Wednesday, March 22, 2017

On a Super-Positive Note

Carolsue is a Grandma today! Congrats to your daughter and son-in-law for their new arrival.

Monday, March 20, 2017


When this accidental business finally closes ("when" is still up in the air), I would like to look back at this time with some positive and happy feelings and not the overwhelming cloud of doom that seemed to follow me around for the past few years.

That said, when I started out with the idea that I would write 40 happy posts I didn't take into account some of the happiest things that happened to me running an accidental business are personal and private and I just don't want to share. Let's face it, the good reading comes from the mishaps along the way. Or, as I was once told, no good story starts with, "I was eating a salad one day at lunch..."

I am committed to 40 less-than-miserable posts, which has worked so far, as I the longer I am away from Flunky, the happier I get. But please bear with me as life has gotten in the way lately. I'm not done. I promise.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Tenant Craziness

There was a six-bedroom home about a mile from me that my broker, El Jefe, asked me to list and rent out. I originally didn't set the price, as the owner (who lives in Austria) knew more about renting out his home in my neighborhood than I did. After a month on the market with no bites, I told El Jefe what the price needed to be. El Jefe lowered the price $1,000 and didn't tell the owner. However, now it was at a reasonable amount.

The next month I started getting calls. Though six-bedroom homes are not desirable by all, there are definitely those who have a need or a want for them. They all began calling. And calling. And though January isn't exactly moving season around here, there was a plethora of activity on this house.

It is fair to say if a rental home is on the market for any length of time around here it is usually for one of two reasons: 1) applicants have applied and either weren't approved or changed their minds or 2) it is a dump and/or the landlord is crazy. In the case of this house, it may have been a little bit of the first and a lot of the second.

It took several weeks but El Jefe (with me pushing it) urged the owner to paint the faux-painted green and teal room. Additionally, the owner finally agreed to get the electrical issue resolved, because I made it very clear I, nor anyone I showed this home to, would be turning on the bathroom light until it was fixed. And while we were on the subject of deferred maintenance, perhaps the owner could hire someone to take care of the pool, clean the place and pick the citrus that was turning the back yard into a rat all-you-can-eat smorgasbord. Which reminds me, the owner needed an exterminator.

Anyway, with the rent lowered, all the repairs and painting done and the critter control taken care of I went out to rent the house a second time. If I told you about the kinds of people looking to rent a six-bedroom home that raised an eyebrow or two, you would be reading this blog for the next hour. So, I will just skip to the applicants. Perhaps at a later time.

The first applicant was a single woman with one child. She worked from home and wanted an office. I have no idea why she needed the other three bedrooms, but she swore the house was just right. Unfortunately she had been evicted from several properties in the past four years. She also possibly has a credit score lower than mine--possibly. At any rate, the owner rejected her on-line application.

When El-Jefe broke the news, she screamed discrimination and said she would sue me, El Jefe and the owner. You see she is a minority. So, I guess she felt that meant she was entitled to the house no matter what. I do know that El Jefe and I follow Federal Fair Housing guidelines. I had no say in her application. El Jefe never met her and I guarantee the owner is too cheap to fly back from Austria to meet her. So our consciences are clear. Incidentally, she wrote me weeks later asking if the owner had changed his mind because she really needed to move.

The second family who applied were a blended group. The husband had a felony. His 16 year old daughter's 24 year old boyfriend would also be living at the home. Was that a problem? I believe he meant for the owner. It was a huge problem for me, but I am not the owner. There would also be a wife and two other minor children. Anyway, they made it through the approval process (even with the felony) one Friday afternoon. Then they didn't hear from El Jefe. So they called me on Saturday. I suggested they would probably hear from him on Monday, as it was the weekend. And yes, the house was theirs. I had the key and I was taking the next two days off, so nobody was seeing the place. They need not worry. Saturday night they called me again wondering where El Jefe was. This time I gave them El Jefe's phone number. Sunday they called me yet again, still complaining they hadn't heard from El Jefe about the lease. This time I called El Jefe and lit a fire under him. El Jefe called them back, explaining it was the weekend and the lease would be over Monday.  Monday they didn't even bother to call to say they were backing out. Instead, I got an e-mail saying El Jefe was unresponsive and that "bothered" them. I pointed out it was a weekend, they were approved and he did call them Monday. No matter, our company was obviously awful.

The last applicants were a family of--and I am not making this up--12 adults. All of the kids were grown and living at home. Two were married. One of the married couples even had a child. These were the nicest folks I have ever rented a home to. But I have to tell you, when you have 12 opinions it takes more than an hour to show a rental. Plus, the matriarch of the family had to see it three times. The third time I was car-less (she knew this but still "needed" to see it), and I walked over.  It took them a week to put in the application. It took 15 minutes to get them approved. It took them two days to show up at the office to pay their deposit. And it took them four hours to sign the lease--I know this because Mrs. El. Jefe was e-mailing me every ten minutes from the office saying "they are still here, why??" (and by the way, they were sent a copy of the lease ahead of time to read). Marty Sunshine comes from a big family. I have seen these dynamics it drives me bonkers. So, I knew "why" they were still there. I also knew for my own sanity, I wasn't going anywhere near the office that day.

Anyway, there was more considerable drama for me, which took place prior to 7 a.m. one day. Now the place is now rented to a very nice, yet large, family. El Jefe is very worried if they are this much of a pain when it comes to filling out an application and signing a lease, what will they be like when they are living there?

