Wednesday, October 29, 2008

House Selling Saga Part Two

So we FINALLY sold that old house.

I thought, initially, that it would be easy to sell. It was completely updated, in great, move-in shape, and priced at the very low end of comparables for our neighborhood. Yeah, it was a crappy neighborhood to me, but tons of people live there and seem to like it so surely some saps would fall in love with it instantly.

So we bought the new house and started paying two mortgages.

And we kept paying two mortgages.

Yeah, maybe it was the housing market. Could've been the mortgage companies. Might have been the lookers didn't like what they saw, you know, if they actually saw the house.

Because, really, I think it was the realtor. And here's the story:

Back in April before we'd even decided to buy and sell, I got an email from a semi-sorta friend who was just starting out in the real estate business. And by semi-sorta I mean the wife of the husband's co-worker who sent me mass evites and emails to come purchase baskets, candles, stamps, and even electricity each month. We went to the same college and sometimes I'd see her at the alumni functions, but my kids seemed to make her nervous, so we never got together any other time. And yes, writing this, I realize she was just another face in the crowd, but we went to the same college! And we live far away! That makes us friends, right? Sorta?

Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, well, back in April I got another mass email. She was trying to sell her own house and not having much luck (can we say WAY over-priced?)and was wondering if any of her "friends" were on the house hunt and, of course, if you knew anyone who needed a realtor she was available. I know. I should have pressed delete but instead wrote her a complete saga about how we'd found a house we loved that we couldn't afford and, really, couldn't afford what we liked so we were staying put. To which she instantly replied inquiring about our needs, wants, and price range, and, of course, I instantly answered. And we played a little game of email tag where she'd send me links to homes in our price range and I'd tell her again how we weren't interested but thanks anyway and eventually they tapered off to nothing.

And then we drove by this house.

And decided to buy it.

And then I got another link to an okay home in the neighborhood across the street. And I didn't delete that one either. I shot back another saga about how, WOW, we can afford that awesome house after all and we'll be signing the papers TOMORROW, thanks a lot, but we're good.

And then I started getting frantic emails about how we shouldn't sign anything without her. We need to be represented by a realtor. Do we need her to call an inspector? Since the emails contained CAPITAL LETTERS and words like, OH MY G*D, I HOPE IT'S NOT TOO LATE!, I forwarded them to the husband who told me that part of the reason we were getting the house cheaper was because we weren't using the builder's realtor and, yeah, she could represent us, but then we'd be paying her about 12,000 bucks for sitting in a meeting with us. So we signed the papers without her and pretended I didn't get the email until a few days later. By then she'd worked up all the comparable lists on both homes and had the email equivalent of the Amway man's foot wedged into my front door jamb. Let me show you this.

Well, to make this long story as short as I can, Because I am such a stupid idiot nice person, I convinced the husband that we should use semi-friend to sell our house because if either of us were in the same situation, we would want someone to do the same for us. Plus, I figured, if she only had ONE home to sell, she could really work to sell that ONE home. That, and the realtor he wanted to use once lived three doors up and never spoke one word to me, yet when she came to our house she acted like we'd been dear friends even commenting on how she couldn't believe how much Jacob had grown since she'd seen him last. And they moved before I was ever pregnant. Wow.

So Semi-friend brings her boss over to check the house and we like him immediately, kinda a grandfatherly type who at one point balanced both littles on his lap while dodging attempts at a lip balm makeover. Sold. We'll take him.

So Semi-Now Realtor-Friend makes a date to come sign the contracts and take pictures and when said time arrives, her boss came instead. Something came up for Semi but he didn't have a problem taking care of it. Okay. Whatever.

So now our house is on the market. We've moved to new house. Let the buyers line up!

Semi holds an open house. Five families showed. All of them our nibby neighbors. She couldn't figure out why no one came. Couldn't have been the fact that she didn't advertise it on the MLS site or only put a sign in the front yard. We lived at the end of a cul-de-sac, how was anyone BUT the neighbors supposed to know about it? But we were nice, gave her some tips about signs and the internet and waited for the next open house.

But Semi didn't show up for the open house. Her boss did. Seems Semi went on vacation. Might've been nice if she'd given us a little heads up about that. But it was all good. The boss put out street signs and an ad in the newspaper. More lookers, but no takers.

