Saturday, May 21, 2016

Sell House - Check!

The old big house
Susan and I finally sold our house. She listed it with her company Farmer Properties on Thursday, March 24th and it went under contract three days later.  We had a second offer but those buyers eventually backed out. The buyer whose offer we accepted found our house online and showed the listing to their real estate agent. The agent was apparently at a wedding and a birthday party that day and unable to show the house to her client herself. She also had two funerals to attend somewhere during the process which didn’t allow her to attend other meetings. The agent called about availability of our home and asked “can’t you do any better than that?” regarding the commissions. Susan and I both had the stinking suspicion that their agent was shopping commissions for herself and not homes for her client. We showed our home to the client without the agent being present. Later that day they submitted an offer and after some brief negotiating the offer was accepted. We were under contract. The agent showed the house herself to the client and her husband a few days later. After that the buyer’s agent must have left the country because she did little else to further the process.

The buyers did not have a home inspection. A big no-no even if one had no intentions of asking for any repairs. After the inspection contingency was missed the financing contingency was the second to fall. Thanks to the buyer’s agent missing their deadline Susan and I could keep the buyer’s $3,500 earnest money check if for any reason the house didn’t close. The buyer needed another two weeks to get their loan approved. We agreed to extend the contract for an additional $1,500 in non-refundable earnest money. The two weeks came and went without a closing and Susan and I had to decide whether to put the house back on the market or extend the closing date a second time. We decided to extend the closing an additional week. We did have $5,000 in earnest money waiting for us if we closed or not. The object was to sell the home.

Anticipating a problem with the appraisal, Susan provided the appraiser with sales of suitable comparable homes listed in our area. We specifically chose the offer where we paid no closing costs but had a slightly lower sale’s price to help minimize any appraisal issues. The buyer was also applying for a conventional loan as opposed to a VA or FHA loan. This meant two things to Susan and I, 1) the buyer had some money, and 2) we wouldn’t be throttled into working with the FHA or VA where the buyer usually, but not always, has little or no funds and included an appraisal and inspection process that often burdens only the seller. Remember, the VA or FHA buyer motto “I ain’t got no money”. We would net basically the same amount with the buyer with enough funds to pay his own closing costs. When all was said and done, our home would be the highest sale in our area in quite some time. Subsequently, the lender required a Broker Price Opinion (BPO). A BPO is basically the opinion regarding price provided by an out-of-work real estate agent who is willing to drive to the home, go inside, do some market analysis, and provide a report to the lender all for the hefty sum of $45. We got through both the appraisal and BPO with everything still on track to close.

The buyer’s agent was also unable to attend the final walk-through for the buyers. I did the walk-through with the buyer and her husband.

Fortunately the closing occurred only three days into our second extension on May 16th. Unfortunately it didn’t fund until the next day. In my opinion, the buyer’s agent had under-represented her clients. She didn’t even attend the closing. She was on vacation. She also neglected to notice an $18,000 error in the closing statement that Susan brought to the attention of the closing attorney. The lender had posted an entire year of mortgage interest for the buyer to pay at closing instead of only interest to the end of the month.

It’s no wonder people don’t trust real estate agents.

In this case, the buyer was not represented, in my opinion. Their agent didn’t find the home, didn’t initially show the home, didn’t adequately encourage her client to get a home inspection, allowed the financing contingency to expire, didn’t review the closing statement, didn’t provide a termite letter to the buyer (one had been provided to her), and didn’t attend the final walk-through or the closing.
The buyers weren’t completely innocent though. We later found out that they chose to use a mortgage broker and their lender was “sub-prime”. Sub-prime lenders are synonymous for borrowers with a previous foreclosure or short-sale, or just plain bad credit.

The moral of the story here is know your agent and know your lender and be sure that they represent your interests and not their own. If not for the continued efforts of my wife we would have never sold our house. I had a good agent.

I have to laugh whenever I think of the Freakenomics chapter where they surmised that Realtor’s homes sold for more money and quicker because they work harder for themselves than they do for others. I laugh because they have no idea what a taskmaster my wife (she’s also my real estate agent) has been for the past six months.  We have painted, and repaired and updated without ceasing. We de-cluttered, de-personalized, had a garage sale (which I detest - I’d rather burn my belonging in the driveway than try to sell something that cost me $45, for a $1, and have the potential buyer offer me $0.50 for it and then, and this really happened, they stiff you for a $1 when they pay for several items.), donated stuff to charity, and gave away as much as we could bear. All at a great expense in time and money. The local Lowe’s home improvement store must have has a good spring sales season thanks to us. We worked so hard that I stopped training for Ironman in February thinking I’d lay-low for a week or so before getting back to it. I was wrong. I haven’t hit a lick in 3 months. Now that we’ve sold the house though I’m ready to get back with the program. That program might include our new project house. As my wife said "you've got your Ironman right here".

