Sunday, January 4, 2009

Bye Bye House

April - July, 2008

Putting the house on the market
Rene's mom came for a month-long visit in mid-February, and Stacy's mom joined us for Rene's birthday in early March. After spending a wonderful visit with both of them, we began prepping to put the house on the market in late March. We painted the interior, took down Rene's beer wall (sacrilege!), and did all the little things the real estate gurus tell you to do for a quick sell.

An early scare
Given the state of the housing market, we never expected to get an offer our first week on the market. Wouldn't you know, we had just landed in Dulles airport on April 4th to visit some friends for the weekend when our realtor told us we had an offer on the house! It was a lowball offer, and we countered. Fortunately the potential buyer never came back with a reasonable offer, because we really weren't ready to move yet!

Downsizing from 2400 sq ft to 350 sq ft
So how do you prepare to live in a space roughly 15% the size of what you're used to? We had more floor space in our walk-in closet at the house than we now do in our master stateroom! Suits...gone. 95% of our shoes...gone. Crystal, china, decorations, ALL furniture...gone, gone, gone, gone. The boat has a built-in couch, dining area, beds, TV, and stereo. We have four lockers (cabinets) for our clothes, and our pantry is a 2'x4' area under the dining settee. As for the head (bathroom), think "cruise ship". In the end, it took Stacy three separate attempts to clean out her clothes closet. (A word of advice: don't try to do it all at once! It takes a few visits to get over the separation anxiety...)

As difficult as it was to get rid of it all, at the end of the day it really was just "stuff". You'd be surprised how liberating it can be!

Now for a quick plug...there are many charities greatly in need of donations, especially in the Gulf area after Hurricane Ike. Stacy gave her work suits and shoes to Dress for Success, a non-profit that helps disadvantaged women get back into the workforce. Rene found a similar charity for his suits and business casual clothes. For more information, please see the websites: http://www.dressforsuccess.org/ and http://www.careergearhouston.org/

Sold (on the day of the Veracruz start)!
How do you make your first-ever 630 mile off-shore sailing race even more exciting??? Get two offers on the house as you're heading for the starting line! (And then get out of communication range for the next 6 days.) Yes, it really did happen. We were motoring from Kemah to Galveston on June 6th for the start of the race when our realtor told us we had two offers in hand. We'd been told to expect them for the past few days, and had hoped that they'd come in before we left for Veracruz. Now what fun would that be??

When we arrived in Veracruz on June 11th, Rene spoke to our realtor...SOLD!!! One small glitch...Stacy was flying home on June 15th, but Rene had to bring the boat back and wasn't scheduled to return until June 22nd. Three days later, we were flying to Seattle for a family visit, not to return until July 7th. The buyers wanted to close on July 15th! Thank goodness they agreed to postpone the closing by a week, giving us two weeks to clear out the house and move onto the boat.

How to "lose" your belongings in 2 weeks
In short: Craigslist and good friends. A number of friends had tagged pieces of furniture or art and then our good friend Jennifer bought a house and was in the market for a lot of furniture. She came by with a blank piece of paper and made a shopping list and picked up half of our furniture the weekend after our return from Seattle. In the mean time Rene had advertised the remaining furniture and artworks on Craigslist and was able to sell almost all of it within the 2 weeks we had. In the end just the waterbed and a lot of posters were left which we moved to a nearby storage area to sell later.

Moving day
Let's face it...moving sucks! As excited as you are to get to your new home, the physical act of moving is a royal pain. Throw in 95 degree temps and 95% humidity, and you wonder why people are crazy enough to move in Houston during the summer. Fortunately we had some great friends willing to help us out. Once the U-haul was loaded, Stacy, Jennifer, John, and Bonnie headed to the boat and storage unit to unload, while Rene and Chris stayed behind to pack up the wine cellar. The trip to the storage unit was uneventful, but we learned early the potential hazards of living on a boat. Bonnie was carrying a box on the finger pier to the boat when the box shifted and Bonnie followed it into the water. For those of you who aren't familiar with Galveston Bay, the water is disgusting! Bonnie was back on the boat (with the box, no less!) soon enough, but the neighbors who gathered to see if she was alright were quick to tell Bonnie to jump into the pool; the idea being to get a good dose of chlorine, followed by a hot shower.

Back at the house, Rene and Chris were busy unloading Rene's wine cellar (looks like an armoir, holds about 900 bottles). Chris was going to keep the cellar at his house; Rene would store half of his wine on the boat, and the other half in the cellar for a year or so. Chris would have the rest for his wine, and would keep the cellar after we'd removed our remaining bottles. Unfortunately, Rene didn't realize that a bottle had broken at some point in the past and weakened the structural integrity of the cellar. After removing about 200 bottles, Rene tried to get a bottle out that was wedged in pretty well. With a final tug, 650 bottles came crashing down! Apparently a broken bottle had leaked wine into the cellar's floor, which warped and softened the metal frame's connection points. That one bottle was the only thing holding the cellar together. You can imagine the choice words coming out of Rene's mouth as he heard hundreds of bottles crash to the cellar floor. Chris learned all sorts of new Dutch phrases that day! We got the wire cutters from the boat, and Rene and Chris spent the next few hours carefully cutting through the cage to get the bottles out of the cellar (never knowing if removing another bottle would cause a second avalanche). It was quite a sight, watching old Bordeaux, Chateauneuf du Pape's, and Burgundies being cradled like infants as they were taken from the wreckage and carefully placed in wine boxes. Amazingly enough, at the end of the day, the loss was only 20 bottles. Of course, we drank one of the survivors to celebrate!

2 comments:

Chris said...

Oh! the Drama of the cellar. I will never forget Rene's face. It's as if he had lost ..well.. all his wine...

Kraig said...

Looking forward to sailing adventure blogging! All of this anticipation is killing me!