Wednesday, June 6, 2007

House For Sale? By Morgan Mandel

We bought our house over 20 years ago. At the time it was perfect. We were younger, we had less baggage, we loved the Cape Cod style. Our prior house had a one car garage, no fireplace, no separate dining room. This one had all the features we were looking for when we bought it.

Time has passed. We've accumulated way too many objects. We don't use the second floor except for going to bed at night. It's just too much trouble to tromp up and down the stairs. We still love the two car garage and the fireplace. We'd prefer a larger kitchen with a bigger eating area instead of the separate dining room since we have a more casual lifestyle now.

We have a few choices. We can add onto the house. By doing this, we can still keep the home we've grown to love. Though it doesn't fit our needs, we can try to make it what we want. We can add on a first floor utility room and master bedroom with bathroom, plus a larger kitchen. The problems with doing this are we'll be faced with workmen underfoot, dust, decisions about layout and materials, a mess we'd have to live with for at least three months but probably longer, not to mention higher taxes since we'll still have a second floor we're not using.

Or we can sell the house we've grown attached to and get one that's new to us and fits our needs. It will mean getting the house into shape by painting the walls, putting in new carpeting, cleaning, throwing out an accumulation of extra clothes and objects. Also, our present location is great. We'll need to find a house similarly situated, but with all the qualifications we now require. The market is tough. Even after we go through all this preparation, buyers may reject our home. We may need to relist it with other brokers. It still may not sell.

What does this have to do with writing and books? Look on your manuscript as a house. You write it and fix it. You rearrange chapters, you change what your characters think and do, you eliminate chunks of backstory and weave it into the plot instead, your check the grammar and spelling, you do your best to balance dialogue and narrative. That's not enough. You keep finding more and more things wrong that need to be improved. You like your manuscript but can't give it up into someone else's hands. Instead, you live with it.

Your other option is to put your manuscript up for sale. You do your best to get it ready, check the market and see where it should go, then take the plunge and submit it for publication. This approach is more daring. The market is tough. Publishers have an abundance of submissions. You might get rejected and not even know why. You might get criticized and need to figure out if you should change your manuscript. You might have to resubmit it.

If you succeed, your reward will be great. Instead of that manuscript lying around taking it up space, you'll have a beautiful book with a great cover for everyone to enjoy.

Which would you prefer?

Morgan Mandel


Jon Baxley said...


With the $500,000 every-two-year Bush tax benefit for selling your personal home, I think the choice of selling or renovating would be an easy one. You should sell, move into a rental and take that tax free half mil and buy the lot you want wherever you want. You'll have enough money left over to build exactly the house you want and live happily ever after.

Sentimentality has no place in the real estate realm. Do it for the cash, then in two years, you can do it all over again and get the tax break a second time.

Good luck, whatever you decide.

Jon Baxley

PS: I ghostwrite real estate books on the side...

Terri Stone said...

Excuse me but why are you calling the $500,000 capital gains exclusion for married filing joint tax status a Bush tax benefit? That tax law change occured for tax year 1996. Here's the IRS reference: