Thursday, April 08, 2010

Traumatic but Entertaining Times

Late in the fall my husband and I decided to sell our house. This decision was not an easy one to come by as we’d only been in it for three years. However wonderful my sewing studio is, the private office, the delightfully bright kitchen….the stairs have become difficult for him as his arthritis worsens more quickly than expected. So we put it up for sale. We know winter is not an ideal time to sell a house, but wanted this to be over with and be in a new place for spring since we both love gardening. (And there’s the secret hope that we won’t have to watch the trees we’ve planted spring into bloom and look glorious just as we moved.)

However, that was not to be. We spent the winter cleaning and purging. In fact, we took a lot of stuff out of the house to make it look larger and cleaner, and moved all that to our son’s vacant house. We did this ourselves. Several loads went across town and were stored in his house and shed.

But that wasn’t the end of our moving things. Our son came home from where he was working (out of town) for Christmas so in consideration of his family, we moved our things out of his house and back into ours! I’m sure by now the neighbors thought us insane. When he left to go back to work, we moved some big things back over to his house. And then he decided to rent it. A good decision as he was carrying two payments because of needing accommodation where he was working as well. So….back we go to get our things out of his place entirely and bring them back to our house. Some got put back in place, some got stored in the garage. By now the neighbors had gotten up the nerve to come over and ask about all this activity.

So, to make the winter seem shorter, I can sum it up in one sentence. “We moved several times and cleaned and tidied constantly”. The happy ending to the story is that the house sold during spring break, and at a reasonable enough profit. Since we had to do this thing, we hoped to be able to come out of it well enough ahead that I would be able to retire when I want to. I’m not sure when that will be, but soon. We have to be out April 30th, but we aren’t sure where we are going yet! I’m trying to remain calm about that.

It seems the house, being of good quality and in a desirable neighborhood, took longer than usual to sell. All the feedback we got from our real estate agent was that the “unfinished house across the street was not something these customers could see themselves looking at for years to come.” Now when we moved in I saw this house, but thought it was weathered and would be finished the next summer. After we moved in I found out that it had been like that for 11 YEARS!!! And since we’ve been here three years, it’s now been like that for 14 YEARS! The story is that the owner started the addition without a building permit or inspection and the city came by and stopped work on the project. They will not give him a permit unless he pays a penalty and he refuses to pay that penalty. So it sits there, actually rotting in the weather and he uses it for a storage shed and a place to tune up lawnmowers!

I think it terribly arrogant of him to impose his poor judgment on the rest of the street and have been told that his house probably lowers the price of the houses in the neighborhood by $20,000 each. The lesson there is that when you fall in love with a house, look around and see what surrounds it. That “Location, Location, Location” comment really does hold true! I spoke with our City Hall representative and he said that if I could get four neighbors to write an email to him complaining, that this guy would be told that either he gets busy and finishes it within a certain deadline, or they will finish it for him and charge him contractor’s prices. I got three people to write in……. Even tho I won’t be there anymore, I think I’ll continue to follow that one up, for the sake of the two very good friends we made in this neighborhood.