Selling Mom’s House and Growing Up

In the throes of prepping a house to sell, always a bit daunting. After my Mom’s death January 2012, her house isn’t the same. My brother and I made the deliberate decision to leave everything of hers “as is” weeks after she died – moving toward week six, eventually gaining the emotional energy to begin a new transition – from Connie’s home to Connie’s Trust.

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Connie’s Place, Circa Jan 2012

Connie gave my brother and I the gift of all gifts a parent can give their children – a living trust. That’s not the focus of this post, though relevant for a number of reason, some of which I’ll share another time. That said, nothing quite prepares a kid (even middle-aged ones) for the death of a parent. Whatever age, growing up takes on a new life of its own.

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Connie’s Place, Circa Jan 2012

To understand her death is to understand her life. She LOVED her house. I mean, the woman truly loved where she lived – Newport Beach, CA. Far from the east coast shore the Jersey girl grew up in, she found her west coast rendering of the shore in the early 70s years after my parents moved west.

Upon my parents divorce in 1972, going back to work as a newbie real estate agent, the single mom of two young kids scratched and saved every penny, first purchasing a 6 unit apartment building on the peninsula right between 10th and 11th streets on Balboa Blvd. Selling the apartments five years later, Mom and a friend, pooling their financial resources, together bought a 1933 bungalow on West Bay Ave. Ten years later, in 1988, buying her friend out, the entire property was newly titled in Connie’s name only – an incredible accomplishment considering she did most of it on her own.

Which brings us to today, the year 2013. After months of deep conversation, lot of thought through the tears, my brother and I have decided to sell Mom’s beloved home. Has not come easily; mixed emotions, of course. Grateful Mom left her gift of a trust, it’s increasingly expensive living in Newport  (currently we both reside on Mom’s property – he in the main house, me in unit behind, an apartment upstairs) In addition, my brother and I are heading down our own individual paths moving forward.

Never having had the experience of coping with the death of a parent until last year, all of this is still new, unexplored, a bit unsettling and at times, overwhelming. Are we doing the right thing? Should we sell now or wait longer? As a real estate professional myself, the challenge lies in remaining pragmatic, not the easiest when the emotional ties lie within the lathe and plaster of a structure.

My Hero

My Hero

She’s gone, yes, though I find I talk to her much more these last few weeks;  the need to find the right buyer, asking her to share her wisdom and indelible capacity to use that amazing common sense of hers. Her main wish for my brother and I was to experience just five minutes of peace (her wonderful Jersey accent and sarcasm) in one form or another. Ultimately, her gift, a home she worked so hard to attain and keep, her children, now given the opportunity to do with it what would be best for us. She stressed over the never-ending house payments, property taxes, changes throughout the city, the growing number of people visiting Newport each summer, trash left in the alley and litter on the sand. Despite these issues, despite she could have sold during the peak of the market, make more than enough dollars to retire much earlier than she did, Connie wasn’t going anywhere. Point in fact, she’s still here. I have no idea what it’ll feel like when the house sells yet  I’ll always feel closest to her on the beach. Difference now, I’m a little more grown up.

OC Home Fair

The first annual OC Home Fair at Chapman University.

Saturday March 23rd  9:00am to 4:00pm

During this wacky time in a real estate market riddled with myths, assumptions and a great deal of media hype, please come join our brokerage, TopBroker Network Real Estate this Saturday and get educated. They’ll be other vendors to answer questions pertaining to all things real estate as well as seminars and speakers. It’s all free and open to the public!

OTO Homes

For more information, here’s the official link from Chapman University’s website with schedule of events, seminars, details for parking, etc.

OC Home Fair

Cheers!

 

Learning From Community

Wake Up to Experience: Sometimes it can hit you right in the ass without even knowing it.

As I began my walk yesterday, an old woman, much smaller than a young child approached me on the trail. I quickly learned she was the one responsible for putting this beautiful walking trail along the highway, a place for thousands of walkers, runners, cyclists, strollers and canines. Her name is Florence. Easily giving up my brisk walk, I found myself in Florence’s experience, soaking up her attitude, putting aside my own sadness awhile (having a rough day), open to learn.

At 95 years old, her physical pain, in agony many days, there Florence stood in the middle of the trail. Her tiny face, engulfed by immense sunglasses, a bright smile looked up and said “good morning to you!” She spoke of her meandering trail, how she wanted the community to have a safe place to walk, went to the county, fought to build a respite for others to enjoy. I walked her home, around the corner from where we stood, though this was no jaunt. Each step taken, her newly acquired three prong cane in hand, deliberate care, with consciousness, she and I eventually made it to her home of 30 years. She spoke of her life, her “unusual” husband she adored, her beautiful children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren. More than anything else, she wanted to show me what she called, her “wicked triplets.”  As if I could possibly pass up something like this? Not likely.

