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Freaking Out - Please Pardon Cathartic Venting
Old 10-20-2014, 04:00 AM   #1
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Freaking Out - Please Pardon Cathartic Venting

Our home in Massachusetts received an offer for $100 over asking price within 26 hours of being listed. We have 29 days until the closing.

We have three homes in Georgia any of which we'd love to live in. We put a bid in on our top choice yesterday afternoon at 5PM. We receive confirmation of the offer being received and that the sellers will have an answer for us by 5PM today. But, the sellers' realtor indicated to our buyer's agent that the sellers were hoping for something close to asking price (we offered 6.5% less) and indicated that the sellers "are having a hard time finding a new place to live" and so our closing date may be a problem.

So I'm freaking out. So is my spouse. Irrationally - at this point - because the sellers haven't said 'no'; and there are two other properties we'd be happy to live in and haven't bid on yet. But we're still freaking out.

I keep telling myself that home is what you make of it. There are literally dozens of places for sale down there that we could buy that we'll be happy in. The reason why they're not on our list is because, considering that we're getting older, they're three-level homes and we like the idea of two-level homes with master on the ground floor. Most of these "vertical living" homes are much closer to my spouse's place of employment and we know how much cutting a 25 minute commute down to 10-15 minutes can enhance one's life. However, these homes trade off that commute time with time from home to church and church is a big part of our lives and will be more so the case down in Georgia.

And then of course there are the other two places on our top three list. One of them is empty and has been since May. It's a bit overpriced (like by about $5K) and it is a by owner sale and the owner seems content to just let it sit empty until he gets his price. So for $5K more than we should pay for it we can have a great home and the angst would be over.

Like I said - irrationally freaking out. Except I cannot help checking every few hours to see if someone else bought it.

So to make this relevant... all of this is part of our FIRE plan. We're moving from MA to GA and downsizing a bit. I was going to type downgrading too, but that's really not true and I need to stop thinking that way. We have done a great job maintaining and enhancing this home. We've made great decorating choices, paint colors, draperies, etc. Along with our personal belongings, that is most of what makes this place we're in now "better". It has a full unfinished basement (and none of these other places do), but these other places have 300-600 sq ft more finished living space. So which is "better" really? And each of these places is nestled in the middle of a community surrounded by homes in all directions. Where we live now we can throw a rock and hit I-95.

So, we're just downsizing in terms of trading off 1500 sq ft of unfinished basement for 300 sq ft of extra living space. You should see our basement right now. Fully 500 sq ft of it is junk - stuff we've had for who-knows-how-long that we staged over the past three days so as to go right out the bulkhead door into the junk truck tomorrow morning.

We're also downsizing in terms of trading off a really expensive home with a pretty big mortgage for a much more affordable home with no mortgage. If these sellers accept our current offer on the table (very unlikely) then we'd actually have $8000 profit on the exchange (not including the cost of getting rid of the junk). Even with our third choice at full price we'd only need to put in $25K. We make that back in just two years of not having a mortgage payment. (Yes property taxes would be less, as well, but state income tax in Georgia is significantly higher than in Massachusetts, so that's a wash.)

Still working hard to distract myself from thinking about the waiting-to-hear-back-from-the-offer-we-made... I never figured out how to determine the impact of this whole deal (with the worst-case scenario of paying $25K) would affect FIRE. As things were, a couple of tools (RIP, QLP) seemed to indicate that my spouse needed to work another six years and I another ten years. It isn't clear what impact the move will have on my continued employment. It seems very likely that it will have no impact for four years. After that, being a remote employee makes things a little cloudy. By the same token, I could just find another job. These are variables that we really cannot quantify reliably. So assuming the status quo continues, we have the lower cost of living to factor in, along with the lack of a mortgage payment (and accompanying loss of mortgage interest deduction). The numbers seem to point to us both being able to retire six years from now. In the probable worst case scenario (I lose my job four years from now) we're left with a two year gap in retirement-padding, which could hopefully be made up for by reemployment for two to four years (the upper end of that range reflecting a possible significant decrease in salary).

The torturous waiting for an answer about this first offer continues... We just did this to the young couple buying our home. And we kept them waiting 48 hours. I feel so guilty about that right now. I don't recall ever experiencing this specific brand of torture. We've been insulated from it two of the four times we've bought a home in the past, buying new and therefore just picking from plentiful inventory without haggling over price. I really don't remember how things went down the other two times. I think, having financed, the effect of the money was less direct. Here, if we pay $15K more (which is what we'd have to pay for our third choice, assuming the by owner owner won't take less) that's our money, coming right out of our bank account right now. Financing is a little like credit card spending in that way isn't it? We don't feel the impact of the extra money quite so directly.

