to an Asheville bank about a construction loan. Luckily mortgage interest rates are still at all-time lows and it was a very quiet hurricane season so building material prices haven’t risen since our July construction quotes. All this points to a potential construction start date the first of the year.

As for moving…we have two quotes in hand. I’ll probably go with Mayflower and will call them on Monday to see when we can get on their schedule. It also means that we have tons of stuff (furniture, generator, compressor, etc) to sell. We’ll start taking pictures and posting items on Craigslist ASAP. Does anyone need a couple old portable color TV’s that aren’t digital-ready? I didn’t think so.

If this post seems a bit glum, it is. After the foul odor from the contract wears off I’ll be okay. Valerie’s trying to put it in perspective for me saying how many people out there would be thrilled to sell their house in four months and make the profit we did in this down market. She’s right, but it still hurts. Ah, we’ll try to make up some of the $$ by putting lots of lipstick on Camp Bell before we list it for sale. It’s all good.

Fri
16
Oct '09

“My Density Has Brought Me To You”

From the movie, “Back to the Future”

George McFly:    Lorraine, my density has brought me to you.
Lorraine Baines: What?
George McFly:    Oh, what I meant to say was...
Lorraine Baines: Wait a minute, don't I know you from somewhere?
George McFly:    Yes. Yes. I'm George, George McFly. I'm your density. I mean... your destiny.

Valerie is a big believer in density destiny. For example, she believes that we weren’t able to sell our house this summer because we were supposed to still be here in Woodinville for my annual heart checkup so that my heart problem would be discovered here, instead of in Asheville, and it could be fixed by one of the best valve repair surgeons in the country, conveniently located in Spokane.

If you follow that belief then it would make sense that a family just happened to drive by our house on Tuesday, grab a flyer (I think there was only one left in the box), like what they saw, return on Wednesday for another look, call our agent from the street and just happen to catch us coming back from walking Serena so that we could clean the house for an immediate showing (and me being recovered enough to help a bit), have them really like the house, have them come back for another 90 minute showing on Thursday night and be meeting with our agents tonight to possibly put together an offer to buy our house and maybe close in 5 weeks on Valerie’s birthday. Whew!

Lots can happen and there’s more to the story than I can post on a public blog, but maybe she’s right…maybe George McFly was right! “My Density Has Brought Me To You.”

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Thu
15
Oct '09

My First Post-Op Sweat!

I worked up my first post-op sweat yesterday and it had nothing to do with my exercise plan. We had a house showing and had to get the house ready in 15 minutes. We had just gotten home from our walk at Marymoor and noticed a minivan parked in the street out front. Just after we got in the house the phone rang. It was our agent asking if he could show the house. There was someone out front (in the minivan) who was very interested and wanted to see it. He was on his way from his office to our house and would arrive in 15 minutes. Hmmm. I had heart surgery two weeks ago, Valerie is in the shower, the house has been lived in for a few days since the last showing. Sure, why not?

We managed to do everything on our checklist except vacuum and sweep and were able to back out of the driveway in exactly 15 minutes just after our agent arrived. I was sweating but my pulse never got over 110, I promise! They were at the house for over an hour. That’s a good sign. To fill the time we made an overdue Costco trip. Needless to say, I got in a lot of walking.

Our agent reported that they like our house and want to come back tonight at 7:30 with their kids for another look. Based on previous ups and downs and hot leads that went cold, I’m not getting my hopes up, but we’ll see. I was thinking of maybe being in Asheville for the holidays anyway…

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Wed
26
Aug '09

Curveball

Here are a few other titles for this post: 

“Say What?”
“Just when you thought it was safe”
“Houston, we have a problem”
“Whoda Thunk?”
“Not so fast”
“Wow, I didn’t see that coming”
“WTF?”
“You can’t always get what to wa-ant” (apologies to the Rolling Stones)
“What a mess”
“What now?”
“You’re serious?”
“The best laid plans of mice and men so often go astray”
“We were going to stop in Spokane, anyway”
“It’s only heart surgery”

Are you sitting down? The short story is that our cross-country driving trip is off and instead I’m going to have heart surgery ASAP in Spokane. No joke.

