Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Writing and Real Estate

First, thanks to Joan Maze for her thought-provoking post yesterday, and to everyone who dropped by. As you'll see below, we were busy while she played host at Terry's Place.

Yesterday, we signed a contract on what we hope will be our new home. As with the selling process, however, nothing is a done deal. Our first and highest hurdle will be the inspection scheduled for next week. Sellers are supposed to fix anything the inspector finds wrong, but there are always loopholes.

If I compare it to the publication process, we started with the query. We told the Realtors what we wanted in the way of size, location and price range. They (or their computers) came up with possibles. We could view these on the web and decide if we wanted to see them in person. In the submission process, this would be the equivalent of an agent or editor asking for a partial.

Once we narrowed the choices, we went out for up close and personal looks. As expected, every house had its good and bad points. While you might snag an agent's attention with that query, once you send pages, your writing talent and the story itself take over. One house had an impossible floor plan. Another had cramped space. Others didn't have enough items on our wish list to make the cut.

Eventually, one house stands out, and you go back for another look. Consider this the request for the full manuscript. Now you start looking at the fine points, taking measurements, deciding what would work, what might need to be fixed—or simply changed for personal taste.

Few manuscripts will be published as written, especially not if it's a first (or second, or third) time sale. Edits and revision are required. In the case of house-buying, you hope the seller will take care of the major edits. That means making sure the furnace works (we're not in Florida anymore—a/c not needed up at 9000+ feet!) That the roof is intact. Plumbing functions properly. All the big ticket items.

I consider revisions to be those matters of personal taste. We can't ask the sellers to change the floors because we want hardwood where they have laminate. Or the kitchen counters because we want something other than Formica. Or swap out their electric oven for a gas one. Those are the things we decide we can deal with over time.

Is it our dream house? Not really. But it does have features for each of us. And compromises. What were the factors that led us to signing?

Price. Significantly lower than others we've looked at, which leaves some money for customizing the house to our tastes. We looked at a good number of more expensive homes, and they would have eaten our budget and still needed those revisions.

Location. We'd been looking in two general areas. After some price comparisons, we narrowed our search to the Divide area. Hubster is pleased because there are lots of lakes for fishing nearby. There's a community center with a playground which will be nice when our grandson comes to visit (until he's old enough to go fishing with Grampa). Not much more than an hour from the kids, and although the town is miniscule, it's about 20 minutes from the larger community of Woodland Park with the major amenities. (For the record, there are 3 places to eat in Divide, and we've tried them all with more than satisfactory results. And it has a gas station and a Post Office!) Although our house is reached via a dirt road, it's well graded and plowed, given its proximity to the school bus stop.

Timing. There's that nice income tax credit and that technically reduces the price even more. We decided this house was something we could see living in, and didn't want to risk losing the credit by dragging our feet waiting for perfection. Plus, we're paying money to rent, and are eager to get out of these cramped quarters!

Features. An entire lower level, finished, and with potential for multi-usage. Master bath isn't my 'dream bathroom' but there are double sinks and a huge closet. And the hot tub on the deck makes up for not having the fancy tub in the bathroom. We're thinking of converting the standard tub/shower to a more luxurious stall shower. The kitchen has lots of storage including my wish for a pantry. Appliances are in decent shape. The fireplace (gas, but hubster conceded on that one) is part of both living room and master bedroom. Two additional bedrooms upstairs, one of which will become my office. The other can be a guest room until we decide how to deal with the space downstairs. Oversize garage with a workroom area.

All in all, as the editors, we felt that there was enough potential to make this worth a contract.

Tomorrow, I'll continue with some of the challenges of downsizing.

And be sure to visit the Long And Short Review site to see their Easter scavenger hunt. They have loads of great prizes. I'm participating, which means there's an image hidden on my website which is one of the clues for the contest. It looks like this:


Unknown said...

Fingers crossed that all goes well!

Carol Kilgore said...

Whee! How exciting. You'll love making this house your new home.

Hart Johnson said...

I love thinking about the house selling as similar to the book selling--it makes so much sense as a metaphor--not everyone is right for everybody, but most that don't have major problems are right for SOMEBODY--it is a matter of matching!

I'm glad you've found a place you like, and wish you luck with the rest of the process!

Terry Odell said...

Jess - what, no eyes and toes?

Carol - Thanks - it'll be a task, for sure.

WT, and how boring life would be if everything was the same.

Unknown said...

eyes, toes, Loki's toes... :)

Terry Stonecrop said...

I like the metaphor. Good luck! The house sounds nice with so many plusses.

Terry Odell said...

Terry - I'll get into the 'minuses' tomorrow!

Debra St. John said...

Intersesting to compare buying a house to selling a book! My mom and dad have offers on several houses down in Florida at the moment. I wonder which "query" will pay off?

Mason Canyon said...

Good luck, hope everything goes well. This way you can add your own little touches to the place.

Jemi Fraser said...

Exciting stuff - hope all goes well. Great analogy :)

Terry Odell said...

Debra - Good luck to them. It's a buyer's market, especially in Florida.

Mason, Jemi - thanks!

Mary Ricksen said...

Selling a house is a nightmare especially right now. If I sell my house here in Florida now, I will lose my shirt. And I need my shirt.
Good luck to you!!

T. Powell Coltrin said...

Nice comparison. Exactly. Both scare the bageebies out of me. You make both sound easy.

Terry Odell said...

Mary - we were lucky with our house in Florida. Helped that we'd lived there 22 years and it was paid off. And that the market here in Colorado is about the same, so we managed to find a house we could afford. At least for starters. There's plenty left to do. Check back tomorrow!

Terry Odell said...

JW, it's a lot easier to sit here and write about it. Wait until we're actually living it!