Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Selling a Big House to Move into a Shoebox


I had my appointment with the realtor or rather I should say realtors. It was a tag team of two women who work together. Smart idea for women working in that field. They walked through the house, the yard, the basement and I even showed them my embarrassingly messy e-Bay Central in the garage. I was anxious to see if one of their suggestions to improve a showing included taking down the grab bars in the bathrooms but I was prepared for that. I had typed out a list of the not-so-obvious wheelchair friendly features of the house with the suggestion the place be marketed that way. The List: 

- One of the garage doors is higher than normal to fit a pop-up van
- Garage is deep enough and wide enough so you can lower a ramp off the back or side of a van with the garage door closed
- Garage has a charging station for an electric wheelchair with a grab bar for transfers to a manual chair
- All doorways are all 3 foot wide
- Hallway is five foot wide
- Bathrooms both have the required 5 foot turn radius in the center for a wheelchair
- One bath is set up for a right side disability, one is set up for a left side disability
- Both baths have the required ADA grab bars
- Both bath sinks can be rolled up to and under
- Kitchen has a prep area for wheelchair user
- Kitchen sink doors open with no center post so a wheelchair can pull up and under
- Refrigerator is a side-by-side for the best access from a chair
- Front door has a key pad for access if you have caregivers coming in (change caregivers, change the code)
- Zero steps entry
- Staircase to basement is extra wide to accommodate a stair lift incliner
- Electrical service box is in garage instead of basement (permitted by inspector for ADA houses)
- All light bulbs in ceiling fixtures can be changed with a long-handled light bulb changer & no ladder
- Front loading, raised washer and dryer for a wheelchair user (goes with the house)
- Lower than normal windows so a person in a wheelchair gets a better view
- Circular traffic flow in kitchen, dining and living room so a person in wheelchair can’t trap others

Do you know that feeling when you think you’ve found just the right person to do a business transaction with? Well it happened to me today. I was so impressed by the tag team! They were here for an hour- and-a-half and we talked about things like getting a home equality loan to act like a bridge, if needed to pay the CCC before my house sells. We talked about timing the listing and marketing the house and they seemed pleased to get my list above and one said, “This house is marketable to EVERYONE which is a real plus.” They liked the airiness and light (which I will miss when I move) and how pleasant and private my yard and deck are and how my basement with the daylight window could be finished off with more bedrooms. We talked about how the garage is a guy magnet with its 821 square feet, vaulted ceiling, tall door, bright lights and row of lockable steel cabinets. We talked about resources for selling this, that and the other thing. 

We also talked about how the last realtor I dealt with pulled something she would have lost her license for if I had taken it to the real estate board. One of these ladies serves on that board and they both assured me that because I’m sensitive about a legality being skipped that caused a lot of extra stress and lost time they will show me every bit of paperwork, as it’s generated so I can see with my own eyes that what I’m being told jives with what actually happened.

The tag team specializes in working with seniors who are getting ready to go into places like the CCC I’ve made a payment on. One of the women is on the board of the county’s Commission on Age and a bunch of other do-good organizations that deal with senior issues. Caring about older people is embedded deeply into these women's personalities. And they said the way I have house arranged we won’t need a stager. Decluttering collectibles that could distract buyers, yes, but I already knew that and I told them that before they could mention it. They are going to call me once a month until we get closer to knowing my potential move-in date to make sure I’m on track with things like I promised by fall my basement and garage would be down to just the bare, necessary things for living here. But as far as maintenance on the house they said ‘no’ to re-roofing and ‘yes’ to staining my deck, which I’ve already lined someone up to do. They don’t see any major issues. As for having all the original AC, furnace and kitchen appliances---if asked to buy new as part of an offer, we can counter offer to buy a warranty for two years at $500 and, yes, they do sell them on things that will be 17 year old when I move. If they fail within two years they get replacements for free from the warranty company. That was just one of the ways to handle that situation but it's all my decision at the time an offer comes in. All and all I was pleased with the way things went. More than pleased.

Next time I’ll write about the appointment with the downsizing specialist happening tomorrow. I don’t expect that to go as well. I image Marie Kondo in her little white sweater telling me to thank this or that and throw it in the trash. ©

33 comments:

  1. I'll share my little secret since I had to downsize several times over the last years. This may or may not work for you since I was moving from apartment to apartment. The first things I packed were things I knew had to go to the new home. So each room got a box. After the first layer was packed if there was something I later decided had to go, I then packed another box. So essentially what is left is the things you "do not have to have." These left over things you may still love but you know you only have "x" amount of room and if you take that thing then you will have to take something else out of the box you already packed. This worked for me but you have been very organized about how you are proceeding so if it doesn't feel right for you, then go with a plan you like. Remember this is hard. When you feel overwhelmed it is ok because packing and moving is overwhelming. Be kind to yourself while this is going on.

