Monthly Archives: July 2009

Mon 27 Jul 09

I tried to climb Mt Rainier this weekend and didn’t quite make it. I turned around about thirty minutes from the summit near 14,000 ft. It was a frustrating choice to make, but definitely the right call for the situation. Here’s a picture looking down at Little Tahoma from the upper flanks of Rainier yesterday morning.

Mon 13 Jul 09

Sold. Almost at least. The $33,000 under offer folks accepted my counter offer (less a couple thousand in paid closing costs). I still had to think about it for a little bit due to my left brain fighting with the incongruity of not breaking even after commissions are paid, but in the end that same left brain realized that the sale price is about five grand above what we paid two years ago, which I really can’t complain about given where the housing market has gone recently. And a sale two and a half weeks after listing is pretty nice too.

When we had the garage sale a couple months back I was selling a car jack and jack stands and the first guy to look at it offered me ten bucks less than the tagged price. “Early money is good money,” was his pitch as he held out his cash. I figured I could get more for it if I waited, maybe even more for from this guy, but you just never know. I forked over the jack stand.

So a couple more hoops to just through (inspection, appraisal, etc.) and then we’ll go from there I guess. At this point I’m feeling more nostalgic than celebratory, but at least I didn’t have to spend all weekend cleaning like I normally do.

The dogs celebrated with their own vices.

Fri 10 Jul 09

So we had our house listed For Sale by Owner with a local FSBO website for about six weeks with pretty consistent interest. One or two interested buyers a week or so. A couple repeat viewings and emails or phone calls exchanged indicating people were considering making an offer on the house, but no official offers. After six weeks, I could feel the traffic starting to taper off and even though interest had been decent I realized we probably needed the coverage of an MLS listing to really get the ball rolling.

Now this drives me bat crazy because I can’t stand the Realtor racket. Hate it. I think it’s an absolute ridiculous waste of money for the services offered. The paperwork, especially on the seller’s end, is a piece of cake (or worst case, I’ll pay a lawyer a couple hundred to look things over). I can take my own pictures, make my own fliers, do my own marketing. The problem is everyone uses an agent to buy and those buyer’s agents are only showing MLS-listed homes. In six weeks of FSBO I didn’t have a single agent come through our house with a client. Not one. And I know they were checking the FSBO site and Craigslist because I’d get phone calls and emails hawking their services with promises of buyers they were working with right now who would be interested. Then bring them by, jerk! I’m offering the standard 3% buyer’s agent commission. I don’t get it.

You know, I’d be fine with 1-2%. That’s fair for the paperwork completed and the time you spent driving your client around to look at houses. But 6-7% is a serious chunk out of my sale price.

But you can’t fight the monopoly machine alone, so after six weeks I started shopping around for deals, eventually finding a guy who offered a $1000 flat rate to list with him (and 3% to the buyer’s agent). He did no advertising, hosted no open houses, didn’t print a single flier. 1000 bucks to MLS our house and handle all of the negotiations and paperwork. Right on. I’m all for a la carte realty. The catch of course is that you pay up front, so if for some reason the house doesn’t sell, you’re still out a grand.

Now on the MLS (and therefore officially on the market) we’ve had about 12 showings in two and half weeks. Lots of great feedback and potential buyers seemingly on the cusp of making an offer according to their agents.

Yesterday we had our first offer on the house. I was at the library after work when I got a call from our agent saying a buyer’s agent wanted to present an offer in person that evening. Now, in person is a little atypical, but whatever, come on by. I started thinking, well maybe she wants to present in person since it’s such a good offer and she’s assuming we can wrap up the paperwork right then and there.

An hour later we’re all sitting around our kitchen table and out comes the offer. Oh boy, oh boy.

$33 grand under our asking price! 33 thousand dollars! 33 thousand.

My head spun a little, you’ve got to be kidding. I don’t even have that much into the house. I’d be paying thousands of dollars to the bank at closing. And come on, at that price you should be buying a crack house somewhere in Yakima gang territory. At that price this house would’ve sold in about 40 minutes FSBO.

This crazy woman then proceeded to try justify the offer by breaking it down on paper simply by price per square foot without any consideration to neighborhood, home condition, etc. Ah the desire to meet in person comes out. Okay, you know it’s one thing to approach a seller with your insane offer and show a little sheepishness. “I know this wasn’t the price you’re looking for, but it’s the best my client can offer at the moment. We thought we’d at least put it out there.” But don’t try to argue that my house is on par with a crack house.

