Thursday, June 25, 2015


If you are reading this blog for the first time let me give you a brief recap.  My husband lost his job in 2008.  I lost my job in 2009.  We were told to update our skills, attend outplacement meetings, unemployment support groups, all of which we did.  We were told to reinvent ourselves.  Our lives were up in the air.  
I would recommend watching the movie, Up in the Air, about people losing their jobs and what a devastating experience it is.  When one person in a family loses their job it is frightening.  Try to imagine having two people without a job in a household.  You know your life will never get back to where it was especially when you are both in your late 50s and early 60s, no matter what you do to try to fix it.  Not everything can be fixed.

Then to add insult to injuiry, my husband had a stroke in 2010.  We put our house on the market and after a year took it off the market.  I became a substitute teacher and my husband got a temporary part time job in a library.  We cut back on everything and continued to live in NJ.  After a while, it became clear that we could no longer afford to stay in NJ.  We put our house back on the market in 2014 and four months ago, moved to Delaware.  

It was a big adjustment, picking up and moving lock, stock and barrel to another location where we didn't know anyone especially when we never wanted to move in the first place.  Both our families are still in NJ.  We are gradually adjusting to our new life here and although there are things we miss about our old life, there are more plusses than minuses to the decision we made to relocate.  It was, after all, a matter of survival, something we had to do.

We reinvented ourselves all the way to Delaware.

I am still substitute teaching.  We live in a nicer house in a friendly community and all things considered, it's not bad.  It's just different but we are okay.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Three Years Later

Well, I'm back.  I am still substitute teaching but gave up the caregiver job for a few reasons.  First, the agency wanted me to pay $500 to train to become a certified home health aide in addition to paying for my certification and books.  Second, and most importantly, I was notified by social security that they overpaid me for making too much money.  The caregiver job put me around $3,000 over what I was supposed to make while taking early social security benefits.  They will be deducting money from my checks for the next 3 1/2 years as an alternative to paying it in one lump sum.

My husband is still working at the library through National Council on Aging which was taken over by another outfit.  He has to find another job when that job expires next year.

The school district I work for has limited me to working 4 days a week because they don't want to pay for health care.  I am working in another district to try to fill in the gaps whenever possible.

We are still living in our little house which we put back on the market five months ago.  We have found another place to live in Delaware contingent upon the sale of this house and closing before the end of the year which without an offer, thus far, doesn't seem likely.  Still, the thought of moving lock, stock and barrel after almost 35 years of living in the same house is daunting.

We are in a holding pattern and not able to get to where we want to go.  How we have managed to survive without going into debt, I can't even tell you except to say that you'd be surprised at how many things you can live without if you have to.  We're not starving and I've become quite adept at preparing economical, tasty and nutritious meals.

That is my story as it stands for now.

Friday, August 26, 2011


At this point, it is a safe assumption that my husband and I have been forced into semi-retirement.  We are working part time and per diem jobs.  Our unemployment benefits have been exhausted.  We have accepted our downgraded lifestyle and don’t think very much about the future.  We are happy with the essence of our jobs but not the wages.   Right now, there is a lot less stress in our lives on a daily basis and we are grateful for every new day. 
Life is a lot like a carton of eggs; one stumble away from being scrambled.  This is what I have taken away from the last several years.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Summer 2011

We have taken our house off the market and relieved that we are no longer dealing with the realtor or his company.   He actually offered to take it off the market a week before the contract expired.  He came yesterday and took the lock box and the signs off the lawn.   I can put my pictures back out, take down the indoor signs and start to feel like I live here again. 
The home care agency is keeping me busy with several clients and I am finding it to be interesting and rewarding.  My latest client is 102 years old, living in the independent living setup.  I see her first thing in the morning several times a week and I look forward to our visits.  Another client has a garden which I enjoy helping him with.   My clients also look forward to seeing me so it is mutually satisfying.
My husband is working at the library, although they have reduced his hours due to Federal cuts.
Our daughter got engaged on Father’s Day so we are looking forward to a wedding sometime in the not too distant future.
All in all, we are still in a holding pattern, but in a better place than we were at this time last year.  (My husband was in rehab with no income due to being denied temporary disability.)
That’s the latest from this 99er.
“Abundance is a state of mind within you.  If you just look at ‘lack’ the lack increases in life.”  Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Buyers' Mirage

In conjunction with my previous post is this article I found describing the problems both buyers and sellers are having in the present real estate market.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Point of View

Let me tell you what is going on in the real estate world right now based on my experience with a house on the market for the last year.   First of all, no matter what you are told, it’s all about three things:  the buyer purchasing an affordable house, the seller coming away with enough money to move on, and the agents getting their commissions.  If you think about it, that’s what it has always been about.  
That has all changed.  Before the bubble burst, mortgages were being granted willy nilly to people who couldn’t realistically afford them.  In the last few years,  homeowners  suddenly found themselves underwater or treading water; thus,  the creation of short sales (mortgages higher than home values) and more foreclosures at one time.  High unemployment is one of the reasons, lack of good paying jobs, rising prices of gas and food, and lack of confidence in the American Dream and the economy in general.  I am not an economic expert but in simple terms this is how I see it.
For all of these reasons, those making a living in real estate have found themselves in trying times.  Well, join the masses.  A realtor will list your home at a price you think is reasonable.  If your house hasn’t sold, a month later he asks you to lower your price by about $10,000.  When you agree to do that and your home sits for another month or so, he asks you to lower the price again.  So you lower your price another $10,000.  No offer yet?  Must still be priced too high.  In the meantime, buyers are sitting on the sidelines watching and waiting for prices to keep dropping, maybe even watching a few homes in particular to see how far they will drop before making an offer.
While this is happening, realtors are putting pressure on sellers by subjecting them to high pressure sales meetings (under the guise of evaluating their sales agent’s performance).  They are telling sellers that they are competing with many foreclosures and that the competition is stiff.  They e-mail you reports and statistics supporting their position, predicting the doom and gloom ahead, all with the intent of getting you to lower your sales price. 
Then you receive a Saleability Check List, really more of a realtor’s wish list which you are asked to check and sign off on.  Some of the items include:  list below market rate, above market commission, extra items included, home protection plan, avoid contingencies, owner financing.  Good luck with that!
Not once do they offer to lower their commission.  After all, they have to make a living but expect you to sacrifice your financial position for their benefit.  The realtor and the seller become at cross purposes.
Then if you get an offer, they try to get you to make a counteroffer as close to the buyer’s offer as possible.  They tell you the buyer has made their best offer and is considering another house in the neighborhood, your competition.  You tell them so be it.  So they ask to meet with you again.  When you refuse, they try to bamboozle you into a “scheduled” telephone conference but you don’t take the bait.  Then they e-mail you asking if you will make a counteroffer.  You tell them no and to stop calling and e-mailing in an effort to dissuade you and the seller/agent relationship finally breaks down.
Sellers continue to lower their prices, lowering the values of all the homes around them.  Buyers believe the sellers are overpricing their homes.  Appraisers come in basing their evaluations on the homes that have recently sold (at greatly reduced prices) and it’s a vicious cycle where no one is winning but the buyer and the agent.  With the Internet it has become easier for sellers to do a For Sale By Owner.  The way things are going, if you can eliminate the middle man (the realtor) you will pocket more in the transaction.  I’m not suggesting this is an easier route but it eliminates the commission (unless a realtor shows your home) which is a big savings.  
This is the view and has been the experience of a seller in this market.  I welcome other viewpoints and any comments.