Friday, July 13, 2007

070713 One week to go.

The house has another contract – unlike the previous people, the current buyer seems to be a reasonable chap and is from Toowoomba. He has accepted the fact that the house is twenty years old and has some imperfections.

The previous buyers seemed to think that I was personally commissioned to create their dream home and sent me a list of demands with the shortcomings of my design. They asked that, among other things, the back fence be replaced simply because it could not be determined whether it was made from treated timber. The reason that we have a fence is to mark the property boundary, keep intruders out and to provide some privacy. These people seem to think that the purpose of a fence is to provide something that termites can’t eat.

They proposed that I lower the price significantly.

I have some experience with negotiating with major telecommunications carriers and one of the neat tricks is to never say “no” and be the reason for the end of the deal – I would always say “yes - with conditions” . They could to accept one of these:
1) I will fix every demand on their list – in return they will pay the full advertised price.
Or; I will agree to the reduction – in return they must settle in seven days.
Or; I will not do anything and let the current contract run its course.
Or; NO!

My eldest son passed his license test on Wednesday. Short story – he will get the car while he finishes school while we are in Hong Kong. This must be a dream come true for a young man. He will have an “all expenses paid” car and his parents are not only out-of-town but completely out of the country. As a way of reducing the stresses on him during his final year of school, we have decided to pay him not to go to work at the local shops.

Friday, July 6, 2007

0707060800 Two weeks to go.

Two weeks to go.

The house has changed in character. Although the house is not empty, there is less furniture, and things are in the wrong place waiting to be picked up by their new owners. We have all noticed that there is now an echo. The kids are sleeping on mattresses with their clothes sorted into neat piles of "give to friends", "lifeline" and "pack". My only daughter has three piles of clothes that are all seven times bigger than her suitcase.

Last night we had dinner at a good friends house - a traditional Australian barbecue. (I will have to get a barbecue when we get to Hong Kong.) It was a "we-will-have-to-have-you-over-before-you-go" dinners. It was good to have a long talk about previous jobs and how, generally speaking, all that we can expect, is the unexpected. He used to work for a major American bank as an IT guru where he had decision making authority and a budget. He has had a roller-coaster ride through various jobs since. At one time he was working for a small company that makes patio enclosures. He now has a good job working on the IT systems used by the emergency services. The point is - of all the jobs that I have ever had, I have left for the same reason - I didn't want to do it anymore. It sounds like I am lazy but it has to do with challenge. I started the job two years ago when it was a major career change. The crazy company has had two "restructures" in two years, i.e. when a manager can't do his job properly so he changes everyone else.

We had another building inspection yesterday - this guy understands Australian Standard 3660.1 regarding termite protection. We can only wait and see if the current owner does not get scared witless by the fictional horror stories conjured up by these "inspectors".

The bank called and presented me with their problem - seeing as we are selling the family home, what will we be using as security on our investment property? Banks will only loan 80% of the value of the property - so I made up a valuation figure that I thought would be about right. "I'll just check that", said the friendly and helpful staff as she sweetly tried to dash my hopes of keeping an investment property, and looked up the average market value of recent sales. In a few seconds that seemed like hours, the happy voice says that that figure is a bit conservative and we will be able to break even with a small additional payment. The happy voice then said a number that I usually associate with sports cars.

Monday, July 2, 2007

0707022200 Garage sale. Everything must go.

Garage sale on Saturday. We advertised our garage sale in the local paper, the add said "Saturday morning - moving overseas - everything must go." People turned up on Friday night and more people turned up at five o'clock on Saturday morning. I asked them if I could at least have breakfast first, they sat on the front steps and watched me through the kitchen window. The kids were woken up on Saturday at 05:00 and told to get out of bed so we could sell them - not them the kids, them the beds. A garage sale is one of the most degrading experiences. Our meagre possessions on display as if they were actually valuable - we sold some good stuff for a reasonable price and some I simply gave away rather than haggle. By twelve noon we left everything in the driveway with a "free to good home" sign. I see it this way: either I can take it to the tip, I can pay someone else to cart it away, or I can charge someone else to take it away. It was to my advantage even if I gave it away. We used the "proceeds" to all buy new shoes. Now the whole family have Converse "chucks"of various colours and styles. As a startling coincidence, my wife, daughter and youngest son have the same sized feet.

The next step in the move is to sort out our clothes- keep, pack and then give away.

Back to work tomorrow - I had Monday off to be inoculated against foreign diseases.

On June the first it became a law to have a smoke detector in rental houses. I was really dreading going over to our investment house because the kind and simple folk that live there always complain and ask me to do something. I left two smoke detectors and a fire extinguisher with a letter explaining the whole thing at their letter box. Sure enough, a few hours later I get a call that something else needs to be fixed. I can see why landowners always increase the rent.
I tried to be a "good landowner" and gave them no rent increases for two years - they currently pay the lowest rent in our town. A local real estate agent has said that I could expect about half of what I get again. One local real estate agent was criticised for asking for rent by tender. That agent is making a fortune. When the lease runs out, I am letting him manage the place.