Wednesday, February 11

an offer you can't refuse

When we decided to sell the house -  I knew I wanted to avoid being on the market for a long time.  As you probably could tell from my last post, the frenzy of showings and the loosey-goosey of it all was starting to get to me.

Through this whole process, I've had to let go of a lot of my routine.  I like routine, I like planning, and I love knowing what's happening and when.  With this -  there was no knowing.  We didn't know about showings until the day of (most of the time, with a few exceptions).  We didn't know if people liked the house, or how it went (until later.. if we got feedback).  We didn't know how long we'd be on the market, living in limbo.  We just had no idea...

.. it drove me crazy.  But I had to just take a deep breath, and trust.  Trust we'd get enough notice to get the house clean.  Trust that we'd sell eventually.  And trust that the limbo was worth it.

Our experience is nothing compared to what many people selling their homes go through.  I can't imagine living in limbo for months.. keeping your home show-ready for weeks on end.  I think a lot of what we did do differently (moving most of our personal items out and hiring an amazing Realtor - and her team) was worth it to get our house on the market and seen by the right people.

We did get some negative feedback, and it's hard.  It's hard to hear anything critical because it's your home.  We worked hard to turn our little rag-tag place into the nest we loved.  We're proud of it.. and it's easy to get your feelings hurt when someone nitpicks or just plain doesn't like it.

But one of the first things our Realtor said, and one of the hardest for most homeowners who are selling to do, is to try to keep emotion out of it.  We tried to.

But after 25 days on the market.. we couldn't keep our emotions at bay.  After a crazy Saturday filled with chaos, particle board, and a last minute tour - the very next day -  Super Bowl Sunday -
we got an offer!!

We.  Were.  Thrilled!  
We were excited, nervous, anxious, and dance-around-the-kitchen happy.   It was a glass bottle coke occasion.  We toasted, we laughed, we were a little sentimental.

It's been a few weeks, and we're finding out the answer to "what do we do now?" and "what's next?"  More on that soon.. but for now, we just continue to count down the days until closing.  It's not official until the papers are signed and check is in hand!

Friday, February 6

feeling showy

I love and dread a call from the realtor.  Usually when they call me -  they are scheduling a showing, which is awesome news!  It's a step towards a sale, an opportunity for someone to fall in love with our nest, and a chance for us to get a teeny bit closer to our dream home.

But -  that phone call also sets into motion a frenzy like no other.  Sometimes, it's scheduling same day -  sometimes a few days in advance, and sometimes we have about 30 minutes to get ready for a showing.

I knew that part of selling our home would require a level of clean that is far above our natural operating state.  I don't know many people who can avoid a rogue dish in the sink, sock on the floor, or cat litter and toys scattered throughout.  For us, we have been living in a weird state of being both in our home, and acting as if it's on display for the past few weeks.

We've survived the first month -  barely!  But I wanted to share what all we do to prepare for a showing, both in the long term and in the frenetic few minutes before leaving our doors unlocked and fingers crossed.

Long Term:

  • Pack up as much as you can.  Clean out the cabinets, closets, nooks and crannies. Seriously!  Live with the bare minimum.  I'm still thinking of things I could have packed and hidden away.  
  • Organize your closets.  I splurged on some velvet slim-line hangers after Christmas and it makes our closet look SO much bigger!  It also helps to put all off-season or infrequently worn clothes away. (But don't forget to leave some infrequently worn clothes - like dresses for nice nights out, or ties for special occasions, etc. in the closet.  I've been close to needing to dig in the storage building for proper attire.)
  • Plan ahead with spaces to stash everything -  we have a basket in the living room, drawers in the bedroom, moving boxes in closets to hide things in.  
  • Keep pet kennels/crates accessible.  Ours stay in the living room for a quick kitten exit!
  • Remember that buyers will want to look in cabinets or under counters.  They will be nosy!  Hide the personal, embarrassing items in a spot that would be rude to look (dresser drawers or closed containers).
  • Eliminate as many of the personal items from shelves and furniture as possible.  This will help streamline dusting and last minute clean-up.
  • If appliances are coming with the house, make sure they are as empty as possible (except the fridge.. we all gotta eat!) and try to give them a good deep clean.  
  • This includes the washer and dryer -  our first few showings I just stashed dirty laundry in there.  Now, it goes with me when I leave the house.  Weird, yes.. but not as weird as potential buyers opening the washer and getting a glimpse of our underthings and whiff of our stinky socks.
  • Invest in a swiffer, good vacuum, and cleaning supplies that smell clean or fresh.  Nothing floral or overpowering, but you want products on hand that make the house smell as clean as possible.
This turned out to be way more to chat about than I thought.  I'll put my short term showing whirlwind in another post.  It's a lot to do, but it is worth all the effort -  I promise.

feeling showy, part deux

I mentioned before that preparing for a showing leads to a type of frenzy I'm not used to.  We've had over 10 showings so far and through that, we've developed a bit of a system.

