Saturday, May 28, 2011

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Home Staging

Note: I don't really know about these statistics, I was just looking for an image for this entry. I do think, though, the homes that are nicely staged probably do sell quicker.

We're in the process of putting our house onto the market. Yeah, not the best time to be doing this, but, it IS the best time to be buying on the other end, so, a little bit of this for a little bit of that. Or, as we hope, a lot of that in a few years when the market recovers and the house we end up buying in FL at a lowish price will go back up towards its original value.

Anyway. This company we're using approaches things a bit differently, which, given the market, is likely a good thing. I can tell you that there have been houses in our neighborhood on the market for well over a year and, as far I can tell, their agents are doing squat. In fact, having run into this with other agents in my life, the agents are likely telling their clients, "Well, sorry your house isn't selling but it's just the market right now". Uh-huh. As you do absolutely nothing and blame it on the environment (are you reading this, Amy Pomera$$?)

I digress. The home stagers came by last Friday to check out the house of B and give advice/recommendations regarding what we might do to improve the way the house shows. Now, considering we plan on being out of the house when it's put on the market, this was a somewhat unusual meeting. Normally, they'd come in and recommend that half the furniture be removed and that it all be placed in temporary storage. Also, nothing on the counters, no signs of pets (oh yes, that'd definitely be a cinch in this household), the majority of your clothing packed away, etc., etc. And, yes, the usuals; touch up paint (or maybe an entire new paint job), carpets cleaned, power wash the house, windows cleaned, blah blah blah. Oh, and flowers! Put lots and lots of flowers in the front of the house. Buyers LOVE flowers!

I'll admit, I was both skeptical and resistant. However, the ladies won me over by first exclaiming how wonderful the house looked and what a fantastic job we did in upgrading just about everything. Really, their suggestions were minor and after thinking about them, I guess I can see why they offer them up.

One of the stagers told me that people tend to simply forget most of the houses after they've seen 15 or 20 of them in a day, especially if they were distracted by stuff in the houses. At the end of the day when discussing what they saw, they may only remember, "Oh, yeah, that was the house with the funky furniture in the living room" or, "Oh, that house. Hmmm...I don't even remember anything about it except I really liked their taste in books". So, in other words, what the stagers aim to do with their recommendations is remove anything that could be a potential distraction (or, worse, a major turn off) and show off THE HOUSE.

Which is why they love showing empty houses. Well, not totally empty; they bring in a few pieces of art or vases or mirrors or some such to highlight and accent important areas of the house (kitchen, master bedroom, master bathroom) but, NO furniture (they don't want the buyers to say, "Oh, our furniture would never look as good in this house as this furniture does").

If it turns out that the house hasn't sold before we move out (which is likely since it's not officially on the market), they feel, given the way it has been upgraded and maintained, it'll sell quickly. Good, considering how much we're losing on it. May as well get the pain over and done with.

In the meantime, IF someone wants to see it before we move out, they suggested the general things such as taking down family pictures, removing any religious relics/artifacts/icons (not that we have any) OR any that could be construed as such (i.e., a wind chime we have hanging out front that is a sun with a face) and, as best we can, hide pet-stuff (put away food bowls, beds, toys, etc.) Also, take down the large quilts we have in the living room/stairwell because, again, someone may get distracted by them.

Mr. B and I had a long discussion about it all after they left and decided we'll do some of what they suggested but not everything. Pictures, wall hangings; well, we'll have to take them down and pack them up, anyway and he will need to start patching up nail holes, etc. Pet stuff we can deal with and I suppose that wind chime can come down. They also recommended we remove the small garden flag in the front yard that has a bluebird on it and says "Welcome". I'm not taking that down. If someone gets distracted or offended by a welcome sign, screw them.

Books! Oh, they'd love for us to box up all of our books now but we're not going to, or, at least, we'll do so as we please. Mr. B quipped when I was wondering if someone would get offended by my books on Tarot, "Oh, don't mind the books but be careful where you step when you go into the blood sacrifice room, we haven't had time to clean it up since our last ritual".

I guess buyers can be real fickle and there is a lot of competition out there. Any advantage you can use, they say, will help.

Which is why we asked them to put another for sale sign in our backyard so that buyers going to look at the house for sale directly belows ours (same model but nowhere near as nice) will look up, see ours, notice the sign and say, "Wait, I want to see that one before I decide!" Maybe the folks down below us putting their house on the market will be fortuitous for us.

So, yes, yes, yes; I get what the stagers are saying and in this dog eat dog real estate market, you have to think outside the box". Yes, maybe someone will waltz into our house, love it, but then see a picture of one of our young nieces or nephews and say, "Oh, I can't buy this house! They have a child who looks just like the one we lost five years ago". Or, see the Tarot books and think "Devil worshipers! No way!"

Of course, I'd like to think they'd be paying more attention to the floor plan, the flooring, the sun room, the gourmet kitchen, the cherry cabinets, the granite, the lush lawn, the fenced yard, etc. but I know not everyone is as logical as we are by a long shot.

