“In one evening, we moved every piece of furniture in that house and cleared the clutter,” says Hupp of the staging intervention. “It sold the next day.”

While home staging won’t always sell a house overnight, the same inexpensive home-staging concepts that worked for Hupp and her clients will work for you, too.

To get decluttering right, she suggests removing all items that are smaller than a breadbasket (and of course, personal photos, too). Be aware that clutter may also come from crowding larger items, too. Look for clutter on floors, walls and even in closets. You want to make homebuyers envious of your organized home — and you can’t do that if it’s filled with clutter.

“You only need three pieces of furniture to stage a room and three decorative items (of varying size) to stage a surface, such as a mantel or dresser,” she says. Apply the rule of three with flexibility. For example, in the living room, the rule of three applies separately to soft and hard furniture.

“Lighting is so important,” says Hupp, “just putting a table lamp in a room immediately makes it feel cozier.”

from AOL Real Estate

Spending just $400 to $500 on fresh landscaping, for example, can boost your home’s value by $1,600 to $1,800, according to a survey of real estate agents conducted by HomeGain, an Internet real estate service. Spend another $300 on cleaning and de-cluttering your home, the survey found, and you could add another $2,000 or more to the sale price.

from MoneyCentral at MSN

If you’re adding inexpensive carpeting, consider upgrading the carpet pad, Fisher says. It’s only about 50 cents more per square foot and it will make a budget carpet feel luxurious, she says.


Young families tend to revolve around children. Items that help this demographic envision themselves living in the space include age-appropriate bedding, linens and towels, a bright rug near play areas, and strategically placed toy chests with open tops. Since kids often play or watch TV on the floor, eliminate the coffee table to create a living room that appears larger and more inviting. Jones notes to remember about the garage when staging for families. “Organize children’s toys and sports equipment to showcase the garage’s storage capacity without compromising functionality,” she said.

Fresh, Crisp Master Bed Treatments
“Home buyers want to see a neutral home that they can easily visualize moving into. Old family quilts, skimpy blankets, limp pillows, and wrinkly exposed sheets may be comfortable for everyday living but are turn-offs to buyers. Sometimes just covering a seller’s linens with a fresh, neutral comforter/coverlet/duvet and several fresh, plump pillows with coordinating shams and pillowcases can make a room feel like a four-star hotel, instead of a budget motel.” –Tracy Pulos, Prudential Fox & Roach REALTORS®, Wayne, Pa.

Pops of Greenery
“Floor plants or trees, especially palms, [are great staging accessories]. Plants and trees add so much life, movement, and reality to every room in a house. They can also fill up a space where sometimes nothing else will do. Sometimes all you need is a tree to round out a vignette of sorts, instead of staging an entire room, especially if cost is a factor.” –Angela Rehm, Staging Works

from RISMedia

Get a home inspection. Most buyers will have one done anyway, says Zollinger. Do it now — and make any needed repairs before you put the home on the market. Depending on where you live, the service will probably run about $200 to $400, she says, and your real estate professional can recommend several good inspectors.

Harness flower power. Lee and his wife used this technique and sold their own home in two weeks, he says. “We spent a fortune on flowers, but I really do think it helped,” he says. Their favorite — wild flowers. “It gave the home a nice, softer feel,” says Lee.

Showing your home on a budget? Go for less expensive bouquets, green plants or seasonal flowers from the yard, says Love.

Set your house apart. Phipps recalls one real estate study in which potential buyers were shown many different houses in similar neighborhoods, all with similar features and amenities. The one that stood out? A home that had yellow roses on the dining room table. People not only remembered the detail, but they rated the home higher as a result, says Phipps.

“You need to give the home a hook,” he says. “Something that makes it different in a positive way from the other houses.”

from 20 Tricks to Selling Your Home

Moving Changes


That was a shock.

Different plans
R mentioned that we want to stage the house for sale when or before he moves. Yes. I thought that was a great idea. Then he mentioned that to do that, we need most of the furniture in the house to be in the house.

So I was planning on leaving him with a mostly empty house and he was planning on me having a mostly empty house. How did we miss those very divergent expectations? I don’t know.

Thinking through taking little
Instead of taking most of our furniture, his plan is for me to take very little of it. But if I take very little of it, how am I going to entertain my students? I guess they can sit on the floors. There will be plenty of space there. We’ll have to split some of the kitchen cooking stuff. He cooks more when he’s not totally busy, but if I’m there by myself, I really want to cook more.

Also, his plan is for most of the stuff to stay here to stage the house. But if he is planning on being done in March (which he was) and putting the house on the market in March… Is he not planning on moving until May now?

Also, we were going to have the carpets redone and the painting done. I thought we were getting rid of all the furniture so we could have that done. But I guess he’s just going to move that furniture around?

What does “taking little” actually mean?
If we move the way R was expecting, what will I be taking with me?

My desk, my china cabinet, a few chairs, my grandfather’s closet, maybe the chaise lounge (since I need a couch of some sort), all our bookshelves. Probably the wardrobe from our room, because it takes up too much space (though I am not sure where he plans to put it in the new house) and, maybe, the cedar chest, too.

I am also going to take the things I “inherited” when my folks moved into their condo: the pool table, a bedroom set, a breakfast room set.

Furniture: 21 pieces of furniture (including eight dining room chairs) and the bookshelves–however many bookshelves (We have 19 but were thinking of culling down to 12. However, we have talked about using the less attractive bookshelves to do other things with.) So at most 40 (!) pieces of furniture.

Okay, that sounds like A LOT!

How much furniture do we own?

How much am I not taking at all, ever?
Teen rm: 5
Breakfast rm: 1
Bedrm: 1 HUGE bed
M rm: 3 (or maybe only 2 and bring one)
media rm: 5
E rm: 1
Laundry rm: 3
That’s 19 that we are getting rid of here for sure.

