The Big Move: House Still Not Finished

January 4, 2013

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Staying Patient

It has been awhile since I wrote about our building our first new home. Most of you likely expect that it is completed.

Truth is, our contractor is quite a bit delayed, and we were originally supposed to move into our new home around Thanksgiving. Now our new completion date is likely closer to March of 2013.

They Call Them Apartments, But They Are All Together.

Blocks of flats built by the Soviets. Very eas...

Not Johnny’s apartment building

You might recall my last article when I wrote about the neighbor below, with a tolerance for noise that borders on that of a 97 year old librarian. Actually no incidents since then for my family, but he did go off one night on the neighbors next door to him – his wall banging reminiscent of a Sasquatch trying to tear down a campsite.

The biggest complaint of living in the small space with the entire family is that it is hard enough being cooped up inside during the winter months, but even harder when you are six years old…just ask my son.

The advantage is that living in the apartment has allowed for my wife and I to pay for a new bedroom set and a sound system for the house – – – just based on the money we have saved in making a house payment vs. the lower rent payment. So while we have still spent money, we have instead spent it on some items we really wanted for the new abode.

Earning For Our New Keep

Speaking of money, the best thing we did is have a performance clause built into our contract. What this means is that if the house is not completed by a certain date, then we, the purchaser of the new home, get the final price reduced by a stipulated sum of money for each week, or month, the house is delayed.

I am sure there are a bunch of possible ways that a couple building a home could set this up with their contractor, and each situation is different. I would strongly recommend doing this if you are looking to build a home. This offers some guarantee that your construction will be done during the allotted time, and if not…at least you are being financially compensated for having to wait. Our builder had this built into our contract, and since things are delayed, it is now a benefit in terms of final value we will pay when we close on our new home.

What Are Hardest Decisions to Make?

I have had a few people ask me this one. I have heard horror stories from many people, and have had other people tell me there is no way they would ever build a house as they aren’t sure they could make all of the decisions.

I have never looked at this as a chore…instead I would tell you that it has actually been very fun and exciting choosing things for the new house.

But, what item has been the hardest thing to pick out?


We have brick on the exterior of our home, and let’s face it…you are never going to replace brick. So to me choosing a brick we liked was the hardest choice. I had NO idea there were THAT many types and colors of brick to choose from.

Next toughest for me is choosing the exterior color of the home. Actually this is not even decided yet, but we need to figure it out soon. The problem is I like about 25 different combinations, so it is more a problem on just deciding and sticking to one I like. Everything else has been pretty smooth – carpet, tile, countertops, lighting fixtures etc. It likely helps that my wife and I are on the same page on most every item, and I am sure it is a lot different for some couples. But for us, it has been pretty easy.

The only other thing other than exterior colors to still choose is ceiling fans, and interior colors. Well and the landscaping plan. Fortunately I have a relative that has a background in that field of expertise. He took some pictures and some site drawings from us at the holidays and will get back to us with some ideas on how to dress up the yard once the house is complete.

Just like everything else with the house, I can’t wait to see how that turns out!

Have a great 2013!

Until Next Time, stay classy Orlando, Florida.

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The Big Move: Apartment Living

August 22, 2012

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This is the 4th installment of the series of articles covering our move into our new home.

They Are All Together….

 The last article was written some weeks ago right after we had sold our house. A lot has happened since that time.

We had to pack up the remainder of our household goods and move to a new locale. Yep, I am back among those doing apartment living. This is a new experience for me since the last time I lived in an apartment I did not have any children, did not own any pets and did not have a ring on my finger indicating I was married. I am always reminded of the famous comedic line…why do they call them apart – ments when they are all together?

I was much younger, financially not near as well off, and frankly had a lot more going on so I really wasn’t in the apartment that much anyway.

Bonus Perks!

Yongjin Clover Apartment

This is not Johnny’s apartment building.

Living in an apartment does have its advantages. I do not have to pay for all of the utilities and trash service. I do not have to worry about my lawn decaying and turning brown in the face of the worst drought we have had in my lifetime here in the Midwest – this also means I do not have to worry about snow removal and mowing either.

The apartment also comes with a nice pool and hot tub that I have been able to utilize on a few occasions. The location we chose for an apartment was very convenient as it allowed us to stay in the same school system with our son, and they also accepted pets. Since we have a dog, finding a place that allowed pets was a huge bonus. Finding a nice place that allowed pets that was in the area that we were wanting to live was even better.

I sure miss my fence….

Apartment living does come with some things that I have taken for granted as well. You have neighbors on directly on either side of you as well as below you. The younger gentleman that lives below me already blew a gasket as apparently we were being too loud at lunch time on a Saturday. He was banging on the ceiling reminiscent of Mr. Heckles from “Friends”. The only difference is this did not sound like a broom stick.

