Into the Dorm

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Into the Dorm

The process of moving my daughter into the dorm at her new university had started weeks in advance: appointments with doctors, farewell meetings with friends and, of course, shopping. We had made trips to Costco, Kmart, Target and the grocery store.

Three days before Moving Day (Thursday) I asked my daughter to take all the clothes and other items to be moved to the Staging Area (the den). I turned on the TV (reruns of Castle) and started sorting by categories – clothes, food, books, shoes, and everything else, and compared the stacks to the collection of suitcases and boxes at our disposal. So by the night before the move, all we had to do was put each clothing type in its designated suitcase, and label the outside with masking tape and a sharpie (pants, tops, shoes, etc.). That way, if for some reason we didn’t have time to get everything into the drawers, she would at least know where to look.

Moving Day dawned beautiful and clear. My cousin’s wonderful husband had come the evening before and moved the little dorm refrigerator and the foot locker into the van, so we only had to move the suitcases into place. We were in two cars (the refrigerator just wouldn’t fit into my daughter’s Protégé).

We were about an hour and a half from campus. I had missed that we were both out of gas, so off we headed to Costco. Of course, they were doing maintenance on two of the pumps, so it took about 30 minutes in commuting and filling time. Then off we went at around 11:15.

We made good time, and the dorm was very easy to find. The line was short at check-in, so we were in her room by about 1, and my son, who lives about 30 minutes away, was able to get to there soon after a morning soccer practice (he is a high school coach). She was the first of the four residents to move into the suite. The other three have been friends since high school.  That could provide interesting dynamics.

On campus the non-freshmen are in suites where each of four students has a private room, sharing a common seating area, shower, toilet, sinks, and kitchen. The small bedroom had an surprising amount of storage. With a lofted bed, there were a desk and two chests of drawers underneath, plus a wardrobe. Amazingly, all the contents of the luggage went in and I was able to bring the suitcases back home empty (or so I thought. My daughter soon discovered that a favorite piece of clothing was missing – and I found it hiding in one of the pockets of a large suitcase at home).

And then there was a fire alarm (the first of three by the end of the evening) so we all got to stand out in the 90-degree heat for about fifteen minutes waiting for the fire truck. It reminded all of us that at the last campus move-in we had done the University had provided cold bottled water for the families. That would certainly have been welcome.

Daughter had a placement test from one to 3, so had to leave just after everything was unloaded. Unfortunately, I also realized that all the bags from the K-Mart run were still in my other car – at home. The only critical need from that trip was bedding…so BACK to Kmart we went and bought the LAST Twin XL bedding set in the store. You would think there were a lot of people moving into the dorm that day or something! The University designated each dorm on campus with one half day to move in. This was the university’s third move-in day so the basics in K-Mart were running thin. But I decided that if the worst outcome of the move-in was that she had to sleep in sheets not in the favorite quadrant of the color wheel for a week, it would be a successful day.

Daughter went to take the test, and successfully scored at a level that placed her in the upper ASL (American Sign Language) classes for the fall.  As in most majors, there are so many required courses in the ASL Curriculum that the classes are in two-semester cycles.  In fall semester, ASL 1 and ASL 3 are offered. In spring semester, ASL 2 and 4 are available.  Because she was coming from another institution, Daughter had to take a test to see if she was at a level of proficiency to place into ASL 3 this fall. Because the program she had come from was not strong, she was VERY nervous about the test, and had studied hard over the summer (there were CDs available at the bookstore, and we had bought them earlier in the summer on a prior visit). She was thrilled to pass.

By the time she got back to the room, most of the clothes were put away, with the masking tape labels on the outside of the drawers.  After the bedding purchase run, it was time to leave.  She was ready to go sample the food offerings (there are many options). My son and I went to eat great Mexican food.

Then home.  Of course, just as I was hitting the Interstate, my check engine light came on.  I was not surprised. I just drove on in (about 70 miles), a little slower than usual, made good time, and parked the car in the garage.