How much are we taking next time?
our rm: 1 or 2 (cedar chest IS coming, just not sure when)
bkfast rm: 1
kitchen: 1
living rm: 3 (all fairly substantial)
M rm: 0
R office: 2
E rm: 2 (big bed and dresser)
media rm: 3 (including a couch)
dining rm: 7
Next time: 20

Yes, I own 79 pieces of furniture. Obviously I have too much furniture. WAAY too much furniture. I do. I own way too much furniture, even for my house and my parents’ house. But, yes, definitely way too much furniture for our new house.

Man, I have been blessed beyond measure– or at least my ability to measure. A lot of the furniture we own was given to us. We have purchased (that we still own) 25 of those pieces, including the dining rm table and chairs and most of the bookshelves. I’d never really figured out how much furniture we have, although I did know we own too much now (since my parents moved last summer- although none of that furniture is currently at our house since it is still in theirs to stage it).

Besides furniture
Boxes. Lots of boxes.

The books I have not managed to donate away (126 boxes maybe? really? that many?), the Christmas stuff (4-12 boxes), 8 boxes of family photographs + 2 of ours, the fancy dishes from the Harry Potter closet and pantry and kitchen, my collection of blue glass and silver. So how many boxes of dishes? (20? I don’t know how much space the dishes will take. It could be as little as 20 or as much as 40.) Some other kitchen things (toaster oven, silverware, plastic stuff, some pots and pans) maybe 2 boxes.

The art? I think most of the art should go with me.
lesbians in the rain
2 Treby
blue pear
R’s pic of 2 Benfields
whatever art is on the wall in teen rm
Deb and Betty painting from Breakfast rm
violin lady
Grama’s watercolor
Christmas Tarkay
R’s grandmother’s pics (2)?
Blue mountain castle
Dutch girl
Do I really want the Northwoods? No. I don’t. Does J?

How to move if most is staying here
I was wondering if I could hire someone to pack and load all this stuff and then I would drive it myself or if I could find a small company who will pack and load it and drive it up and unpack and unload it. I know which would be easier. The problem would be expense.

Would the people that I hired to move my sister’s bedroom set to our house do it? At $60/hr for the 7 hr trip that’s $420, plus probably another $420 for loading, but QUITE a lot cheaper than a regular moving group. Even if I have to pay another $420 to get them home again. But, then again, maybe that’s only local moving. I’ll have to a) figure out what group I hired and b) call and ask them about rates or recommendations. They did a great job of moving the bed.

Pool table moving
Okay, just getting the pool table disassembled and put in a truck by a pool table moving company is going to cost between $400 and $800. That’s not including getting it to my new town. And pool tables weigh about 1000 pounds, so I’m adding A LOT of weight to the move. One of the places said they would move a pool table for $1.00 a mile beyond 60 and the other said $1.20 beyond 60. That’s about $800 more for a round trip, not including the set up again on the other side, about $300. So the pool table itself might cost me $2000. Of course, it’s a $25,000 pool table, so $2000 is cheap for that… That assumes that one of the two services here in Houston would be willing to take it across the state.

Do I know what I am getting into?

Can I change my mind and just stay here?
It would be a lot easier and cheaper. Even losing the $1000 for escrow on the house.

On Happiness

A quote from Happy Catholic’s Quote Journal:

Martin: Does that make you truly happy?

Douglas: Oh, well come on. No one’s truly happy.

Arthur: I’m truly happy.

Douglas: No, Arthur, you are cheery. No one’s interested in the secret of true cheeriness.

Arthur: That’s not true. I’m fairly often just completely happy. Like, for instance, when you get into a bath quickly and it’s just the right temperature and you go, “Ohhhhh…” I mean no one really gets any happier than that.

Martin: What a depressing thought.

Arthur: No, no, it’s not though! Because those sort of things happen all the time, whereas you’re hardly ever blissfully happy with the love of your life in the moonlight. And when you are, you’re too busy worrying about it being over soon. Whereas the bath moments, there’s loads of those.
Cabin Pressure, “Fitton”

Moving, Purging

Less than two full weeks ago I made the decision to purge 27 boxes of books. I needed to get rid of them, either donate them to the library or sell them. R recommended selling. I took three boxes of the best books to 1/2 Price and got $20. So forget that. The library can make more money on them than that at a quarter each.

The first official week (which was from Wed. to Fri.) I packed up four boxes of books and took them to the library.

The second official week (which was Wed. to Sat., since I was out of town Sun-Tues) I packed up six boxes of books and split them between the library and the store.

Today, the first day of the official third week, and a week when I will be home most of the time, I have eight boxes of books.

So, to date, I have 18 boxes of books purged.

Now, my original goal was 27 boxes, three a week, but when I realized I could do more, I changed my goal to 30. Thirty still seems doable.

Then when I started computing how many boxes it took to empty a single bookshelf, I figured out that I needed to get rid of 63 boxes of books to lower my bookshelf rate to where I need it to be. Now, I’m not planning on doing that because I think that 63 may be more books than I am able at this point in my life to get rid of. However, it is a measurement of how much I need to do this that my “big” goal for the summer was less than half of what was necessary to cut down on my bookshelves.

Despite this, I am celebrating the fact that I have 18 boxes of books purged from my shelves. I actually have three entirely empty shelves in the living room. I could have four, perhaps, if I mixed the books.

I went to the teen room to work on purging there, but the heat trapped in the room was too intense. I left the door open to cool it off some and I will take a fan up with me and get to work there later this evening as things continue to cool down some.

I also went through the big pantry and pulled out about half a box of stuff for the give-away pile.

I obviously need more boxes.

House Repair Notes

1. Tree pruning:
Need it soon.
We have spent any where from $300 to $2000 on tree trimming in the past.

2. Sticking doors
How to fix:

3. Damper not closing
Bad or necessary?

Typically, the dampers that are required not to close are for vented gas units. That is a standard code now, although it can lead to drafts and irritating noises in the FP if installed poorly. (I suppose the issue that lead to the requirement is exhaust gases entering the home when someone forgot to open the damper and didn’t have a lot of black smoke in the house to remind them).