Three ginormous cards stand on her sofa, her “wicked triplets”; an homage to Florence from a community who reached out after her precious bronze plaque had been stolen March of 2012. Gathering funds, new plaque replaced, those grateful to one woman who made a difference in their community. Her pride, well-founded, her gratitude admired.

"Wicked Triplets"
“Wicked Triplets”

Wicked Triplets

FlorencePay attention to experience, pay attention to community. We may not understand or realize its significance at the time, yet do not dismiss what is to be learned. For years I have walked that trail, never meeting Florence until yesterday. I put myself out there in life for this reason alone – to learn from the collection of people I encounter.  The “Florence’s” in life remind me I am but a small part of this great universe. Gratitude begets, trumps everything else. Compassion must come before love, for it is in compassion where love reigns. 

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Is it the neighborhood? The home design and architecture? Or maybe the backyard BBQ, sparkling swimming pool surrounded by tiki torches and left over props from an aged Gilligan’s Island episode? Two story feel more like a home than single? Is a home a home if it lies within the boundaries of that spectacular Blue Ribbon elementary school you’ve read so much about?

I have come to think about this question, more philosophically than real estate jargon. Most understand that the process of buying, selling a home is quite emotional. We are drawn to a home, often for how it feels, rather than its practical qualities. General statement, yet I’m speaking in generalities. Stay with me. There’s a point here.

Upon purchasing my first home almost thirteen years ago, I realized this entity called a house was not a living, breathing organism. Merely a place, a refuge with a roof, keeping the outdoor elements at bay. A house is a mortgage, a lease, a storage area for unpronounceable Ikea furniture, flat screen tv’s, scuffed shoes and rusted rakes. Told with great accuracy of George Carlin, a house is, “a place for your stuff.”

In 2000, bought my first house. About eighteen months into new homeownership I gathered the courage to admit I wasn’t a happy homeowner. It just didn’t feel like home.  Eventually, confronting my then husband with my new revelation left us with a silent relationship for 3 days. To his well-deserved credit, he was a champ upon hearing this new. Yet some how, in some way, after that confession, the 2,300 sqft. abode suddenly became a little cozier; a different air of warmth permeated her walls.

From that point on, I realized this house, our home, was not merely a place of stationary artifacts. More than that, the house was us, the family. Each person living under that roof, began creating their own memories, contributing to our collective experience of what home meant to us.

As a teen, my Mom, brother and I lived in a small apartment. Little did I care it wasn’t the spacious house on the hill, glorious oceanfront  or average single family residence. It was our home; a place where we took care of each other, helped make dinners, had friends come stay the night, drink Dr. Pepper and crunch on Doritos. It’s the living room my Mom comforted me when my first boyfriend broke my heart, the kitchen where I learned to cook lasagne, the breezeway where I helped my brother fold the local daily newspapers for his route.

Perhaps we have the capacity to create our own environment after all, house and home.

What ingredients make up your home?

 

What Makes a Home?

Localism

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Yeah, I know, I know, a Starbucks is a Starbucks is a Starbucks. I get it. Same perky baristas, those regulars sipping their soy-latte-whatever… Not so quickly. Consider Old Towne Orange.

In the quaint section of the Orange Plaza in Old Towne Orange, sit two Starbucks, nary a stone’s throw from each other. Both have their own feel; one, the smaller of the two, college students tucked in a corner, a regular haunt for late night studies. The other, in a historical building, a bank, no less, sits its own Starbucks, much more brisk business, from locals on the run to mom’s treating the kids after school to the meeting-for-business-destination.

On this afternoon, Wells Fargo is a busy place – for coffee, that is, hold the deposits. Once a haven, a lovely discovery for me during some rough times not too long ago, a make shift office many mornings, there’s just something special about this specific Starbucks. It’s all about the PLACE, how it FEELS when I’m here. iPad in hand, I look up a moment; the old detailed etchings upon its walls, the subdued echoes of conversations reverberating from the heightened ceilings, the friendly local smiles….I feel right at home. Like always.

You have a local dig you’d like to share? What makes your place special?

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OC Senior Resource Fair

Hey, kids! Time for Orange Senior Center’s Annual Resource Fair!

OC Bountiful Senior Resources Fair

Friday November 9th from 8:00AM to 11:00AM

At The Orange Senior Center 170 S. Olive in Orange

You’re invited to join this awesome event with FREE admission! This is a wonderful opportunity to gather  information and educate yourself on all things SENIOR, including Assisted Living Residences, Moving Specialists, In-Home Care, Financial Consultation and more! Come meet people who are passionate about working and assisting seniors. They shall be on hand, from interactive discussions, hands-on sessions to flu shots. And who doesn’t love flu shots, really?  There’s a raffles and give aways too! All proceeds go right back to Orange Senior Center. So bring your questions, curiosity and smiles!

Welcome to your community that cares….