Thursday, October 29, 2009

Are you the ones that bought the cottage?

Congrat's! You've bought your cottage .... Good for you!

Having lived in a few cottages, I have to say, I'm all for owning a cottage and living in it full time. But if it's a weekend getaway you have bought, well, I'm all for that too! Or is it only a part timer until you retire?

All the better.

Are you going to renovate or did you buy a property that is all done up? Maybe, like us, you're into the vintage look or don't mind a bit of ramshackle in order to get the feel of being on holiday every day.

What ever you have bought, my very best advice to you is: Live in it awhile until you decide what it is you do want. After a year goes by, maybe you decide you can stomach with the original siding, but it just needs a fresh coat of red paint? (Check our back door in a previous post and you'll see what I mean.) The money you would have spent on new siding can now be used for landscaping, or maybe the new plumbing that you didn't know you needed until late one night one of the grandkids used too much TP and plugged the T soo bad it blew out a pipe? (You know how kids are with toilet paper?)

Is your new piece of real estate on the water, in the woods or in a park somewhere? Honestly, it doesn't matter. Just make sure that when you drive up, you're proud. When you fling open the door, you feel like the weight of the world has fallen from your shoulders. When you sit on the john, it's your throne.

After all. Is this the place you will retire to for the golden years of your life?

My late mother once sent me an email joke and it ended with the only thing golden is the pee. If you've just bought a cottage, you are ensuring your retirement years will be golden!

Monday, October 26, 2009

How much did you sell your cottage for?

So, you finally sold the cottage! Congratulations! Your Realtor called and said they accepted your sign back and they'll take it in thirty days.

What's a 'sign back' you ask? Well.

First of all, there came an offer: The buyers have had a meeting with their Realtor and told that person how much money they want to pay you for the place. They have told him how many days go by before they have to pay you that money and when they will 'take possession.' The buyer might, (and likely,) also add things in their offer to buy like, getting a home inspection done. Getting a title search done and do you have a copy of the survey they can have. It always has a deadline for you to consider the offer and it should have a deposit cheque attached that might show you how serious these buyers are!
But mostly it's about the money.
It should be all typed up in a proper legal document and have witnessed signatures of the buyers.

You read their offer. (The Realtor should present it or just tell you what's in it) and then you decide if it's what you want to get for the old place. You can ask your Realtor's advice, but remember the dual agency paper and if he is representing both the buyer and seller, his opinion might not be in your best interest. You can take it to your lawyer, but remember that advice is billed by the hour.
If the offer to purchase is not to your liking either in terms or cash, then you 'Sign it back'.

A sign back is just that. You counter offer their offer to buy. Whether you up the price, ask them to remove the house inspection or tell them if they want a survey, they'll have to get it themselves.

Sign Back's next

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A sunny day at the lake.

Today, being Sunday, I was up late. I awoke to a lovely sunny, October day! Lake Erie was sparkling like diamonds, the golden and ruby of the leaves seemed extra precious and I was glad that at least I don't have to work on Sundays.

Imagine full retirement, when every day is a day 'off'. When if you do work, it is just for yourself, a loved one or to help out a friend?

Even if you haven't been able to save or amass a fortune in stocks or mutual funds. Even if your pension is minuscule, you can have a day such as today.

Lift your eyes and see the gifts we all receive from just being alive!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The first frost at our cottage.

I had to go outside last night on the back patio to rescue my few remaining tomatoes. Bah! I hate the coming of November! Those gloomy, dreary days with no sunshine and nippy winds. The lake is all steely gray and the waves crash onto the shore.
Once you get into the twenties of October, you just know the warm days are numbered!

This spring, I felt compelled to grow and nurture something. Obviously a throw back to my farm raised childhood and when you retire, you need some intersting hobbies to fill those hours your jobless situation has created. I have fantasies of wandering a raised bed backyard with pruners and basket in hand, harvesting heritage tomatoes. Mulit coloured, intersting shapes, mouth watering.... mmmmmm!
So one day, I turned into Canadale's after work and spent an enjoyable hour wandering the isles of lush green bedding plants. I made my choice: One plant that would bear yellow, pear shaped fruit in miniature the tag said and having paid for my potted plant, rushed home to bury it!