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    1. That sounds like a good plan. I'm kind of doing that without the boxes because I know in my head what I'm keeping and it's been a surprisingly easy decisions. So far. But I haven't seen much walk out the door yet either. It's going to be a long haul.

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  2. I think being excited about your new place and feeling relieved/comfortable about it is making this a more uplifting task for you. And having things go well so far has been an affirmation of your decision.

    You have many things you love and that are meaningful to you. I feel like no matter what you take, you will be taking things that make your new home feel like Home.

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    1. I think you are right and I have to keep remembering it's going to be a LONG haul and I need to pace myself.

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    2. P.S. I found the word (in an email) for a "guided conversation" that the CCC uses: Charette.

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    3. Yes, you mentioned this word in your reply to me in the last post. I had never heard of it! Thanks for adding a new word to my vocabulary.

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  3. They do sound like a great team for you for preparing and selling your home! Great to check this step off.

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    1. One of the things that impressed me about them is they said, to always get two opinions from every vendor/service I'm thinking of hiring including real estate agents. That's shows a lot of confidence in my mind that I'd still pick them.

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  4. Lots of good ideas here for when I need them...very soon.
    I love moving and I love downsizing but it is very stressful and can cause a lot of grief with the other person who lives here. So I have to do this slower than I would normally because while no one loves change, the person I live with I swear is allergic to it. I love Barbara's idea and I know I will be stealing that one !!!

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    1. I know the stress of downsizing while living with another person. Try downsizing with a person who just had a stroke, is sitting in a wheelchair with only a yes/no vocabulary who still thinks he's going to have a full recovery and will need all his work related equipment and tools and some-day projects. This downsizing will be a piece of cake by comparisons. It's just that I'm almost two decades old now and can't physically work that hard. Emotionally I'm up to the challenge though, surprisingly so.

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  5. You are a well thought of person Jean. Thank goodness I have Mary Lou to assist me when the time comes for us to do the moving. Our realtor is a good friend and I taught his two daughters. They loved me and he'll be giving me a good deal when the time comes. I better start checking the stuff I want to get rid of now. There is so much in this home. Good job my friend.


    Cruisin Paul

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    1. Thank you, Paul. You will be fine downsizing. You've got daughters to help and to take family treasures.

      I don't use the term "get rid of" which is a negative about my past tastes. I use the term "re-home." :)

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  6. Things are moving right along. Your new community sure do know how to help. Knowing there is someone to call for guidance is great for you. Continued good luck with your new life! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Oh, there's a new hitch I'll blog about on Saturday---funny more than serious.

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  7. This is more great news! Seems that once you made this decision, all details are falling into place -- perhaps not without effort, but satisfactorily. I'm always a bit surprised to find help is there when I need it. For some reason, I assume I need to figure everything out for myself. Good team you found there!

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    1. It's really the first place I've looked at since Don died that ticked so many boxes. I have hit a snag that I'll explain on Saturday.

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  8. Hi, a relatively new reader to your blog and enjoying it.

    Your current topic of downsizing - going from big to small - is part of my recent experience having gone from a 3 level 2200 square foot townhouse to a one level 1375 square foot condo ... in the last 2 years. I started with the big picture - how many rooms and square feet I was moving to and compared it to my townhouse. That worked out to just a little bit smaller than 2 floors of townhouse space. I had a paper floor plan and worked out what furniture could go based on the floor plan - then found new homes for the rest. With regards to downsizing stuff - it was not based on any best selling author - I did a complete room by room and closet by closet clean out. And I was brutal the first time thru. When packing commenced I got rid of other stuff - sort of like pealing the onion - one layer at a time. As I got closer and closer to the actual move date - shedding stuff actually got easier because panic at not being ready was setting in. I did not go the ebay, yard sale route. Too time consuming and as my energy became limited, I limited my choices between 'keep' - 'donate' - 'trash.' Could I have recouped some cash from our collectables and other stuff - probably yes, but in the end I had a deadline and only so much energy. Time became more valuable than cash. And even at that ... by settlement day on the condo, I was so exhausted that I wound up sick! I am a really healthy person, but I had used up everything to make the move happen - and a passing germ took me down.

    In the end, it was a lot of work, but I don't miss even one thing I got rid of (can't even remember stuff so it wasn't really important) and I feel so much 'lighter' emotionally and physically with less stuff in my life!!

    I will be interested in what your downsizing expert has to say - but when 'push come to shove' ... the decisions about what to keep and what to get rid of ... no one can make that decision for you. Good Luck!

