The Clock is Ticking

The house is signed, sealed…and almost delivered. The property my grandparents bought is about to be unloaded, and not a moment too soon: to my surprise, I’ve gotten a cash offer for $250,000 with just a walk-through required rather than a full inspection or an appraisal (it’s with Opendoor), which is about what Zillow estimates my house to be worth on the open market…and the amount I’d net is what I’ve for a while considered my minimum acceptable number for the proceeds, enough to get me started with my new life in Southern California.

So I’ve decided to take the offer, made all the more urgent by the fact that further consultations have revealed that the issue I have with the beams lying on the ground, causing sagging floors in the kitchen and formal living room, also will necessitate the new buyer to do extensive work on the walls, and completely replace the floor of the entire house, which together with kitchen updates could easily come to $100,000 worth of work.

I realize it certainly would never pass an FHA or VA inspection to qualify for a loan, and no bank would appraise it for $250,000, so selling it to a normal buyer through a listing on the open market is a dubious prospect to say the least. Opendoor is marking off money for repairs from my proceeds, but at $20,000 or so it comes to a relative bargain compared to what they’re probably really going to be paying.

The other cash offers I got were much lower than what Opendoor offered, and I think it’s because the person they sent to do the walk-through fell in love with the house and thought it was really charming, so much so I was wondering at the time if she might like to buy it herself if Opendoor didn’t want it! 🤪

We must Accelerate our Plans…

I could choose any closing date I wanted between 90 and (I think?) 20 days out, and originally I opted for April 4, which gives me a nice cushion of 4 days to get out to wherever along the path of the total solar eclipse I’m going to see the thing. I’m not leaving for Europe until after that, but I could proceed out of the country directly from my eclipse trip; there’s no particular reason I have to come back to my house between those two jaunts. Indeed, I’m even contemplating the possibility of doing a bit of a road trip to Northern Virginia so I can fly out of Dulles; unlike my local airport, there are quite a few direct flights to Amsterdam, which I might like to avail myself of.

But thinking about it last night…it actually kept me up later than usual, worrying about the prospect of Opendoor changing their mind and backing out of the deal, given the additional length of time involved. So I’ve contacted my realtor and we’re working on an amendment to accelerate the closing to 30 days out, which I’ve already signed, giving us a new tentative date of March 18, creepily enough the anniversary of when one of the original owners of the place died. Though he says he will contact them after the long weekend and see if they’d be agreeable to doing it even sooner.

My Smile Makeover: almost Finished…

I can’t up and leave my area on March 18. Most importantly, I have a medical treatment in progress: getting my chipped tooth, which was just bonded all the way back in the 2000s, redone as a porcelain veneer, with various slight angling issues with the front four teeth also being corrected with veneers (a bonus of that is ensuring that the color and other optical properties of the four front teeth all match; it’s more aesthetically pleasing and carries less risk).

As of this week I have my prototypes inserted into my mouth, and wearing them I…really love them? My teeth now look gorgeous whenever I show them, easily the equal of all those people at the dance studio with their straight white teeth that I’ve always resented. And get this: I always thought I was intrinsically awful at smiling, but with the veneer prototypes my smile when I try to flash one looks perfectly fine! So that deficiency in me wasn’t because of my facial expression, but rather the geometry and color of my frontmost teeth; like my experience with getting dermal filler, it just goes to show the causes of aesthetic issues are very often not what you think. It’s tricky, non-obvious stuff, filled with optical illusions; all quite fascinating, really, but in this case, mercifully, it all works out in my favor.

It’s even proving to be merciful on my wallet; I was quoted $13,000 originally, but it turns out there was a slight mistake in how they coded my treatment, so the true figure comes to $11,000, significantly lighter. Helping to lighten the burden still further is a loan courtesy of Lending Club; they let me have an installment plan for the amount, which comes to around $200 a month. Much better than having to pay that $11,000 out of pocket, believe me, even if there is some substantial interest over the course of 7 years (yes, it’s a 7-year loan, which was the longest term they had; the way I see it, why drain my liquidity right now any more than I have to?).

Anyway, the prototypes are obviously not the final form of the treatment; I have a follow-up appointment to confirm the look and feel of them, and if I approve of them (I think I will!), then they’ll submit instructions to the laboratory to prepare the actual veneers. Tentatively I’m scheduled for March 26 to get the actual veneers bonded onto my teeth, which is the big one. I’ve got a “first post-op appointment” for March 28, which is the last one I’ve got scheduled for now. They’re aware of my travel plans starting in April, so it shouldn’t be an issue.

Treatments Galore…but only ’til Eclipse Time

The upshot is that I’ll need to stay in my local area several weeks beyond the closing date, which likely means an extended-stay hotel in the nearest major city. Not exactly my ideal schedule going into all this, but I’m prepared for that contingency; I’ve even got a couple of places scoped out.

In addition to the veneers, I’ve got two fillings that need to be worked on, perhaps in the middle of March, and my final microneedling appointment with the clinic I selected in the nearest major city will likely be on March 26. Everything is geared toward being finished by eclipse time, including my last dance lessons, classes, and parties in my area.

