Today is final walk through before closing day on the loft. I visited the loft with the brokers. The current owner is still there doing his final cleaning. The place looks great. I can't wait. Afterwards, instead of heading back to the office with my broker in her car, I decided to walk it. It was a 60 degrees day. What a nice walk ! Walking lesurely, five minutes and I am on the edge of Chinatown. The medical center is there and so is the YMCA. Think of all the eating places along the way for fruits, food, drinks. Another five minutes and I am at the new(ish) cinema downtown that has great sound system and seats. I can see going there much more often now. Another five or seven minutes and I am back at the office. This is going to be very nice, at least when the weather is good !
Well, this time next week I will be in my loft. Up to this point I have been pretty cool about the whole thing, but now that it is only 7 days away, I am getting antsy now. Let's move already ! What's the most important thing for moving in? Connectivity of course. The phone company's website is a mess. They won't give you prices unless you go through the ordering process. Those ordering screens are excellent examples of bad user interface design. Try it and you will see what I mean. Phone service is rediculously expensive. Just look at the $6 primary line access charge, or the $1 charge for touch tone service. After looking and comparing, I think I am going to go with one of the all in one package from RCN, cable company, to get phone, TV and internet access. They just make it easier. However, their website really don't post any prices. They forces you to talk to them over the phone. The good part is that I submitted my email and phone, and they called me within 2 hours.
It finally happened. Someone decided to google me after looking at my house, which is just up for sale. I am so glad, whoever you are ! I expected this earlier. The house has generated a lot of interest. The few open houses that we had were packed. The brokers love the house. A lot of people are interested and asked a lot of question in follow up. It would be much easier if someone would do the research via the web ! When I was looking at the lofts I did so much research and gotten so much information on the lofts, builders, owners etc that are useful. Everyone should do the same. The fact that I have documented the entire story so far in my loft search provides for much more interesting and background for any potential buyer as well. I am glad that someone finally went this efficient route. Well, if you have further questions, just email me !
It is always nice to experience people doing a good job. Today I have two such encounters. I feel much better about service in this country -- I am closing my equity loan at my bank. Arrived at the appointed time and a very young looking staff took me to his desk. He looked at most 22. I thought this is going to be trouble. He was having some small problems and questions, and started checking with his co-workers on various things. There were some language with my insurance binder. So I called my wonderful insurance agent Megan and handed him the phone. For a second he switched into "well, do what I say or else" -- but then he switched back to "be nice, let's get this done" mode. I was secretly relieved and just kept smiling to put him at ease. That part got resolved.
So where is the "doing a good job" part? He started reviewing the documentation, and asked probably a standard sales question -- are you an existing customer (yes)? Do you want to sign up for auto deduction of loan payment? You will get a further 1/4 point reduction on the loan (of course) !. So he went to the screen, setup the auto deduction, reduced the interest rate, and printed out the application.
It did not work. The rate remains the old rate. He asked another more senior staff. They called. They said they could changed it at HQ. So we waited. He did his training, trying to engage in casual conversation every minute or so to keep my occupied. He was doing a good job.
Two small diversions -- His PC's screen saver came on. To log back into the system, he subtling lifted up a stack of business cards on his keyboard and peeked. There is where he keep his password. Not smart ! To have even more fun with this kid, I scanned his desk and saw a small speed dial list taped to his phone. Besides all the usual people's names, there is an entry that says "Kitchen". So, I casually asked him, "so you have a kitchen here"? He was shocked. He looked around, perhaps to see if I saw someone walking out with a TV dinner or something. "How did you know"? He asked all nervously. I wonder what he does in the kitchen when no one is looking. It was funny. I told him how I knew at the end.
Back to doing his job well. We waited a long time. He kept checking the system. I for sure thought he was going to give up. Of course I am no way going to walk away from another 1/4 point reduction on the rate. I would have insisted. But he called HQ again, and found that they couldn't do it right away because it required HQ supervisor approval. That makes sense. So he offer to get it down asap, setup another appointment for me to go back in the evening to finish signing the forms. He even called me near end of day to let me know that the paperwork was ready and so and so will be handling it since he is leaving for the day. Nice kid. And I got my good rate at the end.
The second incident is with my insurance agent Megan. I knew (or hoped) that she would just fax over the adjusted binder immediately and not hold up the application. That was exactly what she did. She however also left me a voice mail immediately and ask me to call her to actually confirm the changes, since she has to get more data to update the actual insurance policy. Since she was clearly nervous about it, I called her right away in my car after I left the bank.
