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But First a Moment to Breathe... and Grieve

I have spent most of June focused on one thing, and one thing only. Preparing my first house for sale.


The word "compartmentalize" kept popping up in my thoughts a lot.


I really need to do laundry and go to the groc...


Compartmentalize.


Yeah, but the floors are dirty and there are weeds popping up everywhere and...


Compartmentalize.


There's at least two, maybe three kids actively missing me right now, I should...


Compartmentalize.


I said that 2024 was the year for audiobooks and I've only gotten one done and...


You guessed it, compartmentalize. Focus on what needs done, this minute, with all of my being and get... it... done.


And so I did. And it got the job done in record time. My realtor said, "You realize you've gotten done in three weeks what it takes contractors to do in three months?"


The answer to that is three words: thrifty, murderous soul. I could see no reason to pay a mortgage on a place and take that long to get it fixed up!


Dozens and dozens of people toured it. Two offers came in. Only two? Well, I have a hypothesis on that. I blame it on Zillow. In the weeks leading up to the listing for sale, Zillow slowly increased the Zestimate to $258,700. And when we listed it for $240,000, the Zillow algorithm suddenly dropped it, over the listing weekend, to $240,900. Nearly $18k less?!!!!


Buyers, or as I slipped up and said "regular humans" in front of my friend and realtor as if she isn't a regular human (she's actually a heck of a good human, not some weird alien known as a realtor) deal with perception. And even though most of the great unwashed know that Zillow is far from a reliable source for providing accurate sales estimates, knowing and perceiving are two very different things.


So buyers were flocking in at the $240k price, hearing there was already an offer on the table for $250k, cash offer, closing in three weeks, and then fleeing for better pickings. When in reality, the house could have (had Zillow not bit us on the butt) gone for $255k.


Now, this is not me complaining. It isn't. I owe $70k on this house, and even after fees and capital gains taxes, I will still have enough to finish renovations on another house, create a cute little apartment for my teen (and the littles once they reach the age of majority) to live in rent-free, and buy a car. I'm HAPPY, I got what I wanted, a house sold at a great price and the feeling that I have been well-paid for my hard work. But damn, perception of value is a strong part of the decision-making process for people, including me.


One super-nice thing about all of this? I actually met the buyer a few days prior to the house going on the market. I was finishing up for the evening and he drove by and asked a few questions. I invited him inside to look around and he told me he was very interested. I learned later that he had tried for several other places and lost out to other bids and that he said to his agent as he was touring it on Saturday morning, "Is it wrong to feel like this is the one and it's meant to be?" Hearing that, it made me realize that my first house, one I poured so much love into, was going to be in excellent hands. And he's a horticulturist, which just makes me so happy. After all, plants in general make me happy. And there are two mature pawpaw trees, wisteria, grapevines, two Asian pear trees, spearmint, lilac, and a Granny Smith apple on the property, so I've well started him on his gardening adventures.


Time to Decompress... and Grieve

Grief always takes me by surprise. My nose is usually at the grindstone, working away, too lost in my own projects to recognize what is waiting for me at the end of one. But after that 20th day, I found myself rather lost. I had just spent nearly three weeks focused one ONE THING, getting the house ready for sale. And although I cried plenty, when I stepped into parts of the house and a memory filled me, I wasn't truly prepared for the end of it all.


Now, don't get me wrong, I WANTED to be done. That last week felt endless. A thousand little things that desperately needed doing and then, quite suddenly, everything was done, and ready, and it was time for me to walk away.


Houses hold memories. The walls absorb them, keep them close. In some ways, it feels wrong to sell this house. As if I'm betraying a memory of what used to be.


I guess that, despite being rather down to earth and practical, there is a part of me that still holds room for the woo-woo. What can I say, I'm an inconstant creature.


Also, may I point out one terrible thing that occurred? Somewhere I missed summer and ended up on Hell's Front Step...one minute it was spring and the next a hellscape of hot. Did I mention I don't have central air? Something I hope to remedy in the next year or two!



Return to Audiobooks

Yesterday, I recorded the first chapter in Broken Code. Each day I go over to Cottage West and turn it over, I'll record another chapter, finishing with the recordings somewhere at the end of July. Smoke and Steel has been recorded, and I hope to edit a chapter a day in it and finish the edits by the end of July and upload it soon after.


Me, after our initial attempt to remove lath and plaster inside of Cottage East two years ago

The BIG Project

The thing that will serve to distract will of course be renovating Cottage East. We still have a bit of cleanup to do inside first since we had the lath and plaster removed last year, along with all of the old wiring and plumbing. Time to do it right. Most of it will be through contractors, but I am really looking forward to the finished product - all-new electrical, plumbing, insulation, and HVAC. The old floors on the main level are beyond saving, so we will remove them to the sub-floor and put in laminate and tile. By the time we are done, it will be a lovely place to rent out. I think we will go with mid-term renters, those who stay 30-90 days at a time, and I'm still trying to decide if we want to do a whole house rental, or by the room, as there will be two ensuite bedrooms, and two more smaller bedrooms that share a bathroom.


Mid-term, rather than long-term, allows for better oversight. I will be able to control the decor, furnishings, and yard - and maintain a higher standard of renter for the neighborhood (whether or not my neighbors appreciate that aspect) similar to how I operate my short-term rental.


We should have this done by the end of this year, possibly sooner. Fingers crossed!


Finally, A Big, HUGE, Thank You

I could not have done this, nor pulled off the amount of sale that we did get on the Belton house, without one person's priceless advice, patience, and perseverance. When I decided to sell the Belton house, I reached out to the person I had seen posting on Facebook about her return to real estate. I loved her optimism and joy at finding houses for clients, and selling houses for others. Reading her posts compelled me to reach out to her and ask if she would be interested in helping us sell our house. That was in mid-April. Lana Mount (with Exp Realty) has provided me with so much help, guidance, paint color choices, advice on necessary fixes and improvements, hugged me when I cried (kid you not), and absolutely advocated not just for us, but for potential buyers, during these past two months. Without her smart suggestions, we wouldn't have a finished basement (all it took was carpet tiles!), a smart, classy kitchen (new tile and paint), and so much more.


She did everything she could (including some classy staging of the house just before listing) to give us the best chance at the highest price point, all while managing expectations. Some realtors will just come in, look at the place, and tell you, "This is what we should list it for." But Lana took it a step further. She gave us some great suggestions and they added value and, even more importantly, attraction, for potential buyers. I cannot say enough good things about her!


Thank you, Lana!


And in case YOU need a realtor who is sensitive to your needs - either as a buyer or a seller - I would not want to use anyone but Lana if I were to decide to sell (or buy) a house.



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Join my group General Malcontent's Grumbles and Scribbles on Facebook and get plenty of weird memes, the opportunity to read my newest releases for free, pics of the family, and other author news. I look forward to seeing you there!


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Oh friend, you're welcome. I want you to know, I would work with you a hundred more times! You took my advice and direction with grace and gusto! (Even when I pushed a teeny tiny bit.) You deserve this win and all the goodness ahead! As for the grief, it is real and it can be hard. Hang in there and keep killing those goals! Lastly, your kind words and support with this endorsement is amazing. Thank you so much!

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