For a conventional FP, I am not aware of any jurisdiction near my area that requires an open damper.

I agree that any hole in a house – even the damper – is a hole in the house. Serious energy loss – that alone should be enough. But why is the damper not closing? Age? Build up? Any of those items indicates that further inspection by a qualified chimney specialist would be warranted.

4. Attic insulation = 5 inches
How much do we need?
“Most likely, there is a vapor retarder beneath the existing insulation. If it is there, all you need to do is add insulation that has no paper face on it.
If there is less than 6 inches of insulation now you may have to add two layers. The first lays is to fill the space between the joists. The second layer is to build depth running the other direction across the joists.

The recommendation is an attic should have between 16 and 22 inches of insulation with a minimum total R-value of 49.”

This did not make it into the list of “repairs” that they are going to make. I wonder if we need to do it. How much will it cost? We never did it here. Of course here our a/c costs were horrific. On 1/2 the salary, we probably don’t want that.

5. bricks with impact damage

What do we need to do to seal them?

The simplest way is to spray on a sealer. You can use polyurethane either water based or oil, there are products available at most big box hardware stores that will do the job as well, many will be marketed towards driveway/paver sealing and will do the job just as well for your purposes.

Make sure you clean as best you can the surface without scraping out the mortar, a large old paint brush is a good tool for this job, gently brush away as much of the dust as possible, then spray on the poly. You can also brush on the poly as well but you need to make sure you keep a wet brush and it is much more time consuming than spraying.

DO NOT seal the bricks if there is a moisture problem, make sure you address this area first.

6. One missing knockout cover
What will that take to fix?
You can get knockout caps at any of the big hardware store. Probably in the order of 30- or 40- cents apiece.

7. GFCI replaced:
How much?

Labor costs vary with size of project and level of detail/quality. For typical GFCI Circuit Installation expect to pay between $70.00 to $122.50 per circuit. A minimum fee equivalent to 1.5 – 2 times the base wage rate may apply for small jobs or initial consultation.

The typical GFCI Circuit Installation project can be completed by a moderately skilled do-it-yourselfer; as with any project, high quality GFCI Circuit Installation requires attention to detail and careful planning.

8. Exposed connection:
Do not attempt to work on your electrical wiring, switches, or outlets unless you are properly trained and equipped to do so. Electrical components in a building can easily cause an electrical shock, burn, or even death. …

When we see exposed electrical work like this we know that someone un-trained has been doing electrical work on the building and we need to be alert for other faulty electrical wiring practices. …

In good practice you don’t want to strip off too much insulation – when the splice has been completed and the twist-on connector has been installed, you should not see any bare wire exposed extending beneath the bottom edge of the mechanical connector.

9. Slow Drain:
Get a plumber. Figure out how to use the snake ourselves.

10. Cooling equipment:
No comment on the size of the unit to the size of the home. Since we have had trouble with that here, I would want to know. Can we just ask? Will he know?

Note: No sprinkler system. Drats. That means I have to go water the yard still.

For us when we are selling our house:
minor electrical fixes

Moving Thoughts

What’s been happening
The general inspection came through and the sellers agreed to fix all the problems. (Some were substantial, like no junction box and lose wires hiding in the scuttle.)

The sellers agreed to pay for most of the foundation problems. We’re paying $650 over what we originally offered to have a house in “perfect”-ed condition. Not bad at all.

So, we are buying a house. We are actually closing a lot earlier than we had planned. The sellers found a house and they want to move on quickly. So I have to return on June 21 to take possession. … Which means I need to get insurance, call the electric and gas companies, and lots of other stuff I am too emotionally tired to think about right now.

We are buying a house! (I’m trying to get really excited about this.)

Great things
The house has the most amazing kitchen. Really. It’s amazing. It makes you want to stay in there forever and there’s actually enough room to do that, too. We told people about the foundation issues and they were, “Oh let the house go.” Then they saw the kitchen and said, “Never mind if it tilts later. Buy that kitchen!” It was pretty funny how unanimous the votes were. And, though the range is high end, the rest of the kitchen was fairly simple fixes to what was originally a wonderfully large, but very bland, space.

The house also has two living rooms. I can take the Civil War era pool table which was my mother’s, if I can afford to have someone who knows what they are doing come and disassemble, move, and reassemble it. I’m so freaked about that $$ I haven’t even called anyone to ask. Yes, I know. That’s not the way to get around problems, but I couldn’t call about it when I didn’t know if I could move it. Now it’s a holiday…

Moving issues
The bedrooms are tiny. Well, tiny for us, here in the land of spread-out-houses. I kind of have anxiety about fitting stuff in there.

Of course, I have anxiety about fitting stuff into the house totally. (Moving from a total of 3600 sq ft–not all originally ours–worth of stuff to a 2200 sqft house with no garage.)

I think one of the reasons I’m working on the books is that I can actually do something about them right now. We are planning to leave all the furniture we are not taking with us in the house here, since R is staying for two more semesters. Plus, we are planning on using that stuff to “stage” the house when we get ready to sell it. So I can’t just get rid of furniture we aren’t taking with us.

When I’ve tried to make to-scale drawings, they haven’t worked. I’ve even done some software programs, but I’m doing something wrong or just not scaling right or something. So I’m not really sure how much stuff I can take with me.

I don’t want to take a bunch of stuff up there and have to get rid of it there, especially not when I am paying to move it. (Although I know good and well that every time we move I purge a lot of stuff and every time we arrive, I have more junk to get rid of.)

I would prefer to have the house too empty than to have the house too full. However, the idea of de-cluttering and downsizing sufficiently to make that happen, especially when R has already mentioned he would like to purchase a new couch (either a futon or a hide-a-bed) for my home office, so that we could have two guest beds if needed–which they will be, since we have two sons–is hard.

