I’m tapping this out on a BoltBus heading for Seattle.
Tomorrow is moving day. I’m packing up my furniture and driving a U-Haul full of my belongings to my new place in Portland.
Side Bar: mom and dad, it’s time to come get that chair you let me borrow!
The sale closes on Thursday and today and tomorrow are my days off, so this is my chance to get this done. No stress there.
Oh, yeah…I finally got a job.
Anyway, like the title says, I basically sold my house on Facebook.
Messenger, more accurately.
Since I live in Portland, I was really kind of stressed about how this would go down. When I explored selling when I initially decided to move to PDX, it took three tries to even get a meeting with my realtor.
Success is a busy business!
Anyway, I just sent an exploratory IM to this realtor daughter-in-law-ish-person of a friend and former neighbor to get her thoughts on the market conditions in Seattle and in my building in particular – since she had sold my neighbor’s unit a couple of years before. She told me it was a good time to sell and that condo inventory was low. She finished off by telling me to let her know if I wanted to move forward.
And just like that, it began.
I told her timing might be tricky since my tenants were still in the place and had until 2/29 to vacate.
Yay, Leap Year.
I reached out to the renters to see if they would agree to meet the realtor so she could do a walk-through, even though they were in the midst of moving themselves. Being relatively awesome folks, they agreed and we had a walk-through.
I think that was a Thursday or Friday and the IM she sent afterward essentially informed me that she could have stagers in on Monday, painting and pics done by Wednesday and probably be listed by the following Thursday.
And just like that, we were off to the races.
I had initially planned to list the dump -er…joint – unfurnished and just empty the place at the beginning of March after the renters had left. My thought was to get my trusty old comfort furnishings back ASAP after a couple of years without them.
It never entered my mind I would be working when the deal closed and have limited time off to evacuate Chez Galby.
Then again, I’m not surprised that this is how the Universe played this scenario out. The whole deal felt too good to be true and – sure enough – ended up being just another “fuck you” from dear Seattle to dear me.
All the foreshadowing.
This was way too easy.
A shoe had to drop somewhere, I just knew it.
It dropped the day before we went live when I asked my realtor for her listing price.
The range she gave me had a high end that was only $6k less than what I bought it for in 2007.
And where we once were sprinting, now we were trying not to face plant after tripping on a hurdle.
Want to just take a guess as to how calmly I handled that information, delivered with such innocent pride?
I guess I’m lucky that I have a realtor that can take an IM that includes the phrase “Wait. Hard stop.” in stride. I would feel equally fortunate to have had a realtor that could magically produce a market that would support the traditional real estate rule of thumb – as far as I know it – that your value doubles every 7 years.
But no realtor is that good.
No matter how awesome her stagers and photographers are. Still, I was hoping to have enough of a list price to walk with triple my initial investment/down payment, which would be a 15% increase in value.
In 9 years.
Not a 115% increase…a measly 15%.
Fuck you, Seattle.
Screw you, Wall St.
Fist fuck you, W.
Plus, maybe my so-called conventional wisdom was wrong.
She consulted a colleague who advised her that the market could support a price that was about 5% over my original purchase price.
It was going to cost me 6% of the purchase price to get realtors to show the place plus $2k in staging expenses to visually trick the savvy Seattle buyer into buying my unit. One of about a month’s worth of inventory available – versus the preferred 90 day inventory supply.
What’s awesome about Seattle folks? When shown what their options are, they will complain that there aren’t more…in a very non-specific way. They don’t know what they want, they just know what they don’t want.
Take your pick. It’s an annoyingly consistent trait on the hill in Seattle.
What the buyers in Seattle know for damned sure is that they don’t want luxury units on lower floors in a newly constructed building that are priced 50% – fifty goddamned percent – higher than mine listed for.
Nonetheless, my unit is going to take 22 days to sell.
See also the previous fuck and screw yous if you’re confused about my feelings on this return on my investment.
I think I do better playing the lottery.
But, anyway…we got listed! Just a week after I passively inquired about selling on Messenger. You have to appreciate that level of go-getter-ness.
I joke with my realtor about getting multiple offers over the first weekend on the market…yes, with escalation offers.
I joke, fully expecting this to be the reality and looking forward to it.
What seemingly worked against us in this first weekend – with two open houses that dovetailed on other open houses in the building – was that we had a 7 day offer period.
Seemed like a legitimate strategy. I’ve seen it used in both PDX and Seattle with selling prices that were tens of thousands of dollars over asking.
Why wouldn’t I want that?!?
The reality was that Seattle condo buyers actually seem to have gotten savvy as to how this works against them.
That was a completely unexpected development.
In retrospect, it makes total sense. Portland is about to get there…people get fatigued making full-priced offers and losing out.
Nine times, as one of my friends has shared. Fourteen for another.
That type of buyer dissatisfaction will create a backlash that ultimately drives both prices and seller behaviors into more acceptable realms.
I mention this because of the four seriously interested parties, two looked poised to make offers. My realtor did a good job of fanning the flame of the limited frenzy available to her.
