May 31, 2007

Several Reasons We've Lost Our Minds (And Pictures)

We looked at five houses yesterday. Two, we'd be more than happy to spend the rest of our days in. We're planning on putting our house on the market next week. Clearly we've totally lost our fucking minds. One does not rationally decide to enter into this kind of stress, right? Meanwhile, while we attempt to locate the aforementioned lost minds, I've started a list of crap we've got to do around here. Here's what I've got so far:

  • Find minds
  • Fix drywall - bedroom, basement, living room (what are we, professional wrestlers?)
  • Replace floor - basement bathroom
  • Get head examined
  • Replace baseboards - basement bathroom, Mia's room
  • Repaint - master bedroom, master bathroom, basement bathroom
  • Donate brain to medical science because there must be something drastically wrong with it
  • Touch up - everyfuckingwhere
  • Replace carpet - cat puke stains don't scream "buy me!"
  • Sell left kidney for extra cash
  • Clean stuff
  • Trim hedges (which sounds dirty but isn't)
  • Miraculously grow grass in patchy spots in the yard, like Jesus and the wine thing only with grass
  • Powerwash exterior
  • Powerwash interior of my brain
  • Pray to the God of Home Sales
  • Find pharmacy, obtain double-dose of happy pills...or crack

Meanwhile, to take my mind off the wacky things we've decided to subject ourselves to, I finally got around to editing all the vacation pictures. Check out the Flickr set for more.

So, ever sold a house? Ever gone off the deep-end in a death-defying plummet from the heights of sanity (although I really was never too high on that ladder to begin with)? Got any tips...for either?

Posted by Chris at May 31, 2007 7:54 AM

I hear that the stuff they sell on commercials - Perfect Patch Grass Seed - actually works on those bare spots.

Posted by: Claire at May 31, 2007 8:03 AM

Uh, good luck? Happy fixing up? Congratulations on finally losing with little grip you had on your sanity? ~sigh~

Not helping? Well fug it. Welcome to the "We've lost our fucking mind" side! Woohoo parrr-tay! =)

Posted by: Lauren at May 31, 2007 8:06 AM

Ummmm, bury a statue of St. Joseph in your yard?

Sorry, I'm no help. I'm just here for the vacation pictures!

Posted by: Lisa at May 31, 2007 8:30 AM

Yeah, been there, done that. I had to paint a number of rooms neutral (one I'd painstakingly painted red only 6 months earlier, the other dark green - in the basement! I don't know what the previous owners were thinking!), install some molding to disguise lino problems in the kitchen, touch up all of the kitchen cupboards (oil paint. I was high for days), get the exterior trim and garage door painted, put wood chips in the garden, buy a welcoming front door mat, have the rugs professionally steam cleaned (it's amazing what they can get out - white berber - again what were they thinking?!)...

And then someone who came through on an open house had the audacity to make a negative comment about three dead leaves living on the balcony. Words escape me.

My advice is stage the house. Staging makes the house look bigger, removes the visual clutter to help people see around your stuff (which they need for scale) and envision their own instead.

Avoid smells - which is to say all pet and food odours should be gone, and don't bother with the stinky candles or baking of cookies. Just let the house smell "clean" without seeming like that bald Mr. Clean guy is stalking the would-be ;)

Can you tell I was traumatized by the experience?

Posted by: Opal at May 31, 2007 8:39 AM

Never sold a house, but to get back your sanity I recommend sleep. Lots and lots of sleep, and maybe some (legal) drugs. That's your call.

And that picture of a (I assume) surprised Mia is TOO freaking cute. Seriously, like dangerous levels of cuteness.

Posted by: Fraulein N at May 31, 2007 8:42 AM

Just curious: from your (apparent) sudden jump into revisiting the real estate market, it looks like this was a split-second decision. Is that the case, or did you just not mention it while you were considering it?

The patchy grass thing is going to be harder now than it would have been a few weeks ago, especially since you're further south than I am and I'm already battling the dried out patch situation.

But yeah, thanks for the heads up about not procrastinating with all the day to day maintenance... I never thought about the pre-sell efforts.

Good luck, and if you need a guy who knows a guy... I am Italian... ;)

Posted by: SciFi Dad at May 31, 2007 8:52 AM

Yep just sold a house by owner. It was a whirlwind but very good experience. Closed on one day and bought another the next day. Only had a week delay and everything came together. So keep your usually good attitude and if you can think it you can achieve it so onward and upward, Mia's getting a swingset!