I’ve made long lists of furniture to take and furniture to leave. I’m trying to figure out how much furniture I am going to need to store (family pieces that I want the boys to have but no one has space for right now since they are in dorms). I’m trying to not fixate on taking only my favorite furniture, but I am taking furniture R doesn’t like because it is family furniture. Some of that could probably go in the storage unit.

I have two pieces that I like but he doesn’t and I think that if I had one recovered and one restained he would like them. But that means having them recovered and restained. Do I do that here? Or do I do it there? I don’t really know people either place to do it, so I’ll have to find out. Plus, one of the pieces really won’t fit in the new house if we are going to buy a hide-a-bed for my office. So I guess I am leaving it here. I should ask my sister if she wants it back, even though it is terribly plain, because she gave it to me originally.

Yes, I am having movers. No, I am not doing it myself. Well, when R moves, we’ll take a single big truck with all his stuff, including his incredibly large and very heavy desk, ourselves, but most of the stuff is coming with me and being brought by movers. This is far more anxiety ridden than I expected it to be.

Both R and I are second-guessing ourselves on leaving This City, with its wonderful opportunities and all his friends (all of mine are in the new town, even the ones from here), my great non-tt job with my wonderfully supportive colleagues (they are already planning a We Got Tenure! party), and our home for 11 years. Plus, how things are working out, this move is costing more than we had budgeted. (Doesn’t that always happen?) So it’s stressful that way too.

Today I cleaned off my at-home desk. That is amazing. I only have a rice dish (with stamps, change, and business cards in it) and a mug of pens. Then there are two of the four books I am reviewing this summer on my iPad. I also have my new and old passports, which R had looked for and not found because I needed them for something and had hidden them in the big bowl which I used as a catch all. The bowl has been emptied, cleaned, and placed for “viewing” on a bookshelf in the living room.

I also cleaned out the flower vase that E had given me for Mother’s Day about 12 years ago. It’s been grimy for years, from the water residue. The book R bought me when we were in New Town said to clean it with vinegar. Worked like a charm!

I also picked up all the mess that I (and the rest of the family) had assembled on the dining room table, and did a general clean up of all the public areas in our house. The dining room is still stressful because all my office boxes are in there and most do not have tops and aren’t stackable because of sizes or breakables or my lack of a packing gene. Maybe I could get R in there to help me re-organize in a way that would put all the odd sizes together and only leave a single open box that isn’t stackable.

I also took the dry cleaning in and left it (even though since it’s a holiday it won’t be ready until Tuesday) and pulled the bag and stack of clothes for give-away out of our bathroom. (Now it’s in the entryway instead, but I am thinking of having M do a give-away run in R’s truck this afternoon.)

I am sitting here thinking that there are other things I could/should do, but right now I just want to vegetate and think about all the stuff I did get done.

Things for the House

Okay, some things are a bigger priority than others. I don’t have to spend all my money at once.

First priorities:
We need blinds for the front rooms. We’ll need eight sets, I think. Something for the front door as well. Do we need them for the den, too? Maybe. Especially since anyone driving down the alley can see into the house.

Motion sensing lights
We need these for both the front and the back of the house. Since I’ll be there by myself, I really think these are essential. Even if I don’t even know where to get them or how to put them in.

Guess I need to talk to the handyman and see if he can do those.

Important things:

Wood floor
Wood floors in the living room. Where would the wood floors end? Probably right where the carpet ends now going toward the offices and the kitchen. The other direction I don’t know where the carpet ends. Perhaps at the wall that the hall closet is on? How could we make it end well there?

kitchen island woodThe kitchen in the house is black. (R and I think it might be French Black, the black with a lot of green in it.) It has raised panel outsides on the cabinets and the handles appear to be silver or brushed nickel. Hard to tell from the pictures and I don’t remember.

Do we want a kitchen island that is wood or black?

I think, since it won’t exactly match, we should go with the wood. Then it’s not supposed to match; it’s just supposed to work there well. And their table, which looks fine in there, is not black and is a wood…

Sears appears to carry (online at least) the most stackable washer and dryer combinations. I like the Kenmore’s but wish they were silver.

Also need a dishwasher. If we put it back in where it was and add in a pantry where the fridge is now and move the fridge over, then the fridge isn’t right next to the dishwasher, which is not energy efficient.

Door to offices
We do want a door put back in to the offices. We want one door there. I would prefer a wooden door. It could be an inside door or a pretty door, maybe one with a window at the top? Perhaps we could match the front door? Would we want that? craftsman insertFireplace door
The fireplace has obviously got issues with popping embers. (The floor is burnt.) What if I put in a cool craftsman style fireplace door? Found one: Pleasant Hearth Glass Fireplace Door Easton Black. The one I like is $349.00 in all three sizes. The site tells how to measure. They won’t fit if the opening is too small or too large. But it looks like my fireplace isn’t too large. Might want to get one for the office too.

Less important things:

I would like to add shelves in under and over the counter instead of where the kitchen desk area is now. We could put the appliances that are nicer looking there. I think that might work well. Put the heavier ones higher up and the lighter ones lower down. Maybe even put in a lazy-susan.

Pantry. Either put it on one side of the refrigerator or put it in on the other side of the room.

On the other side of the room I would make it as deep as the counters all the way up with doors that open. We could put in a six foot pantry. Basically standard cabinets appear to be 24 inches deep and 36 inches high. So if we put in a 6 ft wide x 2 ft deep x 8 ft high = 96 feet of space. That would be nice. It would still leave a little bit of space at the wall for the light fixtures.

Things to think about

Do I want doors there? Well, there is a door there, to the den. Do I want a door to the kitchen? That doesn’t really make a lot of sense, to cut off the pathway… Except that it would be nice to be able to close off the laundry room if you were in the front of the house and not hear it. I’ll have to think about that.

The hearth on the living room fireplace matches the brick in the office fireplace, but not the brick in the living room fireplace. What else could we put there instead? Could we paint it? What color?

