Preparation for Staging

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Manageable would probably not be a word that would occur to me now in describing where I am with the move process.  About three weeks ago my Move Manager and I sat down and picked a target date to have the house ready to go on the market.  Three weeks ago, we chose Thursday of this week. We’ll see.

Things have definitely progressed.  Last Saturday the “mini-move” removed all the non-essential pieces of furniture and about sixty boxes of stuff to a 10 x 10 storage room. I understand that when the door was finally closed not another item could have possibly fit.  The local team of four young men that came that day did an exceptional job of moving things out – including a little last minute packing that cleared the way for the carpet men coming on Monday.

Today was supposed to be carpet day.  It started with a delay in the team’s coming because we did not have all the required rooms totally cleared.  There was some misunderstanding about the interpretation for “totally cleared” (or perhaps it changed). So the team that was supposed to start at 8 came about 12.  The manager who had come and quoted the job had decided that we could use the current carpet as a pad for the new.  When the carpet-laying team came today they disagreed. The current carpet was not totally fixed to the floor.  It had some wrinkles in it, which the laying manager said would negatively affect the new carpet.  Sounded logical to me. So…then we needed another pad, a new quote, and a new day.  No carpet today.

The painter started with a power-wash that took most of the day, but was totally amazing when he had finished. No more dusty garage!  It is squeaky clean. Tomorrow, painting inside and out. Tonight I had to take everything that was remaining off the walls, including the wonderful poster collection in my adult son’s boyhood room. He had taken photos of them last weekend, so all are duely recorded, but it was still sad to see them go. Batman, Spiderman, favorite college teams, and inspirational sayings (You Already Are What You Want To Be When You Grow Up). Maybe the carpet guys will be back tomorrow. I have lost track, actually.

The sad thing that happened today was that I took my two lovely cats to a “kennel” for the day.  It has a good reputation, and the “girls” could be together but also had an opportunity for their own space. When I arrived (about 3:30 pm) my little Arya (a year old and solid black) was huddled in the back of her space, and hissed at the attendant, who asked me to come coax her out.  They will have to go back tomorrow, but it is troubling.  Tonight she seems fine.  We shall see.

Onward with painters & carpenters.

Moving Forward – LOAN APPROVED

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The locomotive that is my move keeps picking up steam. The first “mini-move” is Saturday.  An excellent local moving company is going to take about sixty boxes and all the “extra” furniture to a near-by storage unit (small tables, bookcases, all the art).  The goal is to create a minimal “canvas” in my house, giving the viewers the opportunity to paint their own new family portrait in its rooms.

Amazingly, after the debacle of the earlier “nonloan,” I received notification yesterday from a local bank (in the area of my new townhome) that my loan has been approved. We have a new closing date in two weeks. I hope my baby grand piano (circa 1924 that is being reconditioned) will be ready two weeks after that (dictating my “primary moving day”). The approval came TWO WEEKS after I walked into that bank manager’s office with the same document package that the Regional Bank had not been able to approve after five weeks.

There is daily activity here. Yesterday the salesman provided a carpeting quote to replace the very tired carpet in the family room. The power-wash and interior painting will happen next week, along with a regrout for our older showers and some help for the yard. The Inspector will be here tomorrow.

Keeping all the above in mind, the best decision I made was hiring the Move Manager. He has taken over the scheduling and supervision of all the subcontractors, leaving me (with invaluable help from family members) to do all the packing, donation runs to the local thrift shop, blogging, and work on the curriculum development for the Widows Way course. It is still extremely difficult, on many levels, but at least now it is manageable.

A Move Manager

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Today I made a major decision.  After going to the mountains and trying to close on “my” town home (and settling on renting for a month instead while the new prospective mortgage bank works through my package of information) I came back to the task of getting my current home on the market for sale.

I started with calendar in hand, identifying all of the pieces that had to come together before listing the property: cleaning out years of clutter (going through years of accumulated clothes, memorabilia, books, DVD’s – not forget the VHS tapes); removing pieces of furniture and boxes to a storage unit to make the house “staging ready” to list as available to sell, and almost daily trips to the Thrift Store to donate items that are resalable. Then getting the house itself ready for prime time: pressure washing, painting (inside and out), a tile man to dress up a shower that needs help, yard clean-up.

