13 January 2009

Tomorrow, 8:30 a.m.

That's when I'm meeting with a realtor to talk about the possibility of putting my condo on the market.

Emotionally, I am thrilled by the idea. I love my condo, but I don't love being a homeowner. It's great to be able to put holes in the walls or paint if I want to without asking permission, but it's also stressful to be responsible for every dripping faucet, every warping deck board, and every cracked window. My condo is in good shape—the kitchen and bath got a high-quality renovation right before we purchased, and I've made improvements over the years—but I feel pressured all the time to keep it that way. Maintenance takes time and money, both of which are in somewhat short supply for me right now.

I was never a person who longed to own a home. At the time we bought, it just seemed like the logical thing to do. Our apartment was being condoized so we had to move, and we were clearly going to be in Boston a while what with John having a new job and being in the middle of his cancer treatment. John was responding well to treatment and we'd talked about going forward with the IVF that ultimately brought us Maddie and Riley. Things were good for us, all in all, we were in a financial position to make buying a reality, and real estate still seemed to be a solid, if pricey, investment. So we bought.

Owning never brought me the special rush that it seems to bring a lot of people. I think I just had too many other things on my mind to really revel in it all. It's not that I don't have good memories associated with the condo. I do: bringing Maddie and Riley home; our massive, rain-soaked housewarming party; eating perfectly grilled scallops in our gourmet kitchen. Over time, though, bad memories have dominated the good. I go to bed every night in the room where John died. When I turn the corner at the base of the outside stairs, I recall pausing there once with John post-treatment so that he could throw up in the flowers. The walls of the house seem to have absorbed years of my anger and resentments. 

John and I bought our condo in not just the year, or even the quarter, that is now considered to be the height of the real-estate bubble, but the exact month. We closed in July 2005. I don't think we overpaid given the time. In fact, I think we got a good deal. But times have changed. What I need the realtor to do is give me an honest assessment of the situation. If he thinks I have a chance at selling to break even (or make money, but that seems doubtful)—not including improvements that I've made to the property—I'm going to list it. If breaking even doesn't seem possible, I'll wait a little longer, or maybe a lot longer, who knows, for the market to recover or to get to a point where I can financially weather a loss.

If the house sells, my plan is to move in with a friend of mine, a woman who was in the Peace Corps with me and who is a single mom by choice. Her daughter is two weeks younger than the twins. Their place would be cozy for all of us, but it could work. The three kids would share a bedroom and attached playroom, and my friend and I would each have our own rooms. The two main advantages I see to this system are that: 
  • paying half of my friend's mortgage is way less money than paying all of my own mortgage
  • we could function in some ways like a two-parent family, helping each other out with child care, grocery shopping, the emotional burden of parenting, etc.
Any roommate situation is potentially fraught with issues. Both my friend and I are used to having a lot of space of our own, and that could be hard to come by in cramped quarters. There are the ubiquitous challenges of Finding Mututally Acceptable Levels of Cleanliness and Noise. We'd face additional issues around parenting and discipline styles. I don't harbor illusions that this would be all easy, but I do think the pros outweigh the cons and that it's worth a try. In fact, I'm really excited about the idea.

Selling my condo certainly won't erase all of my bad memories, or take away my anger. But I'm really ready to let go and move on. I'm not one for new year's resolutions, but simplification is definitely a theme for me in 2009, and I think that selling the condo is a way to accomplish that goal. We'll see what the real estate agent thinks the market can do for me.


Goddess in Progress said...

Good luck with the meeting! I hope the realtor has something good to say. And though your new living arrangement could be tricky, it's nice that you have less pressure on selling the condo than you would if you were trying to also buy a new place.

We bought at the peak, too. Closed Memorial Day, that same year. *shudder*

Shosh said...

we closed on july 15, 2005. can't even think about it without cringing.

Sandi said...

We bought at the peak, but also sold at the peak, so it's not a big deal for me.

I don't think I could ever rent again. I'm not even sure I could live with shared walls and no private yard again. I know I couldn't do the "roommate" thing. I enjoyed living alone before I was married.

Aimee said...

We're in the same boat as you. I'd love to sell our house for some of the same reasons as you. The house isn't ready to be put on the market just yet, though. So, it looks like we will be staying. Hopefully, by the time the house is ready, the market will be kinder to us.

