Sunday, November 11, 2007

When real estate gets too real

The regular reader(s) of this column might remember that my wife Kara and I have been maintaining an involuntary weekend home since July, when we moved into a new place under the starry-eyed notion that selling our first house couldn’t possibly be that hard. People on HGTV never failed to do it within thirty minutes.

We found the reality of home selling to be much more grueling, a months-long roller coaster ride that turned us upside down, making us nauseous and shaking a good deal of change out of our pockets.

If Donald Rumsfeld had gone into real estate, he might have noted that you sell your house in the market you have, not the market you might want or wish to have. And so it had been with us. The Market turned into a big hairy beast that lurked in the basement, lunging out at prospective buyers.

“Aaaah!” they screamed as they ran out the door. “The Market almost got us!”

So we did what we had to do, lowering the price every month or so while embarking on a strict regimen of blaming our real estate agent for the economy.

After countless iterations of this process, we seem to have finally dropped the price low enough to mute the howls of the basement-dwelling Market. We’re now moving towards a closing date with a buyer who seems like an agreeable person. I say this without ever having met her, of course. While real estate transactions involve so much back-and-forth that they stop just short of putting the sellers and buyers in a jar and shaking them up to see if they’ll fight, they also require all communications to go through more middlemen than the announcement of a middle school crush.

“Ohmigod, Paula told her agent to tell your agent to tell you that your living room is, like, sooo cute. Also, you need to knock another 15k off your asking price.”

So after seemingly infinite near misses, it looks like we might finally be relinquishing our status as a single-family double-house household, though discussing this topic before the closing date seems a bit like talking to the pitcher during a no-hitter. Still, it’s tough to think about anything else when you’ve had two mortgages bearing down on you every month, coming in from the right and the left like charging sumo wrestlers, sandwiching your bank account between sweat and jiggles.

It’ll be nice to worry about normal things for this time of year, like whether to change all the clocks in the house or just wait five months for them to be right again. Or whether it’s good enough just to chop up all of the leaves in the yard with the lawnmower rather than busting out a rake, even though it seems like all I’m doing out there is making a giant leaf margarita. Or how a leaf blower turns an average guy into Magneto, commanding the leaves to do his bidding with a flick of his wrist. (If you don’t know who Magneto is, you can find some consolation in the fact that you probably had dates in high school.)

When you don’t have to pay two mortgages, I bet when the new Jordin Sparks song comes on the radio, continually singing the lyrics, “You’re on my heart just like a tattoo,” you’re not too preoccupied with interest rates to think, “Really? A tattoo on your heart? I’d think your average cardiothoracic surgeon would advise against such a procedure.”

But that’s all hypothetical for now. There’s still a fair chance that the looming specter of shoveling two driveways could become a reality. Not much to do now but sit back, wait and drop hints that Guitar Hero III would make an excellent Christmas present.

You can offer Mike Todd a top shelf leaf margarita online at


  1. I can't imagine 2 mortgagaes. I'd probably end up in a corner, humming to myself and sucking on my thumb. You're the toughest guy I know.

    I'll keep my fingers crossed that the closing goes off without a hitch!

    lol - shoveling 2 drievways... that in itself is enough to motivate some people!

  2. man I hope this one goes right and you get it sold. I have a piece of property, which if I could move my house up there I would save so much. But the entire getting shit done, the lot ready, stuff packed up and all the site plans and money for this and that, and for the move, I'm still paying a stupid lot rent where I am. So..yeah paying two property taxes is killing me.

  3. congrats on selling the house dude, er well, almost selling it. that'll be a load off your n**ts.

  4. Sheri -- That thing about the corner, that's pretty much what I've been doing. Thanks for being the first person in the universe to call me tough.

    Burf -- Thanks! The Man's always got his hands in your pockets, doesn't he? Or your manbag. Whatever you have your money in, really.

    JP -- Thanks, Dogpound. And thank you also for having the decency not to spell out the word nuts. You're a good man.

  5. I'm sorry, I can't get past the visual on the sumo wrestlers. Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!!!!