catskills, country life, farm, Real estate, upstateny

Of Ants and Grasshoppers

Remember that old story about the ant and the grasshopper? The ant worked while the grasshopper played. And the grasshopper scoffed all summer, telling the ant he was wasting time that could be better spent enjoying himself. Winter was a different story, and the ant was warm and dry while the grasshopper shivered in the snow.

I’m trying to be like the ant.

We live in the real country now. Not suburbia. Out on a country road, twenty minutes from a supermarket (yes, you veteran country dwellers, I know you’re scoffing but that’s not the one mile walk I was accustomed to), and a healthy hill or a small mountain to get over in any direction.

We got our roof replaced. It needed it. I may have cried a little as we paid the bill, but it’s the kind of repair that will pay us back for the rest of our lives.

We got a generator. Our power went out all the time at the last house. But that short walk to a store and a mighty wood stove kept us going. The power was never out more than three days, as I recall. I suspect if it goes out here, it could be awhile before the power company gets to us.

We stocked ourselves with wood for the wood stove, got the furnaces cleaned, even had extra insulation put into the attic.

The snowblower is serviced, the salt is ready for the walkways.

We’re as ready as we’re likely to be.

It’s already snowed here, just a little. I’m not sure if I’m excited or nervous about the first real snowfall. This is the Catskills. It snows here. It can snow a lot.

What will I do to entertain myself once winter arrives?

I’ll be working. That’s a sure bet. Real estate may slow down in the winter, but it doesn’t stop.

I’ve been taping the sheetrock in my partner’s music studio. It’s a skill I’ve always wanted to have and it’s satisfying to put some work into the job. I’ve put in four or five full days so far, and the control room is, I think, ready to sand. I started taping in the live room today. It’s small and it’s going to go faster. That’s fine by me.

Once he’s back to work in his own space, there is paneling I could remove in the house….boy, is there paneling. But I have a book to write, too. Maybe I’ll take a break from construction this winter and focus on that.

Come spring, there’s a garden to expand, some painting to touch up outside, and we’ll be back to mowing that lawn that takes a full day, even with a riding mower to help with the meadow.

It feels different, this life in the country. The weather matters more. We watch the forecast and plan our activities around it. And people matter more, too. I’m loving the new neighbors, my new town.

This is what I always hope for my clients — finding the place that feels like home.

I got lucky. I found mine.

Real estate, Uncategorized

How to Sell a House in One Day

We’ve been talking about moving farther out into the country for awhile.

And then we found a place we both liked.

We made an offer. It was accepted.

Now we had to sell our house.

I tell my clients what to do to get their houses sold. I took my own advice. For once.

First, I checked the market. I compared my house with two houses that were for sale in my neighborhood and adjusted for acreage, location, rooms — all the things I do when I list other people’s houses.

And then I did what no one wants to do. I priced my house right in the middle range of where it would likely sell. Not the top of the range with room to move. Smack dab in the middle.

My intention was to be firm on the price. I could afford to be. There’s so little really good inventory that I figured there’d be a lot of interest.

It was a gamble. An educated one.

Now that I was pretty sure what my return was going to be, I took a long, critical look at my house. I touched up paint, freshened décor, repaired any problems I knew of.

Then I cleared things out. I boxed the multiple photos of my kids, my parents, my aunts and uncles, my grandparents, my great-grandparents. I moved furniture around. I looked at the rooms through the viewfinder of my camera and found where things really looked best, not where I thought they looked best.

I made a detailed list of all the work done on the house, all the new improvements and upgrades (there were a lot – the place was a mess when we bought it), and made that part of the listing.

I put the listing up on MLS. And the phone started ringing.

The first people to see it came before we were ready.

“I wanted to have a couple of days to do a final cleaning,” I objected.

“They’re really interested,” their agent said. “They will understand if it doesn’t look perfect.”

They came. They looked around. They stayed a long time. They went out in the yard and talked. They came back in and sat down at our kitchen table.

“We want it,” the wife said. “We’ll give you full price.”

It was a case of the right people, the right house and the right time. They wanted a house like ours. They wanted to be where our house is. And the price worked for them.

Our house had an accepted offer. For full price. On its first day on the market, to the first people who saw it.

I knew my house would sell quickly. I just didn’t expect it to be quite so quickly. Nor did I expect the problems that resulted.

Let’s back up to the beginning.

We’ve been talking about moving farther out into the country for awhile. I’ve filled my partner’s inbox to the point of explosion with Zillow listings of decrepit farmhouses and “fixer uppers” in the middle of nowhere for a few years. It’s what I did when I couldn’t sleep.

I couldn’t sleep a lot.

And then we found one we both liked.

We made an offer. It was accepted.

Now we had to sell our house.

I tell my clients what to do to get their houses sold. I took my own advice. For once.

First, I checked the market. I compared my house with two houses that were for sale in my neighborhood and adjusted for acreage, location, rooms — all the things I do when I list other people’s houses.

And then I did what no one wants to do. I priced my house right in the middle range of where it would likely sell. Not the top of the range with room to move. Smack dab in the middle.

My intention was to be firm on the price. I could afford to be. Inventory was low.

It was a gamble. An educated one.

Now that I was pretty sure what my return was going to be, I took a long, critical look at my house. I touched up paint, freshened décor, repaired any problems I knew of.

Then I cleared things out. I looked at the rooms through the viewfinder of my camera and found where things really looked best, not where I thought they looked best.

I made a detailed list of all the work done on the house, all the new improvements and upgrades, and made that part of the listing.

I put the listing up on MLS. MLS. Not just Zillow. I wanted to give our local agents a chance to sell it. I wanted to give it the widest possible exposure.

And the phone started ringing.

The first people to see it came before we were ready.They were represented by a local agent.

“I wanted to have a couple of days to do a final cleaning,” I objected.

“They’re really interested,” their agent said. “They will understand if it doesn’t look perfect.”

They came. They looked around. They stayed a long time. They went out in the yard and talked. They came back in and sat down at our kitchen table.

“We want it,” the wife said. “We’ll give you full price.”

It was a case of the right people, the right house and the right time. They wanted a house like ours. They wanted to be where our house is. And the price worked for them.

Our house had an accepted offer. For full price. On its first day on the market, to the first people who saw it.

SOLD – Now What?

We caught the couple who lived in our soon-to-be grandma house by surprise. Our house hadn’t even been on the market when they accepted our offer. They thought they’d have more time.

Our house’s new owners-to-be had their own problems. Their house was selling in a few days and they weren’t sure where they were going next if they couldn’t move into our house quickly.

Our buyers had to move into a temporary place for a month. We couldn’t get the folks at grandma’s house to move any faster. We rented our house back for a month from our buyers, then moved into a temporary place while we waited for grandma’s sellers to move.

Where did grandma’s former owners go once we moved in? A rental. They haven’t been able to find a new house they like. They’re going to keep searching from a temporary home base.

It’s a little insane. And I’m hearing that it happens more and more. There is so little for sale. If someone puts their home on the market with nowhere to go, or if the people at the end of the line can’t get moving (ahem, grandma’s house) the delicately balanced dominoes that let one closing lead to another just can’t fall in order. So post-occupancy agreements are becoming common at today’s closings.

Moving, psychologists tell us, is one of the top five stressors. And that’s a straightforward move, without all these weird problems.

The only thing that got me through was the long view. I pictured it a thousand times. I’d be sitting outside on a warm, starry night, sipping a glass of red wine and looking at the valley across the street from grandma’s house. It’s a long view. It was worth it all.