Surprise! I'm a single parent

selling the place myself
December 30, 2012, 5:45 pm
Filed under: community,economy

I successfully sold a house on Trade Me myself.

It took a while but it sold. Real Estate agents are not really required these days but people think they are. They don’t offer a lot if you think about it.  And if you think they will get the best price for your house think again.The 4 percent they will take from the sale price will probably negate extra that they might have negotiated. There is also evidence that agents don’t hold out for the best price because they want turn over. In a freakonomics chapter the authors outlined a study which showed agents take much longer to sell properties they personally own so they can get a better price.

I had a lot of real estate agents contact me wanting to sell the place. I asked them what they offered that I couldn’t do myself. Many offered up that the negotiation process was ‘uncomfortable’ for people. That’s probably true. But you know what your bottom line is. You know what you have to get for a house to buy the next one. Are you really going to agree to a price you can’t afford? Unlikely.

Another thing agents told me was that they knew the market. This is pretty easy for you to know too. You can look on trade me for similar properties and see what they are lited for. You can follow the links to recent house sale information. You can read detailed information that a lot of agents won’t have – they skim the surface of the wider area but you can go deep.

They don’t take a lot of time getting to know a potential buyer but you can find out a lot more about them.

In my case the buyer was going to be my neighbor for a long time so it was in my interest to sell to nice a reasonable people. That isn’t probably someting most sellers would be interested in but some people might be selling an apartment they own in the same building or, like me, a house in the same street.

Agents don’t know the local ammenities well but you do. You can tell potential buyers where things are that they need and what you like about the area. While I was building up to selling I visited a lot of open homes and I frequently asked agents if the house was in a particular school zone. They didn’t know. Or else they did know and the answer was negative so they didn’t want to tell me. This is such basic information. But an agent is dealing with 5 – 20 houses so they don’t know much about it. Their relationship with the house is hopefully going to last a few weeks so they don’t want to understand it.

I got quite a few people trying to test my vulnerability. A common test was to ask me to show them the house at a very unreasonable time.  I think the reasoning is that if I’m desperate I would show it. I had a few back up times organised with my tenants and I never budged from these. I also had lots of extra photos I offered to send to these people so they could work out if they were interested. These people want to see if they can get a cheap deal from soemone and they often asked why I was selling. They want to hear the d word. (Divorce).  While I never hid the information that my partner and I had split up, I never let on I was desperate to sell. In fact I’d tell people one of our options was for one to buy the other out of the rental property. This was in fact true.  My preference however was to sell and get my mortgage down on the house I live in.

There were a few people who were keen to buy the house. Two couples and two singles. The two I most preferred had properties they needed to sell before they could buy mine. I did something a real estate agent would never have done: I went to their open homes, I said positive things about their homes to other potential buyers. I took better photos of their homes and gave them to their agents. I added links to my advert as ‘similar houses’. I used the networks I’d built as a seller to redirect to their properties. Eventually the domino effect happened. The nice couple I wanted most to buy my house managed to sell theirs and then they bought mine. Yay!

I had tenants in the house while I sold it. They were new tenants and I told them the rent was low because it was on the market. They went into the tenancy knowing it would be sold and they would have 6 weeks notice. I also asked them if I could come in and clean before I showed it. So – they got a cleaning lady! I deliberately picked tenants I thought would be tidy. I left them fresh flowers and/or baking each time. I still run into them and they tell me I was the best landlady ever.

the odds were in my favour from the start
October 15, 2010, 4:01 pm
Filed under: community

Not long after I split with my hubby I got asked to do some volunteer work working alongside prisoners. I thought I just wouldn’t have the time but the organiser kept bugging me and I thought it might be good to put soemting in to an area that doesn’t get a lot of attention. Besides I have been volunteering all my life and I’d dropped off since my youngest had gone to school and I was no longer on any creche committees.

I don’t know if I’ve had any long term effect on any prisoners lives but I sure have had the opportunity to contrast my life with theirs. Let me tell you – the odds were really in my favour right from the word go. Over and over again I have heard people in prisons talk about negligent and downright disfunctional parenting. If I had thought all that advertising about domestic violence was a bit overblown, when I started listening to women in prisons I wondered what had taken us so long to get awareness campaigns going.

One day a woman was talking. She said: You know what it’s like when you are driving and getting the bash? EVERYONE (except me) nodded!!!!!

Nobody else appeared to be marveling at it. Well, yeah I know its probably a cohort where you’d expect a lot of victims of abuse – but still – everyone! I think my Dad maybe smacked me three or four times growing up. I always felt safe. About a year into volunteering a woman got parole and she said she was a bit sorry to be leaving because it was the safest she had ever felt. Imagine that.

I keep going to prison and I keep parenting as consciously positively as I can. I feel really privileged to have such a window on the world.

round the bays
February 20, 2010, 5:06 pm
Filed under: community

Today the girls and I did the Round The Bays walk. Walked – we didn’t run. Young and enthusiastic daughter brought the flyer home from school. I instantly directed her over to her Dads with it – he is the fit one. Unfortunately he was going to be at a wedding…… oh ok then. I also signed up her big sister, figuring if I had to endure it she could too. This is the kid who has recently lost her bus pass, her cell phone and the dog. The only thing we recovered was the dog and it was probably last in my order of preference. (vent vent vent)

Our week together didn’t start great. I had a terrible cold and shouldn’t really have been at work Friday but I finish early and go home with youngest. It was a loooong short day. I got home and poured myself into bed just completely letting my antibodies do the recovery thing. The kids headed for the computers.