When the friend returned from vacation she called to let us know that we had an offer on the house (didn't pan out). We were shocked because we never even knew it was being shown. We really expected a heads up each time she (or another realtor) showed it. Maybe she figured she didn't have to call because we weren't living there, but still. She could've just emailed me. That always worked before.

The next week it was posted at husband's work that Semi's husband had taken a transfer to Ohio effective the end of June. It was, like, June 18.

A few phone messages and emails later, my husband finally contacts her and very nicely gives her an out on the deal by telling her we would just let Boss-man handle everything and didn't even add the part about how he was pretty much already doing that anyway. She seemed offended. We didn't have to worry. She wasn't going to Ohio until at least September. She had to sell her house. And see all the friends she was going to miss. Okay.

Then husband went to her husband's farewell party where they announced that they'd be having another baby. In December. Uh-huh. So he approaches her to congratulate her and ask how she's doing and, of course, she's sick as a dog and SO tired, and he, again, gives her an out, and she assures him she'll sell that house soon. She was going to go with her husband to Ohio for a week to look at houses, but she'd be back and we'd meet and strategize the sale then. Okay.

That was the last time we ever heard from our Semi-Sorta Realtor.

The next week I went back to old house for more stuff and noticed her name had been removed from the For Sale sign. The husband thought maybe the neighborhood kids had stolen it, but I knew. Her boss would tell us every time we asked that she was still working on our house just "behind the scenes". Supposedly she came back in late August to pack up her own home and Boss-man asked if we were able to get together with them before they left and seemed a tad confused when we told him we hadn't spoken to her since June.

I still can't believe she did that.

Once she found out she was leaving town she was done with us. Totally blew us off personally and professionally. I don't even get the mass emails anymore.

I really did like her boss. I'd use him again. In fact, we might even have him over for dinner one day. My kids miss him. He's a good guy. I sure hope he kept the entire commission.

So the lesson for today children:

Don't do business with your friends. Even your sorta-kinda friends. It's more hassle than it's worth.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

One Week Ago....

Elizabeth was eighteen months old.

A year a half old, she is. Amazing. Wasn't it just Adam who was eighteen months?

Dear Elizabeth,

I can still remember this day. It doesn't seem that long ago. I still feel a wee bit giddy when I buy a pretty dress or lacy socks. Will that ever get old?

I pulled your baby book out of the waterproof hurricane container and I almost cried when I realized I hadn't kept it up as well as I should have. I know you have more than six teeth and you had a first word. Just don't ask me what day they came. Or what the word was. It was kitty wasn't it? Adam maybe? I know since you are a girl you will want these milestones recorded and I'll try to do better from here but the fact remains that Jacob has an extensive chronicle of his baby/toddler/child days because he came first. There are advantages to being the baby. This just isn't one of them.

You are talking more. In fact, you talk a lot, we just don't understand most of what you say. It sounds a lot like babble, but there's an inflection to it that makes me think it's words you have either made up or just can't pronounce yet, either way it's very cute. Your words we do know are: Mama, Daddy, Adam (Am), Brother (brub), Ezra (e-ra), kitty, NO, baby, snack (nack) and Star Wars. Seriously. We sat down to watch the new cartoon a couple weeks ago and as soon as it started you pointed to the screen and said "Star Wars". And I don't want to forget that this past week you always say it twice, "Star Wars, Star Wars". It is really sweet, but Gammy doesn't like that she rates after your brother's latest obsession in your language acquistion.

You are a picky eater. If it doesn't contain sugar, you don't like it. You still eat baby food, you love baby food, and it's really the only way I can get a vegetable down you. You do love green peas, though. Can't get enough of those. Or bananas. Or the H*rmel Natural Honey Ham. Only that brand and that kind. How dare anyone try to sneak cheap turkey in on you. You also love cereal, all kinds of cereal. You figured out how to pull off the door knob covers and I spend a good portion of our day dragging you out of the pantry and sweeping various kinds of sugary goodness from the floor.

You are still teeny, but you're getting taller, about thirty inches now. You can wear your six month dresses, but they are awfully short so you are wearing mostly twelve month things now. With size two diapers. Size three just falls right off of you. You still face backwards in the car seat because you weigh only eighteen pounds. You don't mind it much, though, because you can see the boys better this way.