Good luck! I can't wait to hear what the realtor has to say.

Giovanna Diaries said...

Phew....when I read the first few sentences I had to scan the rest of your post to make sure there was no "moving to oregan" in there.
Phew phew!
Well, good luck with the meeting.
If you need help packing....let me know.

Lexie said...

Hey, the roommate thing sounds like a great idea. I have thought of doing something like that myself. Good luck with the condo selling.

django's mommy said...

Damnit, there go my plans of convincing you to move in to my house in NC. Shoot.

(good luck!!!)

Mama Mama Quite Contrary said...

Best of luck with the meeting! I always thought it would be great be a homeownder but when our boiler went and our windows needed replacing and our chimney had to be rebuilt and our bathroom had to be gutted and...and...and... I sure missed the days of renting and not having that responsibility or financial burden.

If you move in with your friend, will it still be in the same area as you are now?

Kate said...

I wonder if you want to consider moving in with your friend when the house goes on the market -- a pared-down, kid-free house seems like it would sell faster than one that is very clearly lived in. And that means you wouldn't have to be on Super Clean High Alert every time a showing is scheduled. I hope that isn't assvice and I absolutely wish the best for you, no matter which way your house situation goes.

amber said...

lots of luck with the realtor tomorrow. i value my own space a lot, so roommates would be a no-go, if i could at all help it, for me. but, if you think the situation will help with simplifying this year, then go for it.

Anonymous said...

Do you think this may be a step in the direction of moving to Oregon?

If you do get the house sold, that would be one less thing to weigh on you about heading that way.
The time with shared living could mean saving for the big move.
Great idea to have someone to do this with, I just know I couldn't do it for long. You sound like you enjoy your time and space alone.

Snickollet said...

Mama Mama--

Yes, same area, just a town over.


Love the idea of moving now. Showing the house empty would be MUCH easier. Definitely something to consider.


v8_grrl said...

today is delurking day.
I just spent an hour reading and skimming each of your posts.

I say sell that condo. One door closes another opens.

this is truly a beautiful post.

s_ivan said...

I think your would-be roommate would be psyched to have you move in if your place went on the market. It's also ready-set storage for the furniture you can't bring with you!

Single Parent Dad said...

That seems like a good plan, and if it works out with your friend I think that would be top.

I tried a similar thing living with my suster, but it did not work for us, but that was probably because a single parent family was living with a couple.

Good luck

Rebecca said...

We bought in June 2005, selling our Somerville condo in ONE week. Shocking, now. All I can say is that I hope that the market has held out better in your area than in ours (about 5 miles north). Our home was just re-assesseed and it's lost a decent amount of value--and here I was trying to keep my head in the sand and ignore the falling real estate market.

Kim said...

Have you thought about renting out the condo? Could you get your mortgage payment in rent from someone else? I know you don't like being a homeowner but a management company can handle repairs and such if you rent. It just gives you a safety net if the renting from a friend doesn't work out.

Mama Nabi said...

Well, I'm always available for the double-single-mama household if this one doesn't work out. :-)

Good luck - I hear ya on house owning thing. I'm not that big on all those responsibilities!

Yummy Mummy said...

I just bought and while I love where I live, I find it much more stressful whenever I think of the pressure of home ownership, even though it is just a condo. We didn't get a great deal and I am resolved that we may be fitting a possible family of four in three bedrooms until the day comes when we sell and break even!

I am so happy that you have found a possible plan. It seems like this could be a really great solution. I have been so concerned for you. Having another person around who is in a similar situation sounds like it could be a really positive place for you and M&R.

I will spend the night crossing my fingers for a "big" number for you tomorrow!

Kerrie said...

Sounds like you have given it a great deal of thought and made a good decision. Wherever you live, whether it be owned or rented, yu will make a lovely , warm home for your little family.

I shared a house twice with another sole parent when my daughter was young, mostly due to financial constraints but also for all the reasons you have thought about. I had moderate success with the first arrangement, we were very similar with regard to caring for our children, cooking meals etc. The second arrangement was a total disaster, more due to the woman I shared with rather than the situation...it was like I had moved in with my mother, she wanted it all her way, very domineering and bossy. She was also very competitive as far as our children went...(they were girls born a month apart). Almost 15 years later she is still very much like that, it is her way of operating.

