Monday, September 24, 2012

Sitting in the lap of the gods

It has been a veritable beehive of activity here at Casa Crabstick as we prepare for the real estate appraisers who will determine the market value of our house, which will determine if our refinance will happen.  If all goes well, we will pay off our mortgage nine years early, at a much lower interest rate, and the front yard of ill repute will become the urban courtyard of excellence.

This is the third time we've refinanced, and I don't remember ever worrying about the appraisal.  Back then, real estate was booming and we could have torched the house and it would still have had a market value in the neighborhood of $15 million. (Hyperbole here, in case it isn't obvious.)  But these are sterner times.

It's scary because it's so subjective.  If we get someone who thinks quirky old houses are charming, we're golden.  If we get someone who's enamored with brand-new suburban "homes" we're screwed.

Last week, I asked twitter what would be the best way to spend four hours preparing for an appraiser and got answers ranging from "arson" to "aim for perfection." In reality, we had more than four hours to prepare, but still, we had to make efficient use of what time we had.  I scheduled a large trash pickup and Seamus and I cleared the basement of junk.  I pruned a haystack of grape vines off the pergola in back, chopped down some weed trees and put everything out at the curb for collection.

Inside, I identified the stair risers as the flaw with the biggest visual impact.  When we bought the house, I thought the scratched risers were appalling and resolved to paint them immediately.  Thirteen years passed and they never got painted.  Which is just as well, because that was thirteen years that I didn't have to stress about the state of my stairs.

Here's an old picture with a glimpse of how they used to look.

Here they are since getting painted:

Of course now the stair stress begins.  I will have to fussily monitor the staircase with my little can of white semi gloss.

Pretend you don't see the hideous orange paint in the hallway.

But back to the appraisers.  Jon is to be at home to greet them today, and was given strict instructions on how to behave:  Don't talk with a fake Irish accent.  Don't talk with a fake Italian accent. Don't talk with a fake southern accent.  Do not, under any circumstances, mention the earthquake or the derecho. Try to prevent them from opening the door to the closet under the stairs.  NO JOKES OF ANY KIND.

In addition to extra cleaning,  I gathered up all the random crap and threw it in my car.  We at least have the appearance of a miraculous family that has no superfluous shoes, no stacks of papers or cans of wasp spray in the bathroom, no phone chargers coupled with every freaking electrical outlet, no umbrellas, backpacks, dust pans, weights, water bottles, step ladders, jars of rosin, magazine clippings, catalogs,  burned-out mercury light bulbs, globes with holes in them, river rocks used as mantle decorations, shredded bathroom curtains, or walking sticks.  And for this one day, we have exactly as many books as will fit in our bookcases and no more.

When I get home from work this evening, I will have to put all that stuff back in the house, which may prove fatal.  If I never update this blog again, know that I died of despair.


  1. Good job on getting the house to look amazing. We had our house refinanced earlier this year and I didn't even manage to clean before the appraiser came.

  2. What are you doing with the hounds? Will Jon call the appraiser "dude" at any point?

  3. I won't be surprised if you don't make it back --I can't imagine getting all the crap (which is not MINE) out of my house and then having to put it back again. Maybe you should just stop by a dumpster on your way home? A martini first, then the dumpster :-)

  4. Good luck. I spent yesterday purging the attic. Baby steps towards the entire house....

  5. Sympathies.
    After moving, I vowed not to collect junk again -- but somehow it has a way of creeping in and collecting in pools of papers and books around the couches and beds, crap on the counters (that belongs in cupboards -- but somehow the cupboards are stuffed.
    Maybe I should have spent my life moving every two years so I would purge more often.

  6. Best of luck.

    Question. What exactly have you got in the cupboard under the stairs?

  7. TSB, we started to renovate that closet, which was inexplicably layered in inside-out drywall, and discovered that the drywall had been placed to disguise the fact that there had once been a fire in the closet. The beam supporting the stair landing is badly charred, although someone did put up a new beam next to it, and the underside of the floorboards to the stair landing are also burned. We intend to replace the landing someday, but for now, we're just hoping none of us gain any weight.

  8. You're so funny--and probably not always intentionally, but the rules about talking in accents had me giggling.