Tuesday, July 1, 2014
SLICE OF LIFE
Or at least I hope I'm getting ready to sell a house.
And it's been more than a little stressful.
But maybe I should start at the beginning.
Eight years ago, shortly after I adopted the boys, it became apparent that my little two bedroom bungalow, in a not very diverse part of Denver, was not quite going to work for our family. It wasn't big enough for their ever growing bodies. No one in the neighborhood looked like them. And it was twenty miles, through city traffic, away from the school where I worked and they attended, and the area where their friends lived, and where all of their sports practices and games were held.
And so, even though I have always loved living in the center of the city, I bought a home in that far east suburb of Denver. And sold my house, ok, well first I rented it, but that's another story.
And to be really honest, even though the boys loved being close to their friends and activities, and the house- with a loft for their video games, and a basement for their drum set, and a huge yard-was perfect for our growing family, I hated the house and the area from the day we moved in. It just wasn't me.
Four years later, when my boys were ready for high school, the coach they had loved, who had filled the father figure role in their lives, was moving on to coach high school football at a more centrally located school. And I decided to follow him and move back to the city.
Except by that point, the bottom had completely fallen out of the real estate market in that part of town. And you couldn't give away a house, let alone sell one. I contemplated a short sale, or foreclosure, and finally decided to rent the house. A friend of the boys had an aunt who was getting divorced and needed somewhere to live. She wanted to rent for a year, then buy it. She was a pharmaceutical sales rep, someone who seemed like she would take good care of the house. I painted, got the carpets cleaned, windows washed, and she moved in.
A year went by, two, three, and now four. I've had the air conditioning repaired. Replaced the refrigerator. And six months ago the hot water heater. This year, my tenant switched jobs. Took a pay cut. Has not been very good about paying rent on time. Bounced several checks. I am not good at confrontation and it's been really stressful.
Earlier this spring, I decided I would try to sell again. The market has improved and my realtor thinks we have a much better chance of selling. I told my tenant she would need to move out as soon as school got out. I thought we would do a few repairs, get the carpets cleaned, and put the house on the market by mid June.
It hasn't quite worked that way. My tenant's mother died, so I let her stay two extra weeks. And the few repairs have turned into a lot of repairs. Stuff that my tenant was supposed to fix- a broken window, two linoleum floors that her puppy chewed up, a bedroom that her teenage daughter had begged to paint, and started, but never finished, didn't get done. I should have collected a security deposit when she moved in, but she was a single mom, newly divorced, broke, and I felt sorry for her, so I didn't. She is supposed to give me the $1300 deposit when she could, but it never happened. It still hasn't. And so I'm stuck with the repairs.
Besides all the rental damage, the house is twenty years old. It needs updating- a new kitchen, new fixtures, new windows. A hailstorm a couple of weeks ago destroyed the roofs of pretty much every house in the neighborhood. I have $1000 deductible, but it right now, it feels like a million.
To make a long story short, the house still is not on the market. I had to take out a home equity loan to make all the repairs. I've spent the summer running errands. To Home Depot. To the bank. To the real estate office. To meet the handyman at the house. To Home Depot. To the bank. To meet the roofer at the house. To Home Depot.
And when I'm not running errands, I'm working at the house. Mowing. Watering. Pulling weeds. Dragging away trash that the tenant left. Talking to the sprinkler system guy about why the backyard is not getting any water.
When I'm not running errands or working at the house, I'm working. My district has several curriculum projects going this summer. They needed help. And I needed money. So I'm writing curriculum in my spare time.
I'm trying to stay positive. Looking forward to the day that the house will actually be on the market. Envisioning it sold. Hoping I will make enough to pay off the mortgage and the realtor and the loan. Hoping I will get to read a book or two before I go back to school.
But it hasn't been a very fun summer so far.