First a bit of background. When I was 24 and living in Johnson City, TN, I went for my first real physical outside of little Edinburg, PA. The doctor comes in, does his pleasantries, puts his stethoscope on my chest, listens, listens again, moves it around, says “hmmm,” listens some more, stands back and says, “do you know you have a heart murmur?” Never had a clue. He then asks if I would mind if his interns could listen because “it’s pretty pronounced.” A few minutes later in walk several interns, same age as me, who proceed to listen to my chest as the doctor explains what they should listen for. Fast forward to nearly every visit with a new doctor I’ve had since. Same scenario, though not always with interns. I’m told it’s nothing to worry about, that it sounds like a leaky Mitral Valve, that 5% of the people have it, and since I’m not having any symptoms (shortness of breath, dizziness, etc) that I’m fine.

Now, on a parallel track I’ve also had marginally high blood pressure — 140/90ish. I’ve never done anything for it. Doctors have always said to watch it and if it ever got higher we’d address it. Three years ago it started to creep up to 150/95ish and I had a couple instances of heart palpitation. Two years ago I went for a physical. After the nurse took my BP and the doctor (and a couple interns) listened to my heart he told me that I needed to see a cardiologist, that my high BP, my murmur, and my palpitations were likely related. Valerie had been trying to get me to go for a while so this was the push I needed.

I month later I go see a cardiologist, Rubin Maidan. After a short listen to my heart he schedules me for a stress test, electrocardiogram (EKC), and an echocardiogram. A week later I’m on the table, and on the treadmill, and on the table again while the doctor and his technician watch the EKG and the images of my heart on the screen in normal and stressed conditions. The diagnosis: MVP (Mitral Valve Prolapse with regurgitation), a very leaky mitral valve with maybe 30% regurgitation and an enlarged heart. Translation: the heart valve between the left atrium and left ventricle goes past its normal closed position and 30% of the blood flows back through. My heart has to work harder to compensate so it’s enlarging and my blood pressure is increasing. My enlarged heart is also stretching out the electrical pathways and that could be causing my occasional atrial fibrillation (A-fib). Several times during the test they ask me if I have any shortness of breath or light headedness. Nope. I do my 12 minutes on the treadmill no problem. Pretty good for a guy whose heart is only operating at 70%. I’m now on a yearly test schedule to see if my heart gets worse over time.

Last summer I have the test again. Over the previous 12 months I logged 5 instances of A-fib. The doctor thinks that’s acceptable — but if they go longer than 24 hours, I need to go to the ER. My heart looks unchanged. Blood pressure is down a bit. That’s good and is probably due to me walking every day and taking Lycopene. I will probably, eventually, maybe need to get the valve fixed in my lifetime, but for now it’s unchanged. Come back next year.

Over the last year I’ve only had 3 episodes of A-fib, though one was nearly 24 hours (see 20th Anniversary). My blood pressure is great at 120/70ish. I feel fine. I briskly walk with Serena at least 45 minutes a day. Last week we hiked around Cougar Mountain. Did I mention that I feel fine? Today’s test should be routine. Valerie didn’t come because I was so sure I was fine. We leave on Sunday for our 6+ week roadtrip to Asheville. Ha Ha Ha. Curveball.

The technician, the same one I’ve had the last two times, isn’t her usual chatty self. While she’s doing the ultrasound she asks me repeatedly if I’m ever short of breath or dizzy. Nope. I ask her what she sees (as we know, she’s not allowed to say). She says that she needs to go outside to log her measurements, get the doctor, and that she’ll be right back. They come in and Dr. Maidan asks me if I’m ever short of breath or dizzy. No, again. He and the tech peer over the screen and start talking medicaleeze. I hear “maxed out”, “new jet”, “increase over last year by a centimeter.” Hmmm. I get on the treadmill and begin to walk. Every minute or so it increases in speed and elevation so that by 10 minutes I’m jogging up hill at a pretty good clip. The goal is 12 minutes — which I easily did the last two years. As the minutes tick by I’m doing fine. The doctor comes in and out. I can carry on a (slightly winded) conversation. The nurse takes my BP three times. It’s fine. My heart rate hits 186 at 12 minutes and the technician reminds me that I did 12 minutes last year and wants to know if I want to try for more. At this point I think I have an idea where things are going, I need to man up and prove that I’m healthy, so I say “sure, lets go” and I run full out, up hill, for another minute and a half. Then I quickly jump off the treadmill onto the exam table where she does an ultrasound of my stressed heart.

