Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Relocation Chronicles, Chapter 5 - I Love That House!

On the 1st of the month, my property manager/realtor formally posted my house for sale. Mid-morning, we went by the house to give it a once-over. I have to acknowledge my tenant, who kept it in pretty good shape. Sure, it will need a bit of TLC, but there are no glaring issues. That is a relief.

As my realtor and I went in that morning, I saw the house from a different perspective. It was the first time since September of 2010 that I'd set foot in in it, and thought "I wouldn't mind staying here". The house was light and airy. The kitchen and den area were roomy. The basement looked good; the carpet held up well & the walls were in good shape. With some of the tenant's stuff still in it, I could see how a different decoration theme could bring out some different qualities.

My realtor is also optimistic about the house being on the market. He feels the proposed price is reasonable for the location, and he's doing what he can to increase its marketability.

I didn't tour the upper (bedroom) level, since the tenant hadn't finished removing her things. But, the rooms I saw reminded me why my wife and I bought it. It wasn't one of those "try to remember/the kind of September..." moments, but I did get a little sentimental. We had such plans for it, plans that didn't quite come to fruition.

The house was the first & only one my wife and I ever purchased. Even after all these years, her vision and intelligence are still a positive impact on my life and the lives of our progeny. That thought really blows my mind, and got me to thinking. Have I made choices that can be a long-lasting benefit to others? When I'm gone, will others say I had their best interests at heart?

Yeah, in a very mundane sense the house is an asset. It can be converted to another resource as I move on in this life. But, it's also a symbol. It's a reminder of a better time, a more innocent time. I'm not saying I want to move back in. But I saw the potential. Whoever buys it will have a really nice house.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Relocation Chronicles, Chapter 4 - Papers (No, Not Those Kind of Papers)

(With apologies to Usher Raymond IV)

Tuesday morning, I met my realtor at his office. It was a cool, weirdly blustery day. In most parts of the nation, it's normally hot on 1 July. Here on the Front Range, though, we're liable to see any sort of weather. I wore a tropical print shirt, trying to convince myself I felt warm.

My realtor, as mentioned before, is insightful & professional. Upon my arrival, he had a bit of Chick-Fil-A set out. We broke bread for a bit as we discussed selling my house. He was confident that the house was desirable, that the selling price he proposed was appropriate for the location, and that it wouldn't take a lot of work to dress it up for viewings.

After a few minutes of visiting, he brought out the papers. Contract time! I put electronic signatures on a couple of forms, forms that were actually shorter than I expected. Each was around 8-10 pages, written in clear text that even a goober like me could understand.

Each form had boilerplate language towards the top, in bold print. I could imagine a stentorian voice reading it, like Chuck D, Walter Cronkite or Billy Graham:

THIS FORM HAS IMPORTANT LEGAL CONSEQUENCES AND THE PARTIES SHOULD CONSULT LEGAL AND TAX OR OTHER COUNSEL BEFORE SIGNING.

First up were the Closing Instructions. This form confirmed the location of the property, the name of the closing company we plan to use, how the closing documents would be prepared, who pays the required fees, etc. Also included were some high-level statements regarding disputes around the closing, if such events happen. So far, so good.

Next, I got the Exclusive Right-To-Sell Contract. This one had language at the top of the form similar to the previous, and something unique to this contract:

Compensation charged by brokerage firms is not set by law. Such charges are established by each real estate brokerage firm.   

Uh, sure. Seems reasonable. This one spelled out my business relationship with my realtor. The listing period was confirmed, the realtor's duties, selling price, and our respective rights to cancel (if it came to that).

One interesting thing included is Section 7 - Compensation to Brokerage Firm. Yep, when my realtor gets the house sold, he gets paid for his work. Something I'd ignored before was in Section 7.3.3. There is a 30-day period after the listing period ends, where if I negotiate independently with a prospective buyer I met through the broker (realtor), I still owe the broker his commission. I'm been na├»ve about this, but there must have been too many instances of folk hooking up after-hours to sell property & "hip-checking" the broker out of his/her rightfully earned commission. People and money, as usual a recipe for possible temptation and wrongdoing.

After signing those two forms, my realtor showed me a website used in the real estate industry. This site is a clearinghouse for home listings, with pictures, descriptions, etc. One cool feature on the site is a scheduling function. There are blocks of time designated, where a realtor can sign up for a block to show the house. This allows different realtors to de-conflict between each other's schedules when showing a house. It seems obvious, but I've always been captivated by "process". In clicking on the tab that showed my house, he had loaded pictures of the interior. These pics were taken before my current tenant moved in. My realtor chose a sunny day, and the interior looked attractive with sunlight streaming in. I was quite impressed (more on that in another post).

The third form I received was the Seller's Property Disclosure. I have to fill out this one; my broker isn't allowed. This one is also pretty obvious - describe the house's physical condition. There's a series of questions, and I fill in the dots. I had four answer choices: yes, no, I don't know, N/A. Seems simple enough.

Most of the questions were straightforward, and I dove right in to addressing them. Sections of questions covered the structure, appliances, electrical/telecommunications, mechanical, sewage, and other related issues. I took real comfort in the form addressing whether or not I kept radioactive or hazardous materials on-site. (rolls eyes). The question about mine shafts or abandoned wells on the property cracked me up as well.

[Note: I understand the need for inclusion of such topics. Especially in this state, with all sorts of terrain and previous usage, one would be prudent to cover such issues. But, in the suburb where my house is located, one wouldn't normally expect an abandoned mine shaft. My suburb is as un-exciting as one would expect.]

Yeah, these were just forms. People sign papers for various reasons every day. But to me, on that day, the symbol was larger than just paragraphs and signature blocks. I've been running my mouth for years about leaving. Now, it feels a little more real. My intent has been expressed through legally-mandated means. It's time to do business.