Make sure you have chosen a color that will withstand changes in decor, as removing the paint is difficult and time consuming once the brick is painted.
How to Paint a Fireplace Hearth |

It doesn’t look like I should paint. Paint is hard to remove and dates easily.

What if I just extended the fireplace hearth and put wood underneath it? So the fireplace hearth is wider (so the floor won’t burn any more!) and then underneath that sticking out part is wood. Would that work? How wide should it be?

I have been using the rule of fireboxes level with the floor must have at least an 13″ hearth extension to a non-combustible material and those above floor level must be at least 18″. I saw that documented 5 or 6 years ago.

I was looking through the Code Check Complete book and found a totally different rule for hearth extensions. On page 47, it says 16″ minimum hearth extension if firebox opening is less than 6 sq ft.
20″ minimum hearth extension if firebox opening is greater than 6 sq ft.

The difference being the rule I have been using deals with height of the firebox to determine depth of hearth extension whereas the Code Check documentation has it determined by sq ft opening of the firebox.

A nice marble or granite slab, with wood underneath, would look good. Could I find one that “goes” with the brick without being totally ugly? Maybe not. Obviously that’s not a priority.

Problems with furniture

Where am I going to put my china cabinet? Mom’s really goes with the style of the house better, but I’m not taking Mom’s china cabinet without Dad offering it. And I’m not sure where I can put mine. Perhaps move the fridge over and put the china cabinet there? I don’t want the moisture of the dishwasher getting to it, either, though. I may have to think about this.

R wants to take our old refrigerator. Where would we put it? I don’t want it in the utility room, at least not where the washer and dryer are now. However, if it would fit on the wall next to the bathroom wall, either where the mirror is now or facing like the stackable washer and dryer… It is NOT going into the room and then blocking the door like the washer and dryer do. Yeah, it’s only a few inches, but that’s too many.


My second favorite house sold this week. My fifth favorite is the one off the market. My third favorite house is WAY over on the other side of town (eleven miles and fourteen minutes away from my work). Update: Just today my third favorite house was put under contract. My fourth favorite house was rented last week.

I know what number 1 was. The first we made an offer on.
The fifth favorite was the house we have an offer in on now (even though they took it off the market).
Third favorite was Brookhollow (but imperfect because of 70s vinyl, counters, wallpaper in pristine condition).
Fourth favorite was Garfield.
But I have no idea what the second favorite house was. Not a clue.

Well, looking at this it means I told H wrong. It was my fifth favorite, not my third. Still. It stayed on the list.

Of course, the house out near Brookhollow was my second on the day we looked and he didn’t like it at all. The angels in the backyard and the master bath with three doors just freaked him out. (Gee, I wonder why.) I thought it had all the benefits of Brookhollow, except having the garage in front and no brick fence, with none of the drawbacks, 70s stuff. However, Brookhollow was perfectly priced for its neighborhood and this house was high based on the neighborhood.

I looked at my posts from April 8 and wonder why we are moving. God, we are counting on this being from you, but it sure doesn’t feel like it. Neither of us are wanting to move at least half the time and this is hard not fun. However, you didn’t say you would always call us to fun. Really, though, it would be nice if Perfect House would show up and call us on the phone.

House Drama

We offered for the second house and, after they went house hunting, they accepted.

Because of all the houses that needed foundation work in New Town, I decided we should have the foundation checked. That turned out to be a good plan. There was a lot of damage that I didn’t notice them having fixed (though I did see one place). The house needs $12,000+ of foundation work done. That’s not horrible ($40K is horrible), but it’s pretty substantial. And I’m not paying almost full price for the house and for the foundation work. So if they won’t pay for the foundation work, we won’t get the house.

Now that I’ve said that, in a way I thought I would be relieved. But, honestly, it’s the best house for us we’ve seen on the market. I haven’t really looked at everything, if the house was on the edge of a bad neighborhood I didn’t look at it, but I did look at everything in a good neighborhood in our price range. There is one house that’s on the edge of a bad neighborhood, but also in a good neighborhood that I didn’t look at. I kept asking H to go look but he didn’t want to add another choice to the mix, so we didn’t. But there’s nothing else in town that’s solidly in a good neighborhood to look at.

So if they don’t take the foundation work off the cost of the house, then we won’t have a house. H had said we could offer for my favorite one, but I don’t want him to be feeling buyer’s remorse over something as big as a house either. So I’m thinking I should find a cheap place to rent (found one on Craig’s List for $350/mth) and just live there for a semester. Keep looking.

It has the advantage of meaning I don’t have to move this summer but also means I’ll have to keep looking. That hasn’t been as fun as I had thought it would be. Plus, that means we are counting on something good coming open at the right time, or buying it a bit early or late. That’s fraught with difficulties of its own.

I have focused on the negatives of our house in my mind, but it really has some strong positives. Cool address. Amazing kitchen. Cute yard. Nice trees. Big den. Big living room. Two offices. Despite the colors of the house, I do like it a lot. It was one of my top three choices all along. It never dipped below third. (Update: Actually 5th, but it did always stay on the top 5 list.) So obviously, before we made the offer, I could see the good points.

The “bad” points, besides the repair issues, which aren’t really an issue because they are pretty much yes or no, are cosmetic and the fact that we are downsizing. Now, we wanted to downsize. Really. Even I did. It’s just hard. And seeing where you are downsizing to makes that more obvious. The other thing I don’t love about the house is the paint job, but I can repaint. And H has agreed to me repainting, so that’s not a problem.

So I really do like this house.

And I’ve gotten all excited about it and shown it to all my friends on Facebook. But we might not get it because it is going to mean that they have to come down on their price and I am not sure they will, especially since the house they want to move to is $$$ already and outside their price range. If they have to eat the money for the foundation work, it’s really going to be outside their price range.

I’m waiting for the rest of the repair needs to come in before I talk to them about it. The house inspection was today. We should find out about the roof, a/c, etc. later on today or maybe tomorrow morning.