By the way, that $15K more for our third choice isn't outrageous. That place is the one that is 600 sq ft larger than what we have now and 300 sq ft larger than the other homes on our list (and again, with the loss of the basement, we could probably use the extra 300 sq ft). And it is an end-unit while the others are not. A comparable unit sold for just about that amount back in July. It is a bit closer to the center of town and therefore more valuable and more likely to hold its value in a market downturn. The development doesn't have a pool club (which the place we bid on yesterday does) but of course that means that the monthly fee is $50 less. As we enter retirement that will make a difference I'm sure. But my spouse would love to live in a community with a pool, and making my spouse happy is a big part of why we want to move. (I'm not unhappy about moving. I'm somewhere between indifferent, at the higher price point, and mildly favorably inclined, at the lower price point. We have no real ties to MA that we wouldn't quickly reforge in GA. Neither of us have family in either metro area.)

Okay, well typing that got me through one of the twenty-four hours of waiting for a reply from the seller.
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Old 10-20-2014, 05:31 AM   #2
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You are definitely in the freaking out stage. Take a deep breath. Relax. The home buying and selling process is what it is. You won't be first people to rent for a couple of months with your furniture in storage. If it's only a few weeks, the extended stay motels can work well.

You've put so many conflicts into your post that specific comments seem pointless.
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Old 10-20-2014, 05:50 AM   #3
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I see our time is up. See you next week.
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Old 10-20-2014, 07:17 AM   #4
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Chill. Unless you are an alcoholic, I suggest you have a glass of wine.
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Old 10-20-2014, 07:24 AM   #5
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Just wine? Reading it over seems definitely whiskey-worthy. But I try not to start drinking before dawn.
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Old 10-20-2014, 07:52 AM   #6
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Definitely a dither mode.
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Old 10-20-2014, 08:17 AM   #7
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Well, there is a lot in that post -- but it sounds exciting - the part of moving to a new state, new community with no mortgage as part of a FIRE plan.

We are considering making a move south as well and selling the big, expensive house and paying cash for a smaller one.

I hope your offer is accepted and the closing dates all work for everyone. But try hard not to get too emotionally invested in any one property. All sorts of stuff can go wrong on any one real estate transaction - even after an offer is accepted, the moving trucks packed, etc. That's just the nature of the business.

GOOD LUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 10-20-2014, 08:38 AM   #8
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What to do? A few things I would suggest:

1. Make a pros and cons list for each place and see if any one of them is a game changer or game breaker.
2. Consider that the realtor is just trying to feel you out for negotiation. You should do the same. Expect a counter offer.
3. Decide the maximum you are willing to spend for the house, or any one of the houses. That will ease your mind.
4. Skip the alcohol for now. It's Monday morning and you're still working. A good walk after work (or at lunch) will do you more good and may help with the decision making. Plus, the colors are beautiful right now.
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Old 10-20-2014, 08:44 AM   #9
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Let go of the house you are selling; leave it out of the equation completely. If your Georgia realtor picks up on your lust for the bidded-upon house you can be sure it will be conveyed to the seller and the counter will be close to that house's asking price

Everything will be okay in the end.
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Old 10-20-2014, 09:08 AM   #10
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Selling a house, moving, and buying another house are all such hugely stressful events! I would be a basket case.

But, not being involved, the solution sounds incredibly simple. Schedule a move to Georgia so that your things will be picked up a day or two before closing and put into storage down there. Then finish closing, and either rent a furnished apartment in Georgia or stay in an extended stay place down there. Then enjoy exploring your new community and getting familiar with it, while you are waiting for closing on the house you want. Or, if that doesn't happen you will be in a good position to go looking for another house that is equally suitable, or better.

This is an exciting adventure! I just hope you can de-stress enough to really feel that way soon.

P.S. - - when I sold our house in California to move to Texas, 30 years ago, by the time the movers came I was a wreck! Shaking, tears, and a bundle of nerves. The movers had seen it all before a million times and did not even think that was that unusual. But as soon as I got on the road, everything smoothed out. You will get through this just fine.
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Old 10-20-2014, 09:22 AM   #11
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bUU,

There were many suggestions to rent in the other thread during the interim. You seemed to reject these then. ... There might still be time to reconsider this strategy.

Another way to deal with this situation is to do what my DMIL just did at my suggestion. She wanted to find and buy a new place without first selling her old place. I recommended a HELOC loan based on the equity of the original house to provide funds for the purchase of the new place. The local credit union offered up to 90% LTV and we closed within a week of applying. She could then move on her own schedule, along with some creative financial tension of the additional payments each month to keep getting her old place ready for sale in the foreground of her attention.

This situation probably won't apply to Buu unless the purchase agreement on the original house in MA falls through. Might be a useful strategy for others in a similar situation however.

Peace to you bUU -- I hate stressful situations myself.

