Tag Archives: real estate

A Bit Untethered, but Happy and Excited

22 Apr

While living in the gloriously big house that Walter now doesn’t want to leave with my awesome, frequently jet-setting in-laws has been fantastic, it’s not easy for me to not have my home base. When I want to settle down or escape, I don’t really have anywhere to go that is mine, except maybe my car. I was even having difficulties living in the small room with our cat, who I am allergic to — long story –, until my brilliant husband suggested I take a Claritin, which thankfully worked. So at least I have that space too again.

The good news is, the finish line is within sight. We sold our house! It went under contract the first day of showings, and the buyers were great. I’m jealous of our old neighbors.

We also bought a house! I feel ridiculously lucky to have found the house we did. It’s a 1965 ranch-style that has previously had one owner, sitting on half an acre of gorgeous landscape.

IMG_20160414_171304306_HDRDay of closing: happiness.

It was very well-maintained, but dated. But that’s the best part! We get to do what we want with the space! No one else has done some costly, generic updating. Mostly it is painting the walls, changing light fixtures, and refinishing floors, but we also get to redo the kitchen from scratch!

IMG_20160418_162936242_HDRYep, that’s our kitchen. Walter thought it left the house on its own.

I already feel like it is my house, even more so than our old house, not just because I’m on the deed of this one, but because I picked it out knowing that I want to live here for the next 30+ years. We have only three weeks until the movers bring our stuff, but oh what needs to be done before then!

IMG_20160422_094949Our wonderful helper!

 

IMG_20160418_205801862_HDRWallpaper was clearly invented by the devil.

IMG_20160421_170823349I needed to paint by myself, and when I was ready to go, I found him like this!

It’ll be more than great to be home again, which is why we’re working round the clock to get things done. We have been blessed by the help of Dave’s dad, who has spent several days doing electrical work at our house and puts Walt to bed so we can go work in the evenings, and my mom who has kept Walt while we get stuff done. I worry about him. In the end it’ll have been a 3 month move, and moves are not easy. Sometimes he isn’t really clear about what’s going on, but he’s a trooper. I’m real proud of him.

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We’re living like it’s Downton Abbey

4 Mar

This is multi-family household living at its best, just without Nanny. Or Carson & Mrs. Hughes.

Here’s what happened: my husband bought an expensive house during the real estate bubble of ’07/’08, right before he graduated college in 2009, during the recession. A + B = C, and C hasn’t been good for us financially.

College had delayed his transition from the Marine Corps to his career in his late twenties. I graduated college at the same time as him (but mid twenties) with my second degree, didn’t find a full-time job, didn’t get in to graduate school, and then became a stay-at-home-mama, which was my dream anyway. Meanwhile, my husband worked hard to pay the mortgage, while we watched many others get rewarded by buying foreclosed or cheap houses because of the recession and at one point getting huge checks from the government for being first-time homeowners. We have been the definition of “house poor” for the last 7 years, even though we lead really, really good lives. No denying that fact.

So in order to sell our house, we have moved in with my in-laws near Chastain Park. Oh how terrible! No, not really. It’s pretty awesome.

At our house, the floor needed a good sand and refinish. Our realtor recommended it. Our cousin, who’s the best real estate agent in Birmingham, said to do it before it goes on market. It’s not the most expensive reno job, it must be done by a professional, and it can totally change the look of the house.

I’ve been wanting to change the color for years anyway.

So I finally spent the last of our savings, touched up the paint (again), cleaned it up real nice, positioned the furniture just right… and now we pray we get some money back from the money pit that has been home ownership for us so far.

We moved in with parents so we can stage the house — and not live in the poly smell immediately post-floor refinish. I won’t have to battle the dog hair, kitty litter box, Walter messes, and my type-A cleaning personality all while keeping a house show-ready. We can also take our time to find the right house for us when it comes time to do that.

I have never been more excited to go shopping in my life. I’ve never had the opportunity to pick a house before. My husband bought our current one a year before we met.