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    1. Welcome to my blog! I love the rooms worked out on graph paper with tiny in scale furniture to help me decide what fits and what doesn't. Lots of good tips in your comment and thanks for that.

      I can't wait to see what the D.S, has to say. I probably know the answers to most of the questions I plan to ask but of those I really want answered I'm betting she won't tell me.

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  9. My goodness is your home wheel chair friendly. Has to be a plus to someone in a chair or thinking they may someday be. I like your tag team and that you have trust in them. That can make a grizzly time a lot more doable.

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    1. I wanted to be an architect since I was 12, was drawing floor plans all my life. I designed this house and worked closely with the builder and only made one mistake I wished I could change, an electrical outlet in the wrong place. We had a scale model wheelchair that fit the same scale as the blueprint to run around and work out door swings, turning and furniture placement, etc. I hope someone in a wheelchair buys the house but, of course, I can't control that. It was one of my proudest accomplishments. The builder has since used my plan for other houses.

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    2. Do you think you could put a basic of you house on the blog? We are looking to build in the next three years and I just don't know how to do the hall and door swings.
      Sounds like you found a good pair to do your house. I love it when I feel like I found a real estate agent who works for ME.

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    3. If I can, I'll post it with a future blog entry. I know I have some floor plans for this house still around but I'm guessing they are too big to fit on my scanner.

      As for hallways, the shorter and fewer the better and five foot wide is a must-have.

      Door swings are a case by case thing but usually swing in. But you have to watch that with bathrooms because sometimes if they swing in they can block something the person in a chair needs and if the room is small, there isn't room for them to close that door once inside. We even ran into the situation in a brand new hospital's handicapped bathroom! Just crazy they could make a mistake like that in a place like that. My husband had to pee with the door open with only me standing their guarding his privacy. Swinging the door out would have solved that issue. If you have an Advocacy for the Disabled in your area, call and see if they have a volunteer architect who can go over your floor plan and give suggestions. That's where we got the in scale model wheelchair to run all over our blueprint and that really helped. And the service was free.

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  10. Oh my! Is this going to take up your whole summer?
    Glad you have the experts who specialize in this sort of thing to guide and help you along.
    I don't think I could handle it all, without bouts of incessant crying and panic attacks!

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    1. And, oh yes, it will take all summer and more. Between the garage, porch, basement and main floor I have 4,269 square feet. 821 square feet just in the garage which I bet isn't much smaller than your mobile home.

      Panic attack, yes, but crying not so far. I'm excited that I won't be leaving all this for my heirs to deal with.

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  11. I've missed a few posts (just caught up). I knew you were considering this move but didn't realize you actually committed.

    I'm ambivalent about realtors because I worked as one for a year and saw that some (few) were treasures, looking out for the best interests of their clients, but most were only interested in getting their commission.
    Never, ever hire a 'friend' or 'friend of a friend'. Few other careers have had a raise built in by inflation like realtors. It sounds like you found good ones.

    I don't envy you the clearing out, but I'm sure you'll enjoy some of the freedoms that come with downsizing, and applaud you for making this change on your terms!

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    1. "On my terms" does make it exciting. If a health issue was forcing me to make this decision it would be very sad and depressing to think about. It will be freeing. A few years ago when my basement flooded and a suitcase full of Valentines from the 1800's that belonged to my husband's mother had to be thrown out, it was a surprising relief that I was no longer the 'keeper of the flame' so to speak. While my husband was alive, he wouldn't let me sell them and I felt guilty selling him afterward and didn't do.

      I do not have much faith in real estate people. And I will get a second opinion closer to my move-in date and before I sign a contract with the tag team. They are so confident in themselves they even told me to do that.

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  12. I'm so glad that your experience with the "tag team" left you feeling equal to doing all that's involved in selling a home and moving. The list you gave us for wheelchair accessible was fascinating. I never realized how much could be done by a builder to make a home ready for a person needing a wheelchair.

    Decluttering is what I hope to do the last six months of this year. That exercise involves making so many decisions about an object: keep it, trash it, give it away, give than organization, etc. You'll be doing the same, but somehow I think your home is much less cluttered the mine and you are more decisive! Good luck, I look forward to your next posting. Peace.

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    1. Good to see you again, Dee.

      You are so right about decisions but it helps to know the color scheme I'll have after I move. If something doesn't fit, it's easier to let go of.

      My house isn't cluttered but I have a huge house.

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    2. Yes, a bigger house takes more time. I was downsizing when moving from Minnesota to Missouri and that helped with making decisions. I can see that knowing the new color scheme would help too. Peace.

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  13. I love your realty team just from your description! It must feel good to have the process moving.

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    1. I have since gotten an email from them following up with the name of an art deal who buy better stuff.

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  14. Sounds like you have a great Team and a great solid Plan!

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