First and foremost, thank you to all who have read my past blog posts and my book, “Homey’s Adventures.”
As promised, I am continuing the series of all the chapters of my new book, “Homey’s Adventures Too.” I am now 71 and I decided that I did not want to spend my time haggling with editors, literary agents, and publishers. The main thing I am interested in is to write for your pleasure and mine. So, without further delay, here is Chapter 10:
Chapter 10 – House Sale
To put my newfound poverty in perspective, I worked 45 years as an Actuary. When I was forced to retire 3 years ago, I had over $1,000,000 of assets. Now I had only my home. You may ask where did my money go? My answer is that most of left me as a part of my divorce. $200,000 went to the internal revenue service and the rest of it I spent on seeking my next wife and a little gambling.
To tell you the truth, I am not that concerned about it. I remembered something that Jesus said:
Matthew 19:24: “And again I say unto you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”
So, if I died tomorrow, I was closer to heaven than I was before. I have never seen a hearse pulling a trailer of material things gained during a lifetime. I spent 45 years amassing wealth. I worked hard earning a lot of money. As I told my daughter a few years back, the thing I regretted most in life is spending so much time on earning money and not enough time with her. If God gives me another chance at a family, I am not going to make that mistake again.
And with that, you see my motivation for writing Homey’s Adventures. By loving and seeking people to love and writing about it, I am doing the right thing with the life I have left.
However, like most people, I had immediate needs. I remember a quote from former president Dwight Eisenhower:
The older I get the more wisdom I find in the ancient rule of taking first things first. A process which often reduces the most complex human problem to a manageable proportion
I still had taxes to pay. Declaring bankruptcy does not reduce tax debt. My fear was that the IRS would sell my house at a vastly reduced price to get their taxes. So, before the IRS forced themselves into my life, I needed to sell my house at a reasonable price. So, selling my house was by necessity, my first thing to do.
This was not an easy decision for me. I had lived in Eureka in this house for 20 years. I was going to have to sell a lot of memories with it. What made this even harder was that I had to go through 20 years of stuff and decide what to keep and what to throw away. Most of the stuff had been purchased by my daughter and my ex-wife and there were tons of worthless crap that we spent countless dollars on. My ex-wife took a lot of this with her when she moved out. She left me with a lot of junk and my daughter’s stuff.
She did not ask me if I wanted to keep my daughter’s stuff.
She just commanded: “You are the keeper of our daughter’s stuff.”
To be honest, I just wanted my ex-wife out of the house. I did not argue about who was the sacred keeper of my daughter’s stuff. I accepted it as a parental duty that she selfishly shirked.
The first thing I needed to do was find the right realtor. I needed someone who would understand my need to sell quickly and not sell the house too cheaply. This is another one of those times, I believe Jesus helped me. I interviewed 3 realtors. As soon as I interviewed the first realtor, I knew they were the right one for my need. I do not know why but my first try is usually my best try. This is a theme for my entire life, and I think it must be God given.
They came to the meeting with a plan. They showed me the plan and they gave what I might expect as the net proceeds from the sale. This was all in the first meeting. I interviewed two more realtors, but the others did not even come close to this level of execution. In this first interview, I was comfortable. If they could make me feel comfortable, they could make my perspective buyers feel comfortable too. In contrast, the last realtor that I interviewed made me feel uncomfortable and even threatened.
He presented listings of other houses to me.
I looked at them: “These houses are not even close to my neighborhood.”
He responded: “These houses are the most comparable. You need to trust me.”
We then looked around the house and he pointed to a soiled area in the laundry: “We have a deep cleaning company, and this house needs it.”
I wasn’t comfortable with this guy, and I explained: “You know, the first realtor presented me with a comprehensive plan about how we will approach the sale of my home. I need a plan and not just some incomparable listings and pointing out the flaws of my house. I need to know what we need to do to achieve my goals.”
The first realtor I talked to explained that the listing agent is the agent for the seller. To me, that means that I am his customer. If he is making me uncomfortable, I suspect that he will make the buyers and the buyer’s agent uncomfortable.
I was ready to stop wasting everyone’s time: “You are the third listing agent that I have talked to. I am ready to make a decision.”
He pleaded: “Give me a day and I will prepare a better plan for you. We are a big realtor, and we have all the resources that you will need.”