House Offers

Okay, we made an offer on my favorite house. We made my offer. (12% less)

They countered. (3% less)

We went to a house that had been taken off the market, that we thought was okay, that has a great kitchen, that had one weird room but we think we figured out a way around that. And we about offered them full price.

We are still waiting to hear from them.

Price, size, and needed two living rooms have turned out to be the biggest issues. Okay, price is always people’s issues… But…

Update: It’s twelve hours later and we are waiting. The second house is going house-hunting tonight. They don’t have anywhere else to go right now. So I guess if they find something they like, they’ll come back and accept.

Maybe we will know tonight late.

I’m frustrated with the whole thing and right this minute, and about half an hour ago, I just wanted to say, “No. I’m done. I’ll just rent.”

But I’m vacillating too much to really say that, so I won’t.

Good things about house #2:
Cool address.
Room for my pool table.
Cute yard, but not huge and not elaborate.
Probably has room for two offices. H’s desk is 8.5 ft long and if it will fit in one half of the “master suite,” then I can take the other half of the master suite for my office. Then we have two offices, YAY, and the master bath is not the public bathroom in the house.
Great kitchen.
Very nice range.
Good cabinets.
Space for a center island, which we will want.
Room for my china cabinets.
No garage but a good carport.

So it’s a good house, not perfect, but a good house. If they say yes, I’m good with that. If they say no, I’m good with that. I just want to know.

R wants to go back to House #1 if #2 says no and offer them 6% less than their asking price. But that’s a lot of money for a bigger house than we need. Pretty though. Kitchen is way better at #2. Wood is prettier at #1. But maybe I can put in a wood floor sometime, if we get #2.

#2 needs new carpet in one room. #1 needs new carpet everywhere.

Haven’t worked out what furniture to take to house #2. Maybe I could think about that now:
black bedroom
Grampa Ben’s bedroom
pool table
2 couches
gold chair
rocking chair
cedar chest
rock maple dresser? (Where would I put it? But I like it a lot.)
pretty display cabinet (not the fruitwood)
Grama Rill’s desk (unless I get Momma’s)
Grama Helen’s two chairs
either our dining table or Cecil and Mary Lou’s (Like that idea better, but…)
coffee tables (2)
end tables (2)
bookshelves, but not all our bookshelves, because those won’t fit… How many will fit? How many should I bring? What am I going to do with M’s books? (Obviously I need to take those with me.)
I’m thinking the chaise lounge, because it is comfortable. R hates it though because the print is ugly. I wonder how much it would cost to get it redone. (Looks like it could be $500 and up.) Would that be worth it?

Should I get a storage unit for the nicer furniture that won’t fit?

I’m fixing to cry about this. It’s ridiculous. It’s just furniture and I don’t particularly love it. I guess I’m just in a crying kind of mood. Dang it.

Okay… Think I’ll go think about something else.

Mail Books for a Move

Don’t forget looking into USPS book rate shipping. I used it for 20 boxes of books two years ago. Worked beautifully and the price was very good.

In every one of the five substantial moves I’ve made since I left home for grad school in 1985 (none less than 900 miles), I’ve ALWAYS sent my books this way. It saves a TON of money, since movers charge by weight, generally, and books are the heaviest things most of us have. I did the math on one of these moves and the savings for 35 boxes of books were on the order of $600.

Thoughts on the process

I think looking for houses is usually more fun than buying houses.

My father suggested that getting what you want is more important than paying what the house is worth. This, however, was before he saw my favorite house, which he was much less impressed with.

I looked up the houses online, according to the county appraisal district for taxes. That tells you what the people bought the house for and when. You can also look up other folks’ on the street and see what they are paying.

Since my favorite house is too big, overpriced, and in need of carpet/paint, and since R also has to choose, I am trying to rank the other houses. Which would I prefer the most?

pink kitchen = bigger
favorite = pretty wood
pink cabinets = best neighborhood
laminates = already done (though not necessarily to my taste–though I like the bathroom!)
octagon front = best cookie cutter
library = turnkey cookie cutter
lowest price house in expensive neighborhood = cachet of neighborhood

I tried using sixteen criteria for ranking houses. Doing that:
pink cabinets
pink counters, expensive neighborhood

However, when I just listed my preferences, based on whatever it is I am basing it on:
pink counters
pink cabinets
expensive neighborhood

almost exactly the list is in order of square footage
the cookie cutters are in the bottom, but so is the expensive area
Why is that?
I don’t really know. Ugly rock fireplace that is the first thing you see, just two inches past the open door, when you come in the house?
Also, it has multiple steps up and down inside the house. If we’re going to live there for 20 years, that’s an issue.
Laminate house has a 14-inch step down/up into/out of the garage. Also, a 12-inch single step from the front porch to the carport. These are problems. They can be avoided, or mitigated, but they are a problem.

I chose the 2 living, 2 dining cookie cutter home over the expensive neighborhood. That’s odd, really.

Should probably think about theat more. Why?

House Hunting

Three different hunting trips:
R and I looked at five houses when we were here together. Two were very nice; three wouldn’t work for us.

One of the nice sold the next week. The other one was taken off the market last week.

I came back to town three weeks later and saw 20 houses in one day. I found four I really liked, though I did not think R would like one of them, for a total of five possibles.

I came back this week (two weeks later) to view what is still or now available, so that on Saturday R and I can re-view the top four or five and make a decision on whether we are going to make an offer (my original plan), keep looking (what R suggested recently), or if I am going to rent instead (R’s original plan).

What happened to the five?
My second favorite house sold this week. My fifth favorite is the one off the market. My third favorite house is WAY over on the other side of town (eleven miles and fourteen minutes away from my work). Update: Just today my third favorite house was put under contract. My fourth favorite house was rented last week.

Favorite house still available
So my favorite house is still available. That’s great, right? Er, not so much. I went back with Dad to show it to him and, despite the fact that I know what it looks like and I loved it the first time through, this time through it didn’t seem as beautiful or lovely.

