Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Rip Van Wrinkle

I am sure many of you have considered the possibility that you missed my "services".  Truth be told,  my obituary is still forthcoming. Thankfully so.  Hopefully, that gives me  time to do something interesting enough so that  my final bio isn't a  total snooze-fest relating to it's limited content.  Don't let anyone tell you that it's quantity over quality as far as obituaries go.  I have already lived a lot of years and can't come up with any entertaining synopsis that would entertain those of you that read the obits for fun.

I could just fall on the general excuse "I've been busy." as to my ongoing neglect of my poor blog and that's not necessarily a lie.  I seem to blow through the hours of the day about as fast as e-coli laced chicken travels through intestines but that isn't to say that those hours are made up of fascinating or fun events that I can expect anyone to be entertained or amused by. 

I have come to the realization that this period of my life that is currently lingering between my calling my current employment status as being retired, being unemployed or being a slug isn't eliciting a plethora of fun anecdotes that I can share with you.  Of course,  I could be selling it short on how much you want to hear about how hot Kansas is this year. 

Anyway, as I was saying...I am trying to find balance in my life  just as all generations struggle to do.   Being in charge of all my time sans the dictates of a job leaves a lot of wandering around aimlessly while figuring out  how to keep busy and simultaneously adding things that are productive, fulfilling, engaging, life affirming etc. into the mix along side of  all the mundane chores that have to be done.  Sadly all those pesky things like hygiene, sleep, nourishment, taking care of our homes, etc. don't seem to go away.  Also, we don't get to retire from the obligations.  Now there is a big time suck of a word...obligation.  Another O word might come into play as well that is the word obstacles. Yeah, just when things appear to be smooth sailing some drama-laced crap storm blows in to humble you into realizing you really don't have control of your time at all.

For example....Within days of my last post I was temporarily sidetracked by finding my 17 year old cat laying sprawled on the kitchen floor  appearing lifeless.  As it's not typical for cats to play dead, I was pretty sure that something was "off".   (NOTE:  I totally recognize for you folks out there that aren't "cat people"  this doesn't sound like a bad thing but for us "OMG cats are the BEST" seeing a cat potentially lifeless is a bad thing.)

Anyway...After my initial hysteria, I scooped up my baby and took her to the local vet hospital and she was put into intensive care.  Seriously, I know some of you aren't even believing that is a real thing, but I assure you it is real. There are veterinary ICU units.   Not only are they real but I now realize that this is the most ingenious way to make a living.  Face it...the second a vet tells you that your sweet animal can make a full recovery if given IV's, antibiotics, and maybe some dialysis  (ka-ching) are you really going to say "NO,  let's just watch my kitty die." Well...OK some of you are will say that but the rest of us aren't prepared to pull the plug.  

My Chantel is back to being her pretty self if only in looks. She is not a people person outside of her family.

Needless to say, after my sweet baby got out of the ICU, she required private nursing care provided by "moi" for a couple of weeks and she did get back to her  feisty self.  In fact, she was pretty much back to her usual nastiness (as it applies to any person in our house that she doesn't know and/or approve of),  by the time that we were getting ready to start yet another remodeling project.

Yes, you read that correctly. We are flawed human beings that just can't leave well enough alone.  We invite obstacles into our house and serve them milk and cookies. We know in our heart of hearts that there has never been a problem-free renovation project in the entire span of human existence but still we decide to "just get a quote" to find out what it would take to tear out the old and put in something shiny and new. 

Needless to say that that quote manifested into an actual project...well projects really. Over the  last few months, we  have continued our quest to never be able to recoup the amount of money we have poured into our house.  Had I really died during my absence of blogging, I can only hope that my husband and children would of  turned our freshly updated abode into a mausoleum so I could have continued to stay here long enough to  feel secure in that I got my money's worth out of the new bathrooms and kitchen redo.  I am pretty sure that time span would broach eternity, so perhaps I should, in fact, find out what the zoning rules are to get a conditional use permit for changing our residence into our final resting place. 

I always try to remember that any and all home projects are NEVER going to be without headaches but just as in childbirth, you try to tell yourself somewhere in the future that it wasn't really all that bad and it was so worth the pain.

For future reference I will do my best to remember some profound truths. 

A.  No matter how good the reviews are for a company, assume the company owners paid random family members to be their references.

B.  Realize that at least a half of the workers probably  have no actual talent or knowledge of the job you are having done but the person in charge hired them off the street corner an hour before they strapped on that tool belt and showed up at your door. I am convinced that anyone can look professional given a great tool belt with DeWalt logos within view.  Sadly, looking like a tradesman isn't the same as being a tradesman.

C.  When the company you hire says all the right things, makes endless promises and gives you a speedy time line,  assume that they are telling you  a fairy tale.  It's so beautiful when there is a "happily ever after" at the end of the story but it is becoming my experience that the endings usually seem to be similar to a Tim Burton script.  We may hope that we are going to deal with a Prince Charming but you might have to deal with someone like Beetlejuice or Edward Scissorhands. 

