Tag Archives: selling a house

Done Deal !!

Exactly 509 days ago, the manager of my once upon a time employer called me into that dreaded meeting where you know you’re about to be shit canned. With little hope of regaining a meaningful job in the financial services industry at age 48, Diane and I made a hard decision to retire about five years earlier than we hoped. Deciding Malaysia was the intended destination, this set up a painfully long period where we’d live on Diane’s salary while I took on Life as a House Husband. Designed for middle class retirees over age 50 that wish to retire but not work, the MM2H Visa suits our needs except for the age requirement that doubles the financial commitment for applicants under age 50. Needing to sell our possessions and primary residence to have any chance at a 40+ year retirement, I began the long daunting process of waiting way back in November, 2013.

Our House for 30 more days

After what’s felt like an eternity, we’re delighted to report that The Experimental Expats received six offers for our house after only one weekend open house. We’re even happier to report that there’s way too many people with too much money in the San Francisco Bay Area. Coming in astoundingly high, the winner of our mini bidding war offered 13% above asking price with practically no contingencies other than routine inspections. Even agreeing to waive the appraisal contingency even though we believe the property will probably appraise at less than what they’re paying, our buyers really want this house. Clearing the way for our expatriation, the last step is filing the MM2H Application as soon as I hit my 50th birthday, 21 days from now. Relieved and a bit sentimental, our plan is to stay in the house one month after escrow closes and then drive the 2002 Honda CRV to the Motherland (Canada), where we’ll stay with Diane’s family a few weeks while allowing the visa some processing time (The buyers even gave us a month of free rent).

goodbye1Hoping you’ve enjoyed our tales of expat destination research trips disguised as vacations to places like Borneo, Ecuador, Thailand and Aruba, in a few short months we’ll be off to Penang in search of adventure, relaxation, volunteer opportunities and a place to live. Should any wonderful readers have any suggestions on where to start the process of apartment searches, please feel free to contact us. Looking for new friends, we’ve already met Eric and Marlina who filed their MM2H application 6 weeks ago and are heading to nearby Ipoh and we’d love to meet anyone willing to spend some time. And don’t forget to check us out on House Hunters International. Hopefully by year’s end, we’ll be making an episode. Cheers and thanks for reading !!!

Coming Soon:
Upcoming plans, final thoughts on overpriced California and stories not yet shared from our past escapades. Then, we promise a real expat blog by summer !!

The Waiting Game

Although I believe I’ve said this before, once again I ask you to please pardon the interruption to our regularly scheduled blog posts while we play the game they call Real Estate. Grabbing one of the few opportunities available to me, I’m posting this quick status update so we don’t fall off the face of the expat blog earth. Simply put, California makes selling a house an enormous pain in the ass by running a “broker’s tour” on the Tuesday before your first weekend open house. While technically open to the public, most people work for a living and can’t spend their weekday afternoons at open houses. Instead, 45 real estate agents trounced through our immaculately clean house and left stains, pizza boxes and dirt everywhere along with their business cards.

buyerFor our troubles we received a total of four showings during the rest of the week. Convincing us the intention is to create a bidder’s war by receiving multiple offers, it seems like a huge waste of time to me but according to everyone it will be worth it. Having sold a house in Canada after one three-day open house open to the public, this week of living on pins and needles is frustrating me to no end. Along with disappearing on a short notice, you have to leave on every light in the house, make the bedding perfect every day and shower at the gym. Hoping this weekend solidifies the deal with two real open houses, our agent has set Tuesday morning as the deadline to submit offers and remains confident we’ll have multiple offers above asking price.

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Green Beer and Char Kway Teow

Putting the last touches on our house for today’s open house, we hope to inherit some Luck of The Irish along with many potential buyers. Unclear if my real estate agent chose St. Patrick’s Day for any special reason, today is the “broker’s tour” where local agents get their first look at the house and contact their clients if they feel it’s a match. Finally finished with the prep work, they staged our house last week and it’s ship-shape and ready to go. The website Redfin.com has listed our house as “hot” which means it’s likely to sell 10 days after being listed according to their proprietary software that examines buyer’s preferences, price, recent sales and local competition.

st patty 2Returning to the Irish for a minute, St. Patrick’s Day holds a lot of memories; mostly drunken parties after work in various financial districts. Drinking way too much all the time, it’s a period I’m glad I experienced but choose not to repeat. Nowadays we prefer suburban evenings wearing a green shirt and perhaps sipping some green wine. Surprisingly, my internet research showed a lot of celebrations in Southeast Asia. Possibly the largest one, Singapore seems like a fun place to be for St. Patrick’s Day, holding street parties and various festivities. (as seen in the picture). Unclear if Malaysia allows such revelry, it doesn’t really matter to me. one way or the other as long as I can eat some Green Laksa. Looking forward to another adventure, I have to leave the house for the day now so enjoy the day everyone !!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day !!

Coming Soon: The results of our open house 

Stress Test

Topping the financial headlines this week were stories about a new round of “stress tests” for the “too big to fail” banks in the United States. Unlike the CEO’s of America’s behemoth financial institutions, Diane and I have more to lose if something goes awry. Having endured the last few weeks of vendors poking, prodding, cleaning, inspecting, painting and washing, the process finally came to a rather uneventful end yesterday with the staging of our house. Looking more like a show home than an occupied residence, the house was professionally photographed and is ready to be officially listed for sale.

retire-early2As you may recall, it all began on November 1st, 2013 with my unexpected layoff. Enduring almost 17 months of life as a House Husband, it’s been a long and rather boring road except perhaps for an incident where I totaled my car but somehow escaped injury. Because of unfavorable financial ramifications for MM2H applicants not yet 50 years of age, Diane and I decided that waiting it out on one salary for an extended period made the most sense. Having endured 2014 as a “semi-retiree” with not much to do in this quiet suburban enclave, preparing the house for sale began a few months ago with a landscaping project. Fully engulfed with selling our possessions, greeting and paying vendors, and careful budgeting, I think working would have been less stressful. Discovering the semantics of our monthly bank statements today, we also learned that we’ll be able to send the MM2H Visa application package on April 15th and begin our experimental overseas early retirement in Penang, Malaysia soon after that.

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Our First Baby Steps (Finally)

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

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.

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Seller’s Remorse

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.

dirty jobsUniquely 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.

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A New Friendship for Our New Life

Needing a desperate retrieve from calendar watching, preparing the house for staging and general house husband duties, Diane and I ventured north last weekend for a rather long but easy road trip to meet the first new friends we’ve made in our soon-to-be early retirement. Thanks to the wonders of blogging, Eric and Marlina stumbled across us last year and showed us it really is a small world. Through an amazing set of coincidences, they are also moving to Malaysia in a few months and generously agreed to let us stay with them briefly when we first arrive to help lessen the overwhelming culture shock that inevitably awaits us.

Ipoh's Train Station

Ipoh’s Train Station

Since we need to leave North America soon after we sell our house and I can’t apply for the MM2H Visa until late April when I turn 50 years old, we’re expecting an “in limbo” period in Malaysia while we wait for approval of the visa. Amazingly, Eric’s situation is similar to mine and he also decided it’s easier to try early retirement than re-conquer the workforce at middle age. Luckily, his wife Marlina is of Singaporean descent, speaks fluent Malay, has family in Southeast Asia and understands Malaysian culture quite well. Having visited several times, they’ve already established a network of friends and are both looking forward to the beautiful town of Ipoh . Since Eric is one year older than me, there’s no need for them to wait so they filed their MM2H visa application a few weeks ago.

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