Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Selling Rosa Drive

A couple funny things about the offer on our house. It wasn't until the buyers accepted our offer that I noticed two items. #1) They wanted our washer and dryer to stay. Part of me was okay with that. They are 12 years old and while they still work, are on the downside of their lifetime. I would love a bigger and more efficient washer and dryer set. But I did not budget $3000 for them into our moving fund. And #2) The buyers wanted to close on Fri. June 20th. I actually saw the date they wanted to close on when we gave our counter offer, but it wasn't until after they already accepted that it dawned on me that we should have countered to push it back a week. We wouldn't be able to leave until the 27th because of Jared's work schedule. I mentioned it to our realtor Cari and she said she'd call their realtor to see about moving it back. No biggie. Except that THEY were wondering if they could move the closing UP a week because they had a trip to take. Ha ha. Uh, no. The 20th it is. That would leave us a week without a place to live, but for some reason...after going through what I did trying to find temporary housing in Texas, this didn't even phase me.

The next big step in selling our house was the home inspection. This made me more nervous than anything. We're talking about a 40 year old house--and although in pretty good condition, is still 40 years old. The roof was brand new and the siding was good but it's the things you can't see in the walls and in the attic or the crawlspace that had me worried.

I admit, I did not read the 68+ page home inspection report when it came back. I was only interested in what the buyers wanted us to do.

Cari, told us right away to just ignore the $7500 credit the sellers wanted (in addition to the $3000 in closing costs) for the removal of the popcorn ceiling and replacement of the 30 year old pipes. Yeah, that wasn't going to happen. If they don't want old pipes or popcorn ceiling they can buy a newer home.

Corrective action requested by buyer:
hire professional duct cleaner to clean air ducts and dryer vent
hire professional masonry contractor to repair and replace mortar on chimney
hire professional contractor to
       install carbon monoxide detectors
       repair or adjust the kitchen fan vent pipe to properly vent to exterior of house
       repair foundation vent screens
       install a back-flow valve to low point drain in crawl space
       repair downspout on corner of house
       repair damaged roof overhangs and eaves
       repair leaking hallway bathroom faucet valve and laundry room stub-out and shut off
       repair/replace nails/fasteners on roof to proper installation
       replace step flashing termination on roof

Is it bad when we don't know what half these things mean?? I was actually surprised not to see that the hot water heater needed to be secured to the garage wall in case of an earthquake because that was something that came up on our inspection when we bought the house. We let it slide and then never had it taken care of ourselves. Oops.

Our philosophy on the corrective action: If it ain't broke, we're not fixing it. First of all, we had the ducts cleaned two years ago. We weren't doing it again. I even had the receipt to prove it. But, we agreed to have the dryer vent cleaned. We said no to the chimney repairs. The fireplace works just fine. We would have someone install carbon monoxide detectors, readjust the fan vent in the attic and replace vent screens. We were not going to put a back-flow valve in the crawl space (whatever that is), we'd attach the downspout to the house, but we just had the drainage redone on both sides of the house by our landscapers that previous fall and would produce a receipt to prove that as well. We are not replacing the overhangs or eaves. They were just barely showing signs of wear. We'd have our home warranty peeps come fix the bathtub faucet and have someone look at the laundry room thing even though we had no idea what it meant. As far as the roof goes...it's brand new and still under warranty. Anything that is wrong would be handled by that company.

And then we got to work. It REALLY helps to have a general contractor as a friend. Wid Payne SAVED us! He installed the CO2 detectors we purchased, he adjusted the fan vent in the attic by 2 mm that took all of two seconds, he adjusted the downspout for us, and when he looked at our screen vents (which were sitting in the original concrete of the foundation) he said they were all fine. He couldn't figure out what they were talking about. When the A/C was installed, they did cut a little hole in that screen to get the pipe under there and a hole about 1/8 inch remained. Technically, small animals could potentially squeeze through there, so we got some spray insulation that he added to close the gap. This was actually a relief because if the screens were really damaged, it would have been a big job to fix. He also checked the laundry room stub-out which has to do with where your water lines come in, but he said that was fine too. So great!

As for the roof, I called and told them that our home inspection stated there were some problems. We were curious what they might be considering how new it was. Our warranty has a section that covers us for 10 years regarding installation errors, which is what we figured it had to be. The warranty company, however, had to send a third party out to get a sample to make sure it wasn't defective materials. And that would be at least a week before he came out and another week or so before the results came back. We only had 2 weeks to get this taken care of. As time wore on I basically told Cari that the buyers needed to know the roof issue wouldn't be resolved until long after our repair deadline had passed and chances are...even after they take possession of the house. But the warranty on the roof transfers to them so they can just pick up where I left off. It took a little convincing but they finally agreed to those terms.