It's not that I don't like the finished product as it pertains to my kitchen,  but I am not entirely convinced the juice is worth the squeeze.  After every promised timeline that came and went unfinished, I became a little more agitated. THEN, when it finally looked like the kitchen was nearing completion, one of the workers dropped a saw that damaged two cabinet doors necessitating that they go back to the shop to be sanded down and re-finished.  Weeks later, after begging and pleading for my cabinet doors to be returned, I was starting to wonder if the doors were never to be seen again.  It's not that I had a particular attachment to those specific doors but the idea of trying to get yet another company that could match them seemed like a big pain in the butt. Not to mention, by this time I had already paid for the cabinets to the company that semi-completed the work and currently seemed OK with keeping both my money and my doors.

Up to that point I had been relying on using tact and politeness as my weapons.  Clearly that wasn't working. So I toyed with other options.

Option 1  ...  Go to the company's listed address and take back what is mine.  I decided against this tactic as I realize stealing back what is yours (allegedly) might land you in jail for 9 years before parole comes to your rescue.  Jail is for real and we have already talked about this in prior posts.  I am not equipped to use a toilet in front of other people.  It's what keeps me honest.

Option 2  ...  Start getting more forceful with my many, MANY text messages.  The last one that I ultimately did NOT send read, "Who must I f*** to get my cabinet doors back?"  I hesitated to send this particular message as I was a little on the fence whether a few of those workers might be into that idea.  Frankly, at least a couple of them didn't appear  like they would to be all that fussy who they  might "do". 

 Finally, I decided to let Hubby take up the gauntlet.  He had been working out of town during the whole kitchen redo debacle so I figured he hadn't become as jaded as I was. 

Basically, I think he made ONE phone call and demanded that they  get off their asses and bring my cabinet doors over ASAP.   Had I known it was just a matter of siccing Hubby on them, I would of done that weeks ago.

So, now I am temporarily back to having some control over my time and my activities before the next obstacle comes my way or before I lose my mind and figure out another activity that will stress and annoy me. all the bloggers that I have let down by not keeping up with you.  I am going to get to yours sites and see how your doing.  Hope all is well and obstacle free.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Nesters and Investors

A couple of weeks ago, I read a book with the title, House written my Michael Ruhlman. Not a nail-biting-page-turner-can't-put-it-down kind of book for the masses, I suspect.  I, however found it very interesting.   As I was saying in my previous post,  it is the love of houses that keeps me semi-attached to my job as a Realtor. Conversely, it is the dislike of working with crazed buyers and sellers that is accounting for the semi-disconnection to my job.  It would make sense for me to put my real estate licenses on hold in the various states to which I am professionally bound, if for no other reason than not having to deal with their yearly renewal processes.  BUT, the thing is I continue to love to research the market, see all that is for sale and visit homes.   Now you might just think this is me being nosy but it's more than that.  I am fascinated with all things dealing with houses and how people connect with them.

Was there a time that bad floor plans redefined cultures?

In the case of Mr. Ruhlman, he tells the story of why he moved back to his hometown of Cleveland from New York City to buy a 100 year old fixer-upper. The book basically is a memoir of how he, his wife, along with their two small children searched for an historic home, lived in the attic for the better part of a year during renovations and the reasons he yearned to do this and why his wife didn't.  He admits that he felt something akin to  a fish swimming upriver to it's native spawning grounds to get back to the place he grew up in.

Michael had grown up in one home for the 18 years before going off to school, while his wife had moved  numerous times with her parents growing up.   She hadn't really connected to a place that she considered as "her home town".  Clearly these two have different visions of what constitutes a home. In their case, he yearned for a feeling of inclusion to a community.  He needed to know the neighbors, be near extended family, and be part of the continuum of his history into the future.  His wife wanted a decent house that met their needs and she would of preferred it to be in New York City. She conceded that Cleveland would be a good place to raise their kids.

There often seems to be a huge divide between how people connect to a residence. Some people depend on their home to be their sanctuary, while others merely consider it a stop gap from being caught in the rain.  Being emotionally invested  to a home is inherently different that  residing in house where the scope of your commitment is calling it  your "current address".

Often, I can get a sense  of  how emotionally connected a buyer or seller is to their home within a very short span of time. There are times, however, that people are hard pressed to separate the nostalgia and sentiment of their house from the financial and the investment potential. Most buyers and sellers can claim they are being objective but nearly every sales/purchase transaction has at least some emotional component causing someone to emotionally implode.

Removing outwardly signs of emotional attachments from peoples homes seems to be a trend.  When I started real estate, for example, people cleaned their homes, put away the clutter, made some repairs and such to get their home ready to market.  Then a couple of decades ago, STAGING happened.  At that point people started redecorating their homes prior to selling them so they could get top dollar.  To accomplish this they were more concerned  with the aesthetics of their house than either the functionality or the preventative maintenance.  At that point the flow of the floor plan garnered the same amount of value at the quality of the countertops or the size of the master closet.  This process of making homes more impersonal added the extra level of removing personal belonging and any type of personal memorabilia.  Photos became verboten.