So we’re in our thirties acting a bit like we’re in our twenties… but hey, we’re Millennials, so we’re allowed to do that, right?

IMG_20160224_192426Perks: Pop reading bedtime stories to his grandboy in what used to be The Serious Business Room for twenty years but has recently been changed by Walt to The Crossword Room (note WSJ crossword on end table).

Ladies Night Out 2-2016Perks: Ladies Night Out with the Sistas of the Pour at Terra Terroir

 

Today is the Day

3 Mar

A couple weeks ago I spent a very, very cold day moving most of our house into my dad’s bonus room. Well, three very nice gentlemen Stevie, Scott, and TJ did all the heavy lifting. I had a cold too (probably from Stress), and I was totally deceived by Weather.com’s prediction of 50’s weather. It was 30’s out there, with wind, and I was foolishly dressed. But at least the freezing rain held off til everything was moved! I’m pretty sure it was 70° and sunny the next day. Thanks, universe.

It was one of the final steps getting our house on the market for the third time in two years. And this time, we’re not kidding. We’ve worked tirelessly since last summer (intending to stay): fixed up the house, painted, stained, moved, decorated, etc etc etc until now it is stunning. And we finally came to the non-changing conclusion that we have to get out of our mortgage, for better or worse. Even though we will miss our sweet home and the neighborhood immensely.

Eight years of home ownership and two years in the making, we present to you our very beloved in-town home in the amazing East Atlanta neighborhood of Ormewood Park (going live around 5pm today). Click on the photo link to see more:

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The House

10 Apr

It’s like an episode of Love It or List It, and for now, we’ve decided to love it.

We took our house off the market and plan on doing some upgrades, mostly cosmetic like light fixtures and paint, some necessaries like a new roof, and then a really fun idea: possibly finishing out the gigantic attic.

The good houses in our neighborhood sell like hotcakes (for instance a house in our price range got multiple offers in 24 hours a couple weeks ago). For the life of me I will never understand why our house didn’t sell during the 7 months we had it listed in the last year, but that’s OK. We’re going to make it work to stay here and enjoy it and our neighborhood.

I already walk around with a new sense of joy in my surroundings.

Now, back to work so we can afford our mortgage.

Texas or Bust?

28 Feb

A couple days ago I somewhat jokingly and also in a moment of profound fury after losing a contract on a house we loved and a hefty amount of cash asked my Facebook friends where in the world I should move if we left Atlanta.

Before I met Dave, I was interested in moving out of state. I had even applied to graduate programs all over the South. So far in my life I have only lived in Atlanta and also one other place (for a year or two). My first memories come from Claremont, California, with our rock garden, tangerine tree, pool, and the coyotes howling in the faraway mountains. But Dave had just bought a house here, had just moved back here after boarding school and college and Marines, and I loved Dave, so I stayed put.

Now, however, the world feels wide open and free. The house will sell. We are not obligated to buy anything else here. Yes, we have lots of friends and family here, lots of responsibilities and loves, but I feel something calling me out West.

Maybe it’s the books I’m reading. I never used to read multiple books at once, but right now I’m still in the middle of a Benjamin Franklin biography, a novel about Nazi resistance, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s On the Banks of Plum Creek, and Chris Kyle’s memoir about being a SEAL sniper since 9/11. Chris Kyle is a Texan through and through, and it has gotten me thinking about my husband. Dave has friends and family in Texas (that I like too!), and Texans really do love their veterans. I like horses, independence, cowboy hats, and *gasp* guns (well, in actuality I love the people who love guns. I don’t mind rifles but I am not comfortable with a handgun). And being closer to the National Parks out West. And Mexico if The Day After Tomorrow turns out to be correct.

Laura Ingalls Wilder is making me thirsty for wide open spaces. And making me wonder if we should hire a horse and wagon to move?

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I had to bring both books to the lunch table because I wasn’t sure which one I would want to pick up to read at that exact moment.