We were polite though we probably shouldn’t have been. “Okay thanks, we’ll be in touch soon.” Much disbelief and exasperation was expressed once the delusional one departed though. Not a whole lot to work with there. So that was a frustrating evening.

We did counter offer though. $30 thousand above their offer. Almost there guys. So we’ll see how it all shakes out.

Sat 4 Jul 09

It’s been smoking hot here the past few days. Just shy of 100 degrees even in the shade. In a lethargic stupor I lay on the kitchen floor for a while this afternoon soaking up the cool of the tile and petting the dogs with my feet. With a fan and a book to pass the time it’s not so bad I suppose.

A couple days ago to beat the heat with a little more vigor, I took the dogs hiking up in the still snowy mountains. I wanted a hike with views and no crowds and left home with a couple ideas in mind, but didn’t make the call to try the North Fork Tieton trail until I was approaching Rimrock Lake. For some reason the Goat Rocks Wilderness seems to go largely ignored around here. Maybe it’s the proximity to Rainier. Whatever the reason, I’m always awed by the scenery up high that I get to enjoy without another human being in sight.

Heading down Highway 12, we hung a left at Clear Lake, rumbled five miles down a gravel road, and at about 1:30 pm pulled up to a trailhead simmering with mosquitoes. After quickly filling out the backcountry permit form, we scampered down the trail, eager to leave the bugs behind. The dogs lunged against their leashes for about five minutes, but then settled into the usual single-file trot.

Plenty warm in the sunny clearings, but also plenty of water to be had, bubbling down the slopes at small stream crossings. I had never been in this stretch of the Goat Rocks before and was glad to see a few vistas emerging through the tree cover.

After about five miles of reasonably gradual climbing (1500 foot elevation gain), we came to the end of the trail and junctioned with the Pacific Crest Trail at Tieton Pass. I had been optimistically hoping for views of Mt Rainier from the pass, but was met with more evergreen. So we followed the Pacific Crest Trail southwest, occasionally catching glimpses of Rainier through the trees. Dogs don’t care about views though, and were more excited to bump into snow on the trail above Tieton Pass.

A mile down the PCT, the trail disappeared completely under several feet of snow and we started cross-country travel through the forest. Sticking to the ridge as much as possible and heading roughly in the direction that felt right. A GPS or map would’ve been mighty helpful at this point, but I carefully noted our path and knew I could backtrack if need be. Eventually we began to break through the tree cover and I took this as our cue to scramble to higher ground.

We scooted to the top of the ridge and were greeted by coyote calls in the distance and sparkling views in every direction.

We snacked and relaxed for a few minutes while I pondered the daylight and how much further we should hike. I didn’t want to backtrack blindly through the snowpack in the dark, but the allure of the snowfields up ahead was too enticing too stop yet.

So we stuck to the ridge and headed on. Here’s Taylor pointing the way up the ridge we followed. And a couple views once we were standing higher.

At this point the landscape dazzled and I began to wish I’d packed for an overnight. We ran around on the snow and explored pockets of green. In some places I could hear undersnow streams rushing beneath my feet. The dogs sniffed and snorted, following elk and sheep footprints. Mt Rainier loomed in the distance.

But the sun was definitely beginning to drop and we had at least seven miles to cover back to the car, about half of that across the snow. So we finally spun on our heels and reveresed course. Right off the bat, I ran into a couple of road blocks as some steep slopes that we had come up were a little too precarious going down for the dogs. So we dropped off the ridge and skittered our way back toward the landmarks I’d noted on the way in, briefly connecting with my tracks in the snow before quickly losing them again.

Eventually we reconnected with the Pacific Crest Trail and followed that back to Trail 1118 without any difficulty. Then from Tieton Pass we jogged much of the way back. The dogs seemed less than enthused about the running, but dutifully padded along behind me. With shadows looming in the woods I made myself jumpy with bear thoughts (not unfounded) and the dogs didn’t help matters as they occasionally growled at stumps or amorphous dark spots. We made the car before dark though and the dogs were asleep less than thirty seconds after we began rolling down the gravel road.