Condo Kismet

I generally don’t write much about real estate, but those who have visited Mike Industries over the last couple of months may have noticed a few posts about the housing market; the cause of which being, I’ve been looking for a new place.

Well happy, happy day. I just bought a place! I wouldn’t call the back story miraculous or anything, but I do find it extremely satisfying that after months of going through the standard channels of condo shopping (an agent, e-mail alerts, RSS, etc etc etc), it was a simple post on this very blog that set into motion the chain of events that led to a happy purchase.

Here’s what happened:

A week after writing this entry, I got a call from a friend of mine, Jason Grove (Thanks Jason!), who had read the post and said he knew a friend who was about to put her place on the market. I was skeptical because without seeing pictures first, chances are I wouldn’t be into it. I arranged to head over there the following evening not expecting much. Turns out the place was really great and the sellers were very nice people as well.

The place was scheduled to go on the market in three days so I made one more visit the next day to check it out under brighter conditions. I ended up making an informal offer that day, and long story short, we were able to come to an agreement about a week later which cut out the 6% realtor fees and let us both quit worrying about the Seattle real estate market for the foreseeable future. Everybody’s happy.

A few details on the place: 2 bedrooms. 2 baths. 1188 square feet. Lower Queen Anne neighborhood. Four blocks from Newsvine. Walls of windows to the north and the west overlooking Puget Sound and Magnolia… so yes, the Mike Industries Live Cam will return to its functional state in a couple of weeks. The only downside to the place that needs immediate remedying is the popcorn ceiling. Any advice on how best to remove this stuff (cost, time, safety, contractor recs, etc)?

It’s weird that a simple 15-minute blog post can have such a dramatic impact on your life sometimes. It’s even weirder that I’m going in for the inspection tomorrow and the seller sent — in her absence — a friend to let me in. That friend’s name? Mike Davidson.

31 comments on “Condo Kismet”. Leave your own?
  1. Calvin Tang says:

    “It’s even weirder that I’m going in for the inspection tomorrow and the seller sent — in her absence — a friend to let me in. That friend’s name? Mike Davidson.”

    Maybe she meant for you to let yourself in.

  2. gb says:

    Now if only my seattle job hunt were that easy…

    I am bit worried about you meeting Mike Davidson face to face… won’t that cause a temporal distortion in the space/time continuum? ‘Cause, you know, I don’t want the universe obliterated because you wanted to inspect your new property…

  3. Keith says:

    Congrats bro! I know if you’re stoked about the place it’s got to be pretty sweet. That said, when’s the housewarming?

  4. Mike D. says:

    Thanks. Keith, I’m thinking about having a party for Festivus. I’ll let you know. You’re on the hook for the aluminum pole.

  5. Don says:

    Don’t tell them any changes you are considering until AFTER you close. They may love that feature …

    Shhh until you close. Congrats.

  6. Mike Rundle says:

    I have a popcorn ceiling too, let us join in Festivus-like anti-celebration!

    How to kill your ceiling with pictures and other happy shit. Good luck :)

  7. Richard says:

    Getting a new place is always a great feeling. Did you have any buyer’s remorse? Maybe just a little? I guess nothing that your share of the saved realtor fee percentage couldn’t fix ;)
    -Ah and a word of advice for a direct house sale: make sure that you do your due dilligence. Buy title insurance, make sure that your closing laywer isn’t sleeping. I’ve read about all sorts of potential problems. (Not to try to worry you or anything, but I think it’s important to be aware of and protect yourself from)

  8. Jason Beaird says:

    That’s funny! I noticed a slight increase in the Adsense revenue from my popcorn ceiling article today but never checked Mint to find out why…then all of a sudden I’m checking my RSS feeds and noticed that the increase was probably due to Mike Rundle posting the link here last night. Sometimes the internet is small world after all. I don’t know how that one post became the mecca of popcorn ceiling removal, but the visitor comments definitely add a lot of value…if you have time to read them all. I’m slowly but surely trying to get all those comments organized into the forum I created about the topic:
    PS – I guess this post explains why you still haven’t gotten me the print-quality sIFR logo for my book yet. :)

  9. It’s been interesting for me to follow this because I imagine I’ll be going through it in the near future. Congrats on the place, but be careful, because walking to work can be addictive. I know I miss it.

  10. Mike Stickel says:

    Nice. Congrats on the new digs. Hope the inspection goes/went well and the rest of the process is as smooth as *insert favored smooth surface here*

  11. Nathan Logan says:

    Mike, congrats on the purchase. I’m jealous of the water view.