What changed?
1. Well, I found out that it is overpriced for the neighborhood. I thought it was right at the junction of nicer houses and smaller houses, but, in fact, it’s still in the smaller houses area–though it is a nicer and bigger house. However, because of the area that it is in, if I pay anywhere near the asking price (which my realtor says is standard since this area has not experienced the big housing bubble), I will be paying about 12% more than anything else in a four block radius.

If they will come down 17%, the house is reasonably priced (exceptionally for its size), and I can afford to do all the painting, un-papering, and carpeting that needs to get done.

The problem with making a lower bid is that the owners purchased the house three years ago from someone who had purchased the house four years ago. The present owners paid 17% more in 2008 than the previous owners paid in 2007. It wasn’t worth that much. What I am suggesting paying is what the 2007 owners purchased the home for. In the rest of the country, that was just past the housing bubble height, and certainly the 2008 price seems like a housing bubble high, but it may just be that the owners were desperate for a home large enough for their five kiddos!

2. When I went back the second time, what I adored the first time seemed less nice. I think this is because I have seen even better woodwork (which is what I like the most about any house at any time) in other houses. But not in any houses that would work for me. So now I have a higher standard for gorgeous, though the wood is still high quality solid hardwood and has not been painted.

a tangential rant
Only stupid people paint high grade hardwoods, imho. (The only exception is if the wood has been damaged by a flood or something.) I have seen that painting solid wood trim a nice crisp white can make a room look better, but I still would not do it. Not.

The next reason why the favorite wasn’t so perfect:
3. My favorite house is really too big. It is. I know that. I knew it when it went at the top of my list. BUT I hadn’t seen any other houses that could do what we wanted to do with the house. I have now. This house could be as much as a 1000 sq ft bigger than it needs to be to do what we want/need/prefer.

So why not buy the smaller house that works?
Two reasons.
1. It is even more $$$ than this house. (For 1000 less sqft!)
2. It is butt ugly baby-diarrhea brown in a cookie-cutter neighborhood.
(closest to the brown in the middle of the final row)
square of 9 browns
3. No trees in neighborhood.
4. Even less wood.
5. Farther away from work (by a whole 1.3 miles).
6. I don’t like it.
Okay, I got carried away with my reasons. I know that 6 =/= 2.

Other options?
My dad and I saw a smaller house that we actually really liked (we think it was the price and the neighborhood) but it stinks and it has foundation issues. While those might be fixable, they might not be too. Not good if they aren’t and R and I buy the house. Plus, though I liked it, it doesn’t really have the right set of spaces that R and I want.

A house which I would previously have thought was too small (before I realized I used to think my 1500 sqft house was large and before the 1830 sqft house that would work) is available in a very classy neighborhood. It backs (across the second lot which is part of the sale) to a small highway, but not a high-traffic highway. For anyone reading this in a major metropolitan area, this small highway has about as much traffic as a side street in a neighborhood. It is the cheapest house in the neighborhood (much better than being the most expensive). From the pictures I would say that while the outside is very nice, the inside was not made as well. However, that can be fixed over time, with money. Which I hope to have some of. Eventually.

I also called the realtor’s assistant (who has been working with us today) and asked to see another house which our realtor steered us away from (maybe it stinks like the one we kind of liked? or maybe it is just inexpensive) and to see my third favorite house again.

The steered-away-from house is so I can truthfully say I’ve seen everything.

The third favorite house is to see if it has gone up or down in preference based on having seen so many other well-made or nice-seeming or something houses. Update: When arranging to see this house, we found out a contract was accepted on it today.

Since we’re waiting on the small house in nice neighborhood time to call for an appt (even knowing that we might not get to see it because I leave tomorrow and they like 24 hours notice), the realtor’s asst hasn’t called the other two houses for an appt either.

So we won’t know anything for at least half an hour past the time I am typing this sentence.

I still want to show R the five best.

Patio home, new on market
I did find another house I would be willing to live in. (Some I wouldn’t be willing to live in, you know?)

What’s good about this house?
It is very close to my new job.
It is very close to a good friend.
It is a patio home, so not a lot of yard work to do.
It has curb appeal, which I know realtors say is very important, but which I had not realized mattered to me as much as it does. It matters. It does. I don’t want a house with a garage in front. (Though when the best house I could afford was built that way, I went with it anyway.)
It has a two-car garage and is on an alley. (Alleys are good things here. It means private access and your trash isn’t in front of your house.)
It has sky lights in the kitchen and breakfast room.
It is not “weird” in layout.
It has a good layout for entertaining into the outside, where there is a patio space (though not covered) for a table and chairs.
The backyard is, I think, the best thing about this house.

What’s not good about this house?
Someone painted what I think was probably really beautiful hardwood (based on my friend’s house in the same subdivision section) a cutesy blush pink. (That is, white with a few drops of red in it.) UGH.
Bad: painted wood.
Worse: pink painted wood.
It needs de-wallpapering, paint, and carpet. (Okay, that’s true of my favorite too.)
It is small. 1755 but not particularly well laid out. Only three bedrooms. No room for my Civil War era, perfectly restored, family heirloom (at least since my mom bought it ten years ago) pool table.
Not particularly well laid out inside the house in general.
8-ft ceilings in all the rooms except kitchen/breakfast room. Yes, I’ve had that in all my houses. So what? I still want higher ceilings. (And, yes, my favorite house also has 8-ft ceilings, except in the den and master bedroom, which have cathedral ceilings. Those are enough to counteract the general 8-ft.)
It’s not particularly pretty. It may be that good paint, a new front door ($$$), and decent carpet would fix this. Maybe, if they would go low enough (which they should, though I don’t know if they will), I could put hardwood flooring into at least the living room and possibly another room or two as well. That would help me feel that it looks pretty. 🙂

What houses in the cookie-cutter to look at?
If I need five houses to give R a view of what is available and a reasonable choice for the home that will also be his for most of the rest of his life (we hope), then we are going to have to look in the cookie-cutter neighborhood this weekend.