When you have a dog and a 6 year old abiding by the apartment rules of no running and keeping quiet can be difficult to say the least. As a homeowner this is never a problem.

Speaking of dog, that is probably thing that my wife and I are realizing we miss from being in the house. With the home and fenced yard, so when it is “bathroom time” for the pooch you simply open the door, wait for the friendly visage of your dog to reappear at same door and Voila’! Open door + Treat jar = happy dog.

Now we have to leash him up, put on shoes or appropriate warmer clothing if early or late at night, go down the stairs ( as we live on the 2nd floor) walk around until we get the business done, and then we use the secure entry to get back upstairs. Fortunately we are getting our dog a little more “trained” into a routine with this so we are all adjusting on the fly.

So Many Choices

A lot of our free time has been spent making the final selections on tile, carpet, paint, brick, countertops, fixtures, pretty much about everything you can name. The good news is that we have most of this finalized or very close to finalized as the framing is set to begin on our house very soon. Once the trusses start going up, the rest is going to keep moving along in a hurry.

In the meantime, it is a good thing I have college football to keep me distracted!

Until next time….stay classy Summersville, West Virginia

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The Big Move: Sold!

July 11, 2012

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This is the third installment in my series involving the building of our new home.

This past weekend we sold our existing house. It was on the market for about 7 weeks.

The previous two times I have sold homes they have been sold very fast (both in under 20 days). I was getting a little nervous as we had a ton of people look at the home, but had not been able to sell it. A few weeks back we received an offer that that was pretty strange but thought we had it sold…and then at the last minute with negotiating the prospective seller pulled the plug on the deal and then proceeded to start making comments on why they did not want the house in the first place.

Rule #1 of selling a home…Don’t make it personal.

For about 2 days I was pretty ticked off about this first deal falling through. “if you didn’t like these things about my house why did you make an offer in the first place” was my thinking! I will freely admit I was mad. But after some smooth talking by my wife and more reasonable thinking, I figured out that this was likely a bad offer anyway. They had strange need for cash at closing some weird clauses and oddly constructed contingencies of moving into the house and closing on it. In the end it was best that this did not work out at all.

Rule #2 of selling a home – Hey Realtor – Don’t make it personal to the clients!

– Rule #1 in my case could have been avoided altogether if not only the prospective buyers realtor but also my realtor would have NOT mentioned these “personal feelings” at the time the other party decided to not proceed with their offer. All this did was escalate my blood pressure and since they had walked away from their initial offer on our home, it really didn’t matter what they thought about my house anyway.

Rule #3 of Selling a home – Being the Bridesmaid is a GOOD thing!

We had another family that came to our house 2 times in 2 days. They stayed and looked at our place for a LONNNNG time each time they were there. We found out that they ultimately decided to go with another house. Instead of being disappointed, I was excited! Even though we did not get a potential sale, it told me that obviously our house was in the running which meant it was just a matter of time before we found a buyer.

Rule #4 – It happens when you least expect it.

We were going to have an open house on Sunday. We had a showing on Friday and another on Saturday, and had an offer by 3 pm on Saturday afternoon. It was a good offer, near full price and was clean as a whistle. In the end this is all I could have hoped for.

Now my family begins the arduous task of needing to move into an apartment in the interim while our new home is being built. They are breaking ground on our new house as we speak, and it is anticipated to be completed in mid-November. The people buying our home have a closing date with us that is less than a month away!

In the meantime, more of our household contents is off to the storage unit, and the daily necessities such as beds, living room furniture, clothes, pots pans, my sons toys and of course our beloved dog – Max- are off to the pet friendly apartment we will call home for the next 4 ½ months. On the bright side the apartment we are moving into is close to where we live, and has a pool, and a small stream…pool will be good for me.

Until next time, Stay classy Overland Park Kansas.

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Unreasonable Expectations

March 28, 2011

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My wife and I watch a lot of Home and Garden Television. There is one show that my wife chooses to watch that simply grabs my attention, it is called House Hunters.  What strikes me the most about this show is the unreasonable expectations of the featured home buyers. Most (but not all thankfully) of the featured couples, fully expects to step into the type of home that their parents currently own or even better. They completely discount the years of savings, the slow steps from a small to medium to elegant home, that their parents had to endure. They are fully expecting to buy a home that is 3, 4 even 5 times their combined annual income, with the expectation of having a child without affecting their ability to afford the home in the long run.

I remember consulting with my father before attempting to purchase my first home, apparently I am old fashioned or my father has a good memory about what he could afford with a growing family. We chose a house that was almost exactly twice our combined income. The loan officer actually called me cheap to my face. When I transferred with my company, I was able to move up to a more expensive house, mostly because they covered my closing costs at both ends. Again, we went for twice our combined income. This time the real estate agent tried to pressure me into a larger debt. He explained that my salary was guaranteed to go up. I asked him to back up that guarantee with his own money. He refused, I got a new agent.

