Give me a fixer-upper and I’ll turn him into someone desirable — for someone else.
I am a man flipper. I meet a man, fix him up and flip him to someone else. Unlike people who flip real estate — buying houses, renovating them and selling them for a tidy profit — I see no gain from this arrangement, only loss.
I don’t want to be doing this, but something attracts me to men who are emotionally withdrawn, and I have a talent for drawing them out. For their future wives and girlfriends, apparently.
I once saw a meme about the “dating pool” in midlife that featured an empty swimming pool with lawn chairs and debris blown into it. I laughed because it was so true. I never expected to be dating again in my 40s. I thought I had avoided this fate when I married in my 20s.
My first love was a heavy-drinking academic who quit drinking after we broke up and settled down with a wife and a baby on an acre in the Pacific Northwest. My second love was an emotionally stunted biologist who drove a Toyota Tacoma and listened to Kid Rock but within whom I recognized, and nurtured, a deep tenderness. He broke up with me the day after he finally told me that he loved me (I guess it scared him), and he later married the woman I had lived with when I was dating him.
After those two heartbreaks, my friends joked that my secret talent was teaching men how to love someone — just not me. I thought I had broken the pattern when I married, but the man who became my husband turned out to be mercurial and cruel. We had a child together, but as hard as I tried, I was never able to fix him. At least not for me.
After our divorce, he married a woman a decade my junior, and I wondered if all the work I had done making him own up to his behavior and understand the need to change would mean that his new wife would be spared the mistreatment I received. I wished a calmer marriage for her, which they appear to have achieved.
Years passed, and in my post-married life, the men flipping resumed. There was the former monk who abstained from everything, including sex, but when I stopped seeing him, he moved into a comfortable relationship with an acupuncturist. Then the wildland firefighter who chased me for years and disappeared when I was finally available. All of those setbacks had turned me into a woman who was disillusioned, celibate and ready to give up.
Then, at 40, I met Rich. He was sitting across a bar and looked like he was 25 (he turned out to be 32). Tall and skinny with kind eyes, he felt safe to me, like someone I would never really fall for — not in the way where I lost control.
I invited him over, had sex with him, told him that we should do it again sometime and entered his number into my phone. I knew it was risky, but he was so sweet and earnest. That safe feeling wasn’t something I was used to.
Because I’m a divorced mother and protective of my son, I only let Rich visit when my boy was at his father’s house, so we saw each other every other weekend. It was intensely casual but also weirdly stable. These weren’t booty calls; they were planned visits. I cooked us dinner, and we cuddled.
We liked each other, but our dynamic was that I took care of him. I knew that for a relationship to be serious, I needed someone who took care of me too. Still, I enjoyed our time together and wanted it to last.
As we grew to know each other, I learned that he was old-fashioned in matters of the heart. The youngest of seven children, he was the family baby. He was strictly monogamous, and I never worried that he was seeing anyone else because he was honest — almost to a fault in how he routinely expressed his hesitations and doubts.
He also didn’t try to charm, flatter or otherwise tell me what I wanted to hear, which was both disarming and strangely nice. My marriage had made it hard for me to trust men, but I trusted Rich.
The first time that we almost broke up was when he came over and said, “I feel like we should break up. I just have a feeling that this is going to end terribly.”
I looked at him for a long time, then said, “But what if it doesn’t?”
Someone asked me once where I thought my resilience came from. I hesitated, then said, “For women, too often, I think what we mistake as resilience is actually just endurance.”
I don’t know if my endurance has served me well. It takes a special kind of endurance to look at the train barreling down the tracks and say, “But what if it doesn’t hit me this time?”
Rich and I had more breakups after that. I started to want more, but our lives were incompatible, so we broke up and remained friends. Then I accepted a job 70 miles away, so it seemed OK for us to have sex “just one more time” before I moved, but then I wasn’t moving that far away, so it seemed OK if he came to visit occasionally.