When we did the renovation last summer here at our cottage, I had the carpenters build two multi tiered wooden planters that in their expert opinion, would cost only one hundred dollars apiece. Two days later and a couple of trips back to the lumber supply for more wood, screws and god knows what all else, my five hundred dollar planters were complete. (The realtors let me think that the addition of decorative features in our back yard has increased the value of our house?)

And what a wonderful receptacle the one has made for my single solitary tomato plant!

I planted it, (it was all of 20 inches tall when it went in the ground,) watered it and eagerly awaited the harvest. Juicy, delicious tomatoes grown by my own hand!

The thing about this summer, was that we had very little extreme heat and lots of rainy days! It turned out perfect for growing patio tomatoes, I guess, because before long, Dick and I were on the ladder staking and tying my one little tomato! It was the beanstalk kind perhaps? As you can see, it grew over six feet tall!

Mid August, sure enough, we started getting tomatoes and what a haul we've picked. They have been luscious and lovely and I have enjoyed every single one.

So I had to go out and pick the last of them and they are sitting on my counter now. I'm hoping they'll still ripen. The plat is gangly and thin, many of the leaves withered and fallen. Before the real estate sign goes on in spring, I'll have to clear the debris away and make the yard look all nice - nice.

But I think I'll plant two next year. Maybe I can start my own veggie stand!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Advertising your cottage for sale

Find out where your real estate agent is advertising your place. Has she just posted it in the MLS pages, or the local newspaper? Go to the Internet and check out the posting for your property. If you aren't happy with the way it looks, you can complain you know. (Better yet, gently offer to help take the photos yourself!)
Nothing turns me off more than to look at a property posting with photos taken in winter!
A while ago, the London, St Thomas Real Estate Board hired somebody to drive around and take pictures of all the houses on all the streets so they would have an archive of pics and that's why you'll see snow on the ground in July!
Tell your Realtor to get off his hiney and take new pics! Nobody wants a summer home or lake home that's covered with snow! And I don't care if it is Christmas time!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

What I think of open houses.

A Realtor calls you up and tells you he's having an open house and you're like, WOW! Are they ever doing a bang up job!

But wait! How many places in your neighborhood sold this year by having an open house? Have you asked her that? Did she shuffle her little feet and look over at the corner rather than you in the eye?

So you spend three days scouring the cottage so that they can have their open house. You take those days off work, or make an extra, unplanned trip up and slug and mop. You pack up all the personal things that made this house a home. You buy some perky bedding plants for the gardens and also those extra expensive hanging plants that you never buy because they just dry out when you're not in residence. The place looks like there was never a grandchild or a dog there.

Your Realtor comes in and sets up shop for a couple of hours and wow! All the neighbors come over to see if your place is better than yours. (You never asked them over anyway, so they had to....) A couple of stragglers who were out garage sailing stop in ... they saw the signs on the road.... Mary and Bill stopped by after church: They saw the strange car and wondered if you were there...

It's my opinion that mostly, Real Estate agents have open houses to gain fame and new clients, not to actually sell your house! They get new people to sign the old dual agency papers and whisk them off on a property viewing tour and that's not necessarily to your house either!
Or they use your house as a sort of reference to get your neighbors to list with them. After all, what's a better endorsement than being good enough for you?

Open houses? Make up your own minds about those. I'm nosey and I like going to see how the other half lives, so I guess I want you all to still agree to them, but me.. I'm not having one, likely ever.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Doing the deal on your real estate

A Realtor once told us we were unreasonable. Well, actually we've been told that a couple of times. But we know what we want and when we want it and this isn't our first rodeo, so....

We have a hard time with this dual agency thing.