Ten years later, a full twenty years after getting out of school, we bought a house comparable to what my parents had when I moved out. I guess for the show, I do not have the right frame of mind. I do not think of a house as an investment. I look at as a place to live where the rent can actually be recouped eventually.

This problem of expectation is not limited to house buying, the show just provides a very clear example. I have worked with people who expect promotions and recognition as if some effort they have put forward is ample proof that they will continue to achieve at the same rate for ever. I have met people who truly expect the government to anticipate and fulfill their every need. I have watched as customers in stores have expressed their belief that since they spent $2.13 they should be treated somehow special. There are churches where the people expect to be entertained and cared for because they write a check each week. I have heard parents berate teachers because there child is special and should be treated better.

I believe that we all need a does of proportion. Actually think about what we deserved based on what we are doing. If we are buying the cheapest car, we should not expect it to run like the best vehicle out there. When we attend group, government or private, we should see what we can do, rather than walk in with expectations as to what should be done for us. President Kennedy said it very well, “Ask not what your country can do for you; rather ask what you can do for your country.” I think that this should be expanded to your community, you school, your church, even your family. Let us, at least for a little while, push aside our own petty desires and consider what actions will provide the greatest good.

Realty Bites

October 23, 2009

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Today’s story, Realty Bites, should not be confused with the similarly named technology column, Reality Bytes.

My progress on the end-0f-quarter long story has stalled a bit, due to minor illnesses and a toddler who hasn’t been going to bed on time.  Hoping to be finished by next Friday!

Realty Bites

Mark Salas sighed as the front door bell dinged. The Morgans could definitely count punctuality as one of their strong traits. Mark had hoped that perhaps just this one time the Morgans would forget about their appointment with him.

The Morgans were, ostensibly, in the market for a house. Mark had shown them nearly every house than anyone had put up for sale recently. At first, he had made an attempt to pick out the houses that seemed to be the best fit for them. However, over time, they had simply run out of houses that fit their criteria, and thus Mark had become less selective.

In the course of twenty seven months, the Morgans had made 107 trips to his office and Mark had shown them 304 houses. Mark really should have pawned them off on a junior associate long ago, but he had a soft spot for them. Mark wasn’t completely sure if they would ever buy a house, or if their hobby was house hunting. After a year of working with them, Mark had suggested that perhaps they might be interested in having a house built to their specifications.

“No, no”, they had exclaimed. “That would take far too long.”

Mark perked up a bit when the Morgans entered his office. Kari Morgan had brought him a plate of her world famous chocolate chip cookies. Mark had a Cookie Monster mentality when it came to Kari’s cookies – “Cookie! Cookie! Me want cookie!”

The trio headed to the parking lot and jumped into Mark’s Explorer. Mark was going to show the Morgans three houses today. The houses were just a few minutes from each other, so at least they could knock them out fairly quickly and Mark could return to work and focus more of his energies on customers who actually bought and sold houses.

Like many before it, the visit to the first house started out very well. Kari Morgan loved the stainless steel appliances in the kitchen, and Scott Morgan liked the fact that the lower level had a large bonus room that could easily be turned into a workshop for his woodworking.

The house had a large master bedroom, and the attached master bath had a whirlpool tub. Kari Morgan’s face lit up when she saw the whirlpool tub. The large walk-in closet and his-and-hers sinks added to the allure of the master suite.

They walked through the rest of the house, and the Morgan seemed to be finding a lot of positives in the house. They liked nearly everything about the house. The large windows allowed a generous amount of sunlight into the house, the three stall garage left plenty of room for a lawn mower and gardening supplies, and the large backyard had plenty of room for gardening. Scott Morgan was even pleased with the variety of birds that were attracted by the trees in the neighborhood.

Unfortunately, Mark had been down this path before.

“So,” he asked, cautiously. “What do you think.”

“We like it,” replied Kari.


“No buts,” said Scott. “We’ll take it. Let’s go back to your office and draft an offer right away.”

Mark had to make a concerted effort to refrain from pumping his fist in celebration. He had managed to find a house that the Morgans wanted to buy! He was actually going to make a commission on the people that his co-workers mockingly referred to as “The Impossibles”. To say that he was on cloud nine was an understatement. This cloud definitely went up to eleven.

“We’ll want you to sell our old house, of course,” said Kari. “We’d like to get $300,000 for it. We think you’re just the man to get us top dollar.”

In that short moment, Mark dropped down to at least cloud four or five. He was facing the unpleasant tasks of convincing the Morgans that their own house was worth, at best, 75% of their asking price.