Then the visits were so nice that they became regular, then we spent four days together while my son was at his father’s over Thanksgiving break, and during that visit, when I had the beginnings of a cold, Rich walked my dog for me, brought me tea and cooked for me.
Suddenly, I sat at my kitchen table while he made cornbread and thought, “Oh, no. He’s taking care of me now. This is dangerous territory.”
And what does it say about me that when a relationship starts to get good is when the dread creeps in? What does it say about my history of heartbreak that I assume men will leave me when they finally learn how to love me? In horror movies, things are always calmest just before the monster springs from the closet. I have spent most of my adult life anticipating monsters.
And they arrived. In January last year, just before the pandemic, he had a crisis of faith and broke up with me. This time, it lasted. Neither of us entered this relationship thinking it would be forever, but still I was devastated.
There is a peculiar kind of bittersweetness to living with a broken heart in winter, even more so while socially distancing alone with my son. I kept expecting to wake up and not miss Rich, but each morning was a disappointment.
It turned out that he missed me too, so in July, while my son was at his father’s place for a long summer stretch, we got back together, and we were honest with each other — that we didn’t know where our lives were going, but we could be committed to each other while holding space for that unknowing.
I have never existed well in a space of uncertainty, but my divorce taught me that there are no guarantees in relationships. Maybe, I thought, just this once, the train would jump the tracks before impact. But if it didn’t, I knew I would have the endurance to survive it.
In the eight months that we have been back together, we have finally said “I love you,” and he has met my son (they like each other). We have also talked about making a home together. I send him listings from Zillow, and he offers commentary. I know that neither of us has ever loved another in this way, and that what we have is special.
Still, he has told me that he thinks he wants to have children someday, and more children are not in my future. The monsters loom. I have to live with this unknowing. My endurance keeps me here: Watching the train and hoping that it will jump the tracks. He told me the other day, “You’ve helped me grow so much. I’m a different person than I was when I met you.”
I know it’s true, and when I look at him, I can see his future with someone very lucky, which is why I don’t want to flip this one just yet. Maybe, this time, that very lucky person will be me.
Modern Love can be reached at email@example.com.
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In a competitive real estate market, it pays to shop smart – Vernon Morning Star
Today’s real estate market may seem a bit intimidating, especially for first-time buyers, “smart-sizers,” or those who are looking to move up. No matter what your position on the ladder, these days buying a home requires knowledgeable, expert advice, and not just to choose the right area.
When buying a home, some factors seem obvious, including its location, proximity to schools, and the commute to work, for example. You might also consider recreation opportunities nearby and whether the home will fit your family today, and tomorrow, note Value Plus 3% Real Estate’s Paula Skladan-Roughton and Nik Roughton.
Together, they can help you figure out what you need and want in a home in practical terms and also help you navigate the fast-paced sellers’ market that is today’s real estate reality.
Changes to how homes are purchased has meant changes to how they’re sold too, and many buyers find the process intimidating and confusing. It’s essential to find a local real estate team that brings their expertise to the table to make the complicated process of buying a home in today’s hot market as enjoyable as it can be. “We know what you can expect in today’s market and will make sure you’re prepared to meet the demands of a different way of buying and selling.”
More than bricks and mortar
Buying a home today is about far more than its physical location. To be successful, buyers need to be prepared to make an offer that will tick all the boxes for the seller and the buyer.
When a home comes onto the market, most sellers are offering limited showings, and then will accept offers within a certain timeframe, meaning buyers must be prepared with market know-how and a clear idea of their real estate needs, Paula notes. With only one chance to make a blind offer, you need to know how to play the game.
“This time can be an emotional roller-coaster for buyers, so it’s important to understand the current market dynamics so you can make the best offer you can,” Nik says, noting that by looking at the history of offers on similar houses vs. the final selling prices, they’ll take into account what you feel good about paying. “Your home is a big investment, so you want to make sure it’s the right home at the right price.”
