Friday, May 11, 2007

Tales from the Housing Market

Well gentle readers, as I've mentioned several times in my blog, we are building a new house and our current house went on the market while I was in the hospital prior to Noah's birth. Noah is two months old next week and I really hoped that by this time I would be informing you all that our house was sold, but alas, the market in the area is about as slow as molasses on a tree in the middle of winter. This is the first time either Aaron or I have been through the process of selling a house and I have to say all in all, it has been one of the most stressful experiences I've ever been through.

First of all, let me remind you that I am a researcher (yes, I realize I say that in almost every entry but it seems to be a convenient way to explain some of my neuroses.) :) Anyway, when we decided to build the new house, I did some research to determine what we needed to do to get our house ready. Before we decided to move, Aaron (with the help of friends) had already put in hardwood floors downstairs (thank you dad, Whit Gifford, and Scott Snow). We had enough left over from that task to do the master bedroom (which was in dire need of new flooring), so Aaron and my dad took a weekend and tackled that task. With that done, it was time to de-clutter. We rented a POD which stayed in our driveway for a couple of months while we went through the house room by room as we had a chance and packed up stuff that we wanted to take with us. During this process we also gave about 40 large trash bags full of stuff to Goodwill and threw away many, many bags of trash. Most of the rooms in our house had not been painted since the house was built in 1995 and ALL the articles I had read insisted that painting was the cheapest way to command top dollar for your home, so we painted every single room, every single inch of trim, every single door, THE WORKS! Having painted all the trim white, we needed to change out all of the outlets, so Aaron tackled that task and every single outlet and light switch in the house was replaced. With the help of friends (thank you Skinners!) we ripped very busy wallpaper down in the half bath and painted that too. Somewhere in there, we also had the carpet on the stairs and in the kids bedrooms replaced. All of these things took a good deal of time and we actually finished right before I went into the hospital. We did so much work that we actually started to wonder why we were leaving in the first place! (Noah's arrival quickly reminded us that we were out of space.)

When the realtor came to look at the house, she was duly impressed! But we weren't completely done yet. When we started having showings, we placed fresh yellow flowers in a vase in the entryway (yellow encourages people to buy things and fresh flowers make people feel home), baked cookies for the homey smell, made sure the lawn looked great, played classical music and made sure our dogs were off the premises. We were sure that the first