Here's what we do in the Short Term to prep for a showing:

This is the whirlwind! It helps if you keep the house as tidy as possible. We've had some messy days with showings and it adds about 15-20 minutes to the prep time.. just in picking up stuff that would have only taken a minute or two originally to put away.
  • I'm a fan of Scentsy.  We have two warmers with the same clean scent that I turn on when I first walk in.  Be sure it's a subtle smell though!! 
  • Pick a side of the house to start on.  I usually start in the master bath/bedroom.
Master Bath
    • Master Bathroom
      • Grab paper towels/rag, trash bag, cleaning spray from linen closet.
      • Stash toiletries from shower underneath the cabinet.
      • Spray and wipe down all surfaces (shower door, counter top, toilet, sink, mirror)
      • Fluff towels on racks (the ones we use are stashed in with the laundry)
      • Fluff shower mat
      • If needed, drop a capful of bleach in toilet for a quick refresh.
      • Close shower door, lid down on toilet, turn lights on and hide all items from counter top
    Master Bedroom
    • Master Bedroom
      • Make the bed, fluff pillows
      • Open blinds (the more natural light the better!)
      • Clear off all flat surfaces, dust if needed
      • Gather all laundry and toss in a tote -  run this on out to the car!
      • Align all hangers in closet, make sure shoes are tidy.
      • Vacuum if needed (usually not - I do this when we don't have showings to keep it fresh and fluffy.. and so I don't have to deal with it on showing days).
      • Turn on all lights and fan.
Guest Bath (note the hiding photographer)
    • Guest Bath
      • Spray and wipe down all surfaces (shower door, counter top, toilet, sink, mirror)
      • If needed, drop a capful of bleach in toilet for a quick refresh.
      • Fluff shower curtain, lid down on toilet, and leave lights on
Our empty guest room -  the color in here is one of my favorites.
    • Guest Room
      • We keep this room closed off to the kittens, and there is no furniture in here.  For now, just vacuum as needed.
      • Open the blinds and turn on lights and fan.
Living Room (view A above and B below)
    • Living Room
      • Dust all shelves, place remotes by respective consoles.
      • Fluff couch cushions and place pillows.
      • Vacuum and try to catch any rogue "kittens" (Our cats shed SO much.. I call the rogue fur tumbleweeds "kittens.")
      • Open all blinds, turn on all lights and fan.
Kitchen (still love our massive tile)
    • Kitchen
      • Clear off counters and empty sink.
      • Spray and wipe down all surfaces (counter top, sink, cabinets, range)
      • Load dishwasher if there are dirty dishes
      • Pull trash and check fridge for potentially stinky to-go containers
      • Turn on all lights and fan
      • Sweep and steam mop if needed or if time permits (doubtful, but one day we got this done!)
Office - you can see the sun coming in through the huge picture window.
    • Office
      • This is the last spot of the house, because this is where I keep the litter box and catfood dispenser.
      • Pull litter and throw away
      • Wipe down litter pan and hide along with catfood dispenser (in a moving box in the closet)
      • Round up all cat toys and hide (also in closet)
      • Vacuum (necessary) and steam mop if time permits (it usually doesn't)
      • Turn on all lights and fan
Last check -  once over:
  • Work your way through the house, checking every surface. Making sure all lights are on, surfaces clean, and rooms smell fresh.
  • Do a happy dance that you got it all done in time!
  • Round up the cats, toss them in carriers, and promise lots of treats and cuddles later.  Note: They do not give a damn about the cuddles.  And treats can only motivate so far.
  • Prepare yourself for the psychological damage that driving two angry cats around for an hour can lead to.   They will be pissed.  They WILL let you know exactly how mad they are.  
And finally, get out of the house.  Cruise the dream neighborhood.  Drop the cats off at their grandma's. Drive around the block and park at the ballfields.  Swing by and pick up some chicken nuggets, or a frosty, or just a soda.

All the while keeping your fingers crossed, and hoping that this time -  it's the one. 

This time, they'll think it's just the right size.  They won't complain about lack of bedrooms, or weird paint colors.  They won't worry over a pantry, or a fence. 

This time they'll see all the beautiful touches that made your nerdy nest home -  the custom arches, the vaulted ceilings, the highly-debated paint colors, the perfect porcelain tile, the ginormous fridge, and the spaces made for living.

This time, they'll want this house to be their home, to be their nest.

This time, they'll fall in love and see our home as what we first saw it as -  potential, perfect, and ours.

the nerdy nest

Sunday, February 1

realty swat

On the day that we finally decided to make things official and get our house on the market, we were invaded by our realtor's swat team.  Maybe invaded isn't the right term.. we invited them over, but I have to say we were surprised by how quickly the process went. It was a whirlwind!