I don’t know what’s going to happen. Maybe we’ll get a house here in Doraville, or find another gem in Marietta, but maybe when everyone reminded me of “God’s timing is the perfect timing,” they were talking about this: a brief chance at freedom and exploration.

The Oscars, or Why I wanted Bradley Cooper to win

23 Feb

It has been a wild week, with the loss of the Marietta house, the possible sale of our intown house, and the feeling of being a little free-floating. The days culminated in a very creative-minded weekend.

Watching Walter learn things is so very cool. Much more fun re-learning with him, than it was learning all this stuff the first time around. I swear, the boy has gone from delayed speech to teaching himself how to read at 2 1/2 years old.

At dinner, we spoke of muses, and how to pull a poem out of you before it flows away. I also made my best pot of Killer Shrimp yet.

When I walk around with my phone in my back pocket, an album playing, it makes me feel like I have my own theme music.

I happened upon a spiritual healer, whom I plan on contacting. I am very interested to see what happens, what it is like to get a private reading or energy cleansing. I always love talking to people like that, card readers and other mystics.

I absolutely adored the Oscars this year. In years past, if I turn on the Oscars, I usually get hooked just because I am interested in which movies are nominated, as I normally don’t even have a chance to find out what movies are being released. This year, I felt like I had a stake in the game. I am a big fan of American Sniper and Chris Kyle. I find the story enlightening and heartbreaking, knowing that Kyle was murdered and his wife and children are currently undergoing their dad’s murder trial. I am reading his memoir right now and am basically learning all about Dave’s time in Iraq, as they were both in the Second Battle of Fallujah. Chris Kyle’s voice is unique, so much so that I am more compelled by him than almost any other book I’ve read, except maybe Margaret Mitchell in Gone with the Wind. And Sniper‘s story itself… there is such fodder in discussing a man who gets killed by the very weapon he so adores (and a deranged man, of course), after surviving four tours in Iraq. Clint Eastwood and Bradley Cooper brought the story to Hollywood superbly and with undeniable mastery of their craft.

I am also a big fan of Neil Patrick Harris. Dave and I both think that How I Met Your Mother is one of the most comedic and high quality sitcoms ever. I was amazed and delighted from the moment the Oscars started. Neil’s opening act was perfect. What a performance! The visuals were clever and stunning and nostalgic. And then he spent the rest of the show intelligently poking at the audience and the world, opening up even more intimate details of Hollywood. The speeches were wonderful to listen to. Political but not offensive. They hit all the high notes, such as gender equality and suicide, two subjects I’m passionate about. My favorite was the man who won Best Supporting Actor. I’ve seen him in a million movies but don’t know his name, even now. But he was the every-man, reminding us of family, and how we are an extension of the people who came before us. It was beautiful.

The show-stopping moment came when Lady Gaga performed a medley from Sound of Music, one of my top favorite movies of all time. I have never been a fan of hers, because I could never see past her gimmicks to the art. Sure, I heard a few songs on the radio, which might be catchy, but other than that I was not impressed. Gaga blew me away, however, with her simple yet glorious dress, makeup, and hair, on a beautiful stage, with the most exquisite and powerful voice. Thank you for that, my dear! I look forward to future such soul-awakened moments of pure art.

All in all it was an evening well spent. Onward and upward!

LADY GAGA

Benjamin Franklin and I have a bath date

3 Feb

It’s a rare moment of calm in the house. The house is exceptionally clean since we just had another showing. My mom took Walter with her after a delicious lunch at Stone Soup Kitchen, since he was singing “Mimi’s house Mimi’s house Mimi’s house” all morning and destroying anything I had just cleaned. The dog is sufficiently walked. The cat is sleeping and not meowing. I have a cup of hot raspberry leaf tea, the Hozier album is playing, and I’m contemplating relaxing in a tub with Isaacson’s Benjamin Franklin. What an amazing person. Reading that book is opening my mind, and I’m so excited to learn more. Because of this book I’ve already put several more books on my Amazon wish list and a few free ones on my phone’s Kindle.

