My parents are selling their home. It’s not exactly my childhood home. In fact, it’s more than that.
I moved a lot as a child. From Ohio to Poughkeepsie, Miami to Buffalo, and a longer stay in NJ. That’s what we did with a Dad in sales. I didn’t mind, really. It helped me to be adaptable or, at least, that’s what I tell myself. It may have just made me antsy and always looking for a change. Either way, I survived all of the moving, but one place always stayed the same.
We spent summers at the lake. Back then, we owned a cabin. I called it my “summer house” to friends, but with no HVAC, phone (yes, that was before cell phones), television or washer and dryer, it really wasn’t more than a glorified cabin. And, I loved it.
When my father retired, he and mom moved to the lake. It was shocking, to say the least. Mom was never a fan of it up there. Then again, what mother of three children would be without a phone or a TV? And, don’t get her started on the lack of a washer and dryer. I’m sure she spent at least a full day each week at the local laundromat.
Somehow, however, Dad convinced Mom to buy an actual house at the lake, and there they have lived for the past 20+ years. The lake has continued to be the place we go. The kids, the grandkids…we all gather there for the 4th of July and any other occasion we can coordinate. Aunts, uncles, cousins, friends…they’ve all been there with us. It’s our happy place. Our home.
And, now, they’re selling it. Lakes are beautiful, calm, and serene. They’re also a lot of work. The docks, the boat, the beach…it’s all hard to take care of. So, mom and dad are looking for a simpler life in an “active adult” community. Now, the fun begins.
The Nitty Gritty
“Selling a home is so much fun,” said no one ever. On the contrary, it’s work. A lot of work. And, stressful. And, let’s not forget, emotional.
Most people focus on the work, and the stress. Those are the parts that wear us down, or so we think. But, the reality is, the logistics of selling a home are manageable. All we need to do is find the right people to help us.
It starts with the realtor. A realtor is someone we have to trust. We have to believe they are working for us. Of course, every penny matters to them. It’s how they make a living. But, if they’re good at their job, each house is one of many.
A realtor’s goal should be to make their clients happy. Happy clients refer realtors to friends. Smart realtors understand this. So, look for a smart, good realtor and that part should go rather smoothly.
Of course, no home is sale ready from the get go. A realtor can help to identify the things that obviously need repair. We also know all of the hidden issues like the loose faucet, receptacles that don’t work, and floor boards that are exceptionally squeaky. Our teenagers helped us to discover the latter one when they came in after curfew.
A good handyman, or contractor if the problems are really big, can help us make the repairs. Some of us lucky people may have a handyman in the house. (Note: this is not the time to build your spouse’s ego by reassuring him he’s handy. Make sure he actually knows how to fix things.) Many of us may actually be the handymen, or should I say, handywomen.
When preparing to sell a home, we shouldn’t go crazy fixing everything. We should focus on the things that may pop up as potential buyers are walking through the house. The inspection will come later. That’s when they’ll decide what needs to be fixed. If it doesn’t come up, don’t worry about it. They’ll discover it eventually, but that will likely be after they’ve signed on the dotted line. It’s their problem then.
The really fun part comes when the showings begin. That’s when we have to figure out how to clean up all of the kids’ toys, get the dirty dishes out of the sink, and get the sleeping baby out of her crib all in a matter of minutes because a realtor is down the street and his clients just noticed your home.
The mad dashes out of the house are bad enough, but keeping the house clean day after day is enough to drive any parent of young children absolutely mad. This is a good time to let go of the ego, and remember there are people to help with this too.
It might be impractical, and far too expensive, to have a daily cleaning service. But, if there was ever a time to splurge on it weekly, now’s that time. And, don’t forget, most cleaning companies offer deep cleaning and moving cleaning services, too. These can absolutely take the pressure off as we deal with all of the other details of selling a home.
Other services to look for when listing a home might be: decluttering companies, storage units, moving trucks, and lawn services. Don’t forget a good massage therapist for when things get too stressful. In general, it’s important to remember that we sometimes have to spend money to make money. And, when it’s a matter of our sanity, the services are absolutely worth it.
The Emotional Factor
The only service we really can’t hire, is the one that removes the emotional factor from selling a home. That’s the truly hard part. Saying good-bye to our happy place is like saying farewell to a best friend. It’s letting go of the ties that bind us, the comfort, and the familiarity. It’s letting go of a part of us.
Despite the frequent moves, nothing prepared me for letting go of the one constant in my life. I know it’s the right thing for mom and dad. I know new adventures await us and we will find a new happy place. Hopefully, anyway. But, saying good-bye will be the hardest part for sure.
Fortunately, we have one last 4th of July. I think we may need to stock up on tissues.