“Okay, I will hold off my decision until tomorrow.”
The next day he came back with a plan to sell my house $40,000 cheaper than where the first and second listing agent wanted to list it at. It was obvious to me that his plan was to sell my house cheap and put little effort into it.
My response was: “Thanks, I am going to sign with another realtor.”
HGTV has had a profound effect on the way houses are bought and sold in the USA. Many buyers expect to see all new stuff in a home that is 20 years old. I cleaned the house top to bottom several times and then I hired a house cleaning service to do what they called “Deep Cleaning.” I still do not know what deep cleaning is, but about a third of the people who viewed the house said it needed deep cleaning even after we did all the cleanings. Argh!
Soon I noticed a pattern in the complaints. The agents who complained about the cleaning were all from one big nationwide agency. Can you guess who also worked for that agency? If you guessed the last realtor that I interviewed during my search for selling agents, you are just as smart as I am.
Yep! The creepy one who made me feel threatened. I suspect no profession is void of sociopaths. What I have always wondered is why people will be aggressively anti-social when the stakes are so little. I did not do anything to this guy except choose who I thought was the best agent for the sale of my home. Why pick on me? I will never understand the sociopath’s mindset.
My ex-wife watched HGTV all the time, so I was familiar with most of the concepts. One of the concepts is what I call the Disneyland concept. You need to make the potential customer start thinking about how they could live happily in their new home. My realtor suggested making one of the empty rooms look like a playroom. I put a big stuff bear and stuffed hippopotamus in opposite corners and a children’s play cabinet in another corner. I added a toy or two and a lamp and a bean bag chair. At no cost to me, we had a space for children to play!
I made another room into an exercise room. I put an old recumbent bike in one corner and added a bookcase full of exercise books and reading materials. I added some old plastic dumbbells. I added another floor lamp and an overstuffed chair. Presto! A place to work on your gluts and abs.
My realtor was happy with my staging, but it was challenging work. I had to go through 20 years of stuff my wife did not take with her. I also had a conflicting goal because I was the sacred keeper of my daughter’s memories. When it was all said and done, the junk haulers took away one and half 26-foot trucks full of hundreds of items that we bought over the last 20 years. I mostly just saw it as money being thrown out. I kept my daughters’ stuff, the stuff that I needed for a two-bedroom apartment and stuff that had sentimental value to me. I put the stuff that I wanted to keep and my daughter’s stuff into storage.
My realtor gave me some good advice. When you are downsizing do not keep anything that you do not think you will ever need in the future. It was not always an easy decision about what to keep and what to throw away. I was quite sure that I never wanted to do lawn work again. So, most of what was in the garage, I threw away. I did try to keep some hand tools. Even in an apartment, sometimes things need to be fixed.
My realtor also helped put some of my stuff online and I received some extra money from porch pickup. From an online picture, a person agrees to pick it up from your porch and leave $10 or $20 under the mat. This is a much better option than paying to have it hauled away!
As expected, my realtor did an expert job of marketing my house. We had 25 showings in the first week. Despite the best efforts of the sociopath realtor, my chosen realtor snagged a young family. My Disneyland staging paid off. They saw themselves in my half empty 20-year-old home. Thank God, they wanted it badly enough to takes some risks. Shortly after my open house, the Covid 19 pandemic got into full swing.
End Of Chapter 10
I hope you enjoyed chapter 10. I will give you “Chapter 11 – Covid !9” next week. My new book has 32 chapters. So, if you want to receive all 32 chapters as soon as the post is created, then become a follower of this blog.
If you do not want to wait that long and you have not read my first book. I encourage you to go to my website, www.homeysadventures.com. You can read the first two chapters for free, and you can also purchase it. Or you can purchase it from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and many other fine retailers. Just search for it using the words: Homey’s Adventures by Jim Wish.
If you liked this blog post, please click on the like button at the bottom of this page. If you Love my work, then please donate to my future writing:
Make a one-time donation
Make a monthly donation
Make a yearly donation
Choose an amount
Or enter a custom amount
Your contribution is appreciated.
Your contribution is appreciated.
Your contribution is appreciated.DonateDonate monthlyDonate yearly
I liken myself to the Vienna Violinist described in chapter 5. I play (write) for your enjoyment and mine. God bless you all.