Why do Realtors think that they can fairly represent both the buyer and the seller? We have completely different agendas now, don't we?
If they're looking after our best interests, how can they possible cut a good deal for the buyer? If say they can get an attractive price for your property, how can they turn around and tell the buyer that they can sell a low offer for them?

Are they all on Jeckell and Hyde juice?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The price of your cottage?

Somebody gives you an offer? Is it Yahoo or Boohoo?

I suppose I would consider what I wanted to do after I sold the cottage.
-Do I want to travel the world on the proceeds?
-Do I want to quit my job?
-Do I want to have a nest egg?
-Do I want to make sure my kids are taken care of?
-Do I want to buy another, bigger or smaller or better one?

What do you want to do with the money?

Is the offer a fair one or have they offered many thousands of dollars less than you were asking? If it's many thousands less, is it because you were unreasonable or they are? Is your house priced more than anybody Else's? Feel out your realtor. You have a right to ask questions about the buyer, like: 'Do they think we're crazy?' or... 'Are they trying to take advantage of us?' You have every right to tell your realtor to go back to get a higher offer.

I remember one time, Dick and I were selling a place and the realtor came to us with a ridiculously low offer. I took one look at it and fired it back across her desk, stood up and said: 'We're done here!' She was all; 'What's the matter?' surprised, but you just knew she was in cahoots with the buyer and they just wanted a deal so they could flip it!

If it's important for any reason to get what you want for the place, stick to your guns. What the heck! You've loved coming here every summer for years, so a few more can't hurt... or can it?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Have you freshened up your cottage?

Back to selling your vacation property. Have you listed it in it's 'as is' condition? Why? If you were going out on a date to find a new husband or wife, would you not take a bath or put on newer clothes? Would you get a haircut and brush your teeth?
You want to put your best foot forward in any case!

We tried to sell this place without doing the reno and yep! Nobody wanted it. (Since we did the reno though, the market plunged!)

We will clean her up spick and span. Dab in all the paint chips and plant fresh flowers this spring before we hang the sign out again. I'm hoping the market is again on an upswing.

Dick and I are lucky. We have a community whereby you can live here at this lake and still get decent employment. ...And by the way, we have owned the next house for several years, so we have a place to move to already.

Here's the next question: When you get an offer, what do you do?

I'll jaw on that tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Thanksgiving Thoughts.

It's hard to enjoy a holiday knowing that a friend is in distress.
We had a wonderful dinner with our family that was bountiful and delicious. Many zip lock baggies went home with all the leftovers. Nobody would have to cook for the next couple of days. We live a wonderful life.

Our friend is in mourning for his wife, his life partner, his best friend. They weren't retired yet. He has to get up every day to go to run their business and in his case, put on a suit and tie and face people. Maybe that's a good thing, to keep busy. To have to go out in the world.
Dick talked to him last night. Spent a good while on the phone, listening, trying to help.

Let me repeat this: Spend every day loving your family, telling them every chance you have how much they mean to you. Spend a minute with your partner and tell them you appreciate them for just who they are. I cannot think about a life without my Dick!

If there's something you always wanted to do, go do it. Everybody says this, but how many people are dead that didn't have time to live out even the smallest of dreams?

My friend's daughter is getting married in two weeks. Her mother tried to stay here long enough to see that. She just couldn't. Her life ran out before her living was done.
Please don't let that happen to you.

Dick and I are so lucky. We filled this big old cottage with laughter and love. Good turkey smells and giggles from the babies and adults alike. Yes, it was a lot of work. Yes, it cost a bit, but Thanksgivings don't come along every day and so we made the extra effort. It was worth it.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Canadian Thanksgiving

I just thought I'd grab a minute to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving! To all my American readers, yours' is yet to come... but ours is today.

The turkey has been brined and wrapped in bacon and is on our barbecue at 250 degrees F, (grill in American...) The pumpkin pies are waiting for our guests and all the side dishes and potatoes are prepped and ready to go.