Saturday was a pretty minimal housework day with the snot pouring out of me. I am one of those people for whom pseudoeffedrine (sp?) cold tablets were a blessing and now they aren’t sold anymore I’m not peasant to be around. I had had very little sleep with the runny nose and not breathing. How was I going to manage Sunday on a 7 k round the bays thing? I did not want to let my young enthusiastic sporty child down. These days it is hard to get incidental exercise, hard to find time for exercise, hard to find exercise we can all do together.

Anyway Saturday night we decided we could eat a king sized bar of chocolate together because we had the walk the next day – so we did. And I realised I could taste the chocolate so I must be on the mend. Then we switched off the phones and went to bed. I slept so well! Perhaps the secret of a good night’s sleep is to have a very bad one the night before.

I woke up with energy and I could breathe! We got to the school rendezvous point and there were two mums I know. Yay! friends to play with! Eldest daughter found a friend she knew and youngest begged to go with a favourite teacher and some school mates. So much for us having a bonding experience. But strangely it was – big digression about cell phones…

I think because we have them these days – we don’t always plan so well. If you know me you’ll know I’m pretty anal so my kids had been told where the car was, where the meet up point was, and they know my cell no off by heart. So it didn’t worry me that we split up as there were plans to get back together. But other parents had no plans. One mum with two sons had one go missing in the race. She had to go back to look we went forward with her other son. Because this isn’t the new york marathon it all worked out and we got back together in time for a triple mum photo finish ending.

Do the race was fun and made me much more confident about my recent decision to stop driving to work and start walking.

After the race I met up with the kids and decided perhaps eldest daughter and I will do without a cell phone relationship and instead hone our communication and organisation skills. They worked today so they can keep working. Also, if she can lope 7 ks without raising a sweat she can walk home from high school too – something she happily does I just thought the bus pass would be good. I got over it.

Last night I read an online article about how slums can have good communities both in terms of a lowered environmental footprint and in terms of people knowing and supporting each other. We showed great support today finding a lost little boy during the formation of a brief community of purpose, I further cemented a couple of friendships and my kids feel they have achieved something (youngest is still wearing her race number). I said to my little girl Thank You honey for suggesting we do the Round The Bays I had a great time. Yeah I know, You’re welcome and she headed for her computer and I for mine 

Over and out and off for a nap….

wish me luck!
September 11, 2009, 12:26 pm
Filed under: community

It is 7.07am on a Saturday morning as I type this. I was cheerily tapped on the head by my now 8 year old at approximately 6.06am. It’s her big big day. This afternoon 6 of her friends are coming around for a SLEEPOVER party. I think of this as the ultimate parent endurance test. 

Things I have left to do:

rearrange furniture (have already moved breakables)

wrap pass the parcel inserting slow it down and make it last longer jokes (googling now)

write clues for treasure hunt

blow up more balloons

pick up dvds, Singstar and ps2 from video shop at 2.30

have Singstar up and running by 3.30 without IT support

Once again my mother is coming through with a cake. She is just the best mother! And gingerbread men. I love them. We made our own pinyata which is a box thoroughlly masking taped up (after lollies and string handle are applied) and randomly painted. You have to pay $25 for an empty one at the Waarehouse so we thought we’d have a go and it’s been fun putting it together. A liberal application of streamers and its all ready to face the wrath of my old tennis racquet!

As a person who believes in housework in moderation these sort of events are actually quite useful for the inhabitants of my house because I am motivated to tidy and clean before, and necessarily, after – resulting in better storage solutions in the kids rooms especially. Wow they have so much junk!

Anyway must get googling for things like this:

Q. What did the light bulb say to it’s Mum? A. I wuv you watts and watts!

March 8, 2009, 2:09 am
Filed under: community

I have been thinking for a while about how people don’t know their neighbours so much anymore – it’s not like when I grew up and we all knew each other (or so it seemed to me as a kid). I wanted to do something to get our neighbourhood together.

I’m really fortunate to have a woman who has become a good friend who lives three doors down the road. She has two kids who sit in age just ahead and just behind my youngest. They go to different schools but every afternoon they are at one another’s houses. Last year we were all excited when some people bought the place next to my friends and they had two kids in the same age group again. The kid web grew but that didn’t mean the parents were really getting together.

So we organised a barbeque between some of the families nearby so people could get to know each other. I think one of the most surprising things about this was how excited the kids were about it. One of the highlights of the event was the sight of seven children making their way through the broken fence between the section with the trampoline and the section where the adults were cooking and sitting around in the sun.

The lovely obliging neighbours who hosted ran out of gas on their barbeque as soon as he had started to cook and my friend turned to me and asked if we could go grab the gas of my exs barbeque. My ex had been invited but he wasn’t so keen. And I have to say I was OK with that. Now they wanted his gas bottle and they wanted me to get it. So I said it would be better if someone else asked him and off went my friend with my eldest daughter.

They got back with the bottle having re-extended the invitation and apparently my ex was going to turn up for half an hour or so. A couple of hours later I read my cell phone and my ex – never one for details – hadn’t realised where the barbeque was and there was a nasty text implying I had somehow omitted to tell him. So that was a bit of a damper, but as always these days the things which would have made me feel guilty and stupid now have the effect of demonstrating that my ex always did and still sometimes does seem to find blame with me when there are only the flimsiest connections. And that he no longer has the ability to hurt me like he did. These are my I DID THE RIGHT THING moments.

Meanwhile I think it was on step forward for our community in terms of being more than just people sharing geography.