You think you are one of the boys. If they ride bikes, so must you. If your legs were longer, I know you'd just take off on Adam's little bike, but now you just scream as loud as you can and one of those boys will come running to push you and it makes you so happy. Ditto for the backyard swing. And the wagon. You love your brothers and greet them every morning with a kiss. Sure they gross out and wipe it off, but they really love it. You were smart to come last and have two big brothers to take care of you. I don't think you'll have to worry about anybody ever messing with you. Of course the dating years may be rough.

So you are eighteen months today (okay, last week). I promise I'll try to do better with the baby books. Maybe your two year post will occur on your actual birthday. Just know that we are still just as thrilled as we were a year and a half ago, Sweet Goosey Princess, and I know that will never get old.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Three Little Pumpkins Sitting on a Log Drove Their Mama Crazy.... Something, Something

How I love the pumpkin patch!

So what that it's really more of a small church yard than an actual patch. I love me some pictures of my children amidst all that beautiful orangeness.

Everybody sit still and look at the camera....

Can you smile for Mommy?

Okay, that's not the spectacular picture I was looking for bad.....

Maybe if we look around some and change locations. Yeah, that'll work!

Where are you going, Baby?

Okay, this looks like a good spot.

Sit your ass down and look at the fricking camera already Look at Mommy! No one's going on the fancy tractor until you look. at. Mommy.

Where'd the girl go?

Okay, we'll get an orange pumpkin picture on a blue tractor. Whatever.
Quit fighting. Everyone will get a chance to drive. Just look. At. MOMMY!


Why are you playing on the Hurricane Ike stump? There are pumpkins here.
Whatever. Just give me a minute while I hoist you all on that huge liabilty to take a fricking picture already.

What?? The stump was FUN! Why aren't you smiling???

Do they sell beer here? Whiskey shots?


Oh, how I hate the pumpkin patch.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

House Selling Saga Part 1.5


Although we had to wait an hour and were almost killed in rush hour traffic getting there, it's done. Old house doesn't belong to us anymore. It would be sad if it weren't such a relief to never set foot in that neighborhood again.

I took the oldest and the youngest by on the way to say good-bye. I thought I'd be more torn up about it, but it wasn't so bad. We took some pictures:

We pulled some limbs off the hibiscus bush we planted while Jacob was in the NICU. We plucked all the oranges we could reach. We played chase through the empty rooms. We said a little prayer for our good old house hoping the new owners treat her well and are blessed as much as we were there. Even if they are a tad on the bitchy side.

Oh, and yesterday they were all up in arms because NONE of the faucets were working. They would need ALL new faucets! Until our realtor informed them the water had been turned off last week. Like we told them it would be. Like, last week. Morons. Poor house. I feel bad for her.

I know I'll want to post more about it later, but for now, I'm closing up the computer, taking my kid out of school, and heading to the lake for a mini-vacation.

Monday, October 13, 2008

House Selling Saga Part 1

It appears our neverending house selling saga may soon be over...

We're supposed to be at the title company DOWNTOWN at 4 tomorrow afternoon. That is if they don't reschedule. Again.

Our first closing was scheduled for September 18, but when Ike blew through they wanted an extension to have the roof checked out. Of course, the roofers have been plenty busy so it took some time to get one to come out, but he did, found the roof in excellent condition and the closing was then set for September 30.

The second closing came and suddenly the buyers decided they really, really loved those solar screens that blew away in the hurricane. The same solar screens they hated just three weeks before so they could not, no, would not, close on September 30. They would reschedule when new screens were installed.

Now, we signed a contract on September 7 after haggling over a low ball deal and finally getting the price back up to asking if we kicked in 3,000 in closing costs. We didn't want to pay someone to take our house, but we know the reality that is the housing market and decided it was something we needed to do. We'll still turn a profit. Barely. The buyers also wanted us to close on the 12th, yes five days later, so they added the "as is" clause into the contract stating they would take that house "as is" and take care of any needed repairs themselves. They weren't even going to get an inspector. They needed that house. Right. Then.

