Feeling like an eternity and three extra lifetimes have passed, The Experimental Expats have finally taken the first baby step towards retirement in Malaysia. Exactly 487 days after being rudely “downsized” from my crappy but reasonably well-paying job, we met with our real estate agent last night to discuss the pricing of our home. Probably one of the most exciting feelings, it’s actually not as easy as it sounds. Using comparably similar houses that sold in the last year (comps) as well as a series of minor mathematical calculations about price per square foot, our agent gave us a recommendation that was within what we’d be hoping to receive. With 41 days to go until we can file our MM2H Visa, the anxiousness is getting intense.
Our spruced up home ready for sale
Those of you following our story for the last five months know that the boss (Diane) has laid down the rules about not posting our personal finances and I’m contractually bound to respect this request (Basically, this means our marriage contract may as well be void if I violated these rules). Understanding curiosity and a wish to identify with the story, I offer this link as a general guideline to the Overpriced Land of The Sellers Market otherwise known as The San Francisco Bay Area. I have no idea why this magical land of Utopia trounces the national average for home prices by at least five-fold other than the claim that “we have the jobs”. While statistically true, the “affordability index” is also dead last for all 50 states which means 95% of all buyers are simply living the typical American dream that requires working to the grave and two-hour commutes. And that’s just fine by me.
Having returned from our trip to Portland where we met what will be our first new friends in Malaysia, Diane went back to work and I resumed House Husband Duties. Unlike all of 2014, there’s a lot to do before selling a house, trying to liquidate all your possessions and being home to accommodate the throngs of vendors that the real estate agent schedules. Creating a “Marketing Calendar” to keep track of it all, our real estate agent’s administrator’s job is booking vendors to get the house inspected, painted, cleaned, washed and staged. Almost wishing I was the one working, selling a house in the Land of The Overpriced is turning out to be an enormous pain in the ass.
Uniquely different from selling a house built six years earlier and occupied only by us, homes older than me usually come with pages and pages of recommendations for minor repairs, statutory code upgrades, cosmetic fixes and disclosures up to Wazoo. (Built in 1964, our house is almost new compared to many homes in suburban Contra Costa County). Needless to say, none of this comes cheap. Along with bearing the unfortunate responsibility of paying broker’s commissions, the seller of a home in Northern California spends more on vendor’s fees, title company bullshit and miscellaneous regulatory fees than most men spend on an engagement ring. Spending upwards of $10,000 is “normal” even though our real estate agent conveniently “underestimated” all these costs by at least a few thousand.