Monday, September 27, 2010

Waiting For Leftovers

Watching Monday Night Football with Clyde waiting for handouts and/or dropped goodies.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Vicious Dragonfly

This morning as I was digging out a gopher hole to set some traps I heard a crackly noise and felt something land on my head. Of course the first thing I did was freak out (just a little) and brush whatever it was out of my hair.

Two dragonflies fell to the ground.

The larger red one was on top of the smaller, darker, blue one. At first I thought they were "in love" but then I noticed the bigger one had his jaws around the neck of the other one and he was not just holding on, he was chomping!

As fast as that the smaller dragonfly's head popped off! And then the red dragonfly took off with his prize, presumably to have a meal.

I went for a ride today and saw a little hawk swooping down and chasing two ground squirrels. He missed. And then as we were riding through a more enclosed wooded area another, bigger hawk flew up from about twenty feet away and landed on a branch. He watched us warily as we passed within ten feet of his perch.

Today was definitely the Day Of The Predators!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

First Day Of Fall

Today we were expecting at least one showing of the house. I had thought at first there would be two, but the second person hadn't called the realtor back yet, so we knew for sure there would be at least one tonight. These were the people who were supposed to be here Saturday but had a family emergency. Then on their next scheduled appointment on Tuesday had some kind of soccer emergency (??!!). My realtor told their realtor "if they cancel again you are in BIG TROUBLE!"

They showed up.

But first...

I was unhappy with some of the flowers in the beds and decided to change them out. The impatiens by the front door originally were looking really good, but over time they got leggy, like the bottom leaves were being eaten. I put out snail bait but either the snails had moved on or maybe they weren't the problem to begin with because there were no dead snails.

In any case I pulled the old impatiens out and replanted that area with blue lobelia and red begonias. There was a clump of orange daylilies that I separated and replanted behind the begonias. I think it turned out nicely.
Here's the entrance now with the new flowers on the left and the old marigolds on the right. They're still doing quite well.
We have a circular drive and the flowers at the west end were petunias that were dying due to not being watered properly. Yeah, they will do that. So I got some yellow pansies and planted them in the foreground, some blue pansies I planted in the background, and red snapdragons I planted down the middle.
The flowers on the east side of the drive still look good (zinnias and petunias and gerbera daisies).

In the very back of the property, which is actually not our property but belongs to the Rio Bravo Water Storage District, I have a little raised bed with a standard tree rose called Pillow Fight. Underneath was a mess of weeds so I cleared them out and planted mounding Marguerite Daisies with white alyssum between.
Close up. Is that an angel orb in the middle? (Stay tuned...)
Later in the day I happened to look up and saw these.

They were slowly circling the ponds (which are full by the way), possibly checking them out.
It was a big mess of white pelicans.

Now back to the "orb" picture. If you enlarge the first through third pictures of the pelicans you will see more spots. I looked at my lens and it was really, really dirty! So much for that explanation! Ha ha.

I was just about done with my last minute preparations for the showing, which was scheduled for 5:30 pm. It was 4:20 when my realtor called and asked if some people who had been in the area looking at another house could swing by at 4:30. I said sure, since I was as good as done anyhow.

Two minutes later they showed up. The realtor apologized for being early but it was okay. It turns out this was a lady who had been here last week with her brother, and now she said her kids wanted to see the place. That's good right?

Then they left and promptly at 5:30 the previously scheduled people who had twice cancelled actually showed up. They, like all the others, seemed to like everything and the man asked a lot of questions. He seemed satisfied and then they left.

So we had two showings after all.

Let's keep our fingers crossed, shall we?


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Last Day Of Summer

Yesterday we were supposed to have a showing in the evening. Originally they were supposed to have been here Saturday, but they had a family emergency and couldn't make it. So yesterday we're sitting here all ready and waiting and our realtor called to say they had cancelled and rescheduled for Thursday. This time apparently it was a "soccer" problem. Arrrrgh!

I decided to take today "off" and went to spend time with my horse. What better way to spend the last day of summer?

I thought I'd first pretend to do some dressage, since it's been forever since the last time I dabbled with it. When I first mounted I checked my watch. It was straight up noon o'clock.

We walked around this way and that, then moved to a trot. We did some circles, serpentines, and direction changes. Then we did some cantering and mixed it up with tempo changes. I was pleased to find that Star knew how to do a walk to canter transition. (I already knew she could do the canter to walk.)

