Sunday, July 30, 2006

The Weekend Off -- Day Two

Actually, there's a bit more of Day One, first.  Shopping got a bit better once I stopped trying stores and used the internet.  I found a coupla dresses online, and I even had more luck with Vans.  See ... here's the problem.  (Well, the other problem -- the first problem was the mules.)  The problem is that Vans has apparently switched to unisex sizing -- all their shoes are in Men's and Women's sizes simultaneously.  But the one pair of Vans I already own and love are Women's shoes, and the unisex ones I tried on at the store didn't feel as good.  So I thought, damn, now I can't even get any more Vans slip-ons that I like.  Cause when I checked their website, all of the so-called Women's slip-ons were the Unisex sized ones.  But what I'd forgetten about was that Vans is in the Custom business, and for, like, an extra 10 bucks and with a three-to-five week shipping time, I could specially design a pair of slip-ons with women's sizing (and with exactly the color scheme I want).  So, yay, good deal there.

Bad that I couldn't really get over the headache.  In fact, I had it when I went to sleep, when I woke up in the morning, and pretty much everywhere in between.  This has never happened before.  :(

So, onward to today.  Today I was gonna go to a bunch of Open Houses.  (Open Houses are generally on Sundays, as are theatre matinees.  This is really why I took the weekend off.  I was sick of missing the open houses.)  So.  I printed up a list of about 6 houses I wanted to check out, jumped into the car, programmed the GPS to take me to the first house, and was off.

I did not, in fact, look at the first house.  It was quite adorable, but it was sandwiched between two totally crappy looking houses.  And the neighborhood was marked by a bunch of old cars parked on lawns, or up on bricks.  I pulled over about a half block away, reprogrammed my GPS for the next house, and headed off to a better neighborhood.

House number two -- I couldn't quite figure out how to get into house number two.  You park on the street, but there's no path to the door without walking on the lawn.  (But no cars parked there!)  The house wasn't in great shape.  The photos I'd seen on the internet showeda nice living room and dining room, but there was no photo of the kitchen.  Looking at the incredibly old tile and appliances that belonged in the Smithsonian, it dawned on me that when there's no photo of the kitchen, there's probably a reason for it.

House number three -- I hadn't had much hope for house number three.  It was the cutest little English cottage, but it was located right near the freeway.  I figured I didn't want to live there, but I wanted to see how cute it was anyhow.  It was, quite literally, a half-block from the freeway.  As soon as I opened my car door in front of the house, I heard constant freeway noise.  There's no way I'm buying this house, but I went in anyhow.  I admit I admired the agent for gamely suggesting how great it was that you couldn't hear the freeway from inside the house.  (I didn't have the heart to tell him I'd noticed that he'd turned a radio on.)  The agent also said that, y'know, if the house wasn't so close to the freeway, it wouldn't be so cheap.  He was right.  I don't want to mention prices right now (because I live in Southern California so the numbers are insanely high) but this price was quite a bit less than I can afford.  This house isn't for me.  This is a house for someone who can just barely afford it, and wants an amazingly adorable house in a friendly neighborhood that just happens to be a half-block from the freeway.

House number four -- Man, they're all starting to run together.  I think house number four was the one that had less actual square footage than my current condo, but managed an extra bedroom.  The result was a master bedroom you couldn't fit my bed in.

House number five was similar to house number four.  The alleged "third bedroom" seemed more like a walk-in closet someone called a bedroom.  It didn't have a closet or a door or -- come to think of it -- a fourth wall (the hallway wall came up to about shoulder height and someone had closed up the rest of the way with a piece of frosted glass like a shower door).  This is a house for people with a lot of kids who they want to each have their own space -- not me.

House number six -- Now, house six was interesting.  I was torn about even seeing house six.  It's a beautiful old fashioned house that has been gorgeously renovated -- which is, like, totally what I'd like.  But it didn't have air conditioning.  I don't mean no central air -- I mean it didn't even have the wall-window units.  No.  Air.  Conditioning.  But it was a very lovely house -- I mean, it had been written up in magazines and stuff.  Figured it was worth a look, regardless of the a/c thing.  It was, as it happens, a lovely house.  Original hardwood floors, marble kitchen counter, Italian tile in the bathroom.  And a fountain in the backyard.  Honest.  The patio had these big old white columns around it, and the view through them was of a lovely little stone fountain surrounded by flowers. 

I mentioned to the agent that it sure would be nice if it had air conditioning.  Agent said, "Oh, the owner will install central air by the close of escrow.  You can't sell a house out here without air."  I was tempted to tell her that maybe she'd have a better shot at selling the place if she'd, y'know, put that in the listing.  But then I thought that I might actually like the house, so why should I make it easier for the competition?