Everyone is asking when the market will crash, but Nik notes that “the way we buy and sell houses has changed since the last market correction.”
Changes to government regulations on real estate sales have created more stability in the market, and Nik doesn’t expect a correction any time soon, especially in sought-after communities like Vernon, and with COVID showing that we can work from home.
“Buying a new home is an exciting time, and we can use our experience to help you make the best offer on the home you want,” Paula adds.
Check out their website here.
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What Sold: 31 Newport County real estate sales, transactions (July 25 – 31) – What'sUpNewp
Real estate, like any industry, is based on the foundation of supply and demand. Sellers are seeing premium prices for their homes due to low-interest rates and even lower inventory; which makes for a very competitive environment from a buyer’s perspective.
If you’re considering selling or simply want to know what your home may be worth in today’s market, I am offering confidential, complimentary, and no-strings-attached home value analyses to anyone interested.
If you have any real estate questions, please give me a call directly at 401-241-1851 or email me at TylerB@remaxnewportri.com.
In the meantime, here’s what sold in Newport County last week.
225 Ruggles Avenue sold for $9,391,635 on July 26. This 10,530 sq. ft home has 10 beds and 9.2 baths.
21 Chastellux Avenue sold for $7,100,000 on July 27. This 5,000 sq. ft home has 5 beds and 5.1 baths.
19 Stockholm Street sold for $645,200 on July 28. This 1,343 sq. ft home has 3 beds and 2 baths.
26 Mumford Avenue sold for $589,000 on July 30. This 1,320 sq. ft home has 3 beds and 1.1 baths.
50 Admiral Kalbfus Road sold for $410,000 on July 27. This 988 sq. ft home has 3 beds and 1.1 baths.
109 Church Street #3 sold for $360,000 on July 28. This 697 sq. ft home has 1 bed and 1 bath.
35 Pelham Street #E sold for $357,500 on July 28. This 810 sq. ft home has 1 bed and 1.1 baths.
241 Tuckerman Avenue sold for $1,265,000 on July 26. This 1,807 sq. ft home has 3 beds and 2 baths.
35 Bliss Mine Road sold for $705,000 on July 29. This 2,228 sq. ft home has 4 beds and 2 baths.
14 Pocahontas Drive sold for $535,000 on July 27. This 1,914 sq. ft home has 3 beds and 2.1 baths.
1 Wood Road sold for $445,000 on July 26. This 1,552 sq. ft home has 4 beds and 3 baths.
28 Stockton Drive sold for $355,000 on July 30. This 1,116 sq. ft home has 3 beds and 1 bath.
50 Eastover Road sold for $3, 200,000 on July 26. This 6,597 sq. ft home has 6 beds and 5.2 baths.
33 Strawberry Lane sold for $1,406,250 on July 26. This 3,407 sq. ft home has 4 beds and 3.1 baths.
1115 Anthony Road sold for $1,005,000 on July 29. This 2,176 sq. ft home has 4 beds and 4 baths.
25 Mary Lane sold for $745,200 on July 27. This 2,489 sq. ft home has 4 beds and 3 baths.
5 Benedict Avenue sold for $625,000 on July 30. This 2,276 sq. ft home has 4 beds and 3 baths.
120 Pheasant Drive sold for $612,500 on July 30. This 1,330 sq. ft home has 3 beds and 2 baths.
14 Pioneer Lane sold for $390,000 on July 29. This 1,288 sq. ft home has 4 beds and 1 bath.
59 King Phillip Street sold for $335,000 on July 30. This 1,200 sq. ft home has 3 beds and 1 bath.
338 340 West Main Road sold for $406,000 on July 29. This one-story home spans 1,536 sq. ft.