Having said that I'd do it again with the right person, it can have huge benefits. If you'd like to email and talk further please get in touch, my email can be found on my blog profile.

Keep us posted with how things are progressing...it's exciting to be making positive changes for your family.

Melissa said...

Delurking just to let you know I'm rooting for you! Good luck!

Arwen said...

I also closed on my house in late July 2005. However, the bubble in my area hit at least a year afterward. Our next door neighbor sold a year later and got $40,000 more than what we paid. (That family unfortunately had to move and got $20,000 less than what they paid for the house.) However, most of the rest of the houses that have sold on our street since then have continued selling in the $20,000 more than my house range... something for which I am eternally grateful. Living in hicksville can have its advantages.

Since you are staying in the area (at least for now) you may want to consider renting or renting-to-own... I've heard that many people are doing well with that concept when they can't sell their house because they'll lose money.

Jen said...

Good luck! We'll miss you being right down the street and stopping by all hung over and stuff.. if it sells and closes before the Idol season is over, you might want to warn S that I'll be a staple on the couch on Tues evenings come April.. :)

Jen said...

btw.. i did the same thing that Gio did.. :)

~ Jolene said...

Good luck. It still makes me sad to think you're selling the place you shared with John. But I know I would do the same thing. When I read your posts about John responding well to treatment at first, it makes me think of Henry. It makes me scared of what the future will bring. :( Just wanted to share that. Happy New Year Snick. :)

Vanessa said...

My daughter and I moved almost immediately after my husband died in 2006 -- he died the first weekend of July, and we moved into our apartment the last weekend of August. I've missed our old home from time to time, but overall it's been much better for my mental health not to keep living in the place where he died. Granted, we had the flexibility of already being renters (we had been living in the bottom half of a triplex for about five years), but I think if you can make it work, it might be a positive change for you. Good luck with whatever you decide!

Roads said...

It does sound like it might be time for a change of some kind. I moved house around 4 years out, for practical reasons rather than because I felt uncomfortable in staying on where we had lived.

All the same, perhaps a change of scenery did me good.

That said, I might just be with Kim on this one. Renting out the condo not only keeps an exit door open, it also ensures that you're not liquidating your greatest asset at the very bottom of the market. Like now.

There's no doubt that property seems a very poor investment at the moment. Which, rather contrarily makes it the perfect time to buy. Or at least, not to sell, anyway.

Good luck, and here's hoping it all works out smoothly, whatever you decide.

Anonymous said...

Good luck and I hope things work out!

L. said...

As long as you're breaking even, I take comfort in the saying "You can't time the market." Because although hindsight is 20/20, etc., we never know what's around the corner.

I think this sounds like a fabulous idea for you. There are a lot of things I enjoy about owning a home, but there are a lot of things that weigh on me constantly (and I have a handy partner who takes care of most of them). Since you were in the Peace Corps with this woman, I figure you must have some knowledge of what life with her is like, perhaps under some fairly stressful or at least non-luxurious conditions. And it could be a great break to co-parent with someone without having the strain of making a romantic relationship work at the same time.

(I wonder. Co-housing is more and more in, and there's that trend of people in their 20s and 30s moving back home with parents to save money. Do you think, partly under the strain of money and time pressures, parts of society are transitioning, in a mixed-up fashion, back to a more traditional village-esque life?)

And I can't help but wonder if this is indeed the first step back to Oregon. Well, whatever you do, I wish you godspeed, as they said in the old days.

Kate said...

i love the idea of you moving in with a friend and sharing house and parenting responsibilities. It reminds me of the book The Red Tent, where women lived communally and men just made conjugal visits. Back in biblical times of course. Or on Big Love in modern times.

It's what we women do anyhow, help each other out with kids and such--just in closer quarters!

good luck with the realtor.

Keen said...

Oh, good luck! That living arrangement sounds like it could be a good change. And the fact that it feels good and you're excited about it is a good sign!

Thinking of you and crossing my fingers.

Rev Dr Mom said...

You are the first person other than me who I've heard admit that owning a house wasn't that important. I really don't want to own primarily because, like you, I don't want to have to responsible for EVERYTHING. I'd be perfectly happy renting a nice place and letting someone else have those headaches.

Lucky for me I live in church owned housing now, and I hope I will in my next job too.