-gauss
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Old 10-20-2014, 09:27 AM   #12
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When I moved south we rented for 6 months. All our stuff was in storage except for the bare minimum. Best thing I ever did. It gave us time to find the "perfect" house. If the seller in GA doesn't accept the offer take it as a sign.

When we bought this house we purchased 2 months before the sale of the original home. That was a bit stressful. Not sure I'd do that again.

If you have to move into an apartment for a short time don't sweat it. You may find that an even more perfect home becomes available during your rental period.
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Old 10-20-2014, 09:29 AM   #13
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My head was spinning after reading this! Yes, moving is stressful; I have done it many times. You seem to have reached a state of high anxiety. A lot of your worries are about things you cannot control (such as the response to your offer) and there are too many "what ifs". With a complex process such as this, I find it helpful to take things one step at a time.

It's worth celebrating the fact that you have sold your current home. That's Step One. So far, so good!

Step Two is the offer you have made. Just take a deep breath, get some fresh air, and get busy with work or something else that will take your mind off the offer. You have no control over what the answer will be. You will not know the answer until after 5 pm, so you might as well go about your day. Either the vendors will accept the offer, or they won't. Then you and DW can plan Step Three with fewer possibilities to consider.

And so on.
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Old 10-20-2014, 09:39 AM   #14
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Your feelings are normal. Like said MA. is done. Now on to GA. renting/temp housing wouldn't be the worst thing in the world. You might learn more about your new area. Remember thousands of folks move every month, I've never heard of anyone dying from it. I do believe some Realtors will play off your anxiety to get the most commission.

Relax, listen to that calm inner voice. You'll make the right choices. Best wishes.

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Old 10-20-2014, 10:16 AM   #15
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When we moved last time we put our stuff in storage and rented for a few months while we looked for a new place. I would do that again.
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Old 10-20-2014, 10:37 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bestwifeever View Post
Let go of the house you are selling; leave it out of the equation completely.
Done. We're very happy that it is going to a family that really wants to live here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bestwifeever View Post
If your Georgia realtor picks up on your lust for the bidded-upon house you can be sure it will be conveyed to the seller and the counter will be close to that house's asking price
One really good move we made was using an exclusive buyer's agent in Georgia.

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Originally Posted by W2R View Post
either rent a furnished apartment in Georgia or stay in an extended stay place down there.
We would have to find a place that will take our two cats with us. It's something we'll ask our buyer's agent about if it comes to that but it is the bottom of our preference list. Moving twice sounds twice as bad as moving once, and it will surely be doubly traumatic for the cats.

Quote:
Originally Posted by W2R View Post
This is an exciting adventure! I just hope you can de-stress enough to really feel that way soon.
I think all we need is a clear view of where we're moving into.

Then of course we'll get anxious about the closings - no no - just kidding. That we know can be worked out given the automatic extension provisions built into the contracts.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gauss View Post
There were many suggestions to rent in the other thread during the interim. You seemed to reject these then. ... There might still be time to reconsider this strategy.
We have good strong reasons for it and I am pretty categorical our rejection of the idea because I've found people get downright rude about not taking their advice about it. I generally try to say "interesting idea, but no thanks - next suggestion please" but for some reason some folks seem so emotionally invested in other people renting before they buy that they cannot move past a polite demurral (like the one above).
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Old 10-20-2014, 10:49 AM   #17
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Not to pile on, but your house isn't sold until closing, things happen.

My DS and BIL work for a big defense contractor, their project finished and both jobs ended. BIL got a huge in company promotion out of state. Sold their house and signed a purchase agreement on another one. Long story short, they had 3 signed offers from 3 different buyers and the place still isn't sold. I found out from this that buyers walk away with impunity and there isn't much you can do about it. If you want something to stress about, I'd worry about your house closing first...
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Old 10-20-2014, 10:55 AM   #18
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Thanks! It's a bit like biting your finger to distract you from the pain in your toe.
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Old 10-20-2014, 11:04 AM   #19
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We have good strong reasons for it and I am pretty categorical our rejection of the idea because I've found people get downright rude about not taking their advice about it. I generally try to say "interesting idea, but no thanks - next suggestion please" but for some reason some folks seem so emotionally invested in other people renting before they buy that they cannot move past a polite demurral (like the one above).
I don't think it's that others are emotionally invested in the idea of you renting before buying - it's just that it's the most obvious logical choice, especially given the high degree of stress you seem to be putting yourself through. If you want to stop the "rent between selling and buying another house" suggestions, a simple explanation of your reasons will likely stop most of them in their tracks, provided your reasons are indeed sound.
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Old 10-20-2014, 11:06 AM   #20
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And that's the rub: People want to judge the reasons based on their personal priorities rather than ours. It's a bit like telling people they're silly for buying a high performance car since it isn't frugal. Some people value high performance. Some people value frugality. Neither are wrong.
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