The Painters


The painters were a critical part of the preparation for the sale of my house.  The exterior had relatively new siding, but the windows has not been painted in our 20-year residence. The interior was equally in need of refreshing. All rooms needed a coat of the light gray color selected by the Stager, as did all the closets.

The contractor (recommended by the real estate agent) provided the following quote <his text and grammar is reproduced> :


Powerwashing paint all sinding and trim windows frames doors.


Londry remove wall paper and paint cabinets White, Powder room paint walls and cieling family room paint only cieling office cieling walls and closet foyer cieling walls hallway walls and cieling, Bathroom walls and cieling hallway walls cieling master Bedroom walls cieling , Bedrom walls cieling closet, bed room remove wall paper paint cieling closet , Liven room paint cieling walls price labor material paint for all $3425

My move manager read the above, and summarized the necessary services:

– Power washing all of exterior

– Caulking as required outside

– Necessary repairs inside and out to the surfaces to be painted

– Includes all paint costs

– Priming to all repaired surfaces prior to painting inside and outside

– Interior ceilings

– Two coats of paint inside and outside

– Wall paper removal

Unfortunately, I looked at the two lists and thought that the painter’s looked complete.  A more methodical person would have looked at EACH of the spaces needing paint, and made sure that they were all covered.

The spaces that were omitted by the painter are in ALL CAPS in the following comprehensive list:


Power washing all vinyl siding, painting all non-vinyl siding (I had some in the garage),

Paint all doors and windows.

Interior –

Laundry, remove wall paper and paint walls and cabinets white (interior and exterior).

Powder room paint walls and ceilings AND CLOSETS

Family room, paint only ceiling (this was a paneled room)

Office paint ceiling and closet

Upper Foyer ceiling, walls AND CLOSET)/ Hallway ceiling, walls

Upper Hall Bathroom walls and ceiling

Bedroom (master) walls & ceiling AND CLOSETS(2), Bedroom 2, walls, ceiling, closet


Bedroom 3, remove wall paper, paint ceiling and closet.

Living room paint ceiling, walls

Other Spaces ADDED to original list :

Lower Foyer and Hall (paneled area that was dark) –

 -It was amazing how painting the stairwell white and adding a light carpet brightened the dark area

The Kitchen (mostly cabinets – little painted wall area).

-BUT – we should have had him paint the ceiling, which we did not think about until later.

Original Price $3425 (amazingly low, I thought for a 2800 sq. ft. home.)

He added painting the paneling in the lower hall, the four closets, and the master bath for an additional $200. I was very lucky.

The lesson learned was this: when dealing with a contractor doing a complex job with several possible options, be really diligent in defining the exact terms.  I have had success dealing with the contractors recommended on our Agent’s website.  I can be confident that those contractors are insured and bonded, and have a reputation for doing excellent work.

Moving Forward – LOAN APPROVED


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.

Selecting the House Selling Agent


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.

Questions to ask a Real Estate Agent


On the advice of a former Real Estate Agent friend, I decided to interview three potential agents. The list of questions below was critical to the success of the project. The second agent I interviewed anticipated most of them, and had all the answers in hand when she arrived.

20 Questions to Ask a Real Estate Agent

The person you choose will be involved in preparing your home for sale, establishing a listing price, marketing your property, and ultimately negotiating the transaction on your behalf to a successful conclusion.  Since all real estate agents are not the same in terms of talent and ability, it is to your advantage to ask questions before hiring one. Here are 20 important questions any agent worth his or her salt should be prepared to answer:

  1. How long have you been a real estate agent and are you also a Realtor?
  2. Is your license in good standing?Qm?  If so, what were the circumstances?
  3. Do you own your own home?  Where?
  4. Do you work full-time or part-time as a real estate agent?
  5. In what price range do you generally sell most of your homes?
  6. In which neighborhoods do you have most of your listings?
  7. How many sales (within a 2-mile radius) did you complete last year?  How many in the last two years?
  8. What is your average list-price to sell-price ratio?
  9. On average, how long (number of days) does it take for your listings to sell?
  10. Can you provide me with the names and phone numbers of past clients who have agreed to be a reference to you?
  11. Will I be working with you directly or handed off to someone else? In other words, will you handle all aspects of my transaction or will you delegate some tasks to a sales associate or administrative assistant?
  12. How long is your listing agreement period?
  13. What happens if I’m not satisfied with the job you’re doing to get my house sold?
  14. How often will you communicate with me and how?
  15. What price do you advise listing my house for?
  16. How will you market the house? (Ask to see sample materials)
  17. Why should I hire you over the competition?
  18. What haven’t I asked you that I need to know?