February 3, 2006

Hey, it's kind of a slow day here on the Althouse blog.

What's going on chez Althouse? -- you might ask.

Well, I'm getting serious about the idea of selling my house. I had the realtors over today and that meant that the last two days I was madly trying to put the place in order. Because Thursday is trash collection day, I devoted Wednesday to getting bulky items and large trash bags out to the curb. I also put a lot of bags of books into the trunk of my car and a large box of used clothing on the front seat. Yesterday, I tried to take the clothes to Goodwill -- closed, must go back Friday morning -- and I took the books over to Half Price Books and waited while they assessed their value. It turned out to be $70, and if you know Half Price Books, you know that had to be a hell of a lot of books. "Half price" is what they give to people who buy their books. The seller gets far less. I took the money and ran back home to spend the evening cleaning and stashing away clutter. I really thought I could blitz through this in two hours, but that was really quite wrong. I spent a good four hours working just as hard as I could. Cleaning four bathrooms was the least of it.

Four bathrooms? Yeah, I know. I deserve to suffer just for having four bathrooms. Or is it that if I have four bathrooms, why don't I have a way of paying people to clean for me? Oh, it's all about my intense love of privacy. Intense love of privacy? Then what the hell is this blog?

So, really, want to buy a big, cool, giant house in historic University Heights in beautiful Madison, Wisconsin?

27 comments:

XWL said...

I think this has to be one of the most marvelously internally and self consciously self contradictory posts I have seen in quite awhile.

I'm impressed, it takes a complicated and agile mind to recognize and voice those contradictions in so few sentences.

Good luck on the move should everything go as planned (which of course it won't, but hopefully it will be better than the worst case scenarios you may have envisioned) and I look forward to the blogging of the events.

(Cause you are an addict to blogging and I am an addict to blog reading (at least here))

John Jenkins said...

Should we now open a book on whether any transaction is actually consummated? Just judging by sentimentality, I start the bidding with 3:1 against :-)

AlaskaJack said...

Ann, do you really want $800,000 for your nice home?

Joan said...

I have four bathrooms, too, but it works out that one, in the guest room, is only used by guests. One is just off the family room, that gets used most. Upstairs, there's one in between the kids' rooms, and one off the master bedroom.

I can't wait for my kids to grow up and move out so we can move to a much smaller place!

I really sympathize about the bathrooms. It sounds great to a lot of people, but the reality is, that many bathrooms are a lot of work, and large houses accumulate stuff much more sneakily than smaller spaces do. I wish you the best of luck with this huge undertaking, Ann!

Ann Althouse said...

I am going to ask $750,000.

Ann Althouse said...

Thanks, XWL and Joan.

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
chuck b. said...

Four bathrooms sounds nice to me right now. Chez Chuck B is in the midst of a bathroom remodel involving the only bathroom in my house that has shower facilities.

I'm presently reduced to "sponge baths" in the kitchen sink, and/or showering at a friend's place.

At least when it's done it'll be very nice. Higher ceiling, skylight, tile surround, two shower heads, heated floor pan, etc. Yay me.

chuck b. said...

Oh, and may I please post a gripe? The total cost for just the permits San Francisco requires for a small bathroom remodel? $1,000.

$%^&ers!


It's no wonder so many people do unpermitted work.

Gaius Arbo said...

I detest moving myself. Probably a function of a lot of moves in my life.

Frankly, after the last move I made due to career, I swore the next "move" would entail arson....

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Just curious: did the home appreciate significantly?

Ann Althouse said...

Ruth Anne: Yes. I paid $120,000 in 1986. I did put a tremendous amount of money into renovations however. I'd need to add up a lot of receipts to know how much.

Palladian said...

You have to have a permit to remodel a bathroom?

Well, it is San Francisco I guess.

Pete said...

John Jenkins,

I'll take those odds. Ann's already made up her mind to sell, whether she cares to admit it or not. Her other posts on this subject, and the fact she was willing to clean four bathrooms to impress the realtor, is proof enough.

Christy said...

Ann, Did you read Freakonomics? Realtors apparently price our homes to sell quickly. That $50,000 in your pocket is only worth $750 to them, so they aren't as invested in getting top dollar as we are. They keep the houses they own on the market longer and get more for them than the do for the houses they market for us. FWIW.

Ann Althouse said...

Christy: Yes, I did read that. Thanks for reminding me.

DCWilly said...

Ann-

You should seriously consider doing a FSBO (for sale by owner) and dismiss your realtors. As seller, you have to pay buyer's and seller's real estate commissions (which is usually 6% of sale price total -- in your case, over $30,000) when realtors do not offer all that much, and in any event, will likely make $2,000 an hour for very little work......There was an article in NY Times a few weeks ago about a FSBO operation in Madison.....You should look into it. You literally could save tens of thousands of dollars.

Ann Althouse said...

DCWilly: Thanks, but there is no way I want to deal directly with prospective buyers. I'm supposed to figure out which strangers to walk through my house on the chance that they might buy it? I wouldn't even work as my own lawyer if I needed one. I'm not a pro se realtor.

knoxgirl said...