Dr. Maiden comes back in to look at the screen where the tech has placed non-stressed and stressed images of my heart. There are two view angles for each and they are running in an endless loop of a few beats. He toggles between that view and one with color doppler (think weather radar) that shows blood flow direction, red one way and blue the other. After a minute or so he swivels the stool around, clasps his hands, looks me in the eye and says, “I’m sorry, but it’s time. You need to have your valve fixed. Your heart has enlarge 1cm over the last year. It’s now the same size at rest as it is when stressed. A second  area of regurgitation has formed because the original one has maxed out. I recommend doing this sooner than later. One year would be too long, six months too long, three months max, one month better.” Yikes! 

We discuss the fact that I feel fine. That I can do 13+ minutes on the treadmill. He tells me that most patients with my level of valve failure can’t climb a flight of stairs. My heart is compensating but it’s reached the point where it can’t compensate any more. And, my lower blood pressure may be the result of my heart not being able to keep up. It’s possible, after I get the valve fixed, that I’ll have high blood pressure again.

We talk about the valve repair surgery. He recommends getting it done in Spokane. A Dr. Leland Siwek there does it robotically through 4 dime-sized incisions. He’s done several hundred repairs this way. In hicksville Seattle they still do it the old fashioned way by sawing and cracking your chest open. Apparently, Dr. Siwek is pretty well know for this surgery. Dr. Maiden will send my info to Dr. Siwek. I need to schedule an angiogram to get a detailed map of my heart. And, I may need additional tests, but we need to hear from Dr. Siwek to see if he wants them.

So, I don’t know when this will all happen. But, it will happen soon, probably in September. We, obviously aren’t leaving on our road trip to Asheville on Sunday. We don’t know what this means for selling our house. It does mean that no matter what we won’t start construction this fall — but that wasn’t happening until we sell the house, anyway. It’s all quite the Curveball.

More coming as I learn it.

P.S. Here’s a video that talks all about the valve problem and the robotic surgery.

P.S.S. Another video from Cleveland Clinic about mitral valve repair using robotics.

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Sat
22
Aug '09

Road Trip!

We’ve set a date to begin our cross-country adventure — Sunday, August 30. The plan is to go from Woodinville to Martinsville (IN) to Edinburg (PA) to Asheville while on the way visiting Yellowstone, Mt. RushmoreBadlands, and the Corn Palace. Once in Asheville, we’ll probably stay through the mid-October leaf change. (Yep, that’s right, over 6 weeks!) What the heck, we could use an adventure! It’ll give me an opportunity to be outside of my comfort zone. Valerie? She’s ready to go—yesterday. Serena? “Ride? Ride? Did someone say Ride?”

 

If the house sells while we’re gone, we’ll drive or fly back to pack it up and move out. If it doesn’t sell, we’ll gussie up Camp Bell and put it on the market, pack up our stuff to move, then drive back. We don’t know what will happen but we’ll take that road when we get to it. Ha Ha, Get it? Take that road…

I had originally planned to make it a 4-day, 3-night, drive from here to Indiana but was swayed to appreciate the journey rather than the destination so we’re going to take extra time to see a few of the sights along the way. Rather than take the shorter northern route through Montana and North Dakota (nothing to see there) we’re going to drop south and drive through Yellowstone. From there we’ll pick up I-90 and head east through the Black Hills where Mt. Rushmore is. Further east in South Dakota is Badlands National Park. We can drop off of I-90, drive through the park, then pop back onto I-90 again. Further east in Mitchell, South Dakota, is the Corn Palace. Saundra’s in-laws said that if we’re going by, we should stop. It’s a huge building decorated each year with murals made from over 275,000 ears of corn in 13 different varieties and colors. If we have time we’ll also check out the largest ball of twineRock City, and Wally World J.

We’re making our “Do it before we leave” and “Take it with us” lists. Those require some thought for a 6+ week trip. It’ll be a busy week then next Sunday, the road trip begins. Wally World here we come!

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Tue
18
Aug '09

(Some) Real Estate Agents are Rude, Inconsiderate, A-Holes!