Goodbye, Acquaintances…

I’ll be sad to see some of these people go, but at least my current go-to coach is actually doing a dance event abroad later this year and we’re both tentatively planning to make a little vacation out of it, so that’s nice. If I’m road-tripping cross-country for whatever reason I could even drop in on my favorite dance studio. 😉  So it need not be goodbye altogether, but it will be the last time they’ll all be seeing me on a weekly basis, that’s for sure (well…unless they follow me to California; I wouldn’t put it past my best friend to do that, but she’s already moved away, so…meh).

I’m still working on getting a moving company to transport and store the bulk of my personal belongings on the trip cross-country, which entails expense, but it is necessary. I have neither the inclination nor the ability to do it myself. It shouldn’t be too difficult to get all that done by the middle of March.

How much Runway? Too much Runway!…

What really concerns me is the sheer expense of moving to the coast of Greater Los Angeles. I could do short-term rentals such as extended-stay hotels or Airbnb…indeed, that’ll likely be necessary, since it’s questionable if I’d even qualify for a long-term rental, especially in the areas I’d like to live in. And I don’t know the region all that well, so that would be the smarter choice anyway, at least in the short term. Any way you slice it, however, I’ll be draining thousands a month that I’m not spending now, so I’ll need to buckle down and get that dance studio going.

Considering that the amount of money I’m getting from the house will be just barely enough to do what I want to do, I’m thinking of a bare-bones lean startup model, so I could get started with under $10,000 worth of costs, and perhaps achieve profitability within a year with some luck. That leaves me with a lot of financial runway.

…Until Baby comes into the Picture

Which gets me questioning about the timeline for me to do the other big project I have in mind: baby Eowyn. As a prospective single father by choice who’s done my research, I know egg donors and surrogates don’t come cheap, but the costs I see quoted are all over the place. I definitely couldn’t afford to pay the $200,000 and up figures that I see bandied about, so if that’s what it comes to I’d have to forget about it until I make more money, but if I could hold the total cost all-in to $100,000 or less I might like to get started immediately upon my return from Europe (or perhaps Japan, if I work a side trip over there into the itinerary). My sense is I’ll have to directly inquire and shop around to find out for sure, which is yet another process that takes time and heartache.

With the resources I’d have even $100,000 or somewhat less would be an enormous drain on my liquidity, but financing is available through a lot of these agencies, so that might be a possibility to explore. An installment loan, similar to the one I got for my veneers but of course much larger in size, would come to a payment of perhaps $2000 per month. Steep, but not nearly so much as shelling out the $100,000 in cash. My issue is I’m not sure if I’d even qualify to get a loan that big; in the first place, although I have six figures worth of assets my steady income is zero (a loan that big they might be more inclined to verify it instead of taking my word for it like a credit card does…), and in the second place I already have substantial medical debts courtesy of my veneers and my microneedling treatments, which come to a grand total of $17,000, costing $300 per month to service. My credit score is considered good despite everything, but I suspect that might not be enough to get a personal loan that’s as big as some people’s mortgages. We might have to see about that.

Leveraged Indexing: Baby’s best Hope?

Frankly, we’d have to see about it even if I did have the liquidity. The payments for surrogacy are typically structured in tranches, and the whole process can easily take up to two years end-to-end, so with how aggressively I invest (leveraged indexing) it’s entirely possible my nest egg could grow (or shrink…) substantially over that time anyway.

Although it may well be wishful thinking on my part, it has crossed my mind that if I get the proceeds, go all in on TQQQ, and the Nasdaq 100 has another banner year with a 30% gain, my portfolio will double and the house proceeds will grow to $300,000 by the middle of next year, obviating any of these concerns. Even a $200,000 bill for having the baby would become doable; a margin loan for $100,000 segues from on-the-knife-edge to comfortably conservative (assuming I leverage down after I get it, of course; we wouldn’t want to trigger a margin call). Quite a bit of runway would open up. Whether leveraging up that heavily will be worth the risk…I don’t know. I’ll have to see how I feel when I get the money wired to my brokerage account, hehe.

to Job or not to Job?

The numbers become a lot easier if I successfully get a full-time job that pays, say, $40 an hour, which with my existing skills and experience I might be able to get. My talents are frankly wasted as a regular employee, as opposed to a business owner, but just a year at such a position would give me $80,000 to play with, which even in Los Angeles is nothing to sneeze at. It’d easily be enough to cover even a nice rental near the coast, freeing my investment portfolio from that particular form of liquidity drain. Joining a startup of some sort as well as the real estate space are two possibilities I’d like to explore anyway, but the rub is I’m not sure how any of that would work out, given my unusual résumé, whereas I am certain I can start on the dance studio and event space concept immediately.

So I’ll be starting on the dance studio first, and seeing what I can find out about other avenues for earning money second. That way all my bases are covered to, if I might use a lean startup term, build the minimum viable product of my dream life. Wish me luck…

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