And, to be 100% truthful, I've been known to refer to houses by something odd that was in it (sometimes even the owners who were sitting in it when we looked at it), or, a bizarre decorating accent (one of the houses I looked at on-line in Sarasota I refer to as "The funky bathroom tile house") and have rejected them for these things. I've walked into houses, smelled cigarette smoke, and turned around and walked back out without looking at it. One house I looked at in Colorado Springs had a big pile of dog crap in the middle of one bedroom. Yes, it became "That crappy dog house". And, one in Sarasota had cat puke on the bedroom carpet. So, yes, pets can be problematic. Which, again, is why we are not really planning on showing the house until we're all out.

The stagers said, "You're lucky. There are some houses that we've seen that we've recommended $20,000 or more in improvements/changes". Lucky? I think not. I think, "We're SMART and we've taken excellent care of our house".

One stager said, "You should have seen the house we looked at this morning. PHEW. Yours is one of the best that I've ever seen".

Let's hope a buyer thinks so!

Mrs. B

Saturday, May 14, 2011

6 Wonderful Years!

Our anniversary is Monday. We're heading down to Charleston to celebrate and to revisit the memories of our lovely wedding day and honeymoon trip there.

Here is one of my favorite wedding pictures taken just after the brief ceremony, with only the officiate and a lone surfer dude (sprawled out on the sand near where we were married) as witnesses.

A dear friend said to me upon meeting Mr. B, "Sweetie! He's WONDERFUL! You make sure you marry that man!"

And so, on May 16th 2005 at 5:16 pm, I did. And thus began the journey into the best years of my life.

Mrs. B

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day 2011

Roberta, Margot, Mrs. and Mr. B, Dina
June 2005

To Dina, who gave birth to me and who is my best friend.

To Roberta, who became my mother through marriage but who I've come to consider a dear friend.

To my beloved Margot, who was my step-mother, but really my second mother since I was five and was my #1 fan and whom I cherish and honor and miss every single day.

I wish you a Happy Mother's Day.

I love you all.

Mrs. B

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Status Updates

(I apologize for the weird formatting on this entry. I don't know what is going on and I've tried to fix it several times, which means I've spent about two hours on this entry. Enough! Read on!)

I'll admit it; sometimes as I'm walking the dog or doing stuff around the house, things pop into my head that I might post as status updates on Facebook. Sometimes these are brief and perhaps cryptic (these typically get comments from my friends such as "?" or "Huh"); others may be quite lengthy (like a run-on rant). Or, it may pertain to something very specific such as "I love my mom" (much such as this is currently being posted by many on Facebook due to Mother's Day fast approaching). As an example, here are several of my most recent status updates and/or posts, along with any comments.

Me (status update): Phew. Think we made it through the barrage of storms, at least until next time. Thanks to all for your positive vibes. Keep 'em coming, though, the storms are still in Eastern NC. Hopefully, they'll blow out to the water and steer clear of my family and pals northward. Now, on to much more fun thoughts, such as, what shall I wear tonight to Mr. B's firm's party. The cool down is weather has mucked up my options!

SIL Analee: great weather for runnin' though! which is what i'll be doing. have a great time!

Friend Kathleen: These storms will be gone by May 25th, right? How was the party?

Me: Hopefully. It's been highly unusual. However, it's not uncommon to get tornadoes in Indy around race time. Have I not ever shared with you the infamous "meatloaf" story from the race in 2004? The party was fine. The last one of these we'll attend!

Me (status update): Procrastination: Something I've yet to out grow!

Friend Greg: procrastination? I'll get to that tomorrow...

Me: Ha ha! Me too!

SIL Analee: yet another way we are alike, and so i know what i have to look forward to in the future.. :)

Col George: Was going to comment, but guess I'll think about it for a while....

Me (status update): So, the other day I said something about Apollo barfing in the cat box. Now, this pops up on my ad bar. Sometimes Facebook is out and out creepy how they Big Brother you, huh?

"Promote National Hairball Awareness Day! Play the Hairball Battle game and cough up a mess on your Facebook friends! Yuck!"

Friend Ellen: oh that is just not good at all....ewwww

Col George: Coincidence? I wonder.

Friend Heather: my Purina Petcentric page says it is National Hairball Awareness Day! So, Happy Hairball Awareness Amy... & your furry friends!!! Thanks for restraint related to not "yucking" up your FB friends. We appreciate that!

Me (status update): Tonight I shall lay me down to sleep, one less terrorist this world does keep. With all my heart I give my thanks, to those in uniform regardless of ranks. You serve our country and serve it well, with humble hearts your stories tell. So when I rest my weary eyes, while freedom rings our flag still flies. You give your all, do what you must. With God we live and in God we trust (as an aside, I "stole" this status update from my SIL Kym B)

Col George: Amen

Dad B: Well said Amy - ex G I Your FIL

Me (status update): A splendid day of shopping with mom today. Have now completed my trousseau for our Charleston trip. Then, a leisurely lunch at a quaint Italian bistro. Wine, margherita pizza and a good, long chat. I love my mom :-)

SIL Analee: i love her too!