Our realtor had prepared us for the fact that her team would be coming over -  but we weren't sure what to expect.  Right on time, her marketing manager, photographer, and videographer took over the house.  While we were being interviewed by her marketing manager -  the photographer was making quick work of the bedrooms and we were shooed into the hallway.

It was a frantic shuffle from room to room trying to stay out of the camera shots, while remembering dates and topics like when we installed the new water heater, what type of tile is in the kitchen, how would we describe the neighborhood, and what was the color of the bedroom called.

Overall, I was proud to open our home and I think marketing is making a huge difference.  Though we don't have an offer yet - we've been on the market three weeks now and have over 40 views on youtube and have had quite a few showings.

The best part -  our type A realtor complimented me on getting the nest ready to show.  I was glad that all my packing and decluttering over the past few months helped in the process -  though I do regret not decorating for Christmas at all... we'll make up for it this year though!

The worst part -  it's kinda weird knowing that anyone who is curious can see our home on the web, but then I blog.. so I really shouldn't mind.  I do recommend for anyone having their home listed -  please, PLEASE, prepare your home for photos!  Some suggestions to prepare:

+   hide yo' kids, hide yo' kitties  - remove all traces of kiddos and furry children from the house.  The kittens were hiding in the garage (in their crates) and were promised treats if they were good.  Maybe go for a babysitter instead of crates for the kiddos though.

+   put away dishes and laundry!  No dirty undies in the floor or dishes in the sink.

+   Pack away and store as much as you can.  We already had to invest in renting a storage building for Dad's tools, but now we're up to three.  That's how much furniture and stuff we have out of the house.  Live with the bare minimum -  it makes it easier to clean for showings and makes the house easier for people to envision themselves making it their home.

+  Tour through your house like a buyer -  make sure your furniture and accessories don't draw attention away from the rooms.  Think about the scale of your furniture and what it makes the room look like.  We only have half of our sectional in the living room now and it makes the space seem SOO much bigger.

+   Try to keep anything personal out of the picture! I think other than our closet being open to the world, our most personal items on display are a few books.  And even then, it's been odd when we can tell folks have flipped through them.

It's a challenge living like this -  but I think it makes the photos look great, the tour look better, and makes it so much easier when we have to get the house ready for a showing.

Now if we could just get an offer... :)

Want to house stalk us?  Just click here to see our Neighborhood Home Tour video.

Sunday, January 18

death and taxes..

I should warn you, this post is less about taxes and more about death. I just didn't want to scare you off by posting something like "death and homebuying" or "how the death of my father made me want to buy a house". It just seemed too dark, and crass.

But, there is truth to it.

Daddy passed away the day after my 30th birthday. He was 65 and seemed to be on the upswing of recovering from 2 years of trials and illness. We had talked that evening and a few hours later, he was gone. It's been a little over six months since he died and I am just now able to really think about it. (I still can't really talk about it..hence the blogging!)

Side note: sorry if I sound like a pompous priss when I say hence. I can't help it, love that dang word.

Back to Dad.. and how he fits into the house picture. Adam and I had been talking for a while about looking for a bigger house, different place, etc.  I had even talked to Dad about it a few times..but the really serious discussions didn't happen until after Dad died.

First, the logical and technical reason - we inherited all of Daddy's tools. He was a mechanic and worked on Volkswagens so we have three or four giant toolboxes that we need to find a home for. Selling them was not an option. These were a symbol of his legacy and life.
Our current lot isn't really conducive to building a shop and our garage doesn't really have the space since we use it to store everything else that doesn't fit in the house.  We're hoping to find a new home with room for a workshop or a mini shop of sorts. Or at least with some storage room for sure.

Now to the intangibles...

My dad was a bit of a dreamer. He always had these grand ideas, or plans, or even schemes. He always thought the impossible was possible if you tried hard enough to find a way, or if you were simply tenacious enough to make a way for it to happen.

Dad also loved home and the concept of it. A few years ago, he had to move from his home into a rental. I think that was the most challenging thing he faced in his life. And he faced a lot of situations that would have killed a weaker, or lesser, man.

And finally, Dad loved me. We were very close. For much of my life, it was the two of us. After my parents divorced, neither remarried (though Dad did get close..thankfully he figured that one out quick!) We were a small family, and I loved him so dearly.

I am so lucky that Daddy was able to see so many parts of my life and the beginning of my journey with Adam (the Man). He saw me graduate college and start to survive as a stubbornly independent woman. A few years later, he saw me meet a man who would change my outlook on life and was surprised when he actually liked him. Dad was able to trust that Adam would take care of me and saw times when Adam did, despite my stubbornness.

