Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Day 111 - 57 days to L.A.

According a calendar I hadn't been looking at, I had gotten off on our days.  Apparently today is day 111.  Countdown is correct.

5. Ben went swimming

Thursday afternoon we finally made it to the pool.  It was just down the hall from our room but we'd never made it.  I knew we needed to get out of the hotel room (well, some of us. Rachel was happy to hide between the bed and the wall playing on her phone for as long as we'd let her).

The pool at the Embassy Suites is only 3'9" and that is awesome.

Ben and I went in the pool and he had a blast walking around and climbing on me. He was so happy he was giving me kisses because he was just so happy to be in the water.

We were in there for a long time.

It's on the second floor of the hotel above the lobby and is open to the outside.  It was still a rainy day, so it was nice to be able to be in the water but protected from the elements, and yet still feel connected to them.

The pool was not heated, but I got acclimated quicker than I thought I would.  Partway through someone from the hotel came in and asked how the water was.  I mentioned the temperature and they said they'd look into it.  I think it got a little warmer after that.

Lori was on the phone with real estate stuff (possibly with the contractor here) for much of it, so came in to see us from time to time but kept having to wander off and make calls. I also had gotten quarters from the front desk so I could do laundry (it's always nice returning home from vacation with most of the laundry clean) but somehow Lori ended up doing most of the laundry.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Day 109 - 58 days to L.A.

4. We put an offer in on another house.

The next day (Thursday), we spent the morning collecting paperwork for their financial guy. When we had finally finished that, we needed to get out of the hotel. So piled into the Durango and started driving around the neighborhood we had wanted to buy in (but didn't find any suitable houses) and were happy to realize it wasn't as great in person as it was in Google Maps and the listings. It may be a hot neighborhood, but it didn't have the right charm or appeal. Just lots of really tiny Hollywood-hills style roads that were crazy.  It was like we were back in Seattle with a lot of rain.  That didn't help our mood (still on the plane as I type this, still hating the aisle seat) any, so we finally decided to head back into the center of town and hit up a restaurant we liked, one of the last places we ate at before we moved out of L.A. (Islands).

My favorite burger is no longer on the menu, but they made it for me anyhow. #offmenu #woot But on the way to the restaurant, our broker's automated system found a new match and sent it to us.

But - it wasn't just a match where the city and price matched, it was a house with a guest house. And it was well-appointed, having been refreshed by the owners who had already moved out. 

WHAT!?!?!?! We emailed our broker, he wrote back right away to say he'd contact the seller's agent. The seller said he was under instructions not to show the house before Sunday but our broker talked about how we'd be gone by then and the seller's agent said he'd make an exception. Our broker was tied up in meetings, so we met with the seller's agent to tour the house. Other than size (of course), it was perfect. Nice neighborhood full of nicely kept homes and this house looked really good inside.

Much of the mother-in-law apartment was clearly unpermitted, but still looked good. The price was also suspiciously low, so we point-blank called that out. He agreed that the sellers expected it to sell for more, but they also wanted a quick sale as they have already moved and were renting somewhere else (Burbank turned out to be too far for them to commute) and didn't want to keep paying for two places. So we said we were incredibly motivated to get it and he admitted that he hadn't told the sellers he was showing it to us.

We left, asked our broker what we'd need to pay to get it. He and the agent talked, got the price the sellers were hoping to get for it and we said "Ok, that's what we'll pay." It was far less than the other house and we wouldn't need to do a lot of work. (Soon we'd want to expand the master and add an en suite, but we'd make to in the short-term.)

The sun-dappled back yard.
It was raining the day we saw it,
can't wait to spend time in it
when it looks like this!
Since we'd been though the ringer with the first house on the financials, our broker was able to answer all the questions about our financials and satisfy everything.

They countered with with a few non-financial points - the length of the escrow, specifying the escrow and title companies, stuff like that. We accepted their counter, sent the wire instructions and 26 hours after the house was listed, we were escrow.

If that house had come up a few days earlier (usually homes list on Tuesday to show throughout the week before the Sunday open house) or a few days later, we would have missed it. But if that timing was a coincidence, a phrase one of my co-workers used to say often comes to mind: "Coincidence is when God chooses to remain anonymous."

The other house had countered with stuff and we still had until Monday to respond and they made it clear we weren't the only offers they were countering. We let them know on Friday that we wouldn't be responding to their counter.

Tomorrow: Ben goes swimming.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Day 108 - 59 days to L.A.

3. We put an offer in on a house
for illustrative purposes only
(house shown here has more rooms and more land)

The next morning, we toured the two houses. One wasn't anything special and they wouldn't even let us see the guest house.  The other had some neat character, but it was going to need some serious work as much of it hadn't been touched in probably 30 or 40 years.  And it was expensive.  

But, we put an offer on it.  The seller made us jump through a million hoops - including proving to their financial guy that we would be able to buy the house, providing more documents than we had to provide to our lender.  

Between that process, the work that would need to be done and the price, we weren't quite feeling so confident about the process and wondered if we'd made a mistake.

So we put an offer in on another house.  But more on that tomorrow.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Day 107 - 60 Days to L.A.

