The Real Estate Waiting Game

And it’s happening: Fancy Pants Ranch is on the market.

A little background: when Spouse and I were first married – nearly 19 years ago – we lived in an outdated 600 square foot apartment that we jokingly dubbed “Fancy Pants Ranch.”

The name stuck with every place we’ve lived since.

(For my birthday a year or two ago, Spouse had this logo created through an online contest for graphic designers. There were hundreds of entries but this is the one we selected as the winner).

We’ve been in the current iteration of Fancy Pants Ranch since 2008. When we moved to this city, we planned to be here three years (which morphed into nine) and then move on. We’re finally getting around to that plan.

Our house buying process in 2008 was hurried. We needed a place to live. This house was available. It was a new spec house built by a local contractor. After being burned in the past by long, traffick-y commutes (Hello, San Antonio!) and a decrepit old house that was beyond repair (our first stab at home ownership, a tiny brick cottage in Denver, CO, that we owned from 2002-2005), we wanted proximity to work and something new, new, new. 

This fit the bill. Mostly.

For one thing, this house is not really our style. Spouse and I like modern. This is traditional.

Still, we stayed. We have great neighbors. There wasn’t a compelling reason to move to another house in the same city. We’re fundamentally lazy, and let’s face it, moving is a pretty awful process.

But now it’s time to go.

We started by meeting with a realtor about two weeks ago. This was a different realtor than the one who sold us the house in 2008, and that was by choice. We thought our original realtor was nice and did a good job at the time of purchase, but looking back, there were warning signs. For one thing, she drove an old Buick. I don’t know much about being a realtor – and I would love to have realtors chime in – but my cursory study seems to suggest that having a flashy car is important to project success, especially when you spend a lot of time driving clients around in it. Our new realtor has shown up in two different Mercedes on the two visits she’s made to our house. That seems optimistic.

During her first visit, our new realtor informed us that the real estate market is on fire for sellers, we should have already listed our home two weeks ago, and she predicted it would sell for full price in one day.

Then came the pain: we needed to replace several windows ($26,000), and refinish several others ($1800), repaint several rooms ($1000), clean the carpets ($350), buy a new dishwasher ($700), buy a new dryer ($500), mitigate radon (unsure of price tag at this point, and side note: is this a new scam? I swear it is), do some electrical work (price unknown), do some yard work ($2500), find a dog sitter ($20/day), and declutter/deep clean/pack and organize to within an inch of our lives. 

(A word about the window situation, which is really the most disappointing thing: apparently there is a common, well-known problem with houses similar in age to ours, namely that the windows can collect moisture and rot the wood. Our new realtor told us that we narrowly missed the warranty period for the windows – and we are talking either a matter of a few months or possibly even weeks – that may have let us replace them for free. She told us that our original realtor should have clearly informed us about the warranties, etc, which is something we never knew about. This $26,000 oversight is one of the reasons we are not using the original realtor again. Huge sigh).

We were also given a deadline of a little over a week to get things in order. We worked like crazy, hiring painters, carpet cleaners, a home inspector, junk haulers and had two of our college aged nephews over for a weekend of packing and organizing.

We got it done.

The master bedroom closet alone required about 10 hours of sorting, eight plastic totes of clothes and shoes placed in storage, three bags of garbage and two trips worth of donations to Goodwill. 

And here’s what happened: nothing.

The day the listing went live (last Wednesday), I held my breath. Before we left for work, Spouse and I both got sweaty getting everything to the immaculate state that a showing required.

When none materialized, I thought that a weekend sale seemed likely. Friday rolled around. No showings. Saturday dawned. We re-scrubbed and rubbed and prepped the place to perfection, then took the whole crew – dog included – to my mom’s lake place for the weekend, because surely, many interested buyers would be stopping by.

<<< Crickets. >>>

Finally on Sunday afternoon, we got two requests for showings. Both were inconveniently late in the day, but we accepted the times without question and pushed back our return home. The first showing was with our own realtor, showing the house to another client. The second was with a different agency.

On Monday, we had another showing during the day.

<<< More crickets. >>>

On Tuesday, our realtor said that she wanted to have an open house this weekend. We agreed.

We also received feedback that one buyer from Sunday (the one from the other agency) was considering several other houses. The Monday showing said that they were not interested, and that both the husband and wife commented that our master bedroom lacked natural light. Funnily enough (well, actually not funny), Spouse and I had recently had a similar conversation, that this house is too dark. But it’s that old situation where you can complain about something that is uniquely yours (like your family), but when an outsider does it, it stings and makes you defensive.

Here’s where I’m at with this situation right now:

  • Against my better judgment, a big part of me really believed the realtor when she said that the house would sell ASAP. That might sound ridiculous, but I had hope. It made me reflect on the long odds that some of my patients face in trying to build their families, and I thought about something I’ve said to patients many times:

As humans, we need hope to survive. Hope is what keeps us getting out of bed in the morning. Hope keeps us going when times are tough, because eventually we will most likely succeed if we keep moving forward.

And now I desperately need to take my own advice.

  • I can’t believe how much we got done in such short order. Wow. A week – and many extra hands – can work miracles. Everyone should do a mini version of this process every year. Is that what other people describe as spring cleaning? I wouldn’t know.
  • Selling a house is surprisingly expensive. If you’ve been keeping a tally, we’ve spent more than $30,000 to get the house ready. This unplanned expenditure, in the midst of all of the other expenses and challenges we are currently facing, is unwelcome.
  • I’m already sick of the buying and selling process. Like so many things in my life, it’s been humbling. Life lessons always seem to come to me in the not-easiest path.
  • When we move, we are NOT buying a house. I don’t want to feel the pressure to Just Buy NOW that we experienced when we came here. We want to take our time and get it right, even though that means living in a rental for a year or more. And if living in a rental means that I don’t have to wake up 45 minutes early each day to get it in pristine, model-home condition, all the better.

Please wish us luck in selling the Ranch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “The Real Estate Waiting Game

  1. The house looks gorgeous! What an amazing job you did with the sort/pack/purge. We are not planning to move but you inspire me to think about tackling our to do list. May as well do it for ourselves to enjoy it, right? But it seems like a lot of work . . . .

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