Monday, March 26, 2007

 
Seen recently in my bird feeder: a mockingbird technically too large for my kind of hanging feeder who goes into extremely funny contortions to hang on as he gets at the seed; a mated pair of downy woodpeckers; various yellow and purple finches; the usual flock of sparrows; mourning doves feeding on the seed dropped on the deck by the others; a female and a male cardinal who always arrive separately, so I don't think they're a couple [yet?]; one or two plump junkos.

*******

We've hit the wall with the sale of my house. It's been on the market now for two weeks and three weekends. Apart form the open house on the first Sunday, nobody's come to look at it. I called my realtor (who had assured me the house is eminently saleable at the price for which he's advertising) and discussed the situation this morning. He had said he'd work the open houses on Sunday to see what the situation is. The news isn't good.

For one thing, I heard on CBS radio news that February was the worst month for domestic real estate sales in something like seven years. He had told me that January was pretty active but that the bottom fell out in February and he was right. A couple of factors are extremely important. The rate of foreclosures is sky high right now in the well-publicized crisis in what's called the sub-prime market of adjustable mortgages. Record numbers of people are defaulting on mortgage payments and losing their houses which are beginning to glut the market (the stock pile of new houses that aren't selling is at record levels also)--on Saturday I drove to my supermarket and in the 8/10ths of a mile between it and my house there were five houses for sale.

The broker also told me on the phone this morning that he had seen houses on Sunday with more updated features than mine at lower prices than the price he recommended to me. We have an appointment to meet late afternoon tomorrow to discuss strategy. It's not that I'm scared of not making a profit--when I bought this house many years ago at a reduced price as a "handyman special", I paid $16,500 for it (that's NOT a typo). I'm not even afraid of having to lower the price of the house somewhat since the price my broker suggested was significantly higher than what I had thought I'd have to put it on the market for. I'm concerned that it won't sell at all, at least not in a reasonable amount of time. That was my big concern when I realized that I'd be selling the house at the bottom of the market, and it remains my concern, amplified by the unexpected foreclosure situation that's a most unwanted complication.

The new house moves along. Yesterday we finished cutting trees in the road leading to the house and slightly beyond into the area where the drilling equipment for the well has to gain access. Next time we cut, it will be in the actual footprint of the house. After cutting for two or so hours and getting a lot done (we had three chain saws and six men in all) we took an afternoon tea break and then got ready for the Sweat, for which another ten joined us.

One of our guys has a plan for completely renovating the Sweat Lodge and putting an actual roof on it to replace the dome built of PVC pipe ribs and two layers of tarp with four layers of bubble wrap in between them as insulation. After fifteen or so years out in New England weather and subjected to a great deal of steam inside, the Lodge very definitely needs work. We're looking to getting it done next month.

*******

I'm continuing to lose weight slowly but surely. Tossing around 60 to 70 pound sections of tree trunk certainly isn't hurting that effort, and I'm working to eat as responsibly as possible. But I've always been a nervous nosher and if it goes much longer before people at least come to look at the house, I may snack myself back into a couple of extra pounds.

Comments:
the housing market is bad here too.
I hear it is even more horrific in Michigan.
THe notion of a sweat lodge sounds brilliant!
 
Your post strikes a chord with me all the way from Sussex in the UK!

I am sorry to hear that estate agents (brokers!) are the same in the US as they are in the UK. My advise as if you need it is to ask what YOU think it is worth. (you must have researched the market) Most brokers are in it for the money and need, for obviously selfish reasons, to inflate the market. They simply do not understand that people will only pay what the can afford!

Good luck though!!
 
Mark,

I'm going to respectfully disagree with you here (I'm not a real estate agent, neither is my partner.) Yes, this is a weird profession with built-in conflicts of interests. For example, how can you represent a buyer when your paycheck depends on the price paid by said buyer. Answer, you can't, most people don't realize that real estate agents represent SELLERS first and foremost, and that a buyer's agency is a load of crap.

That said, most real estate agents are also smart and know that the longer a house stays on the market, the harder it is to sell. Meaning, they have an incentive to price it attractively from the get go. An inflated price is a big turn off for buyers. Better price a house below its intrisic value and get multiple offers, than above and hope for the best.

Will, you are in 'good' situation in that you can really afford to lower the price. Despite what Mark says, I would listen to what your agent has to say. Now of course if you smell cluelessness you should seek a different opinion :-)

I again wish you the best of luck, but I'm sure it'll sell :-) I know it's a highly stressful situation... been there.
 
The housing game.....ahh. Definitely not to worry yet, my friend. A couple of weeks on the market is nothing. Even in Portland where the market is going along pretty well and prices are actually stable...the average time on the market is 60 days. You've got a long way to go. Now, if it indeed overpriced, you can lower it....but take your time unless you're in a hurry. This is a long-term deal.....not short. And knock of the munching because you're nervous.....eat because you WANT to.....make it good food. Enjoy it. Life is to be enjoyed and pleasant.
 
i will give u 17,000 for it right now. hundreds okay?

fucking hell u will turn a nice 500.00 profit and be happy to know i will keep it full of amazingly hot young boys with few to no clothes in sight.

win win win win if u ask me...

if u dont want large bill, i can get a big sack of coins (which will help reintroduce the age ole 'is that a roll or quarters in your pocket' gag).

-stevie
http://chaos.typepad.com
 
spo--Supposedly things are, or were, picking up here but this foreclosure thing just came out of left field,

Mark--Welcome! Delighted to have you here and that you left a comment. Actually, my broker has been collaborating with me closely from the start and the price we put it on the market for was based on studying what similar properties in the immediate area were being marketed at and eventually selling for. As I am vulnerable (only one bathroom in a market where 2 to 2-1/2 baths are the norm) he suggested a price under many of the other houses in my area. But I'm just not drawing customers at that price and we will talk today about a carefully phased reduction.

Scoobs (Dave)--thanks for the encouragement--I do remember your selling saga.

Lewis--I promise I'll only nosh on carrot sticks and
fruit! Let me clarify--my concern isn't that it has failed to sell in two and a half weeks, but that nobody's even coming to see it. I expected it to be between three and six months before it sold, so I'm being pretty realistic, I think.

Stevie--Thanks for the offer--it's JUST a bit under what I need to get out of the house, although the image is kind of delightful.

Thanks, guys, you encouragement is a big help.
 
Last August when I accepted the promotion which required me to transfer to the city, I put my childhood home on the market expecting it to sell within 2-3 months. This would have given me time to adjust, look around ... have breathing room. Instead it sold in just three days, and at a higher price than I ever dreamed of getting! The next month was total panic as I tried to find a house to buy in the city where I was moving. I settled for a real fixer-upper in a great location. Since then the housing market has just taken off, and my little house has skyrocketed in value. Of course, we are not talking Boston prices.

P.S. I am very good with a chain saw.
 
Do you think the weather in the NEast had anything to do with the poor attendance at your open house? Now that its warming up and staying and the snow is almost melted away maybe more folks will be out.

on the other hand - could you rent it for awhile until the market looks better? i know thats more of a headache in terms of management but maybe it would be less stressful in the long run to wait.

of course i am a novice at all of this - just ideas!

love your birds - my birdfeeder is out of commission due to the screws coming out of the bottom plate that holds it to the feeder pole so the squirrels can't get at it.
 
Hi, Will,
I very much enjoy the blog.
Good luck selling your house... any reason not to link or list on your site? I mean... moving to Roslindale ain't out of the question for us...
michael
 
Hi,Michael--Linking would be fine--why don't you email me and give me your info.
 
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