I did not have ANY trouble sleeping that night.

A week later, my son came home for the weekend and took the K-mart missing items by campus on his way home. Life is good.

The Stager

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The saga of the House Sale has progressed through (1) Interviewing Potential Agents and (2) Selecting a listing agent. Now is the time for (3) The Stager.

As a component of her fee, my Agent is providing a Stager.  A young woman came to my house and spent about two hours. First, she chatted with me about what I would be comfortable doing in regards to preparing the house for public showings, then spent over an hour looking at the house room by room (with me not present), and presented a 5-page handwritten list of items that could be done to maximize the sales potential of the house. Of course, I turned it into a spreadsheet with columns of tasks for Handyman, Painter, and Owner.

The big picture items included replacing the gold doorknobs throughout the house with brushed nickel. I had not even noticed that the old ones were scratched and discolored. All toilet seats are to be replaced with new white ones (my husband had insisted on wooden), and mats removed. One bit of humor came as my daughter walked into the hall bath and announced that there was a white seat on our tan toilet – which we had not even noticed when we dutifully counted the three new seats required.

All the drawer pulls throughout the house were to be changed to brushed nickel. All of the walls painted Revere Pewter (a not-too-bright white), and empty of art, except for a few items that she designated to stay.  All closets half empty.  All counter tops as empty as possible. All carpets removed (we have beautiful hardwood floors that have always been covered).

All book cases half empty. That is the REALLY hard one for me – I have already donated a couple of hundred books to various organizations and people, and I still can’t tell a substantive difference.

The next big difference item is easy – Nice white body towels in the baths, nice white bedspread/comforter  and four fluffy pillows on the beds (two on singles).

Our downstairs has an old carpet that will have to be replaced (not unexpected), and baths recaulked (again, not a surprise).  The den is paneled, and the walls will have to be cleaned with Murphey’s Oil.

It will all look lovely.

My brother and sister-in-law came for the weekend to start the process.  We went to the Big Hardware Store and purchased toilet seats and door handles. We discovered that the drawer pulls would have to be ordered online because they are not a standard size (they have already arrived!). My brother has already changed all the door knobs and toilet seats. One bit of humor occurred as my daughter walked into the hall bath and announced that there was a white seat on our tan toilet – which we had not even noticed when we dutifully counted the three new seats required. I have not found the required tan one, and really don’t want to pay $50 to purchase one online and have it shipped. We’ll see if I can find one locally. Then my adult son came in this weekend and complained that the door knob on his bedroom was just “strange”. Change is hard.

The new house will have been purchased by then, so items to be “thinned out” can be stored there, but it requires a truck, and its location is several hours away. Now the “dance” of the house exchange really begins in earnest.

Selecting the House Selling Agent

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Luckily, I am not in a great hurry to sell my house. We have lived here many years, and moving out will be a painful, cumbersome, multi-faceted journey.

After speaking with four real estate agents, I chose one who not only answered all my 20 Questions for a Real Estate Agent, but also anticipated most. The other three agents were all competent, but no one else seemed to have support for all the activities that will be involved in my lengthy extraction and sale process.

The price differential was interesting.  The first person I spoke with suggested listing the house at $325,000 (the house next door, smaller than mine, has just sold for $310K in a week). The agent I selected suggested $350K, showing comps, support for her numbers, and a method for reassessing if the house does not sell in a reasonable amount of time.  The third agent I talked with would not consider listing for more than $298K. That was not the only thing about which we disagreed. It was interesting was that he would not compromise on a higher listing price, despite my telling him that his was the lowest, and with his knowledge of the selling price of the house next door. That difference in price will pay my daughter’s tuition for the next three years at a state university.

So today, the selected agent  and I went through the many pages of paperwork  – the contract, deciding on a Home Warranty (which covers me starting today, through the buyer’s first year in the house), discussing the decluttering, staging, showing process.

I am sure there will be several more posts about preparing the house for sale as I sadly say goodbye to an old friend.