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Insights & Regrets

September 29th, 2015 at 05:49 pm

We introverts tend to be very analytical, and I'm no exception.

If I look back on the 4.5 months since mid-May, when things started going haywire with my mom, I clearly remember very many decisions that needed to be made: some were big, some were small. But I can look back and see more easily which decisions I got right, which I got wrong, and which didn't matter at all.

What I got right:

1. Negotiating the realtor's commission down to 5%. This took very little effort, maybe 1 minute of my time, and saved me $1400. No brainer.

2. Ignoring my sister. My sister's offhand comment, very early on, that she thought I was "jumping the gun" by putting my mother in assisted living really upset me (still does), but I'm glad it didn't deter me from doing what I did.

For many years I looked up to my "big sister," even though we never had a great relationship, but she has shown herself time and again she makes ill-informed decisions based on very little factual information.

I recall her also saying she would not go on the MS medication I've been on for 15 years, because my sister is generally anti-medical establishment. At the time she made this pronouncement, she knew very little about the nature of MS or ANYTHING about this drug, so for her to dismiss it was really quite ignorant, IMO.

3. Choosing Maplewood. OK, Maplewood is not perfect. My biggest complaint about them is that they forget things, seem disorganized and mess up many small things, like forgetting to keep my mother at the facility the day my cousin traveled up from New Jersey to pay her a visit.

There are things with the billing that I don't like, like the way they bill me for little outings to Friendly's for instance, with no proof that she ever ate there except their word. And it kills me to let her eat at a fast food restaurant that she would never have eaten at before the dementia, because my mother was an extremely healthy eater, not to mention the fact I'm paying exorbitant fees that already include 3 meals a day. So why pay twice?

They did provide a receipt the last time, but it was a receipt for a whole bunch of people, so again, it's not at all proof that my mother was with this group. Basically, I have no choice but to take their word for it unless I want to say my mother is not to go on outings anymore, but I'm not willing to do that for $15 or $25 a month. I've freaked out about expenses all along, but this is something I've decided to let go.

And so despite things like this, the people there are mostly pretty good and the facility is gorgeous, filled with natural light and airy. And my mother has a private room and bath with a great view and they have lots of fun activities. So for all these reasons, I feel I definitely chose the best place in the area.

4. Devoting all my free time to getting the condo ready for market without delay...for obvious reasons. I would have paid thousands more in carrying costs if I'd taken my time and not put it on the market til next spring, not to mention the psychological weight of having this hang over my heads for an additional 6 months in an uncertain stock market and housing market.

5. Screwing up the courage to ask my boss to work at home. This was huge. After enduring 4 long years of underemployment that ended in 2013, I was very careful to never do anything that jeopardized this job, becus i needed it too much. That included asking for work at home time, but because nearly everyone else in the company does work at home to one degree or another, I finally worked up the nerve to ask for it in a very compelling way. I was extremely candid with her about what was going on with my mother and she immediately agreed when I asked for 2 work at home days.

Here's another important thing: I'd been prepared for her to say no, I'll give you just 1 day, but I misjudged my boss. I was SO glad I asked for more than I expected to get rather than the absolute minimum I needed.

Asking for only the bare minimum in life is usually what I've done over the years, to try to make it easy on the other person and create minimal inconvenience to others. I'll try not to do that so much, whether I'm asking for a raise or anything else! I think this is a self-esteem issue. I should ask for everything I think I deserve, period.

This same flawed way of thinking would come out whenever I had a tag sale. I dislike negotiating prices, so I always hoped that if i priced something low enough, people wouldn't feel the need to negotiate. Wrong! They still do, becus people like to feel they're getting a "deal," regardless of how low the sticker price is to begin with. So you may as well price it higher.

Having the 2 work at home days has been indispensable in allowing me to get so many things done related to my mother. It would have been impossible if I worked at the office 5 days a week.

What I got wrong:

1. Listening to the doctor, Round 1. One of the biggest things that gnaws at me still is that I followed the advice of two different CT weavers about how to go about selling my mother's yarns. The first one, a retired anesthesiologist, was no doubt pretty comfortable financially and so perhaps didn't realize how important raising funds was to me, even though I told her. I also told her I wanted to sell everything fairly quickly because it was all over my home, so perhaps she only heard one part of it. Both she and the other weaver said well, if you want to get rid of the yarn quickly, price everything at $2 or $3 a yarn cone, etc. etc. Many of these yarn cones go for $30 new, and I've found that on Facebook and in private sales here in my home, people are quite happy to pay $15 a cone. The silks go for even more money.

2. Listening to the doctor, Round 2. Along the same vein, I followed the advice of the retired doctor/weaver (she ran the website of the handweavers guild) to price the larger of my mother's 2 looms very cheaply, at $200, and to also throw in, as an inducement, a couple bags of free yarn. I had the paperwork from my mother's purchase in the 1980s when she spent $3,000 odd dollars on the big loom, but according to the doctor, no one wants a large loom like that anymore because it's not portable.

