Three weeks ago we met with our realtors. We discussed, broadly, what we should be doing now to prepare for buying a new home sometime in the next few years.
Yesterday, Sunday, we had an open house. Half of our life is boxed up in storage right now. As Tad Smith put it after looking at photos of our house online, “From those pictures I’d guess you were the most boring people in the world.”
We are people who accumulate stuff easily. Books. Clothes. Magazines and mail. Pictures for the walls. Antiques. We turn our backs and stuff just sprouts up in the corner like a weed.
Now we’re living the spartan life. It’s all austerity, all the time. When we leave the house everything must be showing-ready. No toys left out. No dishes in the sink. No cat vomit on the kitchen floor.
How did we get here from there? What changed in three weeks?
For one, we looked at houses. We saw one we loved. That night I (Ben) played basketball, and when I came home an hour and a half later, Erin had boxed up the entire living room.
Since then we’ve cooled on that house. But we’ve seen others we really like. We sat down and crunched the numbers. We redid our budget. We power washed the house, stained the deck, sold six boxes of books to Half Price Books for $140 and a box of CDs and DVDs to Abundatrade for $81.02. Those seem like good deals until we remember what we paid for those items in the first place.
It’s a buyer’s market, our realtors told us. And it is. But since we can’t buy a new house until we sell the one we’re in, what will we get for it? Certainly less than what we paid four years ago, even though we’ve dumped a lot of money (not to mention blood, sweat and tears) into this one.
It’s a strange feeling to come home and know that eleven strangers have been walking through your house since you were last in it.
It’s incredibly stressful to sell (or try to sell) a home. We’ve been up past midnight taping boxes and touching up walls. We’ve gone back and forth on numbers. We’ve given our heart over to potential houses only to hear the next day they have electrical, water and roof problems, giving us flashbacks to one of our 80s movies staples.
There’s something else too, when you get ready to sell your home: You start to appreciate it anew. You’re in the curious position of getting rid of something you’re still emotionally attached to. Yes, it will be too small in a few years, if it isn’t already. No, it’s not easy to have a group of friends over. Yes, the yard could be bigger. No, you won’t miss the motorcycle gangs that roar down Irwin at eleven thirty at night. Regardless, it will be hard to leave, whenever the time comes.
Tonight we received our first feedback from a prospective buyer. Below is what came across our e-mail:
1. Question: Is the customer interested in the property?
Answer: Not at all
2. Question: How well did the property show?
3. Question: Your (and your customer’s) opinion of the price:
Answer: Too high
4. Question: Please rate this property: (On a scale of 1-5, 1 being Worst; 5 being Best.)
5. Question: COMMENTS/RECOMMENDATIONS:
Answer: Surprised at the amount of work that neededto be done for the price. Third bedroom was too small.
Is the “not at all” necessary? Wouldn’t “no” suffice? And if you think there’s work to be done, you have no idea what we walked into four years ago (after paying more than we’re asking now!). The pulse quickens, steam comes out the ears, and you walk around your now empty house taking deep breaths. It’s not easy being vulnerable. Someone’s opinion of your house is not their opinion of you. You tell yourself someone will buy your house, for the right price, at the right time. Right?
In the meantime you wait. You sit on the porch with a beer, watching the neighborhood wind down on an August night. It’s summer. You remember to appreciate the small things, and wonder why you’d ever forget.