If you’ve been following our blog you know how much work we’ve done to prep our house and to stage it for show. When we get a call from an agent asking to show our house we have a checklist of things to do to get it ready. If we haven’t had a showing for a few days that checklist is a bit longer and takes more time to complete because we have to vacuum the carpets, sweep the decks, put away more stuff, etc. Typically we’re given a window of about an hour when the agent expects to be here so once the house is show-ready we need to disappear for about two hours – 30 minutes on each side of that window. That might mean a trip to the dog park or to the local restaurant with outdoor seating so that we can take Serena. Sum total, we need to stop our life for three+ hours. That’s okay, we want to sell the house, so we’ll do what it takes to help make it happen.

However…

We’ve had three showings this week (that’s a good thing!) but one was late, one was a complete no show, and last night’s showing was an hour late! No calls, no apologies, just rudeness. Now, our data point for a buyer’s agent is Shelle, our EXCELLENT agent in North Carolina. We spent several days with her looking at dozens of houses. She had each day planned out with a driving route and a schedule. If we began to run early or late she worked the phone to check if the adjusted times were okay with the sellers. Sometimes she fit in extra houses or stopped for a snack to get us back on schedule. She was courteous, considerate, and completely understanding of what the sellers were going through and trying not to inconvenience them. Not so, here, with these bozos. Imagine doing all the prep, leaving the house, coming back two hours later and finding that the agent wasn’t even there!

Yesterday we spent the afternoon hiking Cougar Mountain. While there we got a call from an agent wanting to show the house between 6:00 and 7:00. We had completely staged the house before we left because we were going to be gone all day. Cool. The house would be ready. We got home around 4:30, a bit tired from the hike. We didn’t touch anything. Man we needed showers. Valerie made brownies to make the house smell good. Since we had time we dusted and swept a bit more. At 5:45 we left the house and went to Canyon’s to sit outside and have chips and beer. We blew two hours and got home at 7:45 — allowing enough time in case they got there at 7:00 and took a while to look at the house.

Lately I’ve been setting the keybox in a known position so I can tell if it’s been used. The box was untouched! They weren’t here! Another no show! After some cussing and swearing I begin un-prepping the house and Valerie goes upstairs to take a shower. It’s now 8:00. I realize that I have the agent’s number in my cell phone and decide to call her up and ask ”What the hell!?” I get her voicemail and leave a message. Five minutes later she calls back and says, “We’re running really late but we’re just around the corner and will be there in a couple minutes.” At that moment Valerie is coming down the stairs, hair dripping wet, carrying a load of laundry. I’m thinking “You rude, inconsiderate, a-hole. You couldn’t have called and told me that?” But, since she’s representing a potential buyer I instead politely say, “Gee. We just got home. Can you give use ten minutes?” We undo all our un-prepping, re-prep, jump in the car, and as we back out of the driveway, they pull in. This time, we drive around Woodinville for 30 minutes. We get back to the house at 8:45. They’re gone. A short visit means they probably aren’t interested. Valerie un-preps the house and I take a shower. Our agents will call her to find out what they thought of the house. I’m not allowed to call her and that’s probably a good thing.

It’s two weeks until we leave town. Then all those agents can be late or not show up all they want. We won’t care.

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Sun
16
Aug '09

It’s a Fine Line Between a Showing and a Viewing

I was typing up an email to our Realtors to let them know we had a couple showings this week. It was early and my brain wasn’t 100% and instead of using the word “showing” I used the word “viewing” as in “We had a viewing at the house, yesterday.” 

Gotta love the subtlties of the English language. Showing. Viewing. They’re so similar and innocent by themselves. But, when used in a sentence, one word means that people came to look at your house. The other word means that people came to look at a dead body at your house. How did that ever come to be? I did catch the error and corrected it before sending the email. I wonder if they would have noticed?

P.S. We did have two showings this week. We haven’t gotten feedback from them yet.

Mon
10
Aug '09

A Man, a Plan, a Canal, Panama

“A Man, a plan, a canal, Panama” is a cute little palindrome (spells the same thing forwards and backwards) that I remember from my childhood. It’s appropriate, today, because we now have a plan that covers either going forward, moving to Asheville and building our dream home, or going backward, moving our stuff at Camp Bell back to Woodinville and living happily ever after.