Posted by: Steff at May 31, 2007 8:53 AM

My MIL, who has sold more houses than anyone ever on the planet will tell you to remove as much personal stuff as you can - photos of family especially. Also, if you can, rent a storage space and put way more furniture in it than you think you can live without. I guess the goal is to make potential buyers imagine themselves in your house, which they can't do if they see all of your stuff.

Or so I'm told. I've never done it myself. Good luck. And for what it's worth, I don't think you are crazy.

Oh, and may I suggest E3mpire Today for carpet? They were fast and relatively inexpensive for us. I know they work nationwide so you might check them out.

Posted by: donna at May 31, 2007 9:07 AM

You guys are nuts! I totally love it! When we bought our house - well - I toured it while James was at work and called him from the bedroom that a 2 year old occupied and said, "I found the house we need to buy". I really thought he was gonna die. But we bought it! And it was perfect! Can't wait to see how this goes... :o)

Posted by: Emily at May 31, 2007 9:15 AM

I have no idea. I know I don't envy you the job but when you're in your new house it will all be forgotten.

Love the pictures.

Posted by: ann adams at May 31, 2007 9:16 AM

Absolutely best pictures ever! Mia could not be more adorable, especially in that pink beach hat. I'm glad you found a good place to play in that crowded beach!

Good luck with the fix-it list. I absolutely recommend pink spackle for drywall repairs. It's easy to work with and fun to watch it go from pink to white as it dries. But then I'm easily entertained.

Posted by: coolchick at May 31, 2007 9:50 AM

Heh heh. You said "trim hedges"

My advice, realtors are scumbags. Listen to what they have to say but go with your gut regarding what you want/have to do.

Posted by: William at May 31, 2007 9:53 AM

You're a damned fool.

Make you sure you paint the rooms boring colors like off-white or beige. Most sellers like the blank canvas look. And only fix the obvious stuff, like the pentagrams scratched into the walls and floors in all of the rooms; there's no need to get nit-picky at this point with little stuff. As for the floor in the bathroom, don't use linoleum. Anywhere. Ever. Tile is cheap and easy, like a Czech prostitute. If you pull up the carpet and (cue the choir) find hardwood, sand it, stain it, varnish it. It'll look better, add value, and save you money (carpet's ridiculously expensive). It'll be purt' near impossible to grow grass this time of year, so you might just want to suck that one up. Alcohol is cheaper than crack, so I would advise using that to ease the pain.

Posted by: You can call me, 'Sir' at May 31, 2007 9:58 AM

I have never sold a house, no, nor have I ever even bought one. But we are contemplating buying something in the next year or two, and the thought of it is just horrifying! You will definitely have to give me some tips when my time comes. Good luck! (And Mia! She is getting so big and more beautiful every day!)

Posted by: Snickrsnack Katie at May 31, 2007 9:58 AM

The photos...Mia is adorable, as always! I really like your style of photography--everything is from such an original viewpoint. And however it is you edit them is superb. If you'd like to share the secret, I'm all ears!

Never sold a house. I bought one, though. I bought a house that needed touch up paint and baseboards replaced and yard renovation. Not everyone is looking for a home in PERFECT condition, so try to relax a bit. Of course, do what you can. But try not to stress so much about the little things. What is meant to be will be.

Posted by: Alissa at May 31, 2007 10:00 AM

We have only bought two houses and sold one.

The big mistake that we made was moving out of state and expecting the house to quickly sell. It took nearly 10 years. After two years of nothing, we rented the house.

We had four renters over the years. The first two were wonderful, the last two trashed the place, didn't pay their rent and had to be evicted.

I've read much about staging. Staging often cuts down on the how long the house is on the market and makes you more money.

Weeding through the house before you put the house on the market is ideal. The house will show better, seem bigger, if you organize and de-clutter.

Put a potted plant or two in front of the house. Curb appeal is what draws people in.


Posted by: Diane at May 31, 2007 10:22 AM

Good luck with selling the house! I've never sold one myself but may have to sell my condo within the next few years for a bigger one or one in a different city - who knows.

Love the pics - looks like everyone had a great time!

Posted by: Beth in StL at May 31, 2007 10:26 AM

First the pictures are totally awesome!

Now yes, I have sold a house a few time, (and even built one while living with two dogs and a cat in a camper). First, always buy up when you are young and then lighten your load when you get older.
Yard, nice neighborhood, good schools are so important. Try to find a place where Mia can put down her roots for school. My little friend, whom I mentor, has been moved all over the place (like every two years or less) since she was born. It's been really hard for her. Her mother has decided she isn't happy here either and will move next summer. I really feel bad for her. I had the same friends from nursery school and it still warms my heart.