But two days later I got a phone call from my realtor wanting to know where the magnet was to open the child lock under the sink because the inspector couldn't finish his work without it.


So dumb ass inspector reports that the brand new air conditioner isn't functioning and the garbage disposal was broken and the kitchen faucet leaked a little bit. I think that's pretty good for an eighteen year old house especially considering the air conditioner and garbage disposal AREN'T broken. Seems trusty inspector dude stayed all of ten minutes and didn't allow our 85 degree set thermostat to cool down AND he didn't turn the garbage disposal switch on. So, guess what? We had to pay a hundred bucks for an AC technician to spend five minutes determining our furnace was in working order. Then we got a phone call that the buyers wanted a new disposal so the husband had to drive over and show the big doofuses how to work a light switch and while he was there he fixed the faucet and replaced some wood that was semi-sorta-if you squint you might see it- rotting under the sink.

So much for as-is.

Okay now. Let's sell this thing!

Third closing scheduled for October 2.

Oh, but hold up a second. As-is buyers decided they really, really needed a fancy-schmancy new faucet. You know, since the previous one leaked before it might do it again and, oh no, they couldn't have that because obviously they have never seen an episode of House Hunters or Property Virgins. If they had they'd realize that they're getting an eighteen year old house with new tile floor, new carpet, brand new heating/AC, free of termites and mold, and it's so effing clean you could feed your children off the floors, you're kinda stupid to be bitching about how ugly the kitchen faucet is. Especially with that capital lettered AS-IS clause they added.

We're GIVING them 3,000 bucks and it's still not enough?

If we were selling this home five years ago we would have told them to take a hike, but it's now and we don't want to pay another mortgage payment on the fifteenth, so the husband offered to refund their hundred dollar option fee to cover their "faucet expenses". Bah.

Fourth closing scheduled for October 7.

My mom came to town on the 6th to watch the kiddies while we went to the closing.

On the 7th they rescheduled for the 8th. Something about not having the buyer's proof of employment. Never mind that they were preapproved for a loan and we have a sheet of paper attached to the contract stating so. Ya think maybe this might be why all the mortgage companies are in such a bind???

On the 8th we started to head DOWNTOWN when we got a call an hour before telling us they still weren't ready. The lender hadn't sent in all the required documents to the title company. Maybe tomorrow Tara at the title company said.

Nope. Didn't happen on the 9th either. The 10th for sure. Tara assured us.

Uh, no. Tara isn't to be believed. Her word means nothing.

My mom went back home and backed away with my middle child mumbling something about how we'll never sell that home, those people won't be able to get a loan, ya'll are so damn screwed. But not just like that because she doesn't swear. Or say screwed.

Tara called at noon today. She wants to see us at 4 tomorrow. Two hours after the buyers because she probably assumed we would want to kick their asses if we were in the same room. She assures us it's a go this time. Supposedly all the paper work is in. Apparently as-is buyers DO have jobs and an income. Yippee.

Then my realtor called to see if I'd gotten her message and let me know that ASSHOLE is "still fussing about that faucet".

I think for 3,000 bucks I reserve the right to show him exactly where to shove his fancy faucet.

So maybe we'll sell our house tomorrow. I am sad knowing I'll never set foot in the house I brought my children home in, where we've watched them come and grow for the past sevenish years. Maybe I'll start a sappy I-miss-my-house post later, but right now, I am just wanting to get past this.

I hated that neighborhood. I am so glad we don't live there anymore. We just didn't fit there.

But I am thinking these new people will fit right on in.

Coming soon, part two or, Why you never, ever hire a friend to be your real estate agent.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

People in Your Neighborhood

Jacob went out for the afternoon with his Gammy. They went shopping for new school shoes and are having a quiet dinner at his favorite restaurant, Olive Garden.

I am currently watching three children, not my own, playing in our backyard. Three kids came to the door about an hour ago looking for Jacob. I told them that when they saw the other car in our driveway he would be home and they could play then. So they left. Ten minutes later they rang the bell again and asked if they could just wait for him because they didn't want to miss him. They are planning all the fun things they are going to play when he gets here. They're excited.

Eight miles away the doorbell never rang. The neighborhood kids didn't want to play with my kid. They liked to laugh at him and try to fight him at three years old, but never did anyone come over to play with him.