Last Thursday we lowered the price of our house 5% and held open houses Saturday and Sunday. Three couples came by on Saturday and two couples on Sunday. That’s better than zero couples, but not by much. One couple was here for over an hour and had mild interest though the wife didn’t like that our master bedroom doesn’t have a soaking tub. Our agent, Dana, said she tried to sell the steam shower (steam, hand spray, overhead rainshower, body jets, and two seats) but wasn’t sure if the wife was sold. We also continue to be vexed because we only have three bedrooms.  We need to find that childless couple, the family with only one kid, or the family with two kids and no out-of-town relatives.

So, what’s the plan? On or about September 1, we (and that includes Serena) will be taking a cross-country road trip to Asheville by way of Indiana and Pennsylvania. We’ll visit family then head to Camp Bell and spend several weeks painting and repairing our fixer-upper. We have to do that work whether we live in it for a year or sell it immediately, so we might as well do it now. Meanwhile, back in Woodinville, we’ll keep the price of our house where it’s at and give our Realtors until September 30 to sell it. If it sells, we’ll fly back to Seattle, pack up our stuff, and move it to Asheville. If it doesn’t sell, we’ll pack up Camp Bell, drive back to Seattle, put Camp Bell and the property up for sale, AND NEVER EVER CONTEMPLATE BUILDING OR MOVING EVER EVER AGAIN!

Why the deadline? Well, once a house is on the market for more than a few weeks at the same price it becomes stale. All the people in the buying pool who may have been interested have looked at it—and decided that they don’t want it. The only potential for selling is by having a new buyer enter the pool or by lowering the price. The former is slim pickin’s and the latter, well, we are already below my pain threshold on price so we aren’t going any lower. Our house couldn’t be built for what it’s selling for. With several houses in our price range having been on the market for over a year, the prospects aren’t good. If our house doesn’t sell by September 30, it’s not going to sell. If it doesn’t sell, we can’t build a house in Asheville.

Bottom line…Our Architect is on hold and will not finalize the plans or take it to permit. Our selected Builder has been told not to wait for us and to proceed with building other houses, that if/when we’re ready to build we’ll get in line. And, we’ll prepare for a cross country road trip and for mothballing our house for the month of September.

Now I need to work on a palindrome with Asheville and Woodinville in it. Hmmm.

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Mon
3
Aug '09

Who is this “No One” Everyone is Talking About?

In the last ten months, in our zip code, at our house’s price point ($75K below and $25K above) there has been exactly ONE house sold.  There are currently eighteen other “similar” houses for sale.  In real estate terms that means there is a 190 month supply — in theory, at the current sell rate, if nothing changes, it will take 16 years to sell all these houses. That sounds crazy, but I believe it since no one is looking at our house. If no one is looking at it, no one is going to buy it. I sure would like to meet Mr. or Mrs. No One and make a deal!

If you’ve done everything you can to sell your house and it hasn’t sold in two months, how do you make your house the next one sold so that you don’t have to wait 16 years? You lower your price so that it’s the best deal out there among all those other eighteen houses. And if that doesn’t work in a couple weeks (and it’ll be obvious by how many people come by, or don’t come by, to look at it) you declare defeat.

That’s the plan. New price on Thursday. Open house Saturday and Sunday. We’ll give it until the end of August. If it doesn’t sell we’ll try to unwind this adventure in moving and I’ll learn to appreciate what I have (Valerie already does).

P.S. We selected a builder, but we’ll postpone signing or not signing a contract until the end of August.

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Fri
31
Jul '09

Sittin’ on the Lawn at Chateau Ste Michelle

We’ll be at Chateau Ste Michelle Saturday and Sunday for the KWJZ Music Festival. Serena will be at Annemarie’s for doggie summer camp. The weather is supposed to be perfect – sunny and mid 80′s. Let the wine and jazz flow!

The house will be prepped and waiting in case someone, anyone, please, wants to look at it.

Big decisions to be announced next week. Stay tuned…and pass the wine!

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Wed
22
Jul '09

Should We Stay or Should We Go?

After our meeting today with our Realtors, Michael and Dana, I’m mumbling the 1981 Clash song, Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Should I stay or should I go now?
Should I stay or should I go now?
If I go there will be trouble
And if I stay it will be double
So you gotta let me know
Should I stay or should I go?

