Numbers & Life

I am led to the conclusion that the word “numbers” starts with “numb” because you must learn to make yourself numb to tolerate them. This comes to you from someone who plays with numbers all day long. Numbers are not currently my friend.

Selling your house in a buyer’s market is a bit like online dating: you find the *best* picture(s) of yourself, you present the best face, you clean yourself up and dress yourself up for every date or even phone call, and you make yourself hyperavailable. Any sign of interest (Oh he WINKED AT ME!) is immediate grounds for hyperanalysis and contingency planning, any sign of disinterest is grounds for beating yourself up.

If selling your house is online dating, an open house is speed dating. For a three hour period random folks walk through your house, possibly attended by a realtor, and you have no idea if you managed to get across what you wanted to in that space.

Pricing your house is a whole other fresh level of hell. Again: I’ve been an analyst by trade. So when our realtor provided a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA), I of course ran my own numbers against it. Someone spent an awful lot of time on their algorithm, and it’s mostly right. I will point out that the numbers my CMA told me I would get back in January (yes, it’s been that long of a process) were much different from the ones I got in March, and again in April. The housing market is expected to drop 10% from December numbers and the pricing of my house shows it. Then there were unforeseen expenses — new carpeting and pad (very much needed it) and fresh coats of paint — that dipped into perceived net equity. Naturally,  I have a “drop dead” number — everyone does — and thankfully I’m not there yet. Having had to drop my house by $15k after 2 weeks (courtesy of two new listings, one foreclosed), is enough to send my Excel models into ‘not responding’. Pricing your house and dropping the price is that part of dating where you decide just how far you’re willing to lower your standards to get dinner, be in a relationship, or get laid.

Living in a staged house is both more and less of a pain than you would expect. The painful parts are the upkeep — done with that glass of water? Put it in the dishwasher — no, not the sink, no, not the coffee table or bedside table. Done with that magazine? Put it back in the display. Done with the remote controls? Hide them. Leaving the house? Open all the curtains, leave lights on. Need to do laundry? Do it after 8pm and get it all done and put away so no one sees it.  Have yard service? Make sure they come during “off” times so no one sees them (your house apparently is supposed to be fabulous without effort). Glass coffee and dining table tops are not your friend in this instance, and that’s precisely what we have. Oh, and there are spare hand towels in each bathroom, because the “good” ones are wrapped in raffia — the spares get hidden before you leave. Hide all of your soap dispensers, unless they’re decorative. Wipe down every surface, every day.

The less painful parts are that you don’t experience clutter, ever. It’s hard to have any clutter when you must even hide your keys, or your glasses. Also, your house is nearly always ready for a photo shoot, which the OCD narcissist in me enjoys. Finally, you learn you don’t need that much stuff when most of it is boxed up in the garage or under the house. I miss my books but movies have gone so much by the wayside that the male person and I are considering abandoning cable altogether, and having to keep a pristine clean fridge means you’re better about eating leftovers.

The good news is shortly we shall be on the flip side of this buyer’s market, as we will be buyers. We can expect someone else to go through all of that dating nervousness and hassle, we go from being the pursuer to the pursued. And when that happens, I’m bringing my black light for the carpet, and tsk-tsking older windows. I may wink at the ones I like, though.

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One comment

  1. I do not even want to have a thought yet as to what it will mean to keep a clean house around here when the time comes to actually put this money pit, er, house, on the market. It may be better to just buy another place and then sell this one after we’ve moved out. Hmmm… Must think that one over a bit…

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