Ann: there are some great shows about sellling your house on HGTV and TLC. Yours sounds like it is impressive enough to not need "tips" from these kinds of shows! They are fun and informative, though.

Also, my sister moved recently and they used those PODS--she said it was a life saver. They were able to pack and store away a bunch of stuff over the course of several months before they actually put their condo up for sale.


chuck: I am also enduring a bathroom remodel. The shower is still functional (for now), but you have to sit sideways on the toilet! I'm going to use those tiny, octagonal subway tiles with black grout.

jakemanjack said...

I think it is in poor taste to advertise and brag about money.
Somehow, it seems very narcissistic.

Simon Kenton said...

"Or is it that if I have four bathrooms, why don't I have a way of paying people to clean for me?"

Once there was a woman (wife of a friend) who would never let him hire a maid, because of all the work she would have to do to get the house in shape for 'someone else' to see it. Years passed unmaided in increasing disorder and filth.

I've told this little story occasionally, and men invariably roll their eyes and say things like "He had the money to hire the maid, and she wouldn't let him? Jesus Christ!" Or "But maids are USED TO looking at dirty houses. It's their job. Was she saving their feelings?" Or "Who cares what the maid says about your house behind your back, long as it gets clean?" Or "He divorce her?" (Yes.)

Women always say they get it, but they don't say what they get. Perhaps it's not communicable to men-in-general; more likely, it's not communicable to the likes of me.

Won't be a pro se lawyer. Won't be a pro se real estate agent. Will be a pro se maid. ?

Ann Althouse said...

Good point, Simon, but I still don't want a maid. I used to have a maid service, but I didn't think they did a good enough job, and I didn't like having to see what I didn't like and feel that I needed to talk to them about it. That was more trouble than doing things myself. And I'm not living in filth, I should add!

Pete said...

In re: real estate agents, I'm with you on this Ann. Some things are worth hiring others to do for you. What they're actually selling you is your time. Sure, you could sell your house yourself, but you'd have to take the time to do it and then wonder if a real estate agent could've done it better. (And most likely they could.) Yes, you'd save the real estate commission, but you're buyer will likely expect a lower price precisely because you aren't using an agent. The 6% is worth it, if you ask me, in my lost personal time and peace of mind.

tcd said...

Don't knock FSBO (for sale by owner) until you've tried it. Real estate agents are really quite useless. We sold our house just last year by ourselves and walked away with more cash for the down payment on our new construction than we would have if we gave up the 6% commission to some housewife who does real estate as a hobby (no offense tended to housewives of course but realtors feel free to be offended).

Ann,
Just think about it. Is the realtor going to clean your house for you? What service do they provide other than advertising (such as provide an MLS number which you also can get through the various for sale by owner services)? Basically, for the $40,000 or so that you will end up paying a realtor, you will get an MLS listing, one or two open houses, and inconvenient appointments to show your house at inconvenient times. Now, if you were selling the house by owner, you save $40,000, have as many or as few open houses as you want, and set appointments more convenient to your schedule (which is a lot easier to manage when working with two (maybe 3) party's schedules rather 4 or more). Really, give it a try. It's less work than you think.

Ann Althouse said...

TCD: First, I'm not paying 6%, because I'm using the same realtor for both transactions. Second, I am not doing open houses. I need the buyers screened so that people aren't just free to intrude on my privacy. I need a realtor to do that. I want a lot of security and protection from hassles, and that is what is worth paying for. I cannot picture myself walking strangers through my house and talking with them about all the details. I don't want to have to feel resentful if people don't like things or if I think they are wasting my time or trying to take advantage of me. It's a very emotional thing that I need professionalized. I need a buffer between me and the public. It's not even close.

tcd said...

Ann,
Have you thought about having your sons or maybe some of your friends do the open houses with you or for you? I had my sister help me with the open houses and it worked out fine. Believe me, I had the same apprehensions that you mention in your post. Really, what kind of screening do you think realtors do? My guess is very little. If anything, they will prescreen a buyer by requesting a mortgage pre-approval or approval letter, which you can request of potential buyers yourself (that's what I did). Besides, it's not like you will be going into the FSBO blind because the FSBO services offer a 2 hour informational seminar and real estate representatives to assist you along the way if you have any questions. I think in total, we paid $1000 for the FSBO services (included advertising on a dozen home sales website and a widely circulated home sales magazine, signs, flyers and discounts toward title service and an attorney who in the end cost us $500(?)). We also paid $300 for a market appraisal on the house. In total, we spent under $2000. I just wanted to share my experience with other posters here because I think the real estate industry is something of a racket and selling a home seems way more intimidating than it really is.

Whatever you do, I wish you the best of luck.

Ann Althouse said...

Thanks, but that's just not me. There will be no open house, either by me OR by the realtors. They will find people who are legitimately in the market for a big, expensive house and show them the house when I'm not around. That's the only way I want to do it. I'm quite sure.