Tag Archives: selling first home

Buying and Selling: An Emotional Roller Coaster

I’ve always hated roller coasters. The slow grinding of the gears as they inch their way up a steep incline. The rust-scented steel bar across your lap that either cuts off your circulation or feels loose enough that you might fall out. The sick drop in your gut as you come over the crest and plummet to your death. (Okay, not your death, but my heart still doesn’t believe I’ll actually live while I’m going through it.)

So a series of emotional highs and lows—an emotional roller coaster, if you will—while for some people might be exhilarating, for me feels like a torture device. And that’s what selling your home and buying a new one in California feels like.

“I just feel like I’m on some kind of emotional…ride of some sort.”

Our house went on the market on Friday morning. We had an open house on Saturday and Sunday. By Monday we had three offers, all of them over asking price. Monday evening we accepted an offer on our house. It was that fast. The plan was to turn around and make an offer on the house we really, really wanted in Gilroy today (Tuesday). The pace is frightening, and though we feel in our hearts we’re doing the right thing, we can’t help but feel mixed emotions, and, naturally, a whole lot of stress.

Check out our purdy house. This baby sells itself!
Check out our purdy house. This baby sells itself!

Stress does amazing things to people. My back is suddenly enflamed. I’ve been up since 2:30am. I’ve been so nervous all day that I can’t stop farting. And then I can’t stop talking about the need to fart. And now I’m fucking blogging about my farting, so it’s all out in the open. I fart when I’m nervous. If I’m in a big board meeting someday and need to answer to some shareholders, I better put a plug in my ass.

Stress also makes you write incredibly long metaphors about tired clichés.

The day starts on a really sweet note. We sign paperwork on a simple counter offer on the sale of our house to a fireman (!) who is really excited to get the property. That makes us feel pretty amazing—to not only get the dollar amount we are looking for, but also know that we’re turning our home over to good hands. We also know that we’re in good position to negotiate for the new house that we desire, as there had been no offers on the property as of Monday evening. I turn to Alex and say, “I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. Nothing is ever easy for us.” He admonishes me for “jinxing it.” Now I’m worried I jinxed it, but I brush it off. All the good feelings! We’re moving!

Tuesday, mid-morning. Phone rings. It’s my realtor, and she sounds like she’s delivering crappy news. You know, like how Drew from Property Brothers heaves this phony, sad-faced sigh and says, “So…I have some news for you guys,” and the couple pretends they don’t already know that he landed them the deal? She has that tone, except she legit has bad news. An offer came in this morning on the house we wanted in Gilroy. So now it’s a multiple bid situation, and all bets are off.

Guess who’s plummeting down the first steep drop of one of those 85-degree inclines at Six Flags?

So realtor knows we at least have to come in at asking price, which is also a figuratively steep figure. I’m about to lose my breakfast (coffee), but it’s going to be okay. We can make a strong offer and still get this.

Then the lender emails and contradicts earlier conversations, saying we’re going to need to make a bigger downpayment than we had planned. “Do you have a family member who can loan you $35,000?” she asks. Oh, sure. My family has 35k just sitting around, waiting to be borrowed. And I can totally pay that back in five years on top of a big ole mortgage. No problem.

I haven’t even climbed up another incline, and I’m plunging again.

But after about 18 frantic calls to my realtor, who talks me down from the ledge, and, frankly, after a couple glasses of champagne at a birthday celebration for my company’s CEO, I am feeling less upset and more like, “Hey, at least I get hipster cred if I become homeless!” Things are slowing down a bit, I’m catching my breath, but I brace for the next jolt.

It comes just as I get home from work. Although my realtor calls with the good news that we are officially in contract on the sale of our home, and that we even have two back-up offers, my lender beeps in and delivers a shock: no matter which way she crunches the numbers, we just won’t qualify for a loan as large as the one we’re looking to offer on this new home. This is another direct contradiction from an earlier pre-approval, so I’ve moved into full-blown panic attack. HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE? The coaster whips me around in a double loop-dee-loop and my face has taken on a red splotchy color.