I just bought a St. Joseph statue off Amazon. Comes with a pre-packaged prayer, which I’m interested in reading. I asked my realtor to look into the tradition, and he sent me back a link about novenas. This is getting serious! I’m glad at least that we have a good relationship with our current realtor, both in buying our new house and selling this one. He’s the only one so far that has been able to work with me, to put it bluntly! But the statue is a good, fun break in the monotony and work that is involved in selling this house.

At a party recently a friend told me about how he and his wife sold their townhome in 8 days, and to be honest it made me incredibly jealous. Another friend said it took them a year, but they were able to move out anyway due to job opportunities that took them to another state. That still sounds like a better situation than living in constant readiness of a showing with a toddler, a dog who sheds like a maniac, and a cat who walks all over the counters devil-may-care. I’m managing to stay calm without too many breakdowns, but this morning I was ready to hail an Uber to send Walt to Nini’s.

Dave and I are taking a six week parenting class entitled Parenting the Love and Logic Way, and so far we’ve learned how to diffuse the situation for arguing and begging kids. That was great advice, but I need something to use on someone who isn’t logical yet. Smart as hell, but also quite emotional, demanding, adventurous, and charming. What a great kid!

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He’s getting really tall already.

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She plays with this thing almost as much as Walter… and usually while he’s sleeping. It isn’t quiet.

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Wait, who’s the baby?

I should just go take a yoga class and remember to live in the moment. Because if I’m not mistaken, I’ve got it really, really lucky. Lots of love, laughter, shelter, food, and warmth in this life!

What I think of the Real Estate Market in East Atlanta

31 Jan

As my dad so elegantly puts it,

“Don’t tell me what ‘the market’ says. I tell you what the price is.”

And also

“Buying a house is easy. Selling a house is hard.”

And boy have I learned a lot about that in the last year. I thought moving would be easy, but it’s a racket if you aren’t rich or live in a posh neighborhood. And somehow we live right on the fringe of a posh neighborhood.

Our house is one of the most expensive on the block, because it is really nice, but so many of the houses immediately around us were foreclosed on and flipped right after Dave bought his house. Because David paid “full price” it is much harder to sell for as cheaply as the the competition, even though he’s the one who worked hard during the recession to not cut and run (or get forced out by the banks). He didn’t buy the house 20-30 years ago when the neighborhood was dirt cheap. We’ve been here seven years, and the money and sweat equity we put in to this house doesn’t seem to matter too much, at least yet. We’ve gotten lots of activity but no offers; however, it’s only been about six weeks and a lot of that time was over Christmas and New Years.

I believe that the way realtors get paid is detrimental to everyone who isn’t really rich or about to make a ton of money on a great purchase.

My husband and I don’t dislike our house by any means; this house is beautiful, and we enjoy keeping it up. But with our lifestyle it makes sense to move out to Marietta with the schools (and room to home-school) and land and sprawling split levels. I love in-town living, but I’m ready to move back out to the suburbs. I grew up there. David grew up in Ansley Park, moved to Chattanooga for boarding school, was a Marine in N.C., and then lived at our house. Longest place he’s ever lived. But now he’s terribly excited to move out of the Perimeter. I think one day I could even see myself living in a very rural location, but for now (and maybe forever), East Valley. It is an incredible house that I would love to live in.

I hope this transition is smooth. Current house needs new roof, floors refinished, a new light fixture for the foyer, a fence, and the master bath tile re-glazed and cabinets painted. A cool gray exterior would really make the decks pop! New house needs new flooring in lower levels, new back doors, insulation, garage spring safety cables, railing, shelving, light fixtures, fans, kitchen faucet, bathtubs, re-wallpapering the guest bath to truly bring out the tacky tile, all new appliances… the only part that is perfect is the outside, which is what I am dreaming of! And the extra space of course for my growing family. I think I see a baby kitten in our future… Petra better get ready!

