Hey, Catching Up Here!

Oh my gosh I don’t know where to begin. I’ve been so incredibly busy that the poem I wrote about selling the house in Arnprior in July stayed here as a draft and is only now posted. But oh the saga of the selling the house! I’ve been mentally trying to put it behind me but in the interests of history, lol, I will say a bit about it.

I discovered that my old house, which I knew of cluttered and desperately in need of a serious clean and paint job (not to mention new carpets) was an absolute nightmare to dejunk. I had stuff of mine that dates back to my first apartment, stuff from the kids that goes back to baby-hood, stuff from my single days, stuff from my married days, stuff accumulated during Jim and my time together, bits from 4 cars now gone, two cars still with us; stored stuff from one friend and an entire carpentry business that was now abandoned. Pleas to our carpentry friend to please get rid of his stuff fell on deaf ears; the for sale sign on the lawn was not more much inspiration than word that he had a friend with a trailer who would help him cart stuff to the dump but that never materialized. Sadly, after asking and getting nowhere and running out of time, some of the stuff was given away, but a lot of it went to the dump. One box of photos wound up in the lobby of his building, after getting no answer at the door or the phone and leaving messages with people who knew him. We felt bad but when it’s the day before you’re moving, what else could we do?

Yeegads, the dump. In a desperate bid to get the house presentable enough for viewing, we got a large dumpster and filled it, and in the end we still had something like 9 trailer loads of stuff to the dump, the last load literally being the closing date with money in hand for the pass and an apology to fellow we borrowed the trailer from.

So how did the house selling go? Uh, kind of badly but in the end it worked. First off, I discovered that the assessment value determined by the province was $41,000 higher than the appraiser’s assessed value. There went the possibility of paying off all my bills. The realtor wanted to list the house at the low end of the assessment; I said no, that gives us no room to negotiate and insisted it be more mid-range to have it listed in keeping with others of similar lot size and age. After three weeks of insisting the place wasn’t good enough to photograph, the MLS listing accidentally went up by a miskeying so I told him that’s fine, please let’s start showing.

The showings were horrible to say the least, mainly because with 3 cats and dog the cats had to go in cages during the viewings and the dog, on the other hand was thrilled beyond belief to get all the impromptu walks. The cats were displeased and showed it by messing my carpets to the point that I had to clean the carpets daily with the carpet cleaner. It still wasn’t good enough. People came, decided it was too smelly to walk in the door, including one couple who did that but still insisted on walking through the place and keeping us sitting in the parking lot of the church next door beyond their viewing hour only to completely diss the place afterwards. One realtor left a message saying “good luck selling this place!” to mine, which he so kindly shared with me. The house never did get listed in the local paper (after, I think, I insisted the commission rate be changed to reflect what was written into the relocation contract, to which I was told “oh, I thought with the extra you’re getting in relocation you could afford it” when I said I couldn’t take the higher rate, it would come out of my pocket).

Still, I did get an offer, based on the gigantic garage I’m sure, and after a little negotiating to get it within an allowable amount, I accepted. One month after listing, I was happily on my way to a house hunting trip.

Was the house hunting trip our little vacation to Fredericton together? Sadly, no. I had no one and no where to board the cats, so Jim stayed home while I went. I was given the name of a good realtor from someone who had just relocated and found the house of her dreams, and with an appointment set up with him I was good to go! Except that I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get a mortgage due to the mess the pay clawback had caused to my finances, so after being soundly refused to be allowed to port my mortgage or to get a new one from MCAP (I say the name because I will never deal with them again), I went to various brokers.

One suggested a rent-to-own builder. The idea sounded appealing until a story broke in the news about people in Ontario who had been totally ripped off by one of these builders, to the point where they’d given all their savings, moved and found out they had to get out of their house in a matter of days. Not wanting to buy a house that was over what I had planned to spend anyway, I kept looking for brokers and actually did find one, and got a deal. This was a deal that meant 20% down, paying off a credit card I was planning to anyway, and going through negotiations that actually lasted until the closing date of the house I got but I got it.

Would I recommend this broker and this mortgage company? Hmm. The deal worked for me but not without a lot of agonizing and paying a financing fee that my previous broker actually had gotten paid by the financing company, and getting a dunning letter from the broker in my LinkedIn page when my purchase lawyer refused to pay the bill that demanded $500 from the proceeds of sale plus one snotty email regarding my letter of offer on my job….Uh, I won’t name them but if you are in the situation I was in and live in Ontario I’ll give it to you if you message me. Heed my warning though, you won’t be treated as professionally as you would if you went through a bank or a proper broker and you will feel like financial scum dealing with the 2nd tier brokers. You just will, and if you are going to these people you’ve already been told you’re scum by the banks so yeah, I’ll let you know who I dealt with. But not here.

Solo I went to my house hunting trip and was very pleased that within the absolute limit I had for a house, I actually had that many to look at it, and several more I flatly turned down. One the first day I saw one that really was a contender, and one place half an hour outside of the city that was absolutely amazing but sadly, the rural roads looked like they would be nightmare in the winter and I was determined never to go through the commute I had been for the last 25 years. Nope, this was my chance to turn a page and I was going to do it! There were a number of places that clearly needed some major help, a couple that were just weird (including a hobbit sized door going to one bedroom, and a historical house that clearly looked like a former brothel to me), and then…a bungalow on a street with Jim’s last name, that from the pictures looked like one step up from a mobile. Driving up the place I could immediately see the realtor had picked the wrong side to photograph, this was actually a very pretty house, recently renovated and all up to date. I fell in love the instant I walked in and at the end of the day, I made an offer. There was a counter offer and yay! I got the house. The rest of my week of house hunting was spent visiting lawyers and assessors and appraisers and in between, taking a free fiddling lesson, visiting the garrison museum, going on the Haunted Walk and generally walking around and enjoying what was an incredibly sunny and warm week to be off exploring.