They think that in order to sell our house we need to drop the price at least $50,000, maybe $75,000. That would put it on par with other three bedroom, two car garage, houses. As I said in a previous post, the game room, workshop, etc and all the upgrades and extra square footage are worth zero. Lowering the price this much will bring in another group of potential buyers. And, it may entice someone to look and maybe buy because it will be perceived as a great bargain. Alternately we could leave it where it’s at and maybe, hopefully, someone will be interested enough to buy it. But, given that the open houses are only yielding a couple lookers and we’ve only had three showings, that doesn’t seem promising. And, if the market keeps going down we would need to keep lowering the price, anyway. Every real estate guru will tell you that you need to be ahead of the market, not behind it, or you will never sell.

That little issue, coupled with the fact that our construction bids are higher than we planned, means that this relocation idea is no longer viable. Originally, I wanted the move to be a wash. Now it’s far from it. As I told Valerie, we can buy a whole lot of walk-up-to-the-counter, emergency, airline tickets to IND or PIT for what it will now cost us to move.

We’ve tossed around the idea of moving to Camp Bell for a few weeks to fix it up and then putting it on the market. I think we can get out of it for even or close to even. It’s a nice little house in a great subdivision. We move our stuff back, thank our architect, and then sit on the lot or try to sell it for a loss. Chalk it up to a bad decision. Woodinville is a nice place. Maybe someone is telling us the answer to Should We Stay or Should We Go Now?

Sun
19
Jul '09

What if We Held an Open House and No One Came?

The report from our Realtors who held our 5th open house (4 public and 1 broker) today was that only two couples and one neighbor came through. Ouch. We scheduled a meeting with them for Wednesday to strategize. Michael hinted that we need a SERIOUS price reduction to get people interested. The problem is that we only have three bedrooms and a two car garage. The finished basement and the 4300sf doesn’t matter a bit. It’s worth zero. People want expect four bedrooms and a three car garage at our price. He’s going to suggest that we lower our price so that people will overlook those “problems” or that our price will be similar to other three bedroom and two car garage houses. Argh.

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Sat
11
Jul '09

Run, Run for Your Lives!

We’ve all seen the movies where someone is desperately trying to leave their house (or boat or spaceship) and as they run towards the door their surroundings start to collapse around them. The roof caves in, the doors don’t open, holes form in the floor, the lights go out. As they run faster the destruction gets worse. You don’t think they’ll make it and then finally, finally, they burst through the door to the outside. They scramble to a safe distance, turn around, and watch as everything falls in on itself in one tremendous kaboom.

Last night I turned on our eight-year-old 52″ HDTV (you know where this is going). We had planned to sell this TV with the house because it fits perfectly in the family room’s custom built-in shelves. It might be difficult for the new owner to find a flat-screen TV to fit in the same hole so we thought it best to just leave it. They can consider it a gift from the Pattons. Ten minutes into Good Eats I look up and, poof, the blue (of red, green, and blue) shrinks in about 6″ from the right side rendering a picture that looks like a 3-D movie without having 3-D glasses on. Change the channels. Same problem. Switch inputs. Nadda. Power cycle. No fixie. Crap.

I don’t believe that you can will bad luck upon yourself but lately I’ve been thinking…”Hmmm, that TV is eight years old. It’s been on a lot. I sure hope it makes it through the house sale ’cause it fits well in those shelves and I don’t want to move it or sell it—or HAVE TO FIX IT.” Three months ago our clothes dryer died. We now have a new one that will transfer to the future owner.

Anyway, in high school and college I used to repair TVs. I’m also Imaging Science Foundation certified. And, just a couple years ago I fixed Al’s TV that had the exact same problem. It’s very likely one of the convergence ICs. (Convergence is the TV term for lining up, or converging, the red, green, and blue electron beams to form a dot on the screen’s phosphor.) There are two Integrated Circuits in most big-screen TVs that perform the convergence. They run hot and, as I’ve learned, it’s not uncommon for them to burn out.

If you call a TV guy to fix this problem it would be a $400-$500 job because he’d replace the entire convergence assembly. But, you can buy just the chip on ebay for $6+shipping. And, in this case, there’s one available just down the street. When I fixed Al’s TV we ordered two. He only needed one. He has since sold the TV and still has the extra chip. Time to break out the soldering iron.

My “U Can’t Touch This” mantra now applies to anything mechanical or electrical because it might break! Gotta sell this place and move out before the roof falls in!

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