There are many houses available in the cookie-cutter. (Which is worrisome all by itself.) They all have the garage as the front prominent feature. None are on an alley. All have high ceilings.
1. Butt ugly, great layout 1830 sqft, more $ than my favorite house. NO.
2. Same cost as my favorite, good kitchen with nice dark wood cabinets, pretty browns throughout (though still brown, you know). Maybe.
3. House with verses on walls, “library” that is supposed to be 9×9, but is a triangle so nothing reasonable except perhaps bookshelves with a chair in the middle will fit. Master will hold my huge four-poster bed. Pretty light wood kitchen cabinets.
4. Less expensive house with two living and two dining and open kitchen. Kitchen is just okay, but this is the only house where I might be able to have my pool table that I saw. Compared to the others it is not as nice inside, but, again, that can be remedied, while the space issue cannot.

So now what?
Third house is gone, as I was typing this I found out.
So I went through the listings. There’s a multi-family (which is not something I really wanted) that R had suggested seeing. She’s going to check on that and the last house I haven’t seen in the area around my work.

If these two houses (three with the inexpensive one in the classy neighborhood) are available to see, we will. If they’re available now to see, though, they still might be gone by this weekend. But you know what? I’m not buying a house that isn’t perfect that R hasn’t seen. If I find perfect, I’ll buy that. But otherwise, if it is supposed to work, it will.

I really wanted to have different options, so that R would have a variety to choose from, but it doesn’t look like that is going to be likely to happen if we buy this weekend.

So… Do I show him the two or possibly three that aren’t in cookie-cutter? Do I add cookie-cutters in because we’ve lived in those before and “we can do it again”?

You know, we don’t have to buy a house this weekend. Even though that was my plan.

So, I guess, I don’t really want to live in the cookie-cutter neighborhood and neither does R. As long as there is anything else that might possibly work, I don’t want to go there. So, I don’t want to show him those. However, even though neither of us want to live there, in quality the houses are very nice on the inside, with high ceilings, new (brown) paint, pretty kitchen cabinets (mostly). They are just $$$ for small houses.

This weekend.
I’m going to write R right now and send links to the best houses. All the best houses. Then I’ll let him pick how many he wants to go see.

Some of the houses are better in life than on the net. Some are the opposite. But at least he can get a feel for them. And I’ll tell him what I know or think about them. That may make a difference too. Or it might not.

But none are perfect, so we will both get a choice.

Stressing Out Today

Not totally sure why. I was stressing on the way home from Dad’s and lunch.

But then I sent an email and thought I had accidentally sent some stuff I took out. I think I only sent the right stuff. (I hope so anyway, though it is too late if I didn’t.)

And I had to call and get our airline flights and it turns out I’m on an airplane Friday morning AND Friday afternoon. I thought I was on Thursday and Friday. Oh well. It means Dad will know I’m going back that day, but hopefully it won’t be that big a deal. It probably will though. Maybe I should change our flights to come home Thursday. That would be better, really. And I think my sister bought our tickets to be able to change them.

I’ll ask her. If she did, I may change them. That would eliminate some of my stress, the idea of upsetting Dad because I don’t want him to fly by himself.

I found both the sets of exams that I thought I had misplaced, so that was good. I was able to record one set of grades. I left the other at school to do tomorrow. Not really sure why. I guess I just felt like I had enough to do today.

One thing I had planned on doing today and haven’t done is purchasing clothes. I thought it would be good to have some new clothes to take on the trip. However, when I went and looked at the picture we took last year, everyone was in jeans. I don’t own any jeans and I wasn’t planning on buying any. Hmm. Need to think about that a bit.

I need to finish my paper, take pictures, put them into iMovie, and run through it a couple of times to make sure I have it down. That would stress me out, since I haven’t done squat on it for the last two weeks until yesterday, when I worked on it for a few minutes. (I have read some during the two weeks, but I haven’t really worked on it. And I am leaving town tomorrow!)

What was I thinking? Was I thinking how much can I stress myself out? If I was thinking that, then I have probably succeeded in getting pretty close to the max.

Nauseous too. All day off and on. Gotta remember to take bonine with me and take it before I get on the plane.

Writing a Paper

I have to give a paper on Saturday.

Half has been written for six months. I decided to add some other things to it. I haven’t finished working with those. And I just can’t seem to get myself motivated to do it, either.

I really need to finish this.

I have pictures I have to take at least, since I asked for a computer. Oh, man, I should have bought a dondle while I was at the Apple store.

Low-level (but constant) Stress

The end of the semester has stresses of its own. Coming to see my uncle on Mother’s Day weekend, which is when my aunt was buried, adds to that. Moving this summer also adds to it. Having a paper to give next Saturday that I haven’t finished just piles it on.

Deciding that I should write another paper in the interim is foolish. So why do I still have the pages open to do that? Because I don’t want to waste the time I’ve spent on it and I think I might be able to get something good out of the whole thing (another publication).

I had enjoyed looking for houses on the net, but then that was making me stressed and I was spending all my time doing it, so I stopped. But then I run out of stuff to do on the net.

I’ve actually graded all the essays from yesterday, figured out grades. I’ve done all I can do for work from here.

This is going to be the best move of my life. I am going home, taking my husband with me (eventually). We are embarking on a totally life-changing adventure and I know that it is the path set before us.

I don’t know where we are going to live or what I am going to teach or where we will go to church (and I should add that to my prayer list, which really should get prayed about more often) but I know that this is what we are supposed to be doing and where we are supposed to be going. I’m faith walking here, but it is true.

Hopefully getting stuff done will reduce the stress and I can just take one thing at a time and get through it. It doesn’t make it easier to worry about it.

Oh, and just because it is bugging me, I have been eating significantly less food (and no nightshades) and I haven’t lost weight. I lost a few pounds and then it either stalled or I gained them back. That is not the way I want to go with this weight thing. God, could you fix that?