Dick has gone to pick up some of the kids, (who don't have a car) and the other kids have called to let us know they'll be late. (Go figure!) My sister will likely arrive soon armed with whipping cream and Lord knows what all else! I think my nephew made a dessert too. Awesome! My sister in law has been invited and I'm hoping she makes the hour and a half drive.

Pretty soon my normally peaceful home will reverberate with the sound of familiar laughter and bulge with love. They will all ooh and yum over the food and we will all eat too much.

We all love each other. Through thick and thin we have continued to love each other... no holds barred... no exceptions. That's just the way my family is.

To one and all: Happy Thanksgiving! Hug your loved ones and yes, do eat too much. We live in a land of plenty and privilege and don't ever forget it. Today is the day we celebrate that.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A friend is gone.

We've lost another friend.

A blastoma her husband called it. A cancer so fast spreading it has a graphic nickname that tells all. A slimy, invading, evil tumor in her brain that has killed her within a year and left her husband without his life partner.

Let me salute him. She died at home with her loved ones and friends at her side. He kept her with him, caring for her and giving her the last few minutes of her life in her own beloved surroundings.

No, I didn't know her really well. Yes, I spent an overnight as her guest, welcomed in her home. They were guests in our home as well. We did business together and plotted and planned our lives and finances together. We shared food at various tables and on many occasions. Business meetings and information gathering sessions. We did not go shopping or travel together, but she and her husband are very much like Dick and I, always just trying to get ahead as best we can and we were linked. I feel such a loss and sadness.

I would have liked to have known her better, but she was what I thought of as 'very British' and did not show much emotion, affection or sentimentality. We shared some experiences that were not conducive to bonds of close girl friendship, but those experiences bonded us all the same.

It is because of her and her husband's associates that our finances are in as good a shape as they are. It is with her help that my taxes have been done each year. We have grown and evolved because of her guidance and good work. She was a strong woman that any one of us could look up to and learn from. She wasn't sometimes dealt the best of hands herself in life, but was always able to put order to ours. I never felt alone in my troubles knowing that this couple was there.

It is unfathomable that that person no longer walks this earth. I can no longer pick up the phone and hear her clipped greeting. I can no longer affectionately giggle about her British palate and taste. Never again will we share a table, she ordering eggs and bacon, me asking for bacon and eggs.

I will think of her often.

Friday, October 9, 2009

What if someone in the family wants the place?

Aw crap! One of the people in the family has decided they should get the cottage off you. I say: 'get the cottage off you' because chances are, they think they can steal it or get it for nothing because they're family, friends or neighbors. Hah! Well here's what I think of that:

Ok, so if it's one of your kids, then OK, they're going to get it in the will anyway, so give them a break on the price. But wait! What about the other siblings? Do you have enough cash to pay them equal share? It's the old making chalk of one... cheese of the other and you just can't do that.

Have you always felt sorry for that cousin that wants it now? Get serious! Did she / he consider your feelings the last time they bought a new car or flew to Jamaica without you? Charge them full pop!

Oh! It's the cute old couple next door who say they want it for their grandkids? Charge them extra if they draw the old 'we're getting on in years' card to get you to drop the price.

Don't let anybody play on your senses when it comes to selling your family cottage or vacation property. You are going to live to a ripe old age and need all the money you can get to pay your own way and not be a detriment to your loved ones.
...And besides.... you're the ones who had the good sense to keep that cottage until it became valuable enough to sell. It used to be that they couldn't give away waterfront property and now everybody wants it. It's an ace in the hole, don't give it away out of sentiment or guilt.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Update on the jar.

Well, I gave up on the home made dye in the jar thing. It sure doesn't look like dye and
I'm not about to ruin a brand new pair of shoes proving it wasn't prepared right. I think where I went wrong is I didn't heat it up enough.
Never the less, it's not dark in the jar, so I'm going to dump it.
I have, meantime, ordered and received store bought dye from a little internet company in the states and my now black shoes are perched on some old newspaper, drying.