121 Steamboat Street sold for $699,900 on July 27. This 1,288 sq. ft home has 3 beds and 2 baths.
53 Conanicus Avenue #3F sold for $654,900 on July 30. This 1,309 sq. ft home has 2 beds and 2 baths.
274 Teaberry Lane sold for $800,000 on July 28. This 3,030 sq. ft home has 4 beds and 2.1 baths.
120 Horizon Drive sold for $515,000 on July 26. This 1,792 sq. ft home has 3 beds and 3.1 baths.
240 Hooper Street sold for $328,000 on July 30. This 1,154 sq. ft home has 3 beds and 1.1 baths.
60 Kaufman Road sold for $320,000 on July 30. This 1,254 sq. ft home has 3 beds and 1.1 baths.
1034 Stafford Road sold for $295,000 on July 28. This 1,150 sq. ft home has 2 beds and 1 bath.
23 Willow Street sold for $217,500 on July 30. This 546 sq. ft home has 1 bed and 1 bath.
15 Blackbird Street sold for $185,000 on July 29. This 960 sq. ft home has 2 beds and 1.1 baths.
100 Songbird Lane sold for $165,000 on July 30. This 1,300 sq. ft home has 2 beds and 2 baths.
Nothing to report.
More from What’s Up Newp
Maine's on the map, and our real estate is having moment – Mainebiz
Years ago, on a business trip to San Francisco, I told the cab driver I was from Maine. He replied with, “is that part of Canada?”
Well today, it’s safe to say that most everyone knows exactly where Maine is on the map. The Pine Tree State’s popularity accelerated during the pandemic, bringing in more out-of-state buyers and pushing real estate prices way up.
More people ‘from away’
While Mainers still make up the lion’s share of home purchases, the percentage of out-of-state buyers is increasing. According to the Maine Real Estate Information Systems (MREIS), 29.71% of single-family buyers in all of 2020 came from outside of Maine. In the first quarter of 2021, that percentage rose to 34.29%. That same data shows that for the past two years the top 10 states they moved from were, in order from highest, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, California, Florida, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia.
Where are they moving to?
While Maine-based buyers often have a certain town or neighborhood in mind, those from outside the state are looking for specific amenities. Given the pandemic, many of those coming from metropolitan areas are interested in moving more suburban. Close to an urban center, but where they can have lawns, swing sets, gardens and privacy.
Compared to where they’re moving from, towns like South Portland, Falmouth and Westbrook would be part of the metro region or even part of Portland itself. Many out-of-state buyers don’t care whether they are in Falmouth or Scarborough if they have proximity to the city and a home that provides the amenities they want. Price conscious buyers that don’t need quick access to downtown will go out even further. Others are more specific. Buyers with children are choosing towns where schools show higher test scores, and those for whom money is little object are choosing coastal, waterfront communities.
For the first quarter of 2021, MREIS reported a statewide median price increase of 14.41% over 2020 for single family homes. Over that same period, prices in Greater Portland — Cape Elizabeth, Cumberland, Falmouth, Freeport, Gorham, North Yarmouth, Portland, Scarborough, South Portland, Westbrook, Windham, Yarmouth — were up 20%. In Portland itself, the median sales price jumped 39% over last year. Why? While lower inventory and increased buyer demand were the primary drivers, an increase in buyers from outside the state drove it home.
These buyers come from larger markets where similar homes might sell for double or triple the asking prices in Maine. They often have reverse sticker shock. With cash from a recent sale and the ability to bring their remote city salary job with them, they’re prepared to pay well over-asking prices.
Most Realtors expect that upward trend to continue well into 2021, creating a seller’s market with low inventory, robust buyer demand, and competitive offer situations. With the proliferation of work from home opportunities and baby boomers choosing to retire and purchase second homes in Maine, our real estate prices, and the percentage of buyers from away will likely continue. Just how long is anyone’s guess, but for the moment, most in the real estate industry believe it could be a while.
Tom Landry, owner of Benchmark Real Estate and CornerStone Building and Restoration in Portland, is a Realtor in southern Maine and develops and renovates residential and mixed-use properties.
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