Thursday: Real Estate deals are stressful and sucky
A few weeks ago, Ken and I decided to sell our cottage. We bought it 6 years ago, after seeing it on the internet. It wasn’t my dream home, but it was super cheap, it was in a great little town close to some of our other family members, and we figured it wouldn’t take much to make it a cozy haven. I remember saying to Ken, “All this place really needs is some redecorating and laminate flooring.” Apparently, I had been watching too many “flipping” shows on HGTV, because holy sh*t, was I ever wrong. We had a home inspection, and found out that the electrical system had been put together by a 5 year-old. There was an electrical box on the wall right above where the bed would go, which looked on the outside like it had been disconnected, but was full of cut, LIVE wires. None of the outlets were grounded, and there were exposed wires everywhere, some held together with scotch tape. Our contractor said it was a miracle that the place hadn’t already burned down. We wanted to back out of the deal then, but the owners dropped the price enough that we could afford the rewiring. Once they moved out though, the real fun started, as we realized their abundance of junky old furniture, knickknacks, and Jesus paintings were covering up a lot of problems. Apparently, the previous owners were into home repairs like alcoholics are into sparkling water, and everything was done in the cheapest, sloppiest, absurdist way possible. My favourite was taking off wallpaper and discovering holes in walls that had been patched with Band aids. Or pulling up carpeting to discover 2 inches of sand underneath. And the place wasn’t THAT close to any beach—they were just slovenly housekeepers. Or maybe they couldn’t use a vacuum because the wiring kept shorting out. I had to clean the oven with Easy-Off—no, it f*cking wasn’t. There was so much build-up in there, and I got so much slime and grease on my hands that I literally almost threw up. There was the soaking wet subfloor under the sink in the kitchen which we pulled up and replaced, the toilet leaning against the bathroom wall (the bathroom was joisted with two by fours, so we had the whole thing pulled up and done to code), the doorways that had been wallpapered over, the painted masking tape disguising gaps between molding and walls, Kleenex stuffed into cracks to stop drafts—the list goes on. It took us almost a year to turn the place from a disgusting stinkbox into something habitable. Ironically, when we bought the place, the wife created a garden plan on graph paper, letting us know about all the unique and rare plants she had—we needed the plan because everything was hidden in crabgrass and weeds. Over the years, we kept on improving the place with the help of our intrepid contractor, Dale, who despite his construction prowess and our 6-year relationship, continues to call me by things other than my actual name, and just calls me names that sound similar, or start with the same consonant. But after 6 years, and a hell of a lot of hard work, the place really is a dream home.
We love our cottage, but the fact is, with me working in Toronto all week and only coming home for weekends, we’re hardly ever getting up there anymore. It’s not too far from our house, but K hates it because it has no wifi, which means she can’t play Counterhalo or League of Duty, or whatever crazy games she and her friends run around with daggers and machine guns in. So generally, she refuses to go, which means I have to choose between seeing my only child (between rounds of her killing animated characters) and having a peaceful getaway. That sounds like a no-brainer, am I right? At any rate, after a long discussion, we decided to put the cottage on the market. This is where the craziness began. After just over a month, or two weeks ago, we got word from our agent that an offer was coming in. “That’s so great!” I said to Ken, “So long as it’s not something ridiculous, like 20 grand below our asking price or something.” Well guess what? It WAS 20 grand below our asking price. And not only that, the woman wanted couches, beds, other miscellaneous furniture, all the outdoor furniture, everything in the sheds, and more, right down to personal items like a picnic basket, our Keurig, and the LINENS ON THE BEDS! Who the hell wants someone else’s old sheets as part of a house deal? I was like “forget that sh*t”, but our agent suggested we take out anything we wanted to keep, and send it back with a higher price. So we took practically everything out, and counter-offered with something a little more reasonable. Eventually, we all settled at a price we could live with, throwing in a couch and a couple of bed frames. AND the linens. She was adamant. Apparently, flannel sheets are a deal-breaker to some people. So Ken and I, with the help of my aunt, started the annoying process of packing stuff into boxes. We’d just nicely gotten the ENTIRE kitchen packed up and brought home when our agent called me to say the deal was off. According to the buyer’s agent, the house was falling down. The foundation was crumbling and the wooden frame under the floor was rotting. F*cking news to me. I was like, “Says who? Did she crawl under the place herself, or is there some more legitimate source for this information? What am I supposed to tell people? ‘Yeah, the place is about to collapse—an eighty-year-old real estate agent told me so.” (Well, she looks eighty on her business card). Our agent was also shocked but said we would have to sign the termination of the agreement, and I was like, “Hell no. Not until I see some actual proof that I’m about to fall through the floor.” This was where things started to get fun and sketchy as they refused to tell us who did the inspection, or provide any kind of report. We’re still embroiled in this sh*t right now. They’ve finally copped to having an inspection, but are demanding that we pay half the cost before they’ll show it to us. So I did what any reasonable person would do—I called Dale. Mainly because he’s the only person I know who will crawl around in a 3 foot high space underneath a cottage that may or may not be on the verge of collapse. And after this, he can call me ANYTHING he wants.
Saturday: I get ready to cruise
So right now, despite all the real estate stress, I’m SUPER excited because I’m going on my first cruise. I’ve been so excited, in fact, that I didn’t even really pay attention to where I’m going. After having several people say, “Where does the cruise go?” and me saying, “Wow, I’m not really sure,” I made my dad write it down for me so I wouldn’t look like a complete idiot. This is my parents’ gift to me for reaching a “milestone” birthday—as some people might say, I am now a woman of “a certain age”, and it’s not the awesomely fun age where you get to finally drink, buy lottery tickets, play bingo, or watch porn. So yeah, an “older” milestone than all of that. Still, I’m young enough to appreciate how cool this cruise is going to be, even if Ken and K can’t come. It’s just me, my parents, my brother, his wife, their son, and her dad. I think Ken feels a little left out, but it’s not my fault that he “can’t get time off work” or whatever. K said she couldn’t miss 5 days of school because missing math would kill her, and I’m hoping it’s because she doesn’t want to fall behind, not because she loves math so much. Because let’s be honest—if you love math so much that you would miss a cruise to a tropical island…enough said. Anyway, there are two main things that I’m the most excited about, aside from the “all you can drink” alcohol package:
1) I just found out today that our suite comes with its own butler. This is the best thing EVER. Ken wasn’t particularly impressed but K totally got it.
K: His name will be Johnson.
Me: Yes! And he’ll wear a tuxedo. Even at 3 o’clock in the morning.
K: And he’ll have an English accent.
Me: Absolutely. The only thing better than my English butler Johnson would be if he was a monkey butler.
I’m probably overthinking it, and my expectations will most likely be dashed when it turns out that my English butler Johnson is a guy in shorts and a Hawaiian shirt named “Jimmy”, who will recommend Budweiser and pretzels instead of champagne cocktails and caviar. Still, a girl can dream.
2) I get to swim with dolphins. This has been a lifelong dream of mine, ever since I almost failed grade 9 science and realized that I was NOT destined to be a marine biologist. Instead, I learned how to analyze poetry, which is almost the same thing. But without the dolphins. (As a side note, it’s still really easy to get into an English program. They ask two questions—1) Do you have the money for tuition? 2) Are you breathing? The second question is just a formality. If you have the tuition, breathing isn’t really a requirement.) I never thought that I would be able to come face to bottlenose with a dolphin, but it looks like that’s going to happen. I even had to buy “biodegradable” sunscreen, so it wouldn’t harm the dolphins. It was expensive, but it’s money well-spent. And if my butler isn’t up to snuff, I can always call my dolphin “Johnson”.