When I thought about 15 or 20 minutes had passed we headed out of the arena for the river. I looked at my watch. It was 12:06. I am obviously out of shape!!!

We crossed the river and were heading up the bank when we saw a truck with a box utility trailer and *gasp* horror of horrors, a mini-horse pulling a little wagon! And then suddenly the truck pulled forward and dropped the trailer with a big BANG! and you would think that was the end of the world!

Star spun around and tried to head back across the river. Fortunately I didn't get unseated and I was able to urge her forward. We went a few feet but then she stood stock still staring at the anathema before her. I could feel her heart pounding! We had quite the power struggle with us going back and forth for a while before I was able to get her calmed enough to move forward. I felt very lucky not to have come off.

By this time I think the truck driver and the mini-horse driver noticed the commotion and decided it was in their best interest to move along (and thereby not be witness to any tragic calamity).

We eventually moved past the now abandoned trailer with just a bit of blowing, prancing, and bit chomping and finally got to the main trail. I thought it best to take a sedate pace and we just walked the entire way around. We met up with our farrier who was on her way in. So we stopped and chatted for a bit before moving on.

The rest of the ride was fairly uneventful. As we got back around and within 1/4 mile of our stable the wind had picked up a bit. A blowing wind can be a bad thing for horseback riders. It seems to give the horses license to act up. With that in mind I became a little more vigilant and tried to keep Star relaxed, even though a horse from a neighboring stable was calling and she felt obligated to keep answering.

We finally got home and I brushed her down and put her away. I thought I'd take the opportunity to clean my tack and spent the next thirty minutes cleaning and oiling my leather.

So in spite of all the hullaballoo I still enjoyed myself on this last day of summer.

We have two showings scheduled for tomorrow evening, one at four and one at five. I hope the First Day Of Fall brings good news!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Nothing Happening

Well, nothing much is going on lately except that I'm obsessed with all this house selling business.

We've had a lot of showings, nearly 20, but no offers as of yet.

It's hard not to be discouraged but I'm trying my best to remain optimistic. Most of the people who come through seem to like what they are seeing and I hear a lot of positive comments. And still...

I'm wondering if people are thinking they can do better somewhere else. Of course, I know owners always think their property is worth more and I have to say I'm no exception but honestly, I'm not going to give this place away! If it comes down to it we'll just be stuck here for a little longer than we'd planned.

When I look at other places for sale I have to say I think our price is pretty right on. This house is basically ready to move into. If I were to place myself in the position of a buyer I might say I would want a rug allowance (a couple of spots in front of the fireplace and spots in the bedroom from the dogs) and I would want a home inspector to go through it (I don't think they would find anything seriously major). So WHAT'S THE PROBLEM??

Those are bargaining chips to me.

I have to say the house and yard looks better than ever and it's not that hard to keep it that way. I did go ahead and resign from my volunteer pet therapy job. On the days I was going to go we ended up having a showing when I was supposed to be at the convalescent home and I don't want to miss any opportunities to show the house. And I figured I was going to have to resign eventually anyway. This way it's easier and less stressful on me and I don't have to disappoint anyone who might be expecting Gus and me to show up.

So that's about all there is in the way of any news around here lately. I sure hope I have some better news next week!

Friday, September 10, 2010

And Finally...

After that second day of driving around with the realtor (see previous post) Vicki had something to say to me. "Please drive tomorrow. I'm begging you, will you please drive tomorrow. I'll drive! Just don't let her drive again. Please!"

I had to agree. So the next day as we were getting ready to leave the realtor's office I casually said, "How about I drive this time?"

She looked a little surprised and commented, " What, is my driving so bad? Ha ha."

I ignored that and continued with my explanation. "Well, I figured since you are more familiar with the area it will be easier for you to navigate, and plus if you have to get on the phone you don't have to worry about getting a ticket!"

She didn't argue and we all piled into my car. I have to say, it was much better that way after all. I drove for the remainer of the time we were there.

I didn't take pictures of all the properties we went to, but here are two more of the better ones.

This one is in a town called Glide. At first I didn't really want to see it because it was just 10 acres, but my husband told me not to count any out just because of a smaller acreage. As it turns out, I'm glad we went to see it, though it didn't work out after all.