2. Ben flew on a plane.

We hadn't taken Ben on a plane since he was 3-months old.  We weren't sure how it was going to go and we were a little scared.  We talked with him a lot about it before hand.  He mostly did OK, though there was a few points on the trip down where he screamed out in pain or frustration.  They were short-lived, but I still worried about what the other passengers would think.  He also would throw his head back into his seat a lot and I worried about the passenger behind me spilling his drink or just getting mad.

Flight attendants said things like "Inside voice!" and "Would it help if we got him some crayons?" but all they were doing was making it worse.  

I found that some good strong squeezing helped him calm down quickly.  There was a point where I was able to close my eyes and might have fallen asleep because I opened my eyes and he was laying over with his head on my lap. He wasn't sleeping, but it was at least a period where he was calm.

But, my worst fears weren't realized - we weren't escorted off the plane by U.S. Marshals in Portland.

After landing in L.A., we got in our rental - a Dodge Durango - really nice.  Actually, let me stop for a moment to declare Enterprise Car Rentals in Los Angeles a secret that everyone should know about.  First off, they have kiosks where you can handle most of the rental or confirmation process, including renting car seats if you forgot to bring one (yeah).  And then when you go out get your car, it's waiting under a shady cover and there's someone to help you get all checked out (I think they just keep a few of each class under the cover and then when you take one, they bring another one.)  It's awesome - the best experience by far. Followed by Thifty, Payless and Fox (and then everyone else probably) and then Hertz in Los Angeles as the woorst.  My two experiences with Hertz in 2000 and 2015 were identical - long, long, long lines. Hertz bad, Enterprise good.  So... yeah.... we put an offer on a house.

After we got our rental car, we drove by the four houses and immediately eliminated two of them.  The remaining two weren't super-great, but they were the only choices we believed we had out of all the properties for sale in Los Angeles.  One was at the end of a sketchy drive next to commuter rail lines (and in a number of years will also have a high-speed train as well - if they don't tear down the house to put it in), the other was in a neighborhood we also didn't like.  For the two that were left, one was in an OK neighborhood and one was in a neighborhood we really liked.  

The next morning, we put an offer in on a house.  (Watch for the next post.) 

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Day 106 - 61 days to L.A.

(yesterday...) So much for capturing the transition in real-time - it's been a long time since my last post. As I write this, I'm sitting on a plane heading back to Seattle from my latest trip to L.A.  That means I can't check to see what I had actually talked about in the last blog post, but here's a bunch of stuff that's happened recently.  So, I'm just going to write a series of posts and schedule them for the next few weeks.  But first off, let me say that I absolutely hate sitting on the aisle. I also don't like the very back row on the right side of the plane - you're across from one of the bathrooms and you get to see the worst of humanity - all the people who do not close the lavatory door when they're done. You probably didn't notice, but the numbering doesn't line up.  We have a departure date now, sooner than the end of June date we had used previously as our countdown.

1. We sold a house.
It's done. We're half a month away from being renters again. That's weird.  The house is sold as-of the end of April and we're renting it back until mid-June.  Our buyer is a friend and a teacher at the local elementary school. Her boys have been over here for birthday parties before and we hope that they enjoy the house for many, many, many years to come.  I'm leaving them plans for a shed and for additional cabinetry and changes in the kitchen we never had a chance to make.  We had the yard cleaned-up, we installed granite in the kitchen and all three bathrooms, along with new sinks.  Stainless appliances in the kitchen.  We were getting all kinds of work done in order to list it and then our friend said she'd found a new lender and was again interested in our house.  An earlier attempt to see if we could sell to her didn't work out.  We've had a number of things to correct from the inspection, but most of those are done.  The only remaining items are pretty much mine to do and hopefully will be done this week.  Had hoped to work on a major one today but couldn't find a tool I needed.  I bought a replacement but now Lori's not feeling well so I need to wait to work on it.

Next: Ben flew on a plane. 

Saturday, April 09, 2016

A few things that happened

Ben went swimming.
The pool at the Embassy Suites is only 3'9" and that is awesome. Ben and I went in the pool and he had a blast walking around and climbing on me. He was so happy he was giving me kisses. We were in there for a long time.

We saw some old friends, met some new friends
Lori arranged for us to spend time with friends on Thursday and Friday. We hadn't seen them much at all in the past 10 years, but it didn't feel like it when we met with them. Both were awesome times we really needed - Rachel had new friends to play with and Ben was well-behaved and Lori and I got to spend some wonderful time relaxing and eating and hanging out. (Though on Friday I wasn't able to be as engaged because I was coordinating the escrow payment wire transfer.)

Ben flew on a plane again.
The second flight went a lot better. We got the last row at the back of the plane and we introduced Ben to the flight attendant who was hanging out at the back of the plane. Turns out she has a teenager with autism and her other job was working with special-needs children. Ben did really well. No head-banging, no yelling or fussing. During the first flight it was difficult to get him to eat anything, but during the second flight, we kept him eating and drinking the entire time and we really suspected that it was his ears on the first flight.

(delayed, this was written in 2016 but only got posted in 2018)