Our sewer scope came back in our favor. It was good to go. Phew! All these potential problems were a little worrisome.

But then there was the chimney. Cari had called and asked if the buyers could have someone look at the chimney to estimate the cost to fix it (after we said no). Yes, they could. But that got me  thinking. What if they demanded we pay for that repair and if so, who's to say they got the best quote on the repair. Ohhh no you don't. I was going to be pro-active, baby. So I got on the phone and immediately started calling every masonry person I could, to get as many bids as possible that SAME day for the job so we could be adequately armed with accurate information. I actually got 3 companies to come by with a bid. And I got one online. They were all fairly close in price and one was super inexpensive.

Cari called later in the day and let us know the buyers weren't concerned about the chimney. It wasn't as expensive as they thought to repair (not a deal breaker apparently!). To which I replied, "So I guess they don't need the 4 different bids I got today to counter any outrageously high bid they might have gotten?" Cari was impressed with my initiative and congratulated me. She actually called me later to ask if I would share those bids with the buyers--I did so happily.

And then it was time for the appraisal.

Ironically enough, the appraisal could not be completed until the hot water heater was secured properly. So...we had Wid come to our rescue again! He worked hard and got that thing strapped down in beautiful shape. We are SO grateful for his help and we highly recommend him for any general contracting work that you may need. If he can't do it, he'll know someone who can.

Clearly we don't know what the house appraised at...at least the price we were selling it for and that's all we cared about. Phew...now we just had to pray that the buyer's loan would fund. Cari had told me that their loan guy had contacted her a while ago to say they shouldn't have any problems getting the funding. But I was not about celebrating until this thing was a done deal. Too many question-marks still.

Jared and I drove to the title company on Wednesday, June 18th, to make the sale of our first house official. It was a lot quicker than when we went to sign for the purchase of it, that's for sure! We're so grateful to Cari Crossley who has such a calming influence on you when there are big decisions to make and consider. She rocked it for us just like she did when we bought our house. We're so appreciative of her support and interest in our family's well being. We have never felt, as buyers or sellers, that we were just another gig. We highly recommend her for anyone's realtor needs in the Beaverton area! caricrossley@cbseal.com

The first thing Friday morning, June 20th, and for the first time ever in our lives, we had a HUGE gob of money deposited into our checking account from the title company. Yay for equity and the American dream of home-ownership!

and now (6 1/2 years later).

Good-bye, Rosa Drive.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Turning points

Both Jake and Cooper each made an important decision this past spring that we believe were pretty big turning points for them. These decisions weren't easy and as their parents we are grateful they used their agency wisely. Jared spoke in Sacrament meeting in our new College Station ward the Sunday before school started in August. He actually referenced both these experiences as examples in his talk which was about the power of the Plan of Salvation and how we've tried to prioritize our temporal lives by keeping an eternal perspective. Below are the excerpts from Jared's talk in italics.

"Before we moved here, our oldest son, Jake, was involved in band. He started playing the saxophone when he was in 6th grade and was really good at it right off the bat. He worked hard, practiced and as an 8th grader was invited by the high school band director to join the marching band as the only 8th grader. It was a wonderful experience for him. He met some fantastic kids and got to know a group he could associate with before he went into high school. He even earned a varsity letter. He was looking forward to four more years of marching band, possible college scholarships and the opportunity to participate in other activities such as cross-country and seminary. Seminary at Century High School is time release [a built-in class period], cross-country is held after school and band is later in the evening. Jake had his whole schedule figured out. It all fit.

Then we moved.

Seminary shifted from time release to early morning at 6:45am. Concurrently he learned that due to the excessive heat, both cross-country and band practices were held at the same time...in the mornings. We sat down and discussed this with Jake. While Jake knew he had the option to do a home study course of seminary and meet once a week with a group to discuss the assignments, he chose to sacrifice both band (including any chance for a music scholarship) and cross-country to be able to attend seminary daily with his peers and teachers. Preparing for a [two year service] mission has always been a goal for Jake and he knew that seminary--where he could feel the spirit and benefit from both sharing his testimony and experiences and hearing his friends do the same--would be a crucial part of that preparation. He loves band and jazz and the saxophone and was looking forward to competing in cross-country, but he chose the better part. His eternal perspective helped him choose between a good thing and the best thing."