Good luck with the real estate market!

ashleyjnc said...

perhaps this is a precursor to moving back home.. where your parents, and better assistance and emotional support will be readily available?

Haitian-American Family of Three said...

I think that's an amazing plan, sharing parenting and household jobs and having a build in adult support system. Actually, I think ALL mamas should band together and have big homes with private rooms and open spaces.

Crash Course Widow said...

Wow! What a total surprise!! Even though you've mentioned passing thought of trying to sell, move, move back to Oregon, etc., I wasn't expecting to see this type of news right now.

Good for you for taking action. Any action, even if nothing ever happens past this phone call, is a good, big thing.

I can certainly understand all your desires, reasons, and motivations for wanting to leave the marital home. Hell, I did it...and tried it a second time because one round of torture apparently wasn't enough.

Did I cringe to read your news? Yeah, I did. Not because I think you shouldn't do it...that decision can only be made by you...but because I cringe at how exquisitely painful, stressful, and exhausting it was--logistically, emotionally, and grief-wise--to leave Charley's and my marital home, and how much harder it was to sell a home with kids under the age of 2. My god, it was awful. I cringe knowing how hard it is to try to sell a house in a bad housing market (having done it twice now), grief totally out of the equation. I cringe because selling and moving might not really help anything. You take everything with you when you go.

But did it help to NOT live in the house where Charley simply never came home one night, where the police told me he was dead? Yes, it did. Do I miss the house? Sometimes. Do I regret selling it? No, not really...but it was, bar none, the HARDEST thing I've had to do in this entire widowed nightmare. Was trying to sell my house this year in an even worse housing market than the last time (instead of buying I listed it mere days after the housing bubble first burst, only no one realized for ~2-3 weeks)? No, it actually wasn't...but it's probably because NOTHING could have been worse than the last sale. Knowing what I learned from the last 10 months of doing exactly what you're evaluating right now, would I do it again? Even with an offer sort of/almost in hand and a theoretical get-out-of-jail-free card in my grasp (except it's really costing about $75-90k to attain it), I don't know.

But only you can answer if it's the right choice for you. And I support you, whichever way you choose.

Best of luck to you! Hugs!!

Vivienne said...

hey there just wanted to say good luck. i am a single mum who lives with another single mum and it is fantastic for us granted we both like the same level of cleanliness. anyway good luck :)

Susan said...

Wow, I too, thought maybe that move to Oregon was on fast forward :) It is hard to give any comment when we can't completely understand the situation because we haven't been there. I can understand wanting to sell the condo for the reasons you stated. My personality would have a very difficult time sharing space. However, if I was a single mom to toddler twins.....hmmmm....maybe I would consider. The thought of having help and sharing babysitting, etc.... have to be honest, sounds appealing. I hope it works out. I hope Boston is in better shape with the housing market than here in MI. They are all selling way under market here, very sad!! Good Luck.

LeftLeaningLady said...

Good luck!

And it is great for me to find someone who feels as I do about homeownership. I LIKED having someone else responsible if the roof leaked.

But, when I bought in 2001, it was cheaper to buy than to rent. To rent my house would've cost 3 or 4 hundred dollars a month more. Plus I had an 85 pound dog and no one would rent to me. Plus I now have a lot of equity that doesn't do me any good because I am not selling.

Anonymous said...

I think the idea of the two families living together and helping each other out is a good one. I would have reservations about putting three children in one bedroom. What happens when one is sick/can't sleep/is fussy or when they all get older and need more space? Just something else to consider, like you didn't already have enough to think about... :-)

mlg said...

I love the idea of moving in with a friend. It really does take a villiage, yet we are programmed to think that our ultimate goal in life should be to grow up and buy something and live there with only those who are married or born to us. I will keep my fingers crossed that the value has skyrocketed!

Watercolor said...

Prayers and hugs.

shmo said...

As I started reading your post, I was stressed for you, wondering where you would relocate, but after reading your new living arrangements, I'm excited for you! And I agree with Kim - moving once the condo's on the market sounds ideal for many reasons. Good luck with everything - keep us posted (no pun intended...)!

Colby Moore said...

The way you described John when he was sick is a tear-jerker. So, were you able to sell your condo? Condo living is actually convenient for those who have extra budget; the re-decorations can be done anytime without asking permission, yes. That's one of the best things about condos. Where are you staying now, then?