The quick brown fox jumped over the good, but lazy Parker family.
and shortly after our “picnic” in the old courtyard, we walked the 550 yds to Monroe Street for our pre-closing inspection, where everything looked absolutely, refreshingly perfect.
not only were all our inspection issues resolved, but the sellers actually went above and beyond — which was a great relief because we were frankly a little nervous about whether they were going to do anything at all. (get us drunk, we’ll tell you the whole story.)
anyway, a friend today asked if I was concerned about the walkthrough and i said that — while we had trouble with the sellers leading up to this point — if tonight went well, all would be forgiven.
all is forgiven. and we close tomorrow at 3pm.
the contract on our new place has been fully signed and ratified (tho, i have no clue what that means, unless it involves a 2/3rds majority of the U.S. Senate).
we’ve got our home inspection this saturday at 2pm, and the lady sparkler has been furiously working on financing and spreadsheets to make sure we’re all good there (and we are).
assuming that everything goes well with our purchase and our sale, we’ll have a very busy Memorial Day. we’d settle the sale on Park Road on Monday, May 23rd. we’d settle the purchase on Monroe Street on Wednesday, May 25th.
then we’d rent back our current place on Park Road from the new owners through Sunday, May 29th, so we’d have about 5 days to swap everything between the two places.
in the meantime, we’ve been watching a lot of tv — the “worst” being holmes inspection on HGTV.
the basic premise of the show is to find “homeowners facing massive repair bills and dangerous living conditions due to incompetence within the unregulated home inspection industry,” and then call in Canadian construction foreman extrordinaire Mike Holmes to “make it right.”
about a month ago, we saw an episode of holmes inspection where all the supporting walls of a 100 year old row home had been taken down, causing over $300k worth of repairs to restore the collapsing floors — which is exactly what we thought had happened to the very first monroe place we looked at.
this week we saw an episode where termite damage had done $150k worth of damage to a the first two floors of a different, but similarly aged rowhouse. the next day, we found out that the current owners of our future place have been monitoring termites on one of their neighbors’ front porches.
(the current owners have been treating “our” new porch regularly for the past couple years to prevent the issue from jumping property lines, and the faulty porch is “due” to be replaced this year.)
it’s nice to know that when the real stress starts settling down, we have some good “hypothetical” stress ready and waiting in the wings.
we pulled the listing on Monday, got our place back to living order on Tuesday night, but then got a call from our real estate agent Wednesday night saying that someone wanted to see the place Thursday morning.
we proceeded to explain to him what “being off the market” meant, but he was insistent that the showing was a good idea.
apparently, the prospective buyers had seen our place about two weeks ago, and had bid on another place and lost. now, they had narrowed the next round of their search to our place and one other — and had freaked out a bit when we took our place off the market earlier in the week.
so, we spent all night Wednesday re-staging our place for the Thursday morning showing.
and they loved the place. and they put a (nearly) full price offer on the place. and we accepted. and we settle the week of May 22nd.
which just goes to show you: the best way to get an offer is to take your place off the market.
we’ve been having problems getting people through our doors, lately — and while all the problems are (mostly) fixable, it’s going to take some time to do so.
our condo fee is too high, and we’re voting to lower it on April 11th. our building isn’t FHA approved, and it takes about a month to go through that process. our common areas are dingy, and the building isn’t starting to do the walls/floors until next month.
so, rather than beat our head against the wall in the meantime (eg. staging the house every morning, evacuating our place all day saturday/sunday) we’re just going to pull it off the market until next month.
not to mention, our garden out front looks pretty ridiculously awesome in the spring — which just might help people see past the fact that the carpeting needs to be replaced and the fact that whoever picked the hallway paint colors should be drug out back and shot.
shortly after the post about us putting down an offer on a place on the 1800 block of Monroe NW, we got word from our real estate agent that a grand total of two people saw our place over the weekend.
the market has judged our sale price, and found it wanting.
they love our particular unit, they just hate our building. and the high condo fees. and the dated common areas. but mostly the high condo fees. which, of course, are the two things we technically can’t control.
fortunately, i’m on the board of our association and there have been a LOT of conversations about dropping our fees this year. and the dingy common areas are up for renovation this year, too. so, hopefully i just have to nudge those conversations along a bit.
it turns out that we are actually an old school condo board in that we have pretty consistently high monthly fees, but not a single special assessment in memory (because we always have money in the bank). unfortunately, every other association on the planet has swapped to a different model, dropping their fees dramatically and just expecting that big expenses will mean big(ish) special assessments.
i know which one i’d prefer — but i guess that’s why i’m trying to move into a house.
it also turns out that our building isn’t pre-approved for FHA loans, which means that people can’t buy into the building with federally backed loans that require as little as 3.5% down payment. instead, our buyers right now need to get traditional bank loans, which require 10 to 20% down.
so it looks like i’ve got a couple “special” projects on my hands for the next month.
regardless, we backed out of making an offer on the Monroe place — and plan on doing what we can with the condo fees, common areas and the fha pre-approval process in (hopefully) the next month. that’d mean we (again) can go gangbusters with the selling and the buying in the first week of April.
for those of us playing along at home, we’ve now looked at a more than dozen properties, and have “tried” putting an offer down on a five of them:
… but haven’t actually bit the bullet on any.
i guess the good news is that places keep coming on the market. now, if we can get that one extra-special one off the market, we’ll be all set.
after clearing out of the house to make way for a 5:30 pm showing — and running up a $50 tab at haydees waiting for our place to clear — we suddenly found ourselves with three people standing unannounced in our hall at 7:05 pm.
turns out that they were running about an hour and a half late.
the potential buyers were very nice about the whole thing, but spent (maybe) three and half minutes looking around before skedaddling awkwardly. i’m sure they were very interested in not ‘bothering’ us, but i would have rather had them actually see the place.
the open house this weekend, however, went a little better.
eleven groups came through — nine with realtors — for a total of fourteen for the weekend. two groups “lingered” according to our agent, and one of them actually came back earlier this week for a second viewing.
the only negative feedback has been the condo fee (which is a bit steep because of recent elevator and window replacements) and the shabby common areas (they’re due for refurbishment this spring and it’s past due).
all this puts us in an awkward place.
part of us is rooting for a quick sale, and excited about the momentum that’s been building. part of us is wondering why it hasn’t sold yet because it’s been 8 long days of continual staging.
but, part of us is scared to death that it will sell — because we still need to find a place worth buying.
okay, it’s march, people. let’s get some 3 to 4 bedroom row houses on the market in our neighborhood — preferably at reasonable prices, if you don’t mind.
the real estate photographer took his just minutes before we spent the whole day cleaning up the garden — our real estate karma continues unabated.