The first time we discussed selling our condo with any seriousness was in the middle of our eleven hour flight from Paris to San Francisco. That was Friday, August 18th. I remember feeling nauseous the next day—as we reunited with our home of almost six years after several weeks away—questioning why we would choose to forsake its many comforts, not to mention the dining nook renovations we’d only recently completed. On Sunday, jetlagged and up before sunrise, I wrote down the pros and cons of selling, trying to make sense of my conflicting thoughts.
The list in favor was overwhelming. The tidied up version now appears self-evident; corralling so many disparate emotions to get to this point was anything but:
- Liquidating the equity in our condo should give us the money to pay for Stephanie’s grad school tuition (circa 2019–2022).
- Renting should reduce our cost-of-living in the interim, allowing us to further bolster our savings while also making it easier to relocate if Stephanie attends a school outside of San Francisco.
- Both of the above greatly reduce our dependence on my single source of income, should that change in the interim, or as a result of relocating.
- Having lived in our condo in the Mission for almost six years, we were getting a little bored; in retrospect, while all the reasons above were cold, calculated, and driven by economics, this one we feel on a day-to-day basis. It wasn’t until after we moved that we realized how much we needed a change of scenery and routine.
That same Sunday morning I took a peek at the apartment listings on Craigslist. Letting our place go sooner rather than later was predicated on finding a rent that was significantly less than our current mortgage—we did not know if that would be possible. On a whim I started looking in the area around SF State, where Stephanie is completing her Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology. I limited the search to one-bedrooms for less than $2,500 a month, hoping to find something that was about half our current mortgage (including property tax, insurance, and HOA). There was not a lot, but there were several promising mother-in-law units, including one in particular that caught my eye. I texted the owner and got a response that night. We made plans to see the apartment on Tuesday.
The visit went well—we got a really good vibe from owners. The house had been renovated a year earlier, so the unit felt new. The kitchen had everything I wanted. The bathroom was updated. However, Stephanie was concerned about the north-facing windows and the lack of natural light overall, not to mention that things were moving at a breakneck pace—we’d only been back from France for four days! We went to bed that night having all but vetoed the idea. You can imagine my surprise the next morning when Stephanie declared with unusual clarity: “I think the place will work; lets go for it.” That night we signed a lease starting September 1st.
That night I also emailed the real estate agents who had helped us buy our condo, Sue Schultes and Mike Murphy from Paragon. We learned that the timing of the sale would hinge entirely upon the availability of the stagers, many of whom were booked through the end of October. Sue immediately connected us with Design Milagros, who had availability in late September. In the meantime, we started Craigslisting and Goodwilling our stuff to prepare to inhabit a much smaller space. Over Labor Day weekend we started moving things over, one “Jeep-load” at a time. We were completely moved out by the following weekend. This gave the painter time to repaint the “red room” gray and give all the other rooms a fresh coat before the stagers made our place look awesome.
The house officially went on the market Monday, September 23rd. Each of the five open houses over the following week drew upwards of 40-50 buyer groups. Something like 30 disclosure packages were sent out, which was apparently unprecedented. We felt popular by proxy. When we accepted offers on Wednesday, October 4th, there were eleven to choose from! We went with the highest (also the strongest), but the next day we learned that the buyer’s mother forbid the purchase given the condo’s “inauspicious” proximity to the Mission Dolores cemetery. 😱 Since they hadn’t yet paid the deposit, we immediately accepted the second-highest offer. For us this was an auspicious turn of events, because we’d felt a much closer connection with this buyer, via the heartfelt letter she had included with her offer—it was clear that she really loved the place. Et voila, we successfully closed escrow 18 days later, on Monday, October 23rd. We were no longer homeowners. Our real estate adventure was over.