Posted by: Maribeth at May 31, 2007 10:28 AM

We spent about $5K and did about 2 weeks of home improvement right before we put our old house on the market. After we were done, we were like "Why are we leaving this house after we've finally fixed it up." We moved into a new kick ass house, but at double the mortgage. I always wondered what if we stayed in that old house. How much money would we have saved. The kicker was, on the day of close, the new owners went through and re-painted everything that we had just painted. Bastards.

Posted by: E at May 31, 2007 10:32 AM

I'm in Real Estate so I can help a bit. It's a buyers market right now so as a Seller it's not a good time for you. The housing market is still unsteady and I've had three of the 8 houses I have listed reduce their price from 5-$50,000. If you can carry two mortgages you could buy one and wait to see i/ when your house sells. My advice, hold off--live in a place you can afford. I'd say in another 4-6 months things are going to stabilize. I've seen house on the market for going on a year--and I don't want that for you all.
If you do decided, shop around for a agent with a good rep. Talk to friends, family who've used them or someone in their offices.

Posted by: Michele at May 31, 2007 10:38 AM

My tip is this: A bowl of lemons.

They say no house on the market should be without one.

Also, I have this:
2. (They have all the answers.)
3. Take out some of the more "personal" items in your house. Make it look more like a "model home." The potential buyers have to be able to picture themselves there and that's a lot harder to do if your walls are covered in your high school wrestling trophies.
4. Fresh cut flowers.
5. Bowl of lemons.

Good luck! I fucking hate moving.

Posted by: kalisah at May 31, 2007 10:43 AM

Sold a house once. I got lucky and my neighbor wanted to cut me a deal. He'd buy it "as is" for about $5000 less than I was going to list it at once I spent about $3000 in renovations (the kitchen was orange and green...had been that way since I bought it). I took him up on it because I figured my time was worth the difference.

However, when I bought the house, it was a decorator's nightmare, but the major appliances (water heater, furnace, air conditioner, stove) were brand new and I figured I'd just repaint anyway. My advice, fix the big things and let the buyers do a lot of the cosmetic stuff. As one person above wrote, more than likely they will just redo what you spent hours doing anyway.

Posted by: Krush at May 31, 2007 10:51 AM

Gorgeous photos. Of Course! I had no idea that almost 2 year olds could go on those little rides! That's so exciting!

Posted by: alfredsmom at May 31, 2007 10:57 AM

What gorgeous photos! Of course, with such beautiful subjects (all three of you and the ocean) how could you get a bad picture? My favorite is of you and Mia playing in the sand with her hand on your shoulder, like she just has to touch you to know you are there.

Posted by: Krush at May 31, 2007 10:59 AM

Once you are settled in the new house, you will wonder why you hadn't done it sooner.

Posted by: Lisa at May 31, 2007 11:12 AM

Well, down around these parts you better have already BOUGHT a house before you put YOUR house on the market. Otherwise you'll be homeLESS in a week.

A realtor once told me to put pots with yellow flowers flanking the porch/entryway -- good feng shui.

But that'd just be yet another thing on your list, huh?

Posted by: Pammer at May 31, 2007 11:13 AM

Ah-ha! I knew it! I knew you would lose your mind eventually... Welcome to My World. We didn't sell a house (our son is living in the old one) we just built one a couple of years ago. Best thing we ever did. Also, the most stressful. Sort of. Hubs turned it all over to me - I designed it, decorated it and furnished it. He made any or all contractor questions come to me and all decisions were mine. He just said he wanted to know "how much". He's very happy with the results because I took his feelings into consideration with most decisions. Still... it is a crazy time. Have fun! Enjoy!

Beautiful pics, btw... then again, when you have such great subject material it isn't hard to do. :)

Posted by: sue at May 31, 2007 11:16 AM

see, you're all stressed-like and i'm jealous! i'm dying to move!

Posted by: ali at May 31, 2007 11:54 AM

Hey maybe you'll get lucky and end up next to the white trash neighbors again!

I hate moving and all that is associated with it, good luck with it all!

Posted by: Jeff A at May 31, 2007 12:48 PM

This was voluntary? Are you crazy?!

Don't forget to add "Visit my happy place!" to the list. :-)

Posted by: Maria at May 31, 2007 12:53 PM

We've done that a few times, when moving from NJ to Illinois, then back to NJ 12 years later, and then to Brigadoon up here on the Olympic Peninsula.