I'm guessing I probably should've insisted the kids head home until Jacob returned but I was just so happy that my kid has kids who actually LIKE him I didn't really know what to do. They peek in here now and then and wonder if he's back. They need to tell him about some new Star Wars toy and the new Bakugan they got. What the hell is Bakugan? Should I even let my kid play that? Am I supposed to be outside watching them (I can see them from the living room windows) because I really have things I need to do in the house. I didn't figure on baby-sitting today.

I'm hoping Jacob gets here soon. I know he will be so thrilled that he has not one, but three friends waiting on him. It's new territory for him.

And for me too.

Anyone have a book on neighborhood playmate etiquette I can borrow?

And why does this song keep going around in my mind?

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Six Things

Dana tagged me to tell six things about myself so here goes:

1. I was once engaged to someone other than my husband. I may erase this one soon because I don't think the husband is aware of this fact. I met this other guy in high school and dated him briefly then, but the majority of our relationship occured off and one while I was in college. He would profess his undying love for me and how he could not live without me and then, BAM, within three months he would be with this other girl. Always the same other girl. I would swear upon all that was holy that I would never speak to him and then he'd show up with some sort of sob story and a repeat of the undying love and I'd fall for it everytime. I was young and stupid. If he hadn't knocked up other girl and ran away to the Marine Corps to escape it all, I have no idea where I'd have ended up. His mother broke up with me for him, in tears because they loved me so much. I still wonder if I stayed with him because of them. They have since died. We were to have been married December 10, 1994. I want something great to happen on that day so I can stop remembering it every time it rolls around. I am indebted to other girl because if it weren't for her and her obvious attempt to trap him into marrying her, my life might have been very different and I don't think I would have been very happy.

2. I will eat anything that has blue cheese in it. Blue cheese is the bomb. When I go to a new restaurant I always scan the menu to see if any of the entrees or appetizers contain it. At one time Bennigans had tons of things with blue cheese and I must have eaten there three times a week until I got pregnant with Elizabeth. I will only, though, eat the Ultimate Blue Cheese Dressing that is sold with the salad veggies. All of the rest suck.

3. I have been phasing in The Feingold Diet for a few months now. If you haven't heard of it, it's eating food that does not contain artificial colors, dyes, and preservatives. You'd think it would be easy, but it's harder than you think. You can read the labels, but depending on the amount, sometimes the artificial things aren't listed. Or an ingredient in the food happens to have an artificial ingredient in it. The Feingold people will send you book with all the foods they have researched to be "pure", but it costs 85 bucks and I don't have an extra 85 bucks when groceries cost the way they do. I started this after learning about it at the ADHD support group. Apparently dyes and preservatives are linked to behavioral problems. Jacob's breakfasts and lunches are entirely Feingold acceptable and there has been a difference at school this year, so who knows? I am sticking with it because I don't think my little kids need so many chemicals in them. I don't know if we will ever be fully preservative free because it's very expensive to buy everything on the list. That and we like junk food a lot.

4. I LOVE the movie Sound of Music and I only just saw it for the first time in May. Julie Andrews rocks, man.

5. We had not agreed on a name before Elizabeth was born. I wanted Rachel or Erin (or better yet, Rachel Erin) and Derick was sold on Elizabeth which Jacob came up with from a Thomas car he had. On the drive to the hospital at 4:30 a.m., I was going to push Rachel when the song "Beth" by Kiss came on the radio. I took that as a sign that she would be a girl and her name should be Elizabeth. Hormones are a bitch. I still sometimes wish she'd been a Rachel. Sshh, never tell her.

6. My college roommate died of breast cancer in 1999. She was 27. I have been pen pals with her mother ever since I mailed a sympathy card way back then. We exchange letters about once a month. I send pictures of my kids and she mails them gifts on their birthdays, Christmas, and Halloween. I have not spoken with her on the phone or in person in nine years, but she considers my kids her other grandkids and their pictures claim a spot on their baby grand and my kids think she's their other grandma. I kind of feel like my friend led me to her because we have both been a big help to each other a different times in our lives.

You can play. Tell six things about yourself and then drop me a comment so I can go over and read yours too.