My house is so clean right now. Seriously, it’s cleaner than it’s been in…I don’t even know how long. That’s one of the benefits of having a realtor pay us a visit, as part of our fact-finding ‘Can we afford to sell this house and move to Michigan’ mission.
To cut right to the chase, the answer is…no. Not right now, anyway.
So yeah, we cleaned and furniture-rearranged and decluttered for the past week just to have our hopes dashed. And that’s disappointing. To be honest, though, we weren’t totally surprised. Dave was actually happy with the number she gave us because our Illinois suburb is still showing drastic hits in real estate prices, with foreclosures everywhere that are driving down the value of the houses in our neighborhood. I know the market is supposed to be coming back, but we aren’t seeing much of that here in our area, unfortunately. Still, though, the outlook wasn’t quite as bleak as he was thinking, so that’s encouraging.
In the back of my mind, I kind of hoped she’d come in, ooh and aah over our house, and maybe say she had a buyer who was looking for something exactly like this at a number even higher than the number we have to have. I know, I know…it was silly of me, but I couldn’t help but dream a little.
If things had worked out, we planned to get the house on the market to take advantage of spring, when buyers (supposedly) come out more so than in the winter. I was hoping to be moved to a more affordable place in Michigan by August. Sadly, the number the realtor quoted us was less than what we owe on our mortgage, so obviously this still isn’t a good time to sell. It’s not far off, so that’s a silver lining, but with all the fees and costs associated with selling, we have to make enough to pay off the mortgage and cover those fees and, gee, it would be nice to have a little bit left over to put down on a new (cheaper) house.
We got some good input, and we did still have projects we wanted to do that will definitely help us when we do sell. So instead of freaking out and being negative about this setback, I’m going to focus on the positives. I am one of those people who believe that things happen for a reason, and I was surprised to hear Dave echo that sentiment yesterday. (Usually he calls it ‘magical thinking.’) As we talked things over after the realtor left, he said, “This might just mean that the right place for us in Michigan isn’t ready yet.” And I kind of believe that. I can look back through all kinds of disappointing low points in my life and see how, even though it sucked at the time, I needed to follow that path to lead me to something that was ultimately good.
So! Looking on the bright side, this gives us time to finish up the more fun projects we hadn’t gotten around to. I like painting and redecorating, and both bathrooms need to be updated with new paint and tile in the shower area. We’re also going to go through the rest of the upstairs and get rid of the bright colors that I love so much. Bye, orange hallway. Bye cranberry red accents in the kitchen. And that’s okay – I’ve had those colors long enough that I don’t mind switching to something more neutral. The realtor mentioned beige with white trim being a big hit (in all the damn foreclosures that the banks are going in and redoing, and then listing for less than the market value…thanks a lot!) but we are going to stick with the Autumn White that we already have in the living room. It reads as light beige in certain light and sometimes has a very light peach or warm note in the color when the sun is shining on it. It’s neutral enough that it shouldn’t freak anyone out, and it will go well with the kitchen cabinets, hallway, etc.
We can’t afford to do major work, like replacing the cabinets and windows, but we’re planning to refinish all the cabinets and at least freshen them up. I think that, with the new paint, white trim and updated bathrooms, will still be a good step in the right direction and all within our budget. The downstairs is already beige with white trim and that was, by far, our biggest project. It’s good to know that’s out of the way!
Staying here a while longer means we’ll still be near my mom and my kids, and of course that’s a good thing. We weren’t planning to move too far, just a couple hours away, but it’s awfully nice to be close by too.
We do love this house so it’s not like it’s agonizing to stay here. I just don’t love the mortgage, which we really can’t afford any longer. But we’ll come up with something to help us through, and hopefully the real estate market will continue to pick up a bit in the next year or so. The number we were quoted was a little over $80,000 less than the number the house appraised for back in 2007 so that was a slap in the face but, again, not completely unexpected. (And the 2007 number was really just for the upstairs – we have a raised ranch – because the downstairs was still one big workshop at the time.)
That’s another thing I didn’t like – she mentioned that appraisals were still quite low, lower than they really should be, and that can completely shut things down. So even if you get a buyer at, say, $200,000 then you still have to have the house appraised…and if the appraiser says your house is worth $150,000 then the buyer’s loan won’t go through. She also mentioned that appraisals for FHA and VA loans (which are very popular in our price range) stick with your house for six months. Ugh. Then there’s the inspections – the buyer will surely get one, and our village requires us to get (and pay for) a village home inspection, and you have to fix whatever they find. Since we have NO extra money, something like that gives me cold sweats. I mean, as far as I can tell there’s nothing wrong, but who knows what an inspection might turn up?!
So…bright side: we don’t have to deal with the stress of selling right now. No worrying about appraisals, inspections, keeping the house immaculate for showings, hoping and praying for a buyer for months (or maybe years) on end. I’m really glad to be avoiding that for a little while longer!
Chin up, deep breath, we can do this. And hey, our house is so freaking clean right now. It’s kind of cool that most of our spring cleaning is already done!