I suspect they will be silent. My experience tells me that folks who squawk loudly at first, tend to calm down once they move in and live out their lives. I am betting this will be the case.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

In other news, we won a fight for our web site domain name. We weren't using it at the moment and it was up for grabs. However, I like the name and I wanted to keep the rights. I found out yesterday it is still ours--at least for the next few years. There is some company in Australia who wants my name and domain name if I am through with it. Maybe in three years or so, I will be.

Or, maybe by then I will need it again.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017


Today I am supposed to get my tax returns. Which means Mr. Ex-Partner will also get his tax returns. I am hoping this will end this chapter or our relationship. That won't be at all bad. A few weeks ago I asked him for some relevant data so that I could have Diamond Jim finish up the taxes. He got back to me this week with the absolute wrong information. No matter, I had already dug it up a week ago because I didn't want to wait any longer. That pretty much sums up my relationship with him.

If I wrote everything I wanted to say, I would sound like I am dogging Mr. Ex-Partner. I would rather not remember him this way. I learned a lot from him. Without him we never would have had the experiences we have had, nor this accidental business journey.

I recognize he is who he is. I also recognize our value systems simply doesn't work well together. Besides, I adore, simply adore, Mrs. Ex-Partner. She, as well as being the most patient spouse ever, is just a wonderful and loving human being.

Marty pointed out this post does not belong in my Lenten Positive Blog space. And to be fair, I deleted a lot of what I wrote and condensed it. However, I maintain this is the most positive I can do at Mr. Ex's expense at the spur of the moment. Perhaps with a bit more time, I can find something else to write about him. But for today, my Lenten Positive Blog space will just be, "Mr. Ex-Partner will soon be out of my life."

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Haunted House

We didn't loose one home yesterday. We lost two.

We bought the house in Grayson Valley with Jack, my former real estate agent. He approached us in 2008 and asked us to partner with him. We agreed, and it went wonky from there. We bought a home, splitting the closing and maintenance costs in half. However, at the time interest rates and loans were more complicated. Our payment was high. Jack was unwilling to pay the costs to refinance, so we didn't. When the home needed an AC, he wanted to finance one, which made no sense, but whatever. Meanwhile, Marty and I paid our share of the maintenance and insurance.

And, a few years into this, I presented Jack with a bill for his share of the expenses. This wasn't a shock to him, as he knew it was coming. But what was a shock was his reaction. He gave us the house. So, to put this in perspective, he owed us $1,400 for his share of maintenance and insurance and he walked away. I still don't understand. It wasn't the money, I know he had it. He just wanted out. As a coincidence, Marty and I were thinking about asking him if we could buy him out, as he didn't seem all that interested in continuing on, but he just gave us his share instead.

One of the more weird aspects of this home was, for the first four years, we had a different tenant every year. I had begun to swear the place was haunted, as the tenants were out at exactly month 12, without looking back. That kind of tenant turnover is rare. It wasn't hard to rent, as it was in a nice neighborhood and backed up to some woods and a golf course. The back yard flooded when it wasn't maintained. Also, there had been several outdoor snake sightings there, which meant I would never, ever live there. But all in all, it is a nice house.

The most unusual story I have about the place is when Jack and I owned it, he was showing it once to this woman. She walked in, asked where the attic was, looked up at the scuttle hole (as there was no ladder, she couldn't look in the attic), and then said it was "perfect" and she would take it. She didn't look at the kitchen or master bedroom. Needless to say, we didn't rent it to her.

Incidentally, once Jack was out of the way, we refinanced and we were cash-flowing. In fact, this house was extremely profitable. If I didn't have to lose this house as part of our closing our accidental business, this is one of the few I would have held on to.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Another One Down

It was the second to the last house I bought. I looked for a picture of the Fultondale home, but I didn't find one. Apparently Google Earth hasn't bothered to get a car with a camera to drive by. The best I could do was see an aerial view with a car in the yard, parked some place cars don't go and a trampoline in the front.

Alice and Tyrone lived here first. Ms. Alice still contacts me once in a while to say hello. They were sweet people and I am glad to have known them. I was sorry to see them go. 

Artie and Candy lived here too. Artie, according to Carolsue was "beautiful man." I don't think I ever met him, but I have a vague image floating around my head, so who knows. He was a man of impeckable character and was a great tenant. Candy was his girlfriend who wanted to play house. On occasion, she would call me, asking for me to bargain with her and not tell Artie she didn't have the rent money. Heaven knows why she called more than once with this favor. I said no every time. 

At one time there was also so woman whose random family member kept dying and she had to use the rent money to pay her funeral expenses. You would think she might mix up the excuse once in a while, but no. She wasn't that original. When does a funeral cost $950? 

Mr. and Mrs. Fultondale called this home for the past several years. Mrs. Fultondale is a bit OCD, and kept that place immaculate--at least on the inside. Last month I told them the unfortunate news. Mrs. Fultondale raised all kinds of hell, but it was too late. The damage was done: I was losing the house and it would impact their future--no matter what she said to me. I know Kirby tried to find her another place to live. I don't know if he succeeded or if they are still living there. I kind of hope they are still there, but I don't really have a reason to want this, other than I just hate to displace someone. Mr. Fultondale grew up in the neighborhood. He told me more than once, as a kid, he used to camp about where this house was located. They wanted to buy the home from me someday. I wish they would have. 

This is also the home where Carolsue announced I painted like a "rich white girl," though I have no idea what that means or how one accomplishes that. Speaking of Carolsue, she and I once went to a yard sale on that street where the person running it innocently asked if Carolsue was my mother. I said yes, before Carolsue could answer and then quickly got out of the way. 

Today it sold to someone for $25,000 less than I owe on it. I hope it makes someone a nice, pleasant home. Or maybe whomever bought it will keep it a rental and let Mr. and Mrs. Fultondale stay.