Yes..the pendulum swung even farther.  Now homes are being stripped down to the bones prior to sale because there is a trend that says that buyers need to imagine their own things in a home so the seller must clear out any sign of personalize.  Pictures on the wall...heaven forbid!  Rooms painted anything other that subtle, trendy colors, don't even think about it! Even furnishings are being sent to storage to make "rooms appear bigger".  All of this, of course, is subjective.

Beyond the point of buying or selling though...there seems to be the nesters, investors, and dissenters
, .  Sometimes people are both.  The nesters of the world, love their homes and continually make them "their own".  Now "making them their own" is unique to every person.  To a minimalist it may be barren looking to most of us or to a hoarder it may be suffocating to most of us but then it's not really OUR home is it?  They don't care if their home appeals to the masses.  The investors are more cautious and want their home to appeal to the majority of potential buyers.  They make improvements based on possible future buyers than doing whatever they REALLY would love to do to their home.  The dissenters don't care about whether their house is their sanctuary nor do they care what someone else thinks of their house either.

Of course, it really doesn't matter how emotionally invested or detached a person is to their residence unless it is colliding with the point of view of the other people that reside in that same residence.  OR if they need a Realtor to help them buy or sell their house.  In that case. let's try our best to start behaving like investors.

So, my readers...are you a nester, an investor, a dissenter or a combination of two or more of those.  Do you love and cherish your home or is it a place to lay your head for now?  

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Is That Your Home or Is That Your House?

Shall I bore you with shop talk today?  I have been working on a few real estate transactions as of late. As most of my regular readers know, I have been a Realtor for a very long time. In fact, I have all but retired from it at this point.  However,  every once in awhile, I get a call and can't force myself to say NO.  I can only attribute this to, perhaps, the first signs of senility.

Every time I dip my toe into a real estate transaction, it reminds me why people should retire at some point from their jobs.  For me it's the blatant reminder how "unfun" the process of dealing with anything linked to banks, large amounts of money and people can be. It could be said that for most people the process of spending or trying to recoup large amounts of money doesn't bring out the best in their personalities.

Plus, a lot of things have changed since I got my first real estate agent's license in the mid-1980s.  Most of it "not for the better" as it relates to working in the real estate industry.  BUT, I have to say, I still find the topic of homes and how people live in them fairly interesting.  I am a sucker for those in our society that still put value in their home for it's sense of well being and security as opposed to just four walls and a roof.  After 35 years of doing this, I can quickly size up the "nesters" versus the "residers".   How these groups buy and sell homes is decidedly different. (More about that later...just a spoiler alert that will be another post)

Anyway, circling back to my current tasks in real estate, some dear friends are retiring and needed to sell their house to "downsize".  This deal was easy-peasy because our friends are sane.  I know one shouldn't have to make that distinction but given that most people lose their minds when selling or buying a house, the fact these folks didn't needs to garner your respect and admiration for them.  They priced their house well, it was spotlessly clean and they were agreeable, friendly people during the negotiations.  Hallelujah!

In one of the other deals  in play, the other agent involved called the sellers "salty dogs".  Does that give you an indicator how well that is going?  But this is the new normal, now.  In most deals there is a contentious environment. It's the buyers versus the sellers versus the agents versus the bankers.  With all that being said, there are sometimes ineffective real estate agents, (load of them, in fact!) crummy mortgage lenders, dishonest sellers, and naive buyers.  There are valid reasons for real estate transactions to be volatile.

As for all of the unnecessary animosity being so common today, it seems to be where society has landed in so many scenarios.   Negotiating just seems to have gotten more difficult for people over the years.  A common theme seems to be that expectations are set high and willingness to compromise is set low.  That  seems to be the current trend.

 In the dark ages when I began working in real estate, people buying homes were evaluating the  "bones" of a house.  Prospective buyers would walk through a house and look past any of the decor and contemplate things like the floor plan, number of bedrooms and bathrooms and (most importantly) if the price of the house reflected the quality and condition of the home. There was less emphasis on everything being exactly fine-tuned to the buyer's tastes.  Buyers weren't so quick to assume that they were being cheated and seller's didn't seem to be so fixated on getting more than the neighbor down the street because that house didn't have the beautiful custom mural of Augusta National Golf Course in the den. Who wouldn't love that?

 Sure there are still some buyers that are willing to take on a fixer upper for the right price. (thank you Chip and Joanna Gains and/or the Property Bros.) but for the most part people want what they want.  What they want currently is for  everything to be perfect  and it probably should include hardwood floors, granite, and stainless steel....oh and they want the house to be a steal of a deal.

Yes, there certainly been a lot of changes in the industry in the 30+ years that I have been involved, Probably two of the greatest impacts would be the Internet and HGTV.  It's changed people's expectations on how buying or selling a house should look and feel.  It's not quite as fun and entertaining as the house hunting TV shows might imply.

Ultimately, even removing my cynicism and the constant drip of nostalgia that reminds me of an easier time, I do LOVE when people find a home.  Not a HOUSE, mind you....but a home.  These are two very different things.

To Be Continued....