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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Closing the book


I just received the news that our home in Washington has been sold. It sounds easy enough. Find an agent, list the home, and sit back until a buyer comes along with an offer.

Well, it did seem easy...too easy. After a couple of days on the market, we had a full price offer. The next step was to get the house inspected. After the inspection, the buyer retracted the offer. It was a mystery as to why this happened. A week later, we had another offer. After the inspection, we were given the inspection report. OMG! The crawl space under the house was invaded by rodents. It was damp under the house. The plastic underlayment under the house was improper. The windows were leaking. The furnace was broken. The circuit breaker box was recalled...etc., etc., etc. 

Our realtor managed to get an estimate for the repairs. The rough estimate was over $30,000. We countered with a lower offer and the buyer quickly retracted the offer. Now what?

We received several low-ball offers (vultures), but we made up our minds to get the repairs done and rent the house out again. Our realtor stepped up and reassured us that we could sell for a good price and the $30K repair estimate was a bit of an overestimate. This turned out to be true as many of the items were not valid. The second inspection occurred on Friday-the-13th and I suspect the inspector was enjoying the irony of the whole thing.

Our third legitimate offer was the charm. Both realtors did a great job at coaching both parties to hang in there. After the third inspection, the Jacuzzi decided it wanted to leak. Why don't you put me out of my misery? What else could go wrong? The gutters need to be replaced. Thanks. Anything else? The exterior paint is peeling. Okay, so...Your former tenant is suing you because she fell through the deck. Wow, that's a good one. I'm numb, so give me some more stress (I replaced the deck before the house went on the market). You need to go to Fukuoka to get the closing paperwork notarized. When? By May 18th. I called the American Consulate and the soonest we could see them was on May 22nd. Another delay.

So, last week we closed up shop and took a trip to Fukuoka. We hired a dog sitter and we left the house at 6:00 to catch a bus in Yufuin. Travel time by bus is much quicker than by car. It took 2 hours to get there. We arrived a bit early, so we had a bite to eat and then proceeded to the American Consulate. I was expecting all kinds of things to go wrong. The signing went well and we thought we were "home free" (sorry for the pun). Well, we scheduled for the documents to be picked up when we got back from Fukuoka. Nope, that didn't work out. The driver showed up at 9am and our dog sitter called us. Erika had a fit! She was yelling at the UPS representative. The driver wasn't supposed to show up until 15:30. The driver didn't even have the proper size envelope for our documents as promised. She demanded to speak with the manager. After some heated discussion, it was decided to go to the Yufuin branch of Yamato (a sort of Japanese UPS) and drop the documents off in person. The supplied envelope was way too small, but we just shook our heads and tightly folded the 18 pages of closing paperwork. Who knew what would happen next...

Nothing! The paperwork arrived in Seattle on time. The house closed on the same day.
This is the end to a much longer story which started in 2010. This is when we tried to sell the house the first time. That was a nightmare that has lasted until today. Today is a day for celebration!! We can get on with our lives! We won't celebrate until this weekend as a bottle of really good wine (Thank you, Yoshikun) is waiting to be opened. Are we happy? No. Are we relieved? Yes. We needed to close the book on this part of our life and...we did.      George

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

It's been awhile

It’s been awhile. I’ll post some pictures in random order and try to explain what’s going on. In this photo I'm planting a black pine that was given to me from a close friend. His name is Yoshidasan. I have known him for over 17 years. I think he's 83 years old. I'll write more about him in a later post. I'm planting 7 pines in a small grove as a tribute to him. The scent of pines reminds me of the vacations our family took to Donner Lake (California) when I was a child. I don't know why, but the scent and the sound of pines in the breeze makes me feel...content. 




Next, the remodel continues to take shape. In the kitchen, I'm adding an electrical plug to the upper counter. An additional wire will be used to supply voltage to an under the cabinet LED light. 




Here's an overall view of the cabinet carcasses. An additional over-the-fridge cabinet will be added a little later (I ran out of wood). The doors and drawers will be installed as soon as the floor tiles are installed. Stained glass will be included in a few of the cabinet doors along with some cabinet lighting. 



Some of the bling tiles are being added to the kitchen walls. Erika came up with the design. I really like it! This tile was purchased over 5 years ago and shipped to Japan. Imagine trying to design a kitchen that far in advance without any pictures or measurements. It's been a satisfying experience to see this project come together.



Here's the tile cutter that has made most of the tile work possible. 


In this photo, I'm posing for a picture that will be used to get an 8% discount on the paint we will be using. The manufacturer is asking for a before, during, and after shot of our project. They have been invited to our home to see it in person. 




This is Lucky. I thought I'd throw this picture in for variety. 


This is Erika trying her best to hide from the camera. She is responsible for applying the glue to the tiles. It's a messy job, but she has become an expert. 



The tile is set and ready for some additional bling tiles...




...and here's a shot of the layout before the tiles are placed. 


Well, that's about it for now. I'll be applying grout and painting the master bedroom as soon as the tatami room is demolished. That's scheduled for next week after we visit the American Consulate in Fukuoka. More on that in the next post...stay tuned.   George