I can hardly wait to wear them this weekend!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Price, Price, Price!

The guy up the lane sold his cottage for a bazillion bucks and you sure should too, but are you comparing apples to apples? Here are some things to consider:
Do you have as much land as he?
Is your cottage the same square footage as his?
Is your place as spick and span as hers?
Do you need renovations and they don't?
Is theirs waterfront and yours not?
Does he mow his lawn faithfully like you?
Who has better landscaping?
Do you have a boat dock and she doesn't?
Is there a right of way on your lot?
Are you in the same municipality or town?
Do you pay the same property taxes?
Does your furniture look as swell as theirs?
Do your neighbors need appliances and yours are stainless?

This is just a short list of considerations when pricing your property and should be thought on long and hard. Make a list. Check it twice and see who's naughty or nice!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

You think you want to sell?

So you think maybe it's time to put the old place up for sale? Let's do the reasoning of that.
First of all, none of your family members want it? I would suggest, if you don't know the answer to that, you may want to start asking the kids, your brother, your sister or that cousin that shows up every August. The very last thing you want to do is start a feud over money! But before you start asking around, do you have any idea of the value of your vacation property?
I, of course, have tons of suggestions about selling your cottage. If you're fairly cognisant of the local real estate market, then you know how much she's worth. If you don't have a clue, there's many vehicles at your fingertips for determining just that.
-One. Call a home inspector who specializes in your neighborhood. Don't be afraid to ask for references with these people. You have a right to check up on them!
-Two. You could call a couple of local Realtors. (Make sure they are local so they know the area market.) Those appraisals are for free, but they want to please you so they can get the listing, so beware of the high, too good to be true price.
-Three. There will be an assessed value on your property from your tax office.
This value is only a guideline, because in my opinion, they really aren't an accurate idea of what you could sell your cottage for.
-Four. Come on! Do your own homework! Buy the local real estate papers and shop the office window posters for properties like yours. When you're talking to these folks, you don't want to come across as a dummy who knows nothin' about nothin', do you?

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Family Cottage

Do you continue to travel to the cottage every week? Do you still love it or do you dread the weekly trek? Is there a drive of many hours involved, hurling down a four lane, other holiday makers bumper to bumper, all driving at breakneck speed? Do you grip the dash of the family van with one hand, the other hugging the armrest, both feet firmly planted up against the firewall the whole way? Does your partner hunch over the wheel, a grimace of concentration adorning his face as he travels those roads one more time?

Does it take three days to pack enough stuff to survive in the woods each trip? Do they manufacture enough bug spray and sun block?

Do you long for different highways? Maybe just the view from your own living room for just one summer weekend?

Maybe the easiest way of solving the dilemma of who gets the cottage when we go is simply to get it gone while we can still enjoy the profits? Have you listened to your local realtor brag about prices lately? Pick up a magazine with lake properties advertised sometime. you might be shocked!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

More on the family cottage.

What would happens to your pride and joy if you die?

I know, I'm back to the will thing, but in most states and provinces, there are extra considerations with a piece of real estate that is not your main residence. Yes, you know, I'm talking about those pesky old taxes!
Ask your lawyer. Ask a tax accountant. Find out what your beneficiaries will have to do once they inherit that property. Can they afford it if there is an inheritance tax when you go? Will the lawyers fees be so high they can't manage it? Do they themselves have a lawyer for their own estate and if you have more than one beneficiary, will they squabble and rip it all apart?
Is there a proper plot plan? Are there any unresolved land issues, ie: Property lines and waterfront issues? Erosion? (I live on Lake Erie, remember?) Is the title or deed valid and legal? Where I live, some people have registered right's of way that go right through the middle of the house!
Have you always walked over the neighbor's lawn to get to the beach. Will their kids let your kids traverse that same path when you're all gone?

Now I've got you thinking!