April 21, 2017

Sale Pending!

By Steve W

At the end of the last post, our estate sale was still going on. Late on Sunday afternoon, April 2, we went back to the house to see what was sold and what was left. As we expected, some last minute shoppers came by to try to get a bargain on the items still remaining. Since our philosophy was that anything not sold would be donated, given away or thrown out, some lucky buyers got some great deals.

At one point, two young women came by to view the sale but also asked if the house was going to be sold. When told it was, they asked to look inside the house and we agreed, giving them a brief tour. They then left and the estate sale was over.

Over the next couple of days, we went through what was not sold and made some decisions about what we thought could be donated or what would go into a dumpster. Once we began to see vacant walls that we had not seen since we moved in 17 years ago, we decided that it would be more attractive to buyers if the house was painted. Painting was to start on Monday, April 10 and would take seven to eight days. Since our original date to list the house was supposed to be April 17th, we called our agent to let him know about the painting and moved the listing date to April 24.

So on April 10, the painting started. However, that afternoon we received a call from our agent that a potential buyer wanted to see the house that night, even though it had not yet been listed. We agreed and met our agent and the potential buyers at the house at 7 PM that night. As it turned out, the potential buyers were the people to whom we had given the tour at the estate sale. Our agent showed them around the property and we were there to answer any questions they had. After the viewing, they were still talking to our agent as we drove away.

To our great surprise, we had an email the next morning with an offer at full purchase price! We had suspected that our house would attract buyers quickly once listed but this was unexpected. Even though we thought that there might be a bidding war to drive up the price, we also took into account that, if we accepted their offer, escrow could close by the end of May. This meant that we would not have to find another place to live after our Airbnb ended May 31, not pay rent for another apartment or hotel, and not make another mortgage payment for June. In addition, the buyers had signed an agreement that our agent would also represent them, which would save us a full point on his commission.

Given all of these savings, we decided to accept the offer so that we could avoid uncertainty, save time, and not have to incur extra costs.

So as this is written, we are in escrow to close by the end of May. The sale is still contingent on their home inspection, and they will probably find minor things that need fixing. But once this contingency is lifted and a termite inspection and any repairs are completed, we expect the deal to go through.

Once the payment hits our bank account, the journey officially begins!

April 5, 2017

"What About Your Cats?"

By Steve W

Bob and Jake in our house.
As many of you know, we are cat lovers, having owned cats (at least two or more at a time) since we got married.

Given our plans to travel extensively after retirement, we had some choices to make regarding our cats, Bob and Jake. For more on their story, click here.

It was clear that we had to find them a new home, somewhere they could be together. Having dealt with cat adoption agencies as foster parents, we knew that going out on weekends to pet stores, hoping that someone would adopt them both, was risky.

A few months ago, we had dinner with our friend Alex Shapiro and explained our situation. Also being a cat lover, she (and her partner, Dan) immediately volunteered to take both of our boys to live with them on San Juan Island, off the coast of Washington.

Getting them to the island, however, was a challenge. To do so, we got a large cage that fit in the back of our SUV and loaded the cats into the car for a three-day trip, staying in pet-friendly motels for two nights before taking a ferry to Friday Harbor. The cats handled the trip very well and we took them inside Alex and Dan's house.

Bob, being the social animal that he is, made himself at home immediately. Jake, being a bit more standoffish, stayed under the bed for several days, but soon made himself comfortable as well. Here they are in their new surroundings:

Fat cats in the sunshine.
I think they have adjusted😸. We miss them but they have a great new home with new people who love them as much as we did. We plan to stop and see them as we travel north and hope that they remember us!

April 2, 2017

Stuff, And What To Do With It

By Steve W

We saw these playful foxes on a trip to San Juan Island, Washington in 2008.
We plan to see much more of America on our upcoming trip.

Once we decided to sell everything, including our house, in order to travel, we had to decide how to do it. We knew that there were certain things we wanted to keep, but after over 30 years of marriage and 17 years in this house, we had accumulated a lot of stuff. Aside from furnishing a 2,500 square foot house, we had a large yard where we entertained, with patio furniture, a gas barbeque, bars for serving, and lots of decorative items, like metal, ceramic and cement animal figures.

If were just moving from Point A to Point B, and had bought a house already, we would know what items would fit into the new house and yard and what kind of décor we would have. Anything we were unsure about, we could just take with us and deal with later.

But since our plan is to travel for a while before relocating and buying a new house, we needed to examine every item we owned to see if it passed the "stay or go" test. Some things were easy: for furniture, we knew that we would be keeping our Sleep Number bed and a couple of bronze coffee tables. There were guitars, some clothes, many books, and lots of artwork that we also knew we were keeping. After that, our rule was that anything either of us really wanted, we would keep. Everything else was optional.

As we were storing our items in a POD, everything we wanted to keep had to fit into it, so space was limited. So we set about parsing our other possessions, clothes, kitchen items and furniture. We were amazed at how much stuff we had, as it was all neatly stored away and out of sight in cabinets and cupboards or mostly out of the way in the backyard.

Packing took several weeks and finally everything we wanted went into the POD. Realizing that we still had some room, some additional "optional" items also were stored, and a few days later, the POD was picked up for storage.

Then came the planning for the "estate sale". For lawyers, an estate is what is left behind when someone dies, but the term is now used for large garage sales that include higher quality items. We contacted a company that organizes and handles these events, who came in and sorted all our possessions and priced them. Although we knew that these items would be sold relatively cheaply, psychologically it was a bit disconcerting to see the prices on things when we knew what we paid for them.

But since the goal was to get rid of as much as possible, we had to let go of those feelings and let the professionals do their thing. After all, anything not sold, we had to get rid of either by donating or putting into a dumpster. As of this writing, the estate sale is still going on, so we don’t know how successful it was, either financially or in terms of what is left for us to deal with.

But this is just one more step in the process of getting the house ready to sell so that we can start traveling right after escrow closes. Stay tuned!