Friend Kathleen: Me too!

CIL Cindy: Well, honey, you are are her DAUGHTER. I have to settle for being her niece by marriage, but I'll take it, 'cause frankly, I LOVE HER TOO! She is one of the coolest, most beautiful women I know and her style and grace are amazing!!!

Me (status update) : I know Mother's Day is Sunday and believe me I've always honored all of my moms! But, it's 5.5 and, well, it's MARGARITA time first!

Me: And this is most especially for you, Cindy

CIL Cindy: ♥ U!!!!

Friend Don S: I make it a point of mentally skipping that day. May is a way bad month for me. Peri can explain.

Me: I understand, Don. This is how I felt about February and now how I feel about March. I think as we get older, sooner or later, there will be something "sad" or "hard" about every month of the year. This begs the question; is it best to be the one remembered or the one doing the remembering?

Ok, now that I've gone through the process of cutting and pasting these updates/comments from Facebook to my Blog, I'm gonna take a different track on this post then where I originally was headed as a bunch of thoughts popped into my head.

Why do people choose to comment on some status updates yet not others? This pertains to me as well. I suppose it's similar to whether or not you might decide to join into a particular conversation at a cocktail party or in the break room at work. You may BE there and listen (this is called "lurking" on Facebook) but keep your mouth shut. You may be the first person to say something in response to what someone said, or, you may not enter into the fray until someone else has gone first. I know on Facebook there are times I'll read someone's status update and think, "Hmmm..." but not comment. Later, I may see the others have commented and sometimes what THEY say is either more intriguing than the original status update OR it pushes my button enough for me to decide "I've gotta say something to THIS!"

Of course, there is always the possibility that some people just aren't around/on Facebook enough to catch all of the status updates; either didn't attend the party or was in the bathroom during that particular conversation!

It's sorta cool how easy it is to have multiple conversations going on at once. Although this can turn into a severe time-waster, it's really simple to jump around from my wall to three or four other friends' walls and see what's going on, pop into the conversation, leave, come back, etc.

I really enjoy seeing the interaction between my friends, especially the ones who don't even know one another in real life. Most of the time, that is. There was one time when things got a bit heated and I had to go delete a few of the comments on my wall because they were a bit nasty or snide. That doesn't happen too often, though, but, it seems when it does, the person whose wall the conversation is on will act as a sort of mediator and also the final authority of whether the conversation will continue. Another fascinating aspect of Facebook which in real life would be impossible to do; delete from the universe what someone said! Of course, it's not really deleted because it was posted and someone (and possibly many someones) read it. Once, another Facebook friend deleted a bunch of comments from his wall and got chastised for it by some of his friends. Or, rather, challenged, as in, "Hey, you can't just delete what people say!" To which he had some thoughtful commentary but eventually said, "My wall, my rules". I liked that!

The format people choose to write in probably says something about that person and their personality/how they view things. Look at the above updates/comments. I always try to follow the rules of grammar on Facebook. I capitalize, use punctuation, etc. As an aside, I do this when I text, also. Several of my friends do the same. Some do not (and not just my SIL Analee; she's just the only one in these particular examples). I know Analee is a very exacting person about most everything in her life (which is why she commented that we are a lot alike). However, she is NOT that way with her writing (on Facebook) which leads me to believe that she doesn't view Facebook as a place where she NEEDS to be. (Am I correct in this, Analee?) Also, there are many who like to use the little symbols in their comments, or tag friends in the status update/comment so that they appear on that friend's wall. I do this from time to time but not terribly often.

Some things are just out and out drop dead hysterical to me. Whether it be on my wall or I see it somewhere else, sometimes, there will be either a status update or a comment that just sends me into fits; the kind where if I were drinking something, it'd likely spurt out my nose through my laughter. This, in my opinion, is one of the BEST things about the whole Facebook thing. Here is an example of a recent one (off of my nephew's wall):

Zack: 9 years, 7 months, and 20 days.. and now he is finally dead.

Zack's Friend: Who??

Zack: ... Osama

Zack's Friend: Oh him

I'm still giggling over this one! Just like whenever I think of my Father shouting "Bella!" while I was in the middle of kicking his butt in a card game puts me in a good mood :-)

Anyway, I've now spent an hour writing about Facebook, which goes to show Facebook can be a time-waster even when one isn't even ON it!

And with this, here are a few status updates (what I was originally going to blog about) that have not yet made it onto Facebook. Yep, you read it HERE first and feel free to comment :-)

Insurance companies and banks. Two of my least favorite institutions. No wonder this country is in such a damn mess!

So, the idiots across the street now how a dog. Joy.

Having dinner with The Kid tonight at her request. Her dad is delighted!

My mom's creeping Charley has given up the ghost.

I somehow managed to resist Royal Caribbean's WOW sale. It was the right thing to do, but, I'm slightly depressed about it!

After years of drinking my coffee white and sweet, I'm reverting to white only. Weird how tastes can suddenly change.

Gloop. What do you expect from a pig but a grunt?

Mrs. B