So I priced it at $200 on their website and I soon had a buyer willing to drive all the way from PA to come get it. By that time, I realized I'd under-priced it. She told me she'd been looking for this particular model, which was discontinued, for a long time. I regretted saying in the ad the buyer could also take 2 large bags full of yarns free. She picked them out herself and no doubt took the most valuable yarns before I realized what I had. I cringe at the thought. At least I limited how much she stuffed in the bags to 20 cones per bag. And to her credit, she did buy an additional $125 or so of more yarns, which she paid for.

What I got wrong, but didn't really matter:

1. Choosing my realtor. I didn't have much of a basis for choosing this particular realtor except that she had a very bubbly, sweet, upbeat personality and obviously wanted the listing. However, if I had to do it again, I wouldn't have chosen her, because she seemed quite content, after listing the place and holding some open houses, to sit back and wait for the buyers to come. I really felt I had to push her to even consider doing a little marketing flyer and developing a list of renters the flyer might appeal to. (She never completed this.) It was obvious she hadn't done this before, which surprised me, because it seemed pretty basic to me and it even said they did this sort of thing in the Caldwell Banker brochure she gave me.

She also was unavailable many weekends when I could have used her help in doing stuff and worst of all, I felt, she never volunteered to do things that, according to my friend, the former owner of a real estate brokerage, a good realtor should do, so you don't have to. They are, after all, earning a fairly hefty commission.

Like, my friend said my realtor should have volunteered to sit at the condo for 3 hours waiting for the chimney sweep to come and do the inspection. Just one example.

Another example: When another realtor and his customer came to look at the condo, they accidentally dropped the key in a crevice and were unable to retrieve it. So my realtor called me and said can you get another key made and drop it off at the condo. Now I live in a neighboring town about 20 minutes away while my realtor lives in the town where my mother's condo is located. A day went by and i got the duplicate key made but hadn't had time, due to work, to drive down and drop it off. At this point i was getting annoyed that i was doing a lot of running around while my realtor directed me, so I emailed her and said i was unable to drop it off, could she pick it up and she said no, she was outside the area, yada yada yada. This kind of thing happened a few times where she was at a party, at a rave, there was always something she was doing.

Honestly, all she did was list the condo and hold open houses.

The other thing I didn't like is that she saw nothing wrong with dual agency when the buyer wanted to use her as her own realtor. It's legal in CT but considered controversial and every objective news source i found online advised against it.

When I said no to my realtor, she let her sales manager represent the buyer, but to me that wasn't enough degrees of separation,

Plus, if you can believe it, she sent me an email weeks later mentioning that she was at the condo with the buyer because the buyer wanted her painter to give her an estimate. She wasn't supposed to be representing the buyer and signed papers to that effect! I think this was a slip-up on her part by telling me this. I didn't say anything but I was pissed and for all I know, she could have had regular dealings with her all along despite my request there be no dual agency.

HOWEVER, she did manage to get the place sold in 3 months time and it was that sweet, bubbly personality I mentioned that likely sold it, because the young woman who came to her last open house asked her to show her a few other condos. When my realtor relayed this info via email, before i started thinking about the obvious conflicts of interest, i wrote back and said, I hope you showed her some really lousy condos! She replied and said yes, i certainly did, or something to that effect. So that buyer was naive to think she could trust my realtor even with something seemingly harmless like showing her other condos that truly represented what was available, because obviously, my realtor wanted to get her listing sold, not someone else's listing, so she showed her other listings that made my mother's place glow.

If she wasn't as personable, it might not have worked out the way it did.

So that's why I said I think I got it wrong when I picked this realtor, but it all worked out in the end.

If there's one big lesson I've learned from all of this, it's follow my own instincts. It's great to gather feedback from others, but above I described some mistakes I made along the way because I followed others' advice. There were many times when I felt overwhelmed with all that had to be done and decided upon, and so I felt a little insecure about my ability to make the right decisions. Also I had very little time to waste pondering my options.

5 Responses to “Insights & Regrets”

  1. Househopeful Says:

    Sounds like you have some really good insights and are very self-aware!

  2. FrugalTexan75 Says:

    Has the Realtors manager/broker asked for feedback? Or would that come after the sale is completely final? Her actions (or lack of) would drive me batty!

  3. VS_ozgirl Says:

    All in all you did well.

  4. rob62521 Says:

    You have more positives than negatives...that's a winner in anyone's book. Reflection is good unless you use it to beat yourself up. Don't beat up on yourself. Looks like you did quite well.

  5. PNW Mom Says:

    I agree you did well...especially since it seems you have done almost all of this on your own.

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