Doing all this along with teaching and writing a curriculum for widows suitable for offering at a community college in the non-college curriculum, I rapidly became overwhelmed. Then I started looking for…A Move Manager- someone to organize the preparation and all its moving parts. On the internet I only found senior move managers – people who assisted in moving seniors from their family home to a retirement community – NOT what I needed.

So – I started to write a job description by listing every piece of my preparation pie (see the end of this post for the final product). As the list of necessary skills evolved, I realized that I knew a person who had the required skillset, but had no idea that he would be interested. Retired from a corporate position, we had met when I managed a Thrift Shop. He offered a house watch service for vacationers, including feeding the pets.  In my new single status, he had become a regular as I was required to travel out of town related to the relocation and other family matters.

I forwarded the proposed job description and offered compensation that I hoped would be attractive enough to open the conversation. Today we reached a meeting of the minds.  I have already scheduled painters and the first wave of movers. We did a detailed walk-through where he identified other repairs and that would improve salability (he had over a page of notes) but agreed to my offer, with the caveat that we would review in a week or so to see if the estimated hours were reasonable.

I cannot possible express my sense of relieve as we finished the walk-through this morning.

Onward to the packing boxes.

Move Manager Job Description
Major Move
Be second set of ears for decisions to be made by owner related to move to Burnsville
Schedule Primary Move and negotiate fee
Provide advice on purging for staging and major move
 
Staging
Provide advice on preparation for staging decisions
Supervise interior painting
Staging Move
Supervise preparation for “staging” move to storage unit
Basic Assumptions
Communication with Client will be limited to one major e-mail per day, and one phone call.
Text messages may also be required, but limited to five per day.
A basic time-table will be established which manager and client will be able to adjust,
     but not without approval from the other party.
Compensation

Compensation will be paid after the sale of the

of the primary house.

 
 
 

 

The Non-Close

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Last week I was under a mistaken impression that I was about to close a mortgage loan on a new town home. The close date was set and the loaning bank had been selected through a logical process that included the fact that the bank was the mortgage holder on my “old” house.

However, as the loan package made its way through multiple levels of review, there were continuing questions on every “unusual” transaction.  Now, when your husband has just died , you are establishing retirement income,  you are applying for Social Security, insurance is coming in, you are changing insurance vendors, and your daughter is changing colleges, there are OFTEN unusual transactions.

But the big stumbling block became the fact that my debt to income ratio was too high.

I still have my family home and its mortgage (even though it has been paid down to less than a third of its value). There is the mortgage on the new town home, and I bought a new car (which I borrowed money to finance to get some credit in my name alone).  Therefore the total of those three payments is too high for the regular income I have from retirement and social security.

The “silliness” here is that there are also significant investment holdings which could totally pay ALL of the above loans. 

My frustration with this process was that there are MULTIPLE levels of review, nothing was changing through the process, and that ratio was imminently obvious from the first submission. I was not advised of the cancelation of the close until I had already traveled the five hours to the close location.

The town I am moving to is a small town – the largest part of the attraction after fighting rush hour traffic for many years.  Along with the smaller town is the establishment of personal relationships. The owner of the real estate firm acting as the agent for my new town home knew one of the loan officers at a regional bank, and suggested that I go talk to him. I had brought the loan package I had submitted to the larger banks with me after learning of this relationship.  So, after the introduction, and an interview related to my background and future plans, I left the three inch document stack with him.  A day later, after providing a few more pieces of information, he had run the numbers though his software, and said that he did not see a problem.  I have continued to say that if I need to pay off the car loan to improve the debt to income ratio, I will do so.

I left his office, and started back down the mountain.  Prior to leaving the new banker, I told the loan officer that I was now putting all my eggs in his basket.  From the car, I sent an email cancelling my application for mortgage loan from the prior entity (interestingly, I have received no acknowledgement of that email).  Now it will take another three weeks for this new package to make its way through the system. I have rented the townhome, and have time to plan the location of furniture prior to close. But I sure wish I had the loan in place. On to preparing the old home for sale.