Thankfully, the lender pulls a Drew by turning the whole situation around. A simple mistake of double charging one of our car payments each month had basically screwed up all the numbers (and it’s an understandable mistake—we just started a new lease). She was able to get us the qualification, work some magic with the numbers, and help us to lower the monthly mortgage payment. All miscommunications forgiven! Oh happy day! We can still get this place AND afford to live!

The day ends in much the same way as it began, but perhaps in a healthier frame of mind. We know we have done all we can to get the house that we really want without wringing ourselves out like a washcloth. We know there’s a good chance we don’t get this house. But now we also know that’s it’s going to be okay, no matter what happens. With very few exceptions, we all get off the ride safely. We might be a little shaken up (and we may need to run to the nearest trash can to puke out our cotton candy), but we’re going to be okay.

We’re Moving

It’s official. As of this Thursday afternoon, my first home will be on the market. A photographer is coming in to take snapshots for the listing, fliers are going out, and the open house is happening this weekend.

If I think about it too hard, I feel like throwing up. But I know this is the right move for our family.

baby play area
bringing up baby on travertine tile

Alex and I didn’t start our lives together in this house, but we did create our family here. When Lucas came home from the hospital, we brought him back to our place in Salinas. This is where he learned to crawl, where he took his first steps, where we spent countless sleepless nights. Where we celebrated a Red Sox World Series win and an Obama re-election. Where we’ve hosted Christmas parties and birthday parties and LAN parties. Where we’ve invested money and time and heart into changing this little house into a home.

We always knew we weren’t going to stay long. This was a lovely starter home in a lovely neighborhood. But it’s in a terrible school district, and all the private schools in Salinas are Catholic, which would make school events pretty awkward for Lucas’ atheist mom. Plus there are far too many nights where I’m falling asleep to the sounds of sirens instead of silence.

At the start of our marriage, Alex and I moved to Gilroy so I could be closer to the Bay Area in order to commute to Stanford. The added bonus was being closer to Alex’s brother Ozzy and his then-girlfriend, now-wife Crystal. We loved living in the garlic capital of the world, and when we were ready to buy our first house, we fully intended on staying there (even though I had finished with my program at Stanford and was working in Monterey).

We searched and searched for months and made offers on at least seven different houses. Each time we were outbid by investors with cash offers or families with bigger budgets. We finally just gave up at one point (which is why we ended up in Salinas). But now, with kindergarten around the corner for Lucas, we’ve got our eye on a couple great school districts in the South Bay.

But the most important thing, the thing that sealed the deal for me, was the thought of being closer to family.

Ozzy and Crystal are beckoning us back—and Alex’s sister Monica, her husband Braulio, and their amazing daughter Alessandra are moving to Gilroy as well. We had been waffling on selling for a while, always finding a reason not to budge. But then we saw this great house in Gilroy and everything fell into place. We fell in love (which is dangerous, because we can’t even make an offer until we sell our own house). I mean…just look at it:

dream house

With family nearby, and a great property as a prospect, moving up to Gilroy or Morgan Hill (15 minutes from Gilroy) just makes sense. Sense that is scaring the bejesus out of me.

Things that petrify me about this move:

1. I hate moving.
2. Trying to keep a house “show ready” with a 4-year-old is going to be the most difficult thing I’ve done since giving birth.
3. Change is scary.
4. What if no one wants to pay what we think this house is worth?
5. What if it takes forever to sell it?
6. What if it takes NO TIME to sell it and then someone else sweeps up the property we want?
7. What if we can’t find another house in time?
8. I’ll have to possible double my commute WITH LUCAS if we move to Morgan Hill. (Temporary…we’ll find him a new school…but still crappy.)
9. What if I totally regret leaving this house?
10. I can’t think of another good one, but 10 is a nice round number.

One of my big goals for 2015 was to move. Once upon a time, I said that New Years Resolutions don’t work unless you actually resolve to do them. (Which is probably one of the dumbest things I’ve ever said on record, by the way, and I will continue to make fun of myself for saying it for years to come.) I’m going to take this one step farther (and possibly make fun of myself in the future for having said this, too): A resolution means nothing until you actually go through with it.

So here we go…