We had to go up a good hill and I know I'd have to get a 4 wheel drive in the winter. Once we got to the top we saw what appeared to be a nice little cottage. Boy was I surprised!
It was another of those enter on the second floor which was the main floor and it had another whole floor below. It had really great decks on three sides, on the upper and lower floors.
The views were awesome!

The inside was also quite nice. The kitchen had been recently remodeled. There was an office as well as a hobby room. Vicki and I both agreed this would have been a fabulous party house!
This property also had a couple of outbuildings, including a strange open barn thing. I don't even know how to describe it other than that. Then there was a large shop with a good sized apartment attached on the back side. That apartment was nicer than some of the mobile homes we saw!

If I didn't have plans to bring all my animals with me and maybe just do with a sheep or two I may have gone for this place. Unfortunately the only flat area was the half acre that the home and buildings were on. The rest was all at about a 45 degree angle straight down. This one was listed at $366.650.

This next property was the furthest away, in the town of Drain, which is in the northern part of Douglas County. This one was two mobile homes on 44 acres with a good sized stream (Sand Creek) bordering one side of the property.
The main house wasn't in too bad of shape, and actually looked better inside than out.
This view is showing a garage/shop next to the main house and the bottom frame of an old mobile home in the foreground.
From the house looking back towards the road.
The "back yard".
The opposite view looking back towards the house.
A really nice piece of forest.
Some pastures.

There was a young kid (19-ish?) waiting around and we took the opportunity to ask him some questions. It seems the creek does flood every year and the pasture just below the house floods.
At one time previous owners attempted to have a Christmas tree farm. This is at the furthest end from the house, near the main road.

So that one was also on my list of possibles, especially with the $285,000 price. It has since dropped to $282,800.

One of the things I learned is not to fully trust the pictures posted on the internet by the agents. There were a couple that looked half way decent in the pictures but after being there in person and seeing the surroundings the real life picture left a little to be desired.

One funny example of that was a glowing description of a 10 acre property. This is not a joke. We had to go up "JR Drive" and turn on "Sue Ellen Way". Shades of Dallas! The picture on the internet showed a nice, newer mobile home. What it didn't show was that two feet behind and two feet in front of the mobile home the land was at about 60 degrees! And the entire property was like that.

It's too bad I can't take the best house and put it on the best property. But I can't do anything until our house sells anyway.

I was also surprised at the number of places that weren't cleaned up. Like I mentioned yesterday I've got to wonder if these people really want to sell. It was just amazing to me at the junk all around the properties that were occupied. Don't their realtors tell them how to clean it up? Or do they just not care. Obviously they don't watch HGTV like I do! Fortunately I can pretty much overlook the clutter and imagine myself in there, but I know a lot of people can't do that.

We were supposed to have a showing tonight but the person cancelled and rescheduled for Tuesday. And in anticipation of today's showing I washed all the windows, the floors, the sinks, the tub, the toilets, made the beds, picked up the laundry, dusted, vacuumed, polished the stainless steel appliances, raked all the leaves out of the flower beds and from under the olive tree, and swept out the garage. I'll sure be glad when this is all over.

And I hope it's sooner rather than later!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

More Looking

We continued on with our property search the next day. Once again, we drove the realtor's car.

And once again we missed a few and had to back track to find the properties. Oy vey! After a while it became a joke amongst us: would we be able to find the next property without having to back track?

This one was on a beautiful 20 acre piece loaded with oak trees. It had an older mobile home on it and a really nice shop building. The real problem was the mobile home. When we first pulled up and were looking for the lock box we noticed a multitude of wasps buzzing around. That was a little uncomfortable.
The entry door is that white door on the right. This is from the living room looking to the kitchen.
A very dated kitchen.
View from the kitchen towards the living (again, the entry door is the white door on the left.)
This is the main bathroom. The house was set up to be wheel chair accessible, as you can see with this roll-in shower. Anyone who knows me knows I prefer a tub.
The outbuildings were much nicer. There was a smallish chicken coop (not shown) and this shop that was divided into three sections.
This was the largest, then the back portion, accessible from this room and another door on the outside, was divided into two more rooms for storage or crafts or whatever. There was a giant black widow in one of those rooms. By the time we got to that area I was so creeped out by all the other webs and creepy crawlies I decided to forgo the spider photo op.
The property was the best part of this whole package. It was all on a gently sloping hill, and like I said, had tons of oak trees. I could easily picture my cows and possibly new sheep grazing out there with my riding trail criss crossing between the large paddocks.