    If the place was built in the 70’s or before, you’ll want to scrape a small sample of the ceiling (make sure you get some chunks, not just the paint) and take it in for testing. I was about to scrape my ceilings and was warned to do this (just in time) – it turns out mine is asbestos. So, unless I’m willing to pay a few dollars a square foot to have it scraped by a professional asbesos removal service, I’m living with popcorn.

    Seattle’s a neat place – glad you snagged such a sweet home.

  12. Rob Weychert says:

    Congrats, old bean! And how very kind of you to get a second bedroom for when I visit Seattle! I’d like it painted a dull green, each wall adorned with an original Rothko, and the fridge stocked with Tab. Thanks, buddy!

  13. Congrats, Mike! You got a great place with a view and you were able to cut out all your shopping around. I wish my site would generated that kind of response! Haha, but still, congrats and good luck with your new place.

  14. Kreecer says:

    Nice work Mike! I scraped the ceilings in my house just after I bought it so if you plan to do it yourself let me know and I may be able to give you some advice, help, or at least lend you some tools.

  15. Steve says:


    I too have been contemplating getting rid of the popcorn ceiling in my place. I went to Home Depot last week and found one of These but it had a bag attached to it to catch all of the crap that falls down. Haven’t bought it yet, but I’ll let you know how it works if I do.

  16. Will Merydith says:

    Congrats Mike! I just sold my home on Bainbridge Island without realtors on either side and the extra work involved wasn’t too bad and definitely worth the thousands of dollars saved.

  17. brent says:

    Are you going to have an airing of grievances? I’d pay admission to see that.

  18. Thats one reason its nice to have friends, and wonderful to have communication with them. You got a cherry listing before it was even a listing! Congratulations.

  19. Congrats on the new flat Mike!

  20. Bulbboy says:

    If you are even contemplating doing it yourself, I’d wear a much better mask than the flimsy paper mask in the popcorn link.

  21. Jacob Lyles says:

    You definitely need to get a sample of the cottage cheese ceiling tested for asbestos.

    If you have asbestos, the project becomes very expensive to pay professionals to remove. You might want to simply consider makking a new ceiling by suspending a new layer of sheetrock below the existing cottage cheese ceiling (Thus encapsulating the cottage cheese between a sandwich of sheetrock and giving you a new, smooth surface as a new ceiling). This would be fairly inexpensive and aside from finishing the seams is easy to do (with help to lift the drywall panels up to the ceiling). Also, it only would drop your ceiling down another half-inch or so and would have the benefit of insulating your home from the unit above.

    I have a friend in the construction business who says that removing the aspestos laden cottage cheese can be done safely yourself with the proper preparation (plastic sheeting, goggles, industrial strength dust masks, and soaking the cottage cheese with a lot of water).

    However, this solution needs a lot of care and you end up with bundles of plastic sheeting with what amounts to toxic waste inside. It may be illegal to do the removal yourself and disposing of the bundles is probably illegal too.

    I think *I* would probably close it up with the sheetrock. Although if the price for professional removal is in your budget, you earn good karma points for removing a hazard for future generations.

  22. kevin says:

    Dude, you write a ton about real estate. ;-)

  23. Tony says:

    Wow. Is there anything I can do to get you to post about me looking for a house in Richmond, Va.? ;)

  24. Jason says:

    I have a friend who has a novel approach to popcorn ceilings. He just plasters right over them. It can be done quickly and with very little mess. Find someone with stilts who can use a hock and trowel, and you’re in business.

  25. Tom Watson says:

    I’m a little late but congrats Mike!

  26. Krystyn says:

    Congratulations! We’re in the process of selling a home, hopefully we’ll have the same luck. Maybe by posting a comment here some of your good luck will rub off on us. :)

    I don’t have any suggestions for a popcorn ceiling, but I’m stuck with a pink bathroom if it makes you feel any better.

  27. tim says:

    Lower QA is where it’s at… congrats on the popcorn.

  28. Ty says:

    Did you find out asbestos or not on the popcorn? My rents spent like 10K removing asbestos popcorn from the ceiling of our vacation place. It wasn’t worth the money, but by the time they found out it was asbestos it was too late to turn back.

  29. Stephen Capp says:

    Hey Mike – regarding that delicious popcorn ceiling: My understanding from all the reno shows I’ve watched on TV is that you need to spray some water on the stuff, let it sit and then scrape it off with a wide putty knife. It makes a hell of a mess but it’s the most straight forward method. Try a little test area first in a closet or some place that won’t be noticed, then go to town.

    Congrats on the new place and good luck.

  30. Stephen Capp is right – I’ve done it – makes a mess, but it’s not hard to do – just a water bottle and the wide sort of trowel/knife that you would normally use for mudding drywall…

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