I happily came home with less than a month to both finish clearing out the house and figuring out how to get the animals to Fredericton in one piece. The answer to that came in the form of an absolutely fantastic kennel that specializes in military moves. Lincoln Pet Motel is their name, and I can’t say enough good things about them. They actually came and picked up the animals (the vet said the cats weren’t fit to fly – two were too old, one too fat for kitty downers) and kept them for a week and a half. When we picked them up they were in great shape and no worse for wear.

The move itself was … interesting. The packers came, two of them turned around and walked out, the third left with them and I was told I had to clean the house because it smelled like cats. My comment was, “What the hell? Prima donna packers? Have they never moved a family???” Freaking out thinking the movers wouldn’t be able to move and they refused to let me pack myself, the fellow who had arrived came back the next day, alone, and did the packing himself. The third day the three came back but apparently one girl saw a hair ball and the two girls left again. Turns out the two didn’t have to work so they had the luxury of turning their noses up at jobs, but hell, when people are on strict timelines those girls need to be in another profession if that’s the way they behave. I told the moving company that too, because I went through paxorisms of angst I just didn’t need because of them. The fellow who stayed, bless his heart, just shrugged his shoulders and said, “I’ve seen worse.” He actually was an interesting guy. The movers were fantastic. They came, they loaded, and were out in good time. Then came the night of cleaning the house which we did until the wee hours of the morning. In all of this sleep and eating became a luxury, but in the end, we got it done. By noon on day of closing we were saying our good bye to Arnprior and hitting the road, with a hotel room booked in Edmunston, thinking we’d get there in about six hours. No dice. We got trapped in Montreal traffic, wild weather, and road work. We got in the hotel at 1 a.m. The next day was a nice visit with son in Woodstock and then we were in Fredericton! We stayed at the Ramada which was a surprize, we really liked the hotel.

I had a Sunday to show Jim around, which I did, and then came closing closing day. The movers were (wisely, as it turned out) coming the next morning, and that was good because the bank giving me the mortgage, being in Calgary, dragged its heels until it was too late to do anything here and it actually closed at 9 a.m. the next day, with Jim and I and the movers sitting in the laneway drinking Tim Horton’s and telling our life stories. Unloading went well and by 5 p.m. we were home. We got the animals a couple of days later, after we’d set up enough to be able to safely have them roam around.

Since then I’ve been getting going at work, we’ve been unpacking (we’re still not done), and adding the little touches we need to live here. That included getting a fence around the side area for the animals to go out happily, getting snow tires for the cars and the licence change overs, getting cars certified (don’t get me started on what the Jeep needed – let’s just say if I have driven it here it wouldn’t have made it), and this week, having a little wood stove installed.

So how do we like it here so far? We love it. Fredericton is a fantastic place to live. The people are friendly and nice, the cost of living is much better than Ontario, and the way of life just so much nicer. We plan to stay here a long, long time. Life is good 🙂

Won’t You Buy My Home

Buy My House

It’s 6 a.m. and there’s
A viewing again
The place has been cleaned
Within an inch of its life
And yet

One more spot
A hint of a scent
Of something that isn’t
From bottles or cans

We are paying for having
The crime that is cats
Growing children
And a dog
All over time
That was this house.

This is an old place
With glass doorknobs
And seconds used for
Various door frames
And oddly shaped places
There’s 30 year old carpet
Glued to the basement floor.

This is a well loved place
People have lived and died
And grown up
Some have got old
Animals have come and gone.

There are new windows
And sash windows
A couple are cracked
And carpets from
Back when we bought it.

Some walls are fresh painted
Others not
There are trees that need chopping
And grass that is older
Than I am
And I’m not saying how old
That is.

The real estate people
Ever so helpful
Keep saying that someone
Doesn’t like this
Or doesn’t like that
But most of all
It smells like a cat.

Which one?
I’d like to ask.
The ghost cat we see
On the staircase sometimes
Or the visiting cat
That’s stayed for 3 years
Or perhaps our
Pudgy orange cat Moe
Who thinks he’s a dog
And loves everyone going
Be they human or quadriped
Or is it the mighty Bengal
Who hides so you don’t know
He lives here at all?

Carpet is cleaned daily
Mattresses gone to the dump
Wallpaper and paint ongoing
I starting to believe that
A one hundred year old home
Should behave like a youngster
No older than two.

It’s not going to happen
For as hard as we try
The more that we clean
And dejunk the more that we
Find like the bottle of screen paint
From around 1920 that hid
Way back on a shelf.

The bird cage is gone
Which is okay
So are the birds
And the children
That owned them
Off to greener pastures
In some shape or form
So the unsightly scene
Of a home made aviary
Much loved for years
Lies in pieces at the dump

I’m running out of dump passes
And things to throw in it
That could possibly make
A difference.

Tell me
Why a place with
A big yard
And bright windows
A century old
Needs to be perfect?
With charm and character
A house,
Just like people
Will show signs of age.

A home that’s been loved
Has quirks and signs
Of all of its previous
If you want new,
No offense but
Perhaps that’s what you need.

For me I’ll keep buying
My crazy old places
With transoms and sashes
Bright spots for the cats.

So, won’t somebody
Buy this place
That’s full of love?
Come, buy my place…

Catherine M. Harris
(c) 2013-07-28 All rights reserved
No reproduction without permission.