This has been the strangest year of my life. In some way it has been good in other ways it has been not so good. For nearly 365 days we have been living life in limbo. A year ago Dave learned that we might move to LA. We had originally thought the move would be in October. But the impending move continued to be moved up and up and eventually canceled. At that point as you know we switched gears and decided to move on our own so that the children would be able to attend a larger, more established Waldorf School that would take them through to 12th grade.
I feel like I have such a strange relationship with our house now. I feel that in some ways that I have been tied to it in such a way that it is hard to release myself from it. I'm here all the time sorting and packing and kind of going crazy. I'm purging so many of the things I thought once were precious to me. That alone feels wonderful.
Then we throw in the real estate woes of the last six months or so.... even with reading every news story out there on real estate, it still didn't prepare me on how difficult it really is to sell a house. We've lived in many areas and sold quite a few houses. Each house we moved to, we planned for it to be our last, the house we will settle in. But I get restless, I get an idea of a better place and a better school and before we know it we are moving again. We moved from England to Wales, from Wales back to England, from England to Virginia, from Virginia to Bainbridge Island and now from Bainbridge Island to Sonoma County California. Our other houses all sold within a month or so. This one didn't.
We started out as a For Sale By Owner and after two months with only one complicated low-ball offer we moved to a Real Estate company. We thought that once we were on the market officially, people would come in droves to see our enchanting vintage home with views. But no one came. We didn't get any viewings except realtors and at open houses. Lots of people complained that our house needed too much work. They made complaints that the master bedroom didn't have a master bathroom. I guess the 1927 needs were different than the 2009 needs. They wanted their toilets closer. People didn't like our 1970's kitchen or our lack of stainless steel appliances. Finally Dave and I realized that the wrong people were coming to view our house.
We needed people to come with a vision of where they could take our house. People who were a little holistic that would like our organic garden, our low or non VOC paint and our countless fairy and gnome houses dotting the property. The very next week after we realized this, we had an open house that included a family moving to come to our Waldorf school, a doula and a homeschooling family. All of these people were in our "tribe". We nearly sold the house that weekend but a number of realtor errors were a factor.
Time started to be against us. Summer arrived and the house still wasn't getting enough viewings. We lowered the price, had a super low ball offer but it was tangled up with a realtor who wasn't very good at his job and instead made out the buyers to be investors wanting to flip our house and who were experts in the market. They weren't going to budge past their lowball price. This left us so deflated not to mention a little scared. We ended our contract with our realtor and were going to rent the house out to a family that showed a lot of interested in borrowing our home on a monthly basis. And then that fell through.Sigh.
We went back on the FSBO market as we actually felt we had better luck with selling the home ourselves. Our first lowball offer came back on the table and we started to work with them. They had an inspection done and asked for $40K off the already lowered price. This was one week ago and about 2 weeks before we were set to move to California. Our hearts completely sank when this deal fell through. We had offered to come down $25K but they wouldn't accept that and wanted more. And I don't know about you but it is so difficult to keep the ego out of negotiations. All we saw was greed. Maybe we should have seen fear instead but we felt negative about it and although it is a buyer's market it's not a victimizing one where you have to do every last thing for the potential buyer. Even as I was reading the last email ending the contract, I was on Craigslist placing ads for our house as a Rental, FSBO again and even down in Sonoma County as a permanent swap. I pushed this house out there as much as I could. I lowered the price, I went downtown and pinned up our fliers everywhere. This was our last chance to sell it for at least 6 months. Our FSBO sign went back on the fence as did a little "For Rent" sign. The first day we had 257 hits on our website. The lowered price brought in a lot of interest.
We had an open house on Sunday. And a signed contract by Tuesday to a family who had made an offer on the house. The same ones who we thought were going to flip the house a month or so ago. After conversing with the family we realized that we were completely misled on many things during that negotiation meeting. They wanted a house that was filled with sunlight, that had an organic garden, that had potential for solar panels on the roof and where they could repair our artisan well so that they could use the water in the garden. This family is so like us that when we first met and we finished our house discussion we hugged. And it reminded me so much as to why I wanted to sell the house ourselves. I wanted that intimate conversation where you can really share about your home and learn why they want your home. It isn't going from us to our realtor to their realtor and back to them in a confused mess. It's person to person. I realize that realtors can be very useful and handy. For me though, I needed the face to face interaction of a for sale by owner. And after we had our signed contract in hand, it honestly felt like it was meant to be. These are the people we were waiting for. Sure I would have liked a little more money but at the end of the day, your home (any any thrifted item) is worth as much as someone will pay for it.
Between all this stress we also took a trip to California for 11 days. The children went to a Waldorf camp and Dave and I went in search of a rental. I had planned to blog about it but my computer's wireless thingie decided to stop working. Luckily I had my iphone to read email but I don't have the patience to blog from it yet. We arrived home from our quick trip though without a rental.
A week ago today our house sale fell through, we didn't have a rental to move to, Dave didn't have an office to work from and we never found a storage unit. And we were moving in 11 days. Hence why I haven't' blogged in ages. Thank you to all those that privately emailed me wondering if we were okay.
To be honest all of this has been draining. Luckily Seattle has had the best summer in years with many hot and sunny days which at least kept me content in this madness. And here we are a week later under contract for our house sale and we have found a rental that includes an office for Dave and a 2 car garage for storing our stuff while we search for a house to buy. Everything is falling into place as we had originally visualized. Once we are down to California and settled in our rental I will start blogging again on a regular basis. There are so many thrift stores down there, I can't imagine not having anything to blog about. Even in our short week down there I found two Bertoia Children's chairs for $20.00.
And speaking of Thrifting....to Celebrate National Garage Sale day (2nd Saturday in August), I'm going to be hosting a huge moving sale. In fact it's nearly an estate sale sale (except that I'm not dead) because the entire main floor of our house and apartment will be open. Having moved so many times in my life, I don't want to take anything with us (except the orange couch). We are even selling food from our pantry, cleaning products, half of my apron collection (around 30), my red dinette table, some mid century furniture, pottery, toys, a play structure, and more. Here's our Craigslist ad for anyone local. Please come by and introduce yourself.
So it appears that this chapter of our life is closing which means our next adventure is just around the bend. During all of the stress I just kept focus on Cerys and Keiran's new school. It's been our anchor during the ups and down of all this mess. And yet we are still aware that many people are going through this same thing. Or worse...they are losing their homes. And we are grateful everyday for what we do have in our life.
Here is our school. This is the Office and grades 1-4.
An incredible oak tree in the play yard. It was lovely to have the children spend time at their new school even if it was just a short week at camp. It will make the move easier for them.They are still resisting.
We are planning to leave Bainbridge Island next week with mixed emotions. We are so looking forward to settling down and getting to know our new community in California. It will be very hard though to leave our friends and family up here. We've had such an amazing six years of our life up here in Washington. It will be a heartfelt goodbye.