Just remember that the decrappifying in order to stage your home (so that potential buyers can imagine their "stuff" in your house) is also a form of packing, which you're going to have to do anyway.

Grit your teeth and get through it.

And then like the rest of us, you'll swear you'll never do it again.

Posted by: bhd at May 31, 2007 1:00 PM

1) Start with the head examination.

2) Make sure doctor gives you sedatives.

3) Stay on sedatives until you are all moved into the new house.

Posted by: Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah at May 31, 2007 1:01 PM

We sold moved almost a year ago. It is the hardest, most annoying, most anxious, longest time. But in the end it is worth it. I hated every minute of the showing, selling, packing, moving business. But I would do it again in a heartbeat so we could be in our dream house. P.S. I know you're in the MD/DC/VA area, if you're looking for Maryland in commuting distance from DC, let me know...they're building in my neighborhood!

Posted by: Bunny at May 31, 2007 1:18 PM

Love the pictures. The cuteness is overwhelming.

Try miracle grow. That's the only advice I have. Sorry. Oh and paint the walls a nice eggshell color. Basically people like to see it white so they can picture in their mind what color they want to paint it over later. Sounds strange I know, but I've heard it's a good plan.

Posted by: Phoenix at May 31, 2007 1:40 PM

Great pictures! Where did you go?

My parents just sold their house. It was on the market for 10 long months. I'd be happy to give you details... but 10 months is a lot of details. They are now staying with my brother in Orlando and have started their house hunt. (More trips to Florida for me!)

Posted by: Colleen at May 31, 2007 2:32 PM

How exciting!!

No tips or experience here. This is the first house we bought.

No, I take that back. I once heard you should bake apple pie just before people come to your house. The scent of the pie will be so nice , they feel right at home. Or not. You decide :)

Oh, I found prove of the apple pie thing:

Posted by: Nadine at May 31, 2007 2:47 PM

GREAT PICTURES CHRIS! And as you know we are also I am stressed right along with you (well add pregnancy, relocating 700 miles and a new job to the stress and that is me!) Question, what beach were you at? It looks awesome! I LOVE the sea gull picture. I have a love of sea gulls...should have had Mia throw crushed crackers in the air on the beach and see what happens! (Ever seen the classic horrow fild "The Birds"...pretty similar) XOXO

Posted by: Cheryl at May 31, 2007 3:10 PM

hey at least you've got a house to sell! (spoken like a truly bitter renter!)

Posted by: you da mom! at May 31, 2007 3:31 PM

Yeah, this'll be a hot topic around here. People have strong emotions about this process.

I went through it last year, so it's fresh in my mind. We did some fix-ups too, but the best advice I can give you is to look at aesthetics from the mind of a buyer. Most people don't even notice baseboards unless there's a problem. They WILL notice fresh paint and clean flooring. Grass? As long as it's cut, it's good. But a dirty shower will freak some people out.

Feel free to ask any questions you have.

Posted by: Brad at May 31, 2007 3:43 PM

*Groan* I JUST went through the whole house selling/buying thing. Now I'm going through the remodeling thing. I don't envy you. Isn't that nice of me? I'm such a good friend, I tell you things that DONT help the situation. Here, have some handy dandy tips.

*Use Rain-X in the shower. It'll keep it shiny and clean longer so you don't have to scrub it each time you have a showing.

*Look for free boxes in the cardboard bins behind shopping centers.

*Take ALL the personal pictures off the walls. Seeing someone else's family in a house you're look at buying makes it harder to envision yourself in it.

*Buy Febreeze machines. They run for an hour so you can click them on before you leave the house and it'll smell fresh for the walk-throughs.

Posted by: Tink at May 31, 2007 4:45 PM

Haven't sold one - but from the research I've done - folks here have hit all the good points...
You're not moving far, are you??

Posted by: Sue R at May 31, 2007 4:48 PM

We just signed the paperwork today, so we've officially committed to building a house. Which means we've officially committed to selling our house. Which means we're in the same boat of insanity.

Posted by: Amy at May 31, 2007 4:59 PM

LOVED the pics. Felt like they completed my east coast adventure since I didn't make it all the way to the beach this time.

As for the house. Well. No advice really because when we sold our house in 2000, Denver was rumbling up from the core of the earth and oozing real estate lava. We listed and signed contracts in 11 days. So we pretty much just had to stick a sign out front and maybe make the bed every morning.