Ultimately, I do not think this is the house for me.  I looked at it a little bit more and realized that this is sort of the flip-side of the other houses I saw.  This house was too nice for me.  I mean, I'd have to get all new stuff.  I can't put an IKEA bookshelf against these custom-painted walls.  And the closets -- they're these great craftsman built-ins (and cedar lined) but there's not enough room in there for all the crap I need to store.  I'd get Closet World to come out and put some pressboard shelving in there to make them more useful, and have someone drill through all the baseboards to wire this place for cable -- and that just isn't what you do to a house that comes with an award from a Historical Preservation Society.  They did a kick-ass job on this house and the house needs someone who will respect and cherish it for what it is -- not try to change it into something else.  It's a great house (and a good price) -- but it's the first house I've seen where it isn't that the house isn't right for me -- I'm not right for the house.

On my way home, I stopped off to get my nails done.  On the way to parking lot, I screwed up one of the nails.  Went right back up to the nail shop and had them fix the nail.  Drove home.  The next real estate agent was coming over, so I thought I'd tidy up.  I commenced tidying and ended up screwing up the polish on the same nail.  Argh.

Very unusual situation -- this other agent (or, more precisely, pair of agents).  The first agent who came by isn't actually an agent, he's the one with the broker's license.  And he's been doing this for, like, thirty years.  And he gave me a multi-page full-color presentation with charts and graphs, and spent about an hour and half going page by page through his booklet before telling me how much (or, more precisely, how little) he thought I could get for my place.

The pair of agents who came by today are agents.  They're much younger.  (They're most likely younger than me.)  They've been in the business about 5 years, after both coming to it from internet-related stuff.  (The wife also grew up in my home town in Maryland.  Small world and all that.)  The husband would list my place while the wife would try to find me a new one.  Husband came up with a number some ten to twenty-five thousand higher than the number the broker came up with, and had a market study to back it up.  Wasn't quite as high as I'd wanted (maybe if I have a third agent come in?) but I am, in this particular area, totally screwed by my upstairs neighbors.  (You see, my upstairs neighbors -- the ones whose bathroom leaked into mine -- sold their unit in a big fat hurry a few months ago.  Seriously, it was on the market for, like, a week, and they'd listed it so amazingly cheap they actually sold it for $20,000 more than their asking price.  It was a below-market sale -- but anyone looking to do an appraisal of my place is going to look at the fact that the unit above me (same floor plan) sold for that amount just a few months ago.  And it's going to be hard to convince someone to pay me a whole ton of money more than that.  Damn upstairs neighbors.  Well, the least I can do is get a good price for my unit, and make it easier for the next person here who wants to sell.)

I like them.  They weren't as slick as broker-dude, but they seemed on-the-ball and, unlike broker-dude, did not waste my time walking me through all their paperwork, but just showed me a spreadsheet and trusted I'd have the good sense to be able to read it.  Oh, and they said they'd show the place by appointment only so that one of them would always be here to babysit Jasmine.

I think I may go with them.  I didn't actually sign a listing agreement or anything, but she's gonna start looking for houses and I'm gonna get the place recarpeted (they gave me a name of another carpet guy so I can comparison shop there) and, um... I think that even if I get a different agent, I've actually decided to move.  I mean, I'm sitting here talking house options with them and saying I'll call my lender to get prequalified for a new mortgage and planning to get my a/c serviced and buy the new carpet and fix the surface on the balcony and... all of a sudden I realize I can have this place ready to go on the market by, say, the end of August.  And I think I'm OK with that.

.... It's hard, sometimes, making these sorts of decisions alone.  I mean, other than times when I find myself without a dance partner, I think making huge financial decisions are the times when I most think married people have an advantage.  Because there you can talk it over with someone and sort of hold hands and decide to take the leap together, and here, it's just me going, "OK, let's do it," and it's like, decided.  But I think it's right.  All week, my eyelid has been twitching, which happens when I'm under stress, and whenever I think, "Yeah, it's decided; I'll do it," there's no twitching at all.

By the time I get my new Vans, my condo may well be on the market.


memes121 said...

Love your journal! You have a wonderful sense of humor and can;t wait to read your next adventure!

pegluh said...

It is hard making these decisions alone, but it's also complicated making them with a partner. Excited for your new adventure!

rwdykt said...

All you can do is anticipate that things will turn out great and then when they do, you'll be so proud of yourself.