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Our stager wanted me to artfully place plants around the house. Petra, however, eats them.

Living in a staged house isn’t quite like Arrested Development, but close.

22 Jan

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The house is certainly the prettiest it’s ever looked, but all my books are packed away and most of my crafts placed inconveniently in the back of the guest room closet. There are barely any personal photos to find around the house and the garage is about to burst with “extra” furniture.

I left my sewing machine out but I either have to use my knee or one of my hands to press the foot pedal since it’s on an end table (that used to be Dave’s craft table when he was Walt’s age). I wanted to make some place mats for us to use at the kitchen table (to tie the room together!), and I must say that my little ones were quite helpful.

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Sensing that I needed to accomplish something…

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…Petra pre-warmed my fabric. While there was a sewing needle in it.

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And Walt tried out the pedal for himself.

But yeah, the place mats did turn out great, and I got some chuckles in the process!

The Dreaded Facebook Syndrome

7 Jan

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Lately I think I’ve been bitten by the evil Facebook bug. The one that tells you that everyone else has it so easy (even when you know that’s not true). If I were telling this to my mother she would tell me that I was having a little pity party for myself, and that is true. But it doesn’t change the fact that sometimes it can be hard to look at the good tidbits of 150+ friends and then *gasp* compare them to my own life. And since I can barely handle my Facebook newsfeed, you can imagine the anxiety that The Daily Planet inspires in me. Evil is lurking around every corner these days, did you know that?

Dave and I have been trying to get pregnant again for the last 9 months. A lot of women have spoken up lately about how difficult it can be to be miscarry, and how they need to grieve. But what do you grieve when there never is a baby? How often are you allowed to feel grief? Every month? That gets exhausting and I don’t need to be depressed every single month. So then, is it only if you ever get pregnant and something goes wrong? Some months I don’t mind Aunt Flo but some months, the months that I have hope, that I think I am pregnant again, are the real killers.

Maybe every 9 months of negative tests and your monthly menses you can call that “the missing baby”.

I am so overjoyed when I see friends and family pregnant, but sometimes it feels like the universe is laughing at me. Over the last nine months I’ve had at least 30 friends either have a baby or announce a pregnancy. I know it’s just that time in my life when people are having babies, but sometimes I just want to say “Come on, really? Another one? What about me?”

And then the house. I’m sick of talking about selling our house and continuously working to improve it. To top it off, lots of friends have bought houses in the last year, and it seems to all work out for them so easily. They’re either renting when they buy, their condo sells in a weekend, or their jobs pay for their moves, and yet, for us, I don’t understand why we don’t have a hundred people on our front porch wanting to move in. Or at least one! Most real estate agents want to sell our house but not bring buyers by. They also want us to sell our house for so cheap that we’d be paying people (more) to take it off our hands, when the agents are the ones getting the easy profit. The economy isn’t that bad, folks. This is a great house. This shouldn’t be rocket science.

And to top it off, the thing I was spending most of my spare time on, being a deacon at our church, has turned into such a bad scenario for me, so draining and infuriating, that I no longer want to darken their doorstep. It would be difficult to go into detail and not write a novella, so let’s just say I tried being a very involved member and it’s just not working out anymore. I would say that I don’t even know what I believe anymore, but that’s not true. I think I know now better than I ever have before what I believe. And I love the people at our church dearly, but maybe Groucho Marx/Woody Allen are right: “I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept people like me as a member.”

I’m trying not to lose hope here. I know someday soon that all the cards will fall in to place and I’ll be the person with all the great, happy stories… full belly loading the moving van… but some days, hope is simply hiding under a large, too-heavy-to-move rock. And I cry.

Being able to write this down and share this brings me closer to the constant knowledge that I have it good. Real good. I am amazed by our clean, running water. That we give away cell phones for free. Quick, cheap, and safe vaccinations. Choice. Freedom. My little boy.

Maybe there’s a line in the middle of all this, the line that signals peace.