So, why was my place on the market 22 days instead of seven?
Good question. Thanks for paying attention.
The first of the two super serious parties makes an offer; $11k over asking.
The second prospective buyers hear this, turn their pockets inside out, fish for change in their couch and decide it’s too rich for their blood, ultimately not making an offer.
So, we have a winner!
A winner that decided to revise their offer after they learn the second couple backed out.
When my trusty realtor tells me this, I tell her to tell their realtor, “No, I’m not doing business with someone who negotiates with themselves.” I tell her that this is the exact type of behavior that I loathe about Seattle…people looking out for number 1, fuck everything and everyone else. They made an offer over asking price in order to guarantee they got what they wanted. Now that they scared off the other potential buyers, they needed to honor their offer, otherwise they could fuck right off.
Again, she handled me very diplomatically – suggesting I let her work with their agent on a compromise. Against my better EOG judgment, I agree.
After negotiating a compromise with the buyer’s realtor, we counter.
The buyers tell me to go fuck myself…ironic, since that’s what I wanted to spit at them a day or two prior.
Shortly thereafter, I learn that my realtor is in the hospital. Of course I’ve driven her to the brink with my EOG bullshit attitude. She tries to tell me it’s something else, but I can’t shake that back of mind feeling that I did this.
She pulls through.
A couple of weeks go by and I’m not hearing offers, just interest…sadly, not the kind a bank respects.
I float to my realtor that I’m not paying another $2k in staging rentals and that I’m seriously considering pulling my unit – shut up, Diezel – at 30 days. She replies – yes, on messenger – that she’s already authorized the second month of staging but assures me that I won’t pay for unused time.
Whatever. Ask me before you spend my money or you’ll never be employee of the month.
Obviously, I don’t love this aspect of her go-getter-ness, but I forget about it when she tells me there’s three interested parties she’s following up with.
The most vocal was an investor and was offering me a price that was a luxurious $3k over what I paid for the place back in ‘0shit7.
I suggested she ask said investor whether he would accept that as a positive return on a decade long investment. She’s still young and optimistic and wanted to be a little more diplomatic and try and massage that offer.
I agree that you can potentially get more flies with honey, but I also think that those flies will try and fuck you sideways and I don’t think honey makes a good lubricant.
I think the other two interested parties were both physicians. Did I mention that my condo is across the street from two of the three major hospitals in Seattle?
Yeah, the doctor that made a less than full price offer got a middle-finger rejection from me.
Which probably sounded more like “We’ve accepted another offer” coming from my professional realtor…I can’t recall if she was in hospital or at home convalescing at this point. But I know she’s more diplomatic than I am.
The final – and accepted – offer was from another doctor. Full price with a $3k credit for HOAs.
Did I mention that his offer was accepted out of fatigue? I was done.
Did I also mention my HOA drama?
I can’t remember.
My professionally managed condo building raised the HOAs by 50% for this calendar year. Vaguely for this calendar year. I looked at it as an open ended increase when compared to their egregiously poor stewardship of our building and its board.
When my traveling nurses learned in February that couldn’t extend until September as they had planned, I looked at this as a sign that it was time to sell. Renting to non-traveling nurses would garner about $2250/month, a full $1k less than the traveling nurses that had been in there. With the new HOAs, I would be barely breaking even.
A clear sign.
This increase in HOAs was a huge stumbling block for the real estate community, buyers and agents alike. Did no one do due diligence to see what the neighboring building cost? It did not seem so, no.
Anyway, at about a $250/month additional expense this is a $2k problem for the balance of the year. Assuming they start paying dues in May.
This doctor guy asked for a $3k credit. Somehow – somehow – I manage to curb my EOG-ness and not counter with a rudimentary math lesson.
We got an accelerated closing, about three weeks.
With my new job my days off are Sunday and Monday. I had planned to go to Seattle this past Sunday with my boyfriend and do the move.
But then we broke up.
He was another one of these, unfortunately.
So, I did it by myself.
Well, me and a couple of guys from craigslist.
Who were epically un-hire-able. But, still. Grumpy old Xtopher does what it takes to get shit done.
My realtor arranged with the title and escrow company to have their notary meet me at the condo for signing on Monday. Here’s what my Sunday and Monday looked like.
11:00 – board BoltBus to Seattle.
2:30 – arrive Seattle.
3:15 – junk haulers arrive to cart away my bed and frame…it’s totally unusable after the mattress was used for 12 years and the leather headboard lived with two pesky cats for two years.
4:00 – packing fatigue, text D-Slice to see what she’s up to…hopefully a beer with me.
Did I mention I have an amazing work ethic?
But it’s ok because I’m pacing myself and being responsible. Not as responsible as D-Slice, who was sicker than she had ever been when she went through chemo so she’s just eating oranges, which is fine, since I don’t need them for garnish.
Around 6:00 another neighbor shows up for a quick visit.
6:30 – I’m stoned.
He’s a very good friend, I had jokingly told him to bring Sativa and he did.