She asked several detail questions on the house. Luckily I had a copy of my listing sheet and package with me and it has a full floor plan. So I was reading off and calculating various things for her. Somewhere I told her I was reading the floor plan. She said "You are in your car"? (yes). Without missing a beat, she asked "Do I insure your car"? I thought that was just great !
So, two nice people. Paying attention to their jobs. Doing it well. It is a good day.
This is the bath tub that I would like to have in my bath room, except it is ten times outside of my budget. Maybe just go over to Loft 523 in New Orleans to try it out and call it a day. I actually like both of the bathtubs made by them -Apage of Italy. The Woodline has a little bit of a Japanese look to it. The closest distributor I can fine is Moss in NYC SoHo. A short update: I think I must be really in turn with the current culture. I wrote the note above before I saw the current issue of "Dwell" magazine. What's in it? an article on baths. And they picked out 5 hot bath tubs, and the two above are of course in their top five. I think I should switch job to the retail world.
Just a thought -- once nice thing about the suburb is that the town services are much easier to negotiate. We need to find out something about something in town, a broker can just head to the town hall and chat with their friends and find out things. Try doing that in a big city like Boston. Well, that's one thing that I will miss, unless the city neigbhood has the same thing.
Amazing marketing. The house goes on MLS. Immediately I start receiving promotional mail on movers and storage companies. Pretty smart idea. Think of it, since these MLS notification can be obtained easily on the net, there must be something I can sell people who are selling their homes? Ideas, Anyone?
Today the house went on the Market. You can find it on MLS. My broker hosted a broker open house at noon. She said all the brokers, even from neighboring towns showed up. Immediately there are two showings already. More scheduled for tomorrow and Sat. So things are moving. I also signed my P&S today. Wrote that big deposit check. What a feeling handing that check over to someone else !
And, my moving sale is going well. Sold a lot of items last night and today. Throughout the furniture sale process, I met many nice people in this area. Makes me wonder if the urban folks are going to be as nice as the suburban people?
Finally, remember I said my broker is turning my house into a show piece? She has been cleaning up and clearing things away for me all the time. Empty kitchen counter is one thing. But tonight just want I was ready to go brush my teeth before bed time, I can't find my toothbrush, and other personal items in my bathroom. I hope this house sell soon, I can't go on too long without brushing my teeth and taking showers and eating at home....
Three things happened today. 2003 is the Year of the Ram (or Sheep) in the Chinese calendar. Today, Feb 1st, is the new year day. This morning, however, I was half sleeping and completely woken up by my radio alarm clock with the message that NASA lost contact with the space shuttle. I did not even know there was an active shuttle mission. Turned on the TV and they are already showing the video of the seemingly broken up trails of the shuttle in the sky. 9:40'ish am. This is a traggic event in many levels. All I can do is to quote Winston Churchill: Never, never, never, never give up. -- Science, must go on.
Finally, I signed my contract to day to sell my house. It will go on the market next week.
The two attorneys finally connected and everything is accepted. One bit of news that we have learnt however, is that the seller's attorney has never been in contact with the sellers themselves, only with their parents. Things should go smoothly from this point on...
My attorney faxed over her rider to the P&S yesterday. She called the seller's attorney this morning. He claimed that he did not get the fax, and thought the P&S was signed? SIGNED? Today he is busy, so he will get back to us and had not by end of day. Linda my attorney said he must be a pretty laid back attorney... On a much much brighter note, Selina sent me her new design for the loft. It looks great. Of course we still have lots of work to do, but it is a really good start. I am excited again. I just need to decide whether to move in first, live for a little in the space, then move out and have the work done, or get it done first thing. I think trying the place out for a month or two is a better way.
Then, the final surprise of the day is that the decorator finished decorating the house. She did a much better job. More accurately speaking, last time I thought she was almost done, and it did not look right. Turned out she did a lot more work today and the place is looking really good now. Not quite my original style, but looking real good.
Got into the office this morning, fired up Eudora, and there it is -- email from my attorney, subject: P&S. We have P&S ! I don't remember if I mentioned this before, but I have never met my lawyer. We corresponded over the phone and via email. She sent me the updates to the P&S as word doc via email. Wonderful ! There is nothing too special about the P&S and her changes. I think we will get this thing signed soon. Of course then I have to write that little check of a deposit. I feel poor already.
I cannot believe this. Today we suppose to sign the Purchase and Sale Agreement. The seller however have not given us the P&S yet. Someone out there don't want me to move? Glad I am not too emotionally attached to this whole process.Meanwhile I am cleaning and tidying and packing up stuff in the current house. I have to follow my own advice and try to discard as much stuff as possible before the move, not after.
