Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Moraga House Update

Good Evening!

I want to give everyone an update on how the sale of the Moraga house is going... on Tuesday we reviewed the offers. I had 3 of them and all were over asking.. but I have to say I was disappointed with just the 3 offers. I mean we had probably 150 showings in the week it was on the market!

Of the 3 offers - 1 was the strongest in terms of price but they were asking to have me do repairs that were based on the pest inspection report. This report put things like dry rot of the trim boards on the siding as a "Section 1" item. Section 1 items are those that require immediate attention and could pose a hazard. Since I have repaired dry rot on this house I know for a fact this is not a hazard but once it is on the report, you are locked in. So I countered that the buyer would take it "as is"... and after they discussed it with their parents in Taiwan they declined. I understand this is their first house so the idea of doing some of these repairs may have scared them but really, they are being short-sighted. The homes in this area are mostly ranch houses and have issues that are more than that but it was not something they are comfortable. I get that.
So we are now talking to offer #2 with the same offer... take it as is and match the other offers pricing. I just signed the counter offer to that one so I am hoping it works out and not sure if I can sleep or not.

Some other good news, I found a new place to live in Walnut Creek! This is a story of how God works in mysterious ways sometimes by connecting the dots in your life through people.
The rental market in the bay area is absolutely nuts right now... people are trying to bid up the properties and applying in droves. I have Casey so a dog complicates things... even though she has a smaller affect on a house than say 2 kids. My dog walker, who is just the nicest lady, is also a realtor who lives in Pleasant Hill and agreed to help me with my search when I gave up on craigslist. (After the filipina "sally" incident I was done!) I got an alert about some new properties up for rent and saw one in WC. It was single story condo, 2 bed-2bath on the first floor. I also saw that it was being listed by a realtor so I called Chris and asked her if she knew her. She did and called her for me... explained who I was and that my dog was the nicest old lady etc.... I went to the open house and filled out the application. I got the place! Now I know my credit rating helped but the fact that Chris could connect with the listing agent definitely increased my chances! I am going to pay her a finders fee for that! (Thanks Amanda for giving that awesome reference as well!)
I think my journey from calling myself a "single mom" to being just "single" is starting to near the end. I had to admit that I had a panic attack standing in that 950sf condo and trying to imagine myself living there! But it is really what I want to do... get a place that requires no work at all and that I can just close up and leave on the weekends. I just have to keep telling myself this is what I need right now and what I wanted when I started to think about selling about a year ago!
I will let you know what happens!

(PS - Anyone who has nothing to do around the middle of March is welcome to come help me move. )


Sunday, February 24, 2013

More Lasagna Gardening and Deer

Lasagna Garden Year 2 continues.. 

Last week when Nick was up with me, I went and got 2 bales of straw and more bags of compost. This is something I haven't tried before with the straw but I wanted to use it on the raised beds as well, so I thought what the heck? I hope this doesn't sprout or I am in trouble!

I needed to add more material to the big planting area so I covered it with straw..

1/2 way there with straw over the dirt

Straw Complete

Compost added and watering it down

Straw in my other beds as well 

Below is how it looked this weekend - I don't know if you can tell or not but it has gone down in bulk by at least 25%.
2nd week
I was finally able to get down to the path and look at the meadow again!
This is a gnarled up old dogwood tree - you know it has been there for a long time but the many twists to its trunk.

Tiny Ferns! Just adorable!

Meadow Picture - looking at the creek.

Quail - every morning the covey of about 20 of them troop through my yard.

Daffodils - the area has them everywhere and they multiply without any help usually.

Grapefruit and oranges

And then - down in the meadow a herd of 8 deer - does and their teenagers who were born last spring. My herd keeps growing!  And this morning, Casey was having a fit and when I looked out there was this gorgeous buck... he was not afraid of me and let me take a bunch of pictures of him.
Does in the meadow
He is older with a large set of antlers

Posing for me - this is a very happy buck!
With this big guy on my property and 8 does, I should have a ton of babies next year...


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Moraga House is For Sale!


My Moraga house is officially on the market as of the 15th, and we had an open house on Sunday the 17th. Here is the official listing...

Nick has been here since Friday helping me and we were up at the hill house over the weekend, especially to get away from this one while people were going through it. ( I will do another post about being up there..) According to the reports I got it was a huge success with over 100 people showing up on Sunday.

Here are the pictures that I took - after the stager came through. It is not my style but whatever sells the house is fine with me, even fake plants and lots of animal accessories.

