Whereby I get a little bitter, but then am fine...
Bunny and Wallie were both sick for Halloween so we stayed in and celebrated at home. We ate a haunted dinner by candlelight. We had a family dance party. We made popcorn.
J. took them down the block for a quick look at a house which had really cool carved pumpkins. They knocked on the door but the woman inside had no candy for the two little coughing trick-or-treaters. She just wasn't expecting any trick-or-treaters despite having decked out her front stoop. They came back and knocked on our door and I filled their baskets with peanut M&Ms. We shut the door and they knocked again, and this time they each got a mini Snickers bar.
We had not one trick-or-treater knock on our door.
That's San Francisco for you.
The whole experience made me miss Portland a little bit. Our first Halloween in Portland, when Wallie was just a month old was...cute. J. took two-year-old Bunny around our neighborhood, and she came home with a basket full of treats. I worried because they were taking a long time, then J. came back and said he had been invited in by a neighbor for a glass of wine while Bunny played with the neighbor girls.
Last year, we spent Halloween at a party with friends. Bunny remembers it and talked a lot about it today. My heart broke when I saw my poor littles return home with no candy, so disappointed that their pseudo-Halloween was a bust. I ran to the kitchen and had a quick, quiet cry while J. got the girls undressed and they ate their peanut M&Ms. I thought, "In Portland they could have visited any number of houses on our street and come home with candy. I hate this mean, child-unfriendly city."
Speaking of, our house has finally closed. Officially, as of this morning, it is ours no more.
I have been biting my tongue throughout this whole real estate process which has just been a horrible experience from start to finish. I haven't really been able to talk about how terrible it has been and what a strain it has placed on me personally and on our family. I am so soured on ever buying a house again. After having been through this twice, all I can think right now is that I hate realtors, mortgage brokers, and title companies.
If only we didn't have to move back to San Francisco. If only we could have sold our house a year ago.
It is so hard to watch future plans whither away with each lowering of the selling price. So hard that it sent me into a depression from which I know I am not fully recovered. I haven't been able to really talk about it until now because I've wanted to get the house sold and behind me first.
We started with one realtor that I ended up firing for several reasons. The first and foremost being that in two separate trips that J. and J and myself made to Portland to deal with house issues (flying from SF to Portland) she never once met with us face-to-face. What kind of realtor makes excuses instead of meeting with a client?
I also bristled at her telling us how our house was an "emotional house," and how she had such high hopes for it selling. Then once a couple of open houses went by and we got no offers, suddenly our house was "tired." It seemed like "the love had gone out of it."
That hurt. It felt like she stabbed me in the heart. Of course the love had gone out of it. "The love" moved to San Francisco. We adored our house, and for her to tell us those things was akin to someone telling you, "Your children ugly and stupid." It cut that deep.
She also gave us a laundry list of things that needed improvement from landscaping the front yard to refinishing the hardwood floors.
What she didn't understand is that we moved from Portland to San Francisco and moving costs money. No one makes money moving, do they? Everyone always asks us, "Didn't J.'s company help with moving expenses?" (As if it's anyone's damn business.) Yes and no. They did give him a package to move us down, but we needed that money to live here. We needed it for first and last month's rent plus a deposit. We needed it to cover our mortgage. If we had moved anywhere else in the country we could have hired the fancy movers to wrap, pack, and move our things instead of doing it ourselves with two small children underfoot, and having J. drive a rickety truck down I-5.
We had expenses for two households to cover. A mortage, utilities, and insurance for a Portland house. Rent, utilities, and insurance for a San Francisco sublet. Not to mention school costs and everything else needed to run a family of four.
So, no, we did not have a single cent leftover to do anything more to improve our house. Our realtor did not seem to comprehend this. We just completed a major kitchen remodel and moved practically before the paint had dried. No, there wasn't money for landscaping or refinishing floors. No money for staging. Just sell the damn house, already. Do. your. job.
When it became apparent that we were going to have to lower our price, she was fired. I know realtors aren't making huge commissions, but I just didn't want her to be a part of that transaction anymore. I didn't want her to make one cent off of it.
When we contacted the realtor who helped us buy the house, she took control of the situation. She staged the house on her dime. She even watered the lawn. And, still, months went by with multiple price lowerings and not one offer.
Each time we lowered the price I had a cry. Didn't people realize what a wonderful house it was? How cozy and homey? How close to everything? What great schools were in the 'hood? Couldn't they feel how much we loved it? It was crushing.
When I finally let go emotionally, almost to the day I wrote a post handing our house over to the universe, we got an offer. An offer that no one was very hopeful about (what would a single, 30ish, female attorney want with our "family" house?), but turned out to be the one that stuck.
I hope the new owner realizes what an excellent deal she got on the house. What a fan-fucking-tastic house it is. Everytime she asked for a concession I cringed because I thought, "You are getting a goddamn bargain, lady. Quit asking us for shit. We have no money to do everything you are asking for."
I know that there are many, many, many people in the same situation as we are in across the country. The market is down. Houses aren't selling, and when they do they sell for a price that is very difficult for the seller to swallow.
But, as my mom says, "You win some, you lose some." Our last house sale was a win, this was not. But at least we aren't paying for two houses anymore. Even though we've had to adjust our future plans (the biggest of which means not being able to parlay our house sale into buying a house here), I'm just so fucking glad to be rid of the house. I never ever thought I'd say that but I am.
So with the sale our house means the Portland chapter of our lives has finally closed. We haven't lived there for almost a year and it seems like a distant time. I don't miss it anymore except on rare occassions like tonight. I'll always be thankful for the experience of living in Portland because it's a beautiful city full of nice folks. I'm especially thankful for the 16 months that J. worked from home and we were all together.
But now? I'm ready—more than ready—to move forward with the rest of our lives. I'm looking foward to getting my physical and mental health back. To being a more present mother and wife. A better friend. A happier person. I'm excited about figuring out where we are supposed to be. At least now, I'm fairly sure that where we are supposed to be is here in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Here's to this painful ordeal being over and quickly forgotten. Here's to the future.
As my pal Grrrlfriend Jess would say, "Aaaaaand... scene!"