I just want to clarify that there's nothing wrong with home-study seminary. And if anyone can do it, Jake certainly can. He's responsible, thoughtful and diligent. But--that just isn't how Jake envisioned his seminary experience. It's a lot like the new 'Come Follow Me' curriculum with the youth. It's about feeling the spirit and sharing and growing and learning from each other that helps deepen one's conversion. So we applaud him for making a tough decision, but one that we believe will have a great impact on him. And of course, we testified that you will never be punished (temporally or spiritually) for wanting more of the Lord's influence in your life. Additionally, the Lord is ever mindful of what he sacrificed with his talent on the saxophone and we're confident other doors will open for him in the future.

Since band and cross-country were out, the only other thing Jake wanted to try was basketball. In Texas, you enroll in the freshman basketball class which counts as your PE credit and that's how the team is formed. Perfect! Basketball is a class and it's played indoors (practices not predetermined by the heat), so Jake doesn't have to worry about it interfering before school. Wrong-o. The freshman basketball team has to practice at 6:30am so that JV and Varsity can have the courts after school. Of course they do.

The good news is that early morning practices are only during the game season which is mid/end of October to mid-March. That's a big difference compared to the time commitment with band. Jake would miss an equivalent of 2 years of seminary with his peers if he did band. Jake would only miss a few months with freshman basketball. Weighing his options, Jake moved forward with basketball so he could be involved in something and knows our expectation to graduate from seminary still applies. He has kept up on his assignments that he misses and attends seminary every Wednesday evening before his mutual activity each week to keep his attendance up. Being new to the area, it was also really beneficial for him to start seminary for a couple of months at the beginning of the year so he could get to know his peers and teachers before he had to attend regular basketball practices.

Now, Cooper.
"At the end of every school year, Cooper's school (Butternut Creek) holds a school-wide assembly where kids can audition to participate and then perform. Since this would be his last year at the school, Cooper wanted to be involved and auditioned by singing a very popular song. He was thrilled when he came home one day announcing that he had been selected to sing in the assembly. He immediately began to polish his performance by practicing with the song as it played on the computer, with the words scrolling so he could memorize them better. This was a song that the entire family had listened to many times. It had a great beat and was very fun to listen to, but like many songs with lyrics, you don't always catch the words that go with that catchy beat. As we began to really hear the words, we grew uneasy about Cooper singing it. Among some of the lyrics was a line that talked about feeling wrong for doing the right thing and feeling right for doing the wrong thing. Sounds very similar to a scripture we all know (2 Nephi 15:20). Cooper had a decision to make. At the beginning of every school year, we choose a scripture as a family to guide and strengthen us throughout the year. Last year it was 1 Timothy 4:12 "be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity." In addition to reviewing our school scripture theme with Cooper, we went straight to the For Strength of Youth booklet and read the section on media and entertainment together. And then we left it to Cooper. He got on his bike and went back to the school and let his teacher know he could not sing the song and asked, knowing the answer might be no, if he could pick a different song to sing. He was told he could, but he would have to do it the coming Monday and he'd only have one chance to get it right. He auditioned again and his audition was flawless. He was selected to sing that as a solo at the assembly. Cooper recognized that this was about more than just a song. He had an opportunity to set an example for his peers and teachers at his school and was not afraid to stand what he knew was right. Cooper had an opportunity to let his Heavenly Father know that he wanted to be on the Lord's side and not slip, ever-so-slightly into Satan's grasp. While I was proud of him for the decision he made, I know his Heavenly Father was smiling as well and cheering him on at the assembly that day."

Cooper chose to sing "To the Sky" by Owl City. It was actually one of the songs we put on Jake's Trail to Eagle video. What I wasn't expecting were the few words Cooper shared with the entire school body before he sang the song. He said that this was his last assembly because his family was moving to Texas. Then he asked the kids to raise their hands if they thought he was flying to his new home. A good chunk of them did. He explained that we were actually driving. Then he added, very profoundly, "In a way, though, I will be flying to Texas. I'm taking to the sky on a new adventure." It was very touching. He sang his song and at the end, his former 2nd grade teacher and Karcyn's current teacher, Mrs. Vick came over to me, tears streaming down her cheeks and said she was so moved by his choice of song and said how much she was going to miss us. Just the sight of her tears and how she spoke through them, made me start to cry immediately, too! I wasn't expecting that either! We will miss that school and all the teachers and staff and administrators whom we grew to love and appreciate so much as they were a crucial part of the community village trying to help us raise our children.