Math is Hard

stained doors 0519
This photo has nothing to do with today’s post, but here are our newly-stained interior doors. We opted to just clear-coat the trim but stain the doors.

Math is what I am all about these days, only I can’t get most of it to work out. It could be that I’m math-impaired — or it could be that it’s a less precise science than we were all led to believe.

There’s square footage math, which we’ve covered (and probably will again, just to forewarn you). And there’s timing math, at which I’m feeling quite impaired.

It started with the three-to-four-month design process, which took 10 months. If e=mc2 and the universe is constantly expanding, the neighbor who yesterday projected we might be ready to move to our new house in September could be correct.

Dusty has, probably purposely, been rather vague about move-in dates throughout the process. The last thing he said was “late June,” but Lynn and I have been doing more math. We went to Custom Home Accents on Thursday, and Jennifer the proprietor told us it would take five to six weeks to get cabinets in. Before she can get cabinets in, she needs drawings from Dusty (we had a couple floor plans, but no elevations), and then she needs to design something, then we need to approve it.

If we’re being charitable, there’s one week left in May, and then the four-ish in June. One-ish plus four-ish equals we’re not going to have cabinets in the house by the end of June.

This leads us to the most complicated math of all: house-selling math. This is college, maybe even university, level math, because now we’re in the realm of 3-D: space, time and price.

It took nearly six months to buy property, 10 months to design a house, seven months and counting to build a house — and underlying this entire process has been the notion of selling the old house.

Audrie, our real estate agent, at one point wanted to list us in a housing publication that came out in March 2018, but that seemed too early to me, so we passed. Good thing. So she for sure wanted us in the edition that came out a couple of months ago. In December we had Audrie and her husband come tour the house to see what we ought to do repair-wise prior to listing. They recommended selling it as is, and suggested a price of $350,000.

Our first showing took place on New Year’s Day, before the house officially went on the market, and the prospective buyer, who showed no further interest, was told $350,000. Later in January the Dixons, who owned the house two doors down the street, sold for $310,000, dropping from an asking price of 329. (It’s going to be soooo much easier to operate without all these rather obscene zeros.)

There are variations on two themes of houses in most of our subdivision. The Dixon house is like most of the houses in the Palisades: three bedrooms and one bath over a generally unfinished basement containing another room that can’t officially be called a bedroom — because the window is too small for emergency egress — and a bathroom. Then there are the tri-levels like ours, with four official bedrooms and two baths, and the garden level comes finished. The tri-levels seem a tad more desirable, although they have slightly less square footage.

Audrie did warn, after the Dixon sale, that we might need to come down on price, but she suggested we leave it where it is until we’re more serious about moving. Most conventional loans require 45 days to close, she told us, giving us six weeks to get out of the house once a contract is signed. So I thought we would be reducing the price in mid-May, but we still seem like we are well over six weeks away from being able to move into the new house.

And while I don’t have a problem dropping our price, this is where house math is really confusing me: our price is too high, but everything going on the market is coming in higher than 350. A house on the second block of our street (which is only two blocks long), of the same ilk as Dixons’, only used for years and years as a college rental (Audrie said it’s never a good sign when they don’t provide interior photos), is listed at 369.

Audrie’s newest listing is a house with the same square footage as ours, built in 2007 on the highway west of town, at 389. Mindy Costanzo, who has been selling houses in Gunnison as long as I can remember, is advertising an old log home on 14th Street with two bedrooms, 1.5 baths and a “newer hot tub room” for 390. Another log home on 14th, which got painted blue last year (all the logs, not just trim) with four bedrooms and one bath, is 355.

A three-bedroom town home on 11th is listed at 369. A house on Pine that used to belong to Janet and Marty Johnson, similar in style to ours but 10 years newer, is listed just under 423. A five-year-old house on Andrew Lane with three bedrooms is 379. Yet another log home, this one twice as big as ours but with only three bedrooms, just listed at 629 — and no, that’s not a typo.

Most perplexing are the town homes in Van Tuyl Village, one subdivision removed from ours. They are brand-new, but they’re jammed in cheek by jowl, and it turns out that there are two separate units on each tiny lot. The back units, which are the size of a two-car garage (I know this because they are directly over a two-car garage), start at 235 — and you only get one garage bay. The other bay belongs to the front unit, which starts at 359. Until Memorial Day — when prices increase. Buy today, I guess.

The most consistent feedback we’ve received from our one-a-week prospective buyers is that our price is too high. Is that the feedback everyone else is getting? I am just completely baffled as to how all these real estate people who have their own listings set this high or higher can tell us we’re overpriced. It’s not like we’ve been a college rental, and while no one seems impressed so far, our remodel features efficient, much bigger wood windows, and our siding still has 40 years of guaranteed life left to it.

I really don’t have a problem lowering our price, and Audrie has even put in her ads that we’re encouraging offers. Of our once-a-week lookers, three have seemed like they’ve been going to put in an offer, only to vanish, wordlessly. Last week’s viewers were most explicit that the price was higher than they could afford with the “mostly cosmetic” (their broker said) changes they envisioned needing to make — but then they didn’t come back with an offer they thought they could afford.

The worst that could happen is we’d say “no,” but we might say “yes.” Of course, we might be asking if we could live with them until September. That’s just how house math seems to work.

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