Posted by: aimee/greeblemonkey at May 31, 2007 6:35 PM

Bake cookies. Did someone already say that?

The smell supposedly drive people wild and makes them want to buy your house ;)

There's also an article in the WSJ today by the "Cranky Consumer" about finding flaws in houses that you should check out. Not sure if you can get it online for free or not?

Posted by: sunchaser at May 31, 2007 7:13 PM

Chris, your photos are always so gorgeous! Do you use photoshop to adjust the settings? Or do they always come out looking so artistic! =)

Posted by: Lani at May 31, 2007 9:20 PM

Sometimes I'm actually very happy that we rent everywhere we live. I cannot imagine going through the homesale dance every 2 years. Best of luck to you and Beth.

Posted by: Annie, The Evil Queen at June 1, 2007 1:22 AM

1. hire professional carpet cleaner for cat puke stains. if stains persist, buy large neutral-coloured rug to cover. the new owners may decide on changing the carpeting anyway so it may be a huge waste of $$$$ to re-carpet.

2. declutter - people cannot see how much space there is if it's filled with stuff. hire storage space and pack unecessary things away. it's a head start on your packing when you eventually move anyhow!

3. might be more efficient and cost effective to hire someone to do all the minor cosmetic fixing. DIY could mean taking a long time and making mistakes which then need to be re-fixed.

4. make sure the house smells nice when people are over, e.g. scented candles (especially in bathrooms, something baking in the kitchen, use scented linen water so all sheets and towels smell nice, etc.

5. potted plants. makes the interior look fresh and can hide little dents in walls or stains on carpet. also can beautify patio and lawn, then once house is sold they are easily transported to new home!

6. don't overwhelm the house with family photos. the next owners want to be able to imagine themselves living there and having the current owner's pictures everywhere will distract them.

7. hire professional cleaning serive. they have all the tools to remove stubborn stains and know where dirt accumulates where you normally wouldn't think to clean. can be done in one day and just before first viewing so you have more time for other tasks.

8. offer viewers refreshments. put out water and coffee and some cookies. also allows buyer to imagine what the place would look like for entertaining guests.

9. make sure brochures and ads look fab. alot more potential viewers who wouldn't normally look at a house with your specs might be tempted to view it anyhow just from seeing beautiful images of your house.

10. hire a good real estate agent who deals mostly with houses in similar neighbourhoods and with similar prices as they would then know how to price your home best and which market you should be targetting.

then once house is sold for a ridiculously high amount go get rip-snortingly SHITFACED! hee hee hee!

Posted by: averil at June 1, 2007 3:21 AM

Wow, those are some good tips from averil. And that's quite a list you've got there. Good luck. In all the pictures you post, your house always looks so clean. I'll bet you won't have a problem selling it. I'd buy it!

Posted by: nila at June 1, 2007 4:59 AM

We just sold our house and moved this past January. Advice? Just be ready to feel like your taking it up the ass. We had the house on the market for almost 2 years, so when someone came along with an offer, we accepted a low bid. Then they wanted a bunch of things done - we said no. Because we said no, they asked to drop the price even further or they would walk - we reluctantly agreed. Then they wanted our furniture! We said no. The final straw, they said if we didn't leave the kids playground set (one of those $800 sets) that they wouldn't buy....three days before close.

We are currently looking for a new playground set for the new house.

Posted by: JEn at June 1, 2007 12:07 PM

I have a hard time giving advice out on the internet. But you asked for it, right?

We built our first house all by ourselves. After a few years we sold it (and are doing it all over again). The only advice I have is to be prepared for it being very emotional. I didn't think it would be, but it was. Very emotional. You get attached to houses...even if you think you aren't.

BEST OF LUCK to you and your little family.

Posted by: Isabel at June 1, 2007 12:59 PM

I've owned three apartment complexes and two homes. We now only own the one. So yeah, I've been through it a few times. The best thing you can do to get top dollar is go buy one of those silly books about "home staging". It will make you bat-shit crazy while you're in the process of selling, but it'll make bank. Seriously.

Also, HIRE someone to watch Mia while you move. And if you can, while you pack. It's insane enough to wrap your head around as is, you don't need to worry about Mia as well.

That's all I got.

Good luck!

Posted by: Elaine at June 1, 2007 7:02 PM

Specialists claim that loans help a lot of people to live their own way, because they are able to feel free to buy necessary things. Furthermore, various banks give small business loan for young and old people.

Posted by: MariettaWright at January 5, 2011 2:06 PM