Dad saw us buy the first nest, laughed as we cussed over renovations, helped when we'd let him, and loved us and our home. Dad's death could have easily stopped me mentally and emotionally from following through with our dreams, but if anything...I think it propelled us forward. Daddy was the dreamer and I had always been the safe, responsible one. I didn't take risks and could easily stagnate.
Instead, I'm embracing the dreamer. We are reaching out of our comfort zone and taking a few chances in hopes that the end result will be  building or buying the home of our dreams, that we always wanted - but never quite thought possible.

It's, I'll be honest, it is heartbreakingly hard to think that Dad hasn't been here through this process with us. To know he won't walk through our home once it's built, or ponder floor plans, or debate the pros and cons of different choices with us. I didn't think it would be such a challenge to do this without him. To go through this experience without sharing the ups and downs with him, without having him to call after Adam and I get good news, or bad news, or both. But then I think (and cry) and realize that life does go on. And that we deserve happiness, and that Daddy would be so mad at us if we let ANYthing, especially his death, stop us from the relentless pursuit of our dreams and goals.

Though Daddy won't be here to see it, or guide us through the process with his ever present suggestions of " you know what you should do.. ", I feel like he would be so proud that we took the leap and put in the hard work to make it happen. I feel like he would be happy to see us move into a place that we could once again transform into a home. I feel like he would be honored by the way we want to incorporate his life and treasures into our home, and I know he would love seeing his little girl's dreams come true once again.

So there you have a bunch of  tool boxes and the loss of the first man I ever loved led to this crazy journey of selling the nest and searching for our new home.  I hope we do him justice, even if it's not in the boonies. <3

Wednesday, January 7

choosing our realtor..

When we finally got serious about selling the house, I decided we needed to call the realtor who walked us through the home buying process.  Thankfully, he's our neighbor -  so it wasn't that hard to track him down.

Sadly, he's focused more on his other business right now... and not in the selling/buying houses business.  So off we went to the internet to find someone to sell our house.

It was a pretty easy decision since I've been stalking online MLS (Master Listing Service) and realty sites for almost a year during my home-buying daydreams.  One listing agent kept impressing me.. all her listings had tons of pictures, most had videos posted on Youtube, and they made even the most depressing row house look like a charming mill cottage.  I was sold.

We gave her a call, and she called back quickly.  I sent her a random email with tons of questions -  and I had a reply by the end of the day.  We met with her and she came prepared with a marketing proposal (with color pictures and spiral bound). She seemed organized, polished, and all about the business. Even still, she has answered my emails late into the evening and I love how tech savvy her team is.

Speaking of, she has a team.  When it came to photography day -  it was like the Realty SWAT surrounded our house.  More on that later..

Now, our house hasn't sold yet -  so the final word on our realtor isn't in.  But I am excited to see just how quickly she can get us ready to move out and our little nest in the hands of new owners.

why we decided to sell our house..

This is one of the first questions we've been asked.  Why?  I thought you loved that house!

Yes.  We do love our house.  I have many funny and favorite memories that were made here.  The process of making our house into our home has taught me a lot about my tastes, my patience, myself and our relationship.  For example, if you marry a man who hates home improvement -  think turn-key for your next place.

Also, now that we're married -  no more threats of divorce when working on the kitchen light fixture.  It's not funny anymore. Cussing and storming around though is fine.. that damn track light in the kitchen is a B.  Never again.

So.. for people wanting to know why we want to sell, a short list. (You know I love a list.)

1. If we make any more improvements -  we'll price out of the neighborhood. (which means no granite counters, no re-doing the bathrooms, etc.)
2. We don't have much more room on our lot if we wanted to add on.
3. Stupid hill.  Stupid, stupid hill.
4. We'd like more room.
5. No -  we don't need more room because I'm pregnant.  I'm not.  And I think a baby would take up less room than reason #7.
6. No. I'm not pregnant.  No babies. Calm down.
7. We inherited a TON of tools from Daddy.  We need room for a mechanic's life's worth of tools. Because that stuff isn't going anywhere but with us.
8. I would love a laundry room.. I can't tell you how many times I've nearly been smacked by the garage entry door while loading/unloading the dryer.
9. We're hosting next year's Thanksgiving.  I would like a dining room for occasions like that, or you know, just for kicks.
10. The market is rebounding, prices are going up as the real estate in our area is being revitalized, and now is the time to buy before we can't afford the houses we like again.  We want to buy/build while the market is still in our favor.

 Our house has a lot of things we love and we'll miss.  That's what makes this whole process bittersweet. Some reasons I don't want to sell:

1. It's our first home.
2. In front of our front door is where the Man proposed.
3. We have custom tile and arches made by Uncle Contractor.  Including a hidden mosaic that I adore.
4. Some of our best and worst moments have happened in this house.. I'll miss that, for sure.
5. We put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into making this house a home.  And lots of curse words.

So, that's some of our thought process. We love our home, but it's a first home for a reason. I just hope someone else will fall in love with it like we did...

and buy it..

..soon. :)