Family room with fake plants

Master Bedroom more fake plants

Living room

Entry Area


View of the yard from the entry

Patio off the master bedroom

If anyone is interested in buying my Moraga house - I am reviewing offers next Tuesday!


Friday, February 8, 2013

Craigslist Scams that were tried on me!

I am taking a little deviation from the normal stuff about the house projects to write about what I am experiencing on Craigslist while trying to find a new place to live and selling some of my stuff.

Money Order Scam
First was the fallen oak tree at the Hill house that I was trying to sell. It is a beautiful old-growth oak and it is too much for me to handle on my own. I thought maybe someone will want it for wood-working or firewood so I posted an ad. I had a really nice email from a guy who wanted it and didn't want to negotiate the price. Great! Until he said he lived in Michigan and would have someone come get it and would like to overnight me a money order. I am pretty sure they have trees in Michigan and the freight charge for 2000 lbs of wood would pay for a lot of trees. I said I only take paypal or cash in person and never heard from him again.
This is probably the most common scam there is on CL - they will send you a money order for more than the item is worth. You contact them and say there must be a mistake, and they say "oops" that was supposed to go to another person they were buying something from, but why don't you deposit it and send them the overage back, along with the item they are purchasing. The money order is counterfeit and you are out the item and the cash. 
When we were paying for Nick's apartment in Tucson the management company asked for a deposit via money order. The teller at the bank just shook her head and said that because there are so many counterfeit money orders now, they hold the funds up to 10 days before releasing them if you deposit a money order, 5 days longer than a large check!  
Never accept a money order she said, especially the post office ones since they are the most often counterfeited.

Next scam - the rental scam.
There are a few kinds of these- the first being people who take a picture from the outside of a house and post it for rent. You can't seem to find a time to connect and see the inside but talk to the person outside of the house and agree to go ahead with it. You pay them and they give you a key that isn't to that house. In fact, they never owned it or had the right to rent it and now they are gone.
The one I had yesterday was even sneakier - the listing had pictures of a place for rent on the inside and it is in my area of Lamorinda. I sent an email requesting info and got a reply the next morning from "Sally", who was happy to show me the place but wouldn't disclose the address until I filled out a rental form from a website she included on the email. I replied back that I will not be filling out any credit info until I see the place and will meet her there on friday @ 11. No reply until this morning saying, nope, fill out the form first. The url in the email  was misspelled with "creditcheck" being "creeditcheck"... so I went to a site called and put that url in to get info. This site tells you who owns it, what country it is based in etc... this one was in the Phillipines! Which explains the reason she didn't answer during the day... I emailed her back and said you are a scam and I am reporting you to craigslist. (ooh... yea.. she is scared.... ) 
(When I told Nick about this his reaction was, good thing you are smart!)

I have decided to abandon craigslist... and go with realtors or otherwise established and verifiable organizations. We need a website where all the postings are verified but I know that will not  happen. It would be expensive to manage and there would have to be a cost to the people posting the ads as well as those looking... we like free too much.

So today I going to look at a luxury apartment complex in Pleasant Hill, near Bart that not only takes large dogs, but has it's own dog park. It is pricey but all these other things are just too sketchy for me and I really don't have the time.


Moraga House Updates - 1 week to go!


Last weekend my dad drove up to help me with the last of the big projects on the Moraga house before I list it for sale. We got a lot done!

We installed the new dishwasher so now the kitchen has all new appliances. We installed a sink on the wet bar, and hung up new closet doors in Nick's bedroom. We also did some touch up painting in the kitchen and painted the railing on the entry way deck. Here are some pictures for you.. it was pretty funny because Casey seemed to want to be in every picture I took today!

Nick's Room - new doors

Casey demanding I take her picture - Again!

Nick's room from the entry - painted the window seat white and added new blinds to the room.
Nick's bathroom is finished!

Wet Bar Sink
 I have a friend in the UK who didn't know what a wet bar was, so this is a picture of it. My house was built in the 1980's when the cocktail party was a big thing. That led to a small sink and bar unit being put in the living rooms of houses. It is called "wet" because it has a sink. It is not something we use much now, and my original idea was to tear it out and installed a wine cooler there. But that was too much money so the sink goes back in!

This weekend, my focus is on the yard and getting the rest of the personal items put away, photos and such. Lots to do still! Oh and find a place to live as well...sigh...