The new small digs via Google Cardboard Camera - New Project
Ultimately, the buyers got a great house in a great neighborhood and we were able to move on.

Thanks for reading.

Special Delivery Coming Soon!

I moved my Nest camera from the boring view of my front yard to the view of a mother bird and her eggs.  Making full use of some clothes hanger I fashioned a stick pole camera holder right over the nest. I disabled the night-vision so as not to disturb the birdies.

Camera setup
Update 6/21/16: The baby birds are gone now but here's a clip created just before the left  the nest.


The momma bird's entry into motherhood didn't start as one might expect. I noticed the mother bird wasn't in her nest so I took the opportunity to install the camera. Shortly afterward a bird flew into the nest and stole the lone egg. I doubt that it was a result of my camera being there. There may have been something wrong with the egg and the mother got rid of it or maybe another bird stole it and her nest. Either way, I'm hoping for the best for the new babies.


Thanks for viewing.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Dueling Bike Trainers

After using CycleOps Virtual Training (CVT) on-line bicycle training application and then a month later the Zwift version of the same I've decided to expand my horizons. I purchased a 6 month CVT subscription only a few months ago so I have several more months until I have to renew. My Zwift subscription is month to month. I'm on my third and second month of use for these Apps, respectively.

With both subscriptions in force I decided to use them both. That's good because my CVT subscription has been idle since I found Zwift. My plan was to setup myself on Zwift, which I've done, and setup my wife on CVT. Here's how I did it.

I have two Windows laptop computers. One is about 2 years newer and subsequently more powerful than the other. I use it to run the Zwift application. The older laptop runs the CVT application. I've found that it's too slow to run Zwift. If I wanted to run two iterations of Zwift I'd have to buy a new laptop to replace the old unit. Both laptops have ANT+ dongles installed. Both bikes have ANT+ speed and cadence sensors. My wife and I both have our own ANT+ heart-rate monitors as well. Both bikes are mounted to CycleOps JetFluid Pro classic (dumb) trainers. Lastly, we have one 52" television using two HDMI inputs. The first HDMI input is for the Roku streaming video player so we can watch movies, etc. The second HDMI input is for Zwift application running on my laptop which I can switch to once my wife decides she's had enough. Movies then Sprints and KOM! That's two of everything except only one television. Each laptop displays the particulars for whatever application it is running.

My avatar isn't the only on with love handles
The only additional setup was to ensure the sensors were associated with the correct bike and rider. To do that I added my wife's bike to the list of bikes in the CVT application I had created for myself. I made sure that the correct sensors were associated with her bike and then I wrote them down so we can check them, if needed. I also replaced my profile specifics in CVT with her information; i.e. date of birth, weight, and Functional Performance Threshold (FTP). I had guessed at her FTP because she hasn't taken an FTP test. My own FTP tests results on Zwift were 226 and 194, respectively. For some reason I'm getting worse. In my defense and to counter the change in my FTP results, I haven't adjusted my weight at all and I'm pretty sure I've lost a few pounds in the past few weeks.

I set my wife's FTP to 150 for her initial ride. I changed her FTP to 100 for the second ride. Since CVT and Zwift are both adaptive applications a lower FTP makes it easier for a rider to progress through the course, or something like that. I did some of the same things for my bike which I'd already been riding on Zwift. I even wrote the sensor number on my heart-rate monitor strap in permanent marker so I wouldn't make a mistake when starting the application. I also created a Strava account for my wife and changed the CVT cloud account information so any rides my wife completed on CVT would upload automatically to her Strava account and not mine.

Our first test was Tuesday morning and everything went well except my wife's cadence sensor moved half way through her workout and stopped working. I've since fixed that and we're ready for another ride. Her ride doesn't include a map because she rode the FREE RIDE option and not one of the 1000's of virtual maps.

When my CVT subscription expires we'll have to reevaluate our indoor cycling training plans. It will be spring in Georgia by then and we'll probably want to spend more time outside. That said, you can't discount the time efficiency of indoor training or the added safety of not dealing with distracted motorists. What might be more fun is letting the CVT subscription expire and creating a new account for my wife. That way we'd be able to ride together physically, in the same room, and virtually, on the same course. We would also need to invest in a new laptop.

Thanks for reading and Ride On!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year

Zwift rang in the 2016 New Year with the addition of more ride options and new features. Yea!

2016 Party Hat
I can't wait to put some miles on the virtual road.

Happy New Year!