A technology note -- I found out that the Realtor lock box system is now electronic. Remember they use to use a key and a combination lock box to store the key for showing houses. Now the broker has an electronic key instead of a real key, and the box (or the key) records who visited which house and that data is logged centrally. No more sneaking into someone house without anyone knowing !
As part of the preparation for selling the house, Helen the broker is bringing in an interior decorator to change things around a bit in the house. We want to get the house to be more presentable, ready for pictures for virtual tour setup. I have given them complete free hand on this. At this point I view this strictly as a business transaction. So I won't be insulted if the decorator don't like how things look now ! I can see that they can run into objections if the home owner takes pride in their stuff. So when I got home I was greeted with a different house ! Strange feeling. They made some good changes and some not so good changes. So we will probably make a final pass when the decorator is done to normalize things a bit. If the house look too staged I think it will look less warm and comfortable. It is all about getting the potential buyer to feel like home, right?
The table has turned. The focus has changed. Now it is time for me to be on the selling side and get ready to put my own house up for sale. I have two things in my favor. My realtor, Helen, is quite excited about selling the house. She always liked the house and I think she takes personal pride in selling it quickly and at a good price. Afterall, she helped me buy this place in just 24 hours. That was a different and interesting story, for another time. The second thing in my favor is that I am really ready to sell the house. Ready not like people say, a motivated seller, meaning they are despirate to sell to get the money, or have to move, or some reason that they must sell. I am ready in the sense that while I love the house still, I can now detach from it and view this as a pure business transaction. I won't be insulted when Helen wants to bring in an interior decorator to move some furniture around to make the house look nicer. I won't be emotion when trying to set a price.
Next step -- Home Inspection. Just did this yesterday with Wayne from Pro-Tech Consultants. Always good to give business in the area and also for ones who have web presences. He even sent my the narrative summary via email PDF. Other step is to gather condo documents, deeds, condo budgets, and forward them to my lawyer, and wait for the seller's lawyer to send us the P&S.
on or about 12:05 EST Sat. Actually it was a voice mail from the broker because I was attending my niece's first piano recital/graduation. We still have to get the signatures on the offer letter with the adjusted price, but I think this is it !Now blog from the loft may actually have a loft to blog from.
The negotiation process took 2 days and 5 counter offers. I have to say personally I rather just name a price and go with it, but people seems to prefer going back and forth towards some conceptual compromise mid-point. Oh well. The final price was exactly what I though it should be anyway, that's why I think it is kind of silly to go through the motion. That's just the INTJ talking perhaps.
Now on to home inspection, and getting my own place ready for sale. Anyone interested? email me. I'll give you a discount.
Today I met with the Loft's developer. Nice guy. Found out that right now he is going through the process of buying (financing) the building himself. And the seller has some other issues, so there is a chain of events going to happen. The bad news is then he probably prefer to close the deal later than earlier. He has to have bought the place first ! The good news is that he is reaonable about what I wanted to do with the place and what I do not want him to do. Sounds good, except he still think the unit is worth more. Meanwhile my broker have said to me so many times that she think the location is not good enough, because downtown Boston is currently not a residential area at all, which is very true. That to me is secondary, but the price is a big problem. We have to sleep on it some more.
Meanwhile, there is another loft unit in a building that I like very much in a good location. The only problem is that the unit is rather plain. A big box that has not character -- which means I should spend some money to change it around if I were to really enjoy that place. Nevertheless, I made a aggressive offer to the seller. The unit has been on the market for a long time. If they needed to sell quickly, and since I am ready to buy it immediately, it may help seal the deal. Let's see what happens tomorrow !
The developer said "we are really closed on the pricing".... I think my offer is it ! He wants to setup a in person meeting (instead of going through the seller and the buyer brokers) to discuss it. Part of the question is what exactly do I don't want him to do if I just wanted the unit in shell state. That should save him some money. So let's meet tomorrow and see what happens. Meanwhile a few other interesting units came on the market today as well. Funny thing is that the prices are all over the place, i.e. varied too much. The market seems like is still not rational. A side note -- Since I have basically commited to using MovableType, a great product, I just made it official. Donated my $45 and now I am on their donor list and also are pinging them with my updates, so this site will be on their "recently updated" list. Hello traffic.... (yeah right).
The seller agent, who is a nice guy, is in class (??) this morning. So not until afternoon I got an answer -- a counter offer. The selling took 50K off the asking price, saying basically that is what he was going to put into finish the unit. I am off from that for several tens of thousands of dollars. I put in a counter-counter offer, but very much sticking to what I believe is a fair price. Probably won't hear from him until tomorrow. The benefits from my side is that I am not really in any hurry or need to buy anything, so definitely don't want to over pay ! Let's see what happens tomorrow....