7:30 – I’m home and packing again, getting a nice bump in productivity from the Sativa. Hehe.
By 11:00 I’ve wrapped up and hit the hay. Er – couch.
8:00 – I woke up and showered…kinda, guess who forgot to bring a towel? I washed my face and brushed my teeth.
9:30 – I pick up my U-Haul.
10:00 – the movers are due…and late.
10:45 – the movers show up, I’ve already hauled the majority of my stuff down to the basement level in the elevator. Alone. Just as the Universe intended for me to live my life.
This is important since the property management company charges $350 for move-in/move-out and affords you three hours of dedicated elevator time for that meager price. I was planning to have an hour after the craigslist guys left at 12:00 to do a little cleaning before the escrow guy shows up.
Luckily, I had also done a good wipe down on Sunday night, courtesy of marijuana, so I was ahead of schedule.
Plus, everything was downstairs except the couch, my dresser and a set of shelves that needed two sets of hands to move. I’d made it pretty easy on the guys. They had to move three pieces of furniture and then load the truck.
That took them two and a half hours.
They both just talked and talked and talked. Neither of them listened to the other. It was like they were married.
And they looked like the male equivalents of Jack Sprat and his wife.
The large one moved like a glacier.
The small one moved at a manic pace. Loading, unloading and re-arranging the truck incessantly. Yeah, I got the cracked out mover off craigslist.
Both fretted that everything would simply not fit.
1:15 – I’m paying them off and wishing they’d shut up and leave faster.
It’s time to sign, so I just sit in the truck and wait.
1:25 – I text my realtor – just to change up our communication – and ask how late the guy should be allowed to be before I freak out.
I think it was nice of me to warn her that it was coming.
1:30 – the notary shows up and I sign everything.
1:45 – I’m on my way out of town.
Yeah, it took 15 minutes to complete a $340-ish-k transaction.
2:00 – I stop at Boeing on my way out of town to pick up my TV from my realtor’s boyfriend. She had stored it at her house since the stagers didn’t want to use it and the damned thing is too big to fit in the closets.
Flash forward after 46 hours in Seattle and I’m back in PDX, truck unloaded, gassed up and dropped off. Thanks to the Silver Fox and a houseguest of his. Bless them.
I’m treating myself to a beer at the second worst gay bar in Portland. It’s the closest bar for men of a certain ilk to my place…we’re talking mere blocks. Tragic and convenient, what more could I ask?
But I fucking earned this brew. I am so sore that I can’t even walk right. I look like some sort of psychotic marionette ambulating down the street. I’m sure my Plan A of going to the gym to use the jacuzzi was a better alternative but I couldn’t handle myself in any state of undress and the fluorescent lighting made that too much of a mental expense to offset the good a jacuzzi soak would do me.
Plan B is IcyHot and beer.
The three other people in the bar are probably wondering what new scent I’m pioneering. Glad I could keep them on their toes as I self-soothe.
So, fare thee well, Seattle.
It was real.
My last gut punch from Seattle ended up not being the dump the low inventory condo market took on me. It was having to look at the itemized deductions from my equity as I signed the papers.
The realtors each walked with $10k and the professional title and escrow services cost another couple thou. I had to pay $60 to have the proceeds wired into my bank account.
I think the businesses are incredibly necessary, but both are getting to the point where – strictly in my opinion – they are just too frigging overcompensated. I mean, my realtor is someone I call “friend”, which I don’t do lightly. And I think her kinda-in-laws are amazing people. But, really…we transacted this on Facebook Messenger, by text and via email when documents needed signing.
The hourly rate a $10k paycheck affords is pretty darned good and nowhere near my hourly rate. Plus, where’s my friends and family discount? Hehe. But I know that she’s got desk fees that are equally insane to be associated with her brokerage, so it’s a broken system.
Then there’s the title and escrow BS. I don’t mind paying for a service, but don’t charge me money and then email me in a panic a day later, freaking out because you forgot to include some documents that need signing ASAP. What is it, your first day?
So, yeah, that’s the last “Fuck you, Galby” from Seattle. It was an experience that was as packed with little fuck yous as Snickers are packed with peanuts.
I’ll miss the few deep friendships that I’ve established. It was great to have one more chance to hang out with D-Slice and my other neighbor, watching Battlestar Galactica just like we used to. I didn’t get a chance to see Rib or DP while I was there…although Rib had an invite to help pack and meet my (then) boyfriend, but he somehow managed to have to work.
I can’t say that I blame him!
It was hard.
On top of those friendships, I have a lot of great relationships that went from working relationships to really pleasant and valued acquaintances…people whose social media feeds I get – probably literally – hours of entertainment from each day.
So, when I bitch about Seattle, know that I have plenty to look back on fondly about my decade there, I’m just being a grumpy old man and bitching to bitch. People really do enjoy my mis-adventurous life, particularly the lumpy stuff.
I’m happy to keep on serving up those quasi-tragic and amusing stories here on my little corner of the blogosphere or in person.