This is the upper corner of the property (where the trees are on the right) looking at the neighbors next door (on the left) and across the valley. The price tag on this piece was $299,000, which is easily within our budget. But not with that house. This valley is being advertised as the next wine growing region and that may be why the price was kind of jacked up.

Now here was another property we looked at that was at the bottom of a valley, so it was all flat. This was one of those odd places supposedly for sale. I say supposedly because the owners said not to drive in because they didn't want us to "disturb the tenants". ??? Is it for sale or not? I'm not going to buy something I can't fully examine!
So here are just a couple of pictures taken from the outside fence line.
It was supposed to be 36 acres and since we didn't have an aerial or plot map we had to guess at the boundaries.
As we were driving away I said that it just didn't look like 36 acres to me. I found out later when the realtor ordered an aerial map that we had only been looking at about 15 of the acres. It was an "L" shaped property and we were only looking at the small end of the L.
They were asking $375,000 for that one. It would have been interesting to see the interior of the two homes on that one. According to the flyer the main residence was "super good cents". Not sure about that from what we could see from the road. This may be a "come back for a closer look later" when the time comes.

This next home was up a steep hill. By this time I thought the realtor would have known pretty much what I was looking for. By the time we got up to it I could already tell it wasn't going to work for me, but since we were there and the house was vacant we went ahead on in. I have to admit, this was one of the nicer homes from the outside and I was curious to see what the $350,000 price tag came with.

This is from the side of the house looking out the back. The main floor was the top floor. Then there were stairs to a large basement area with another almost finished bedroom. It had a nice big deck out the back as you can see.
I love the oak trees! Unfortunately most of these 24 acres was pretty steep, and therefore unusable for my needs.
From the nook through the kitchen to the living room.
Here you can more easily see the steepness I was talking about. It was all like this except for the immediate area the house was sitting on.
Too bad. I liked this house and it was within our means.

A few things I haven't mentioned yet were about the realtor. She didn't seem very organized.

If I were the realtor and I was unfamiliar with the listing I would have checked on the map and maybe even printed a map out for each location. I would have ascertained what type of property my client wanted and therefore saved a lot of time and driving by not going to places that wouldn't have worked. Knowing my client was from out of state I would have made appointments for the places that had tenants. I would have double checked the MLS to make sure the list she gave me had all the types of places she was looking for, especially since she admitted her list was incomplete! (I found a few places we could have gone to after I got home!)

Having said all that, there was the issue of her driving. She had to fill up with gas every day. Was she waiting for me to offer to pay for gas? Once she stopped to get lunch (Vicki and I had already eaten). She ended up getting a small bag of nuts. Was she waiting for me to offer to buy her lunch? She drove excrutiatingly slowly. Several times she stopped in the middle of the road to look at a "cute house". When she was looking for her sunglasses or phone (while driving) she kind of swerved around the road just a little. When cars came by she would move into position to let them pass and she would give them a wave and say "we're just tourists!" Once she made a turn onto a side road while she was doing something else. She was then driving in the wrong lane and another car was coming at us. I had to say "car...CAR" before she moved over to the proper side. "Just sightseeing!" At the property above where we weren't supposed to go in lest we "disturb the tenants" when she backed out of the driveway she ran one wheel off the street and almost backed into a ditch.

Then there's the issue of not getting her full attention. As I mentioned earlier she couldn't see us that first day because she had other things to do. Then one of the days we couldn't get started until afternoon because of another business she had (unrelated to real estate) that she had to do. And another day was a late start so she could take care of "personal business".

Several people have told us to get a new realtor. So how do we break it off? We didn't sign any contracts so there isn't really a legal issue. I do feel kind of bad because she has been sending us listings (albeit through an automated system so she's not really doing anything). She did drive us around. She did order several aerials of properties so we could see the boundary lines (I assume she has to pay for those--how much I don't know). And to top it all off her mother is ill.

Do I just not make any contact with her again? Ignore future e-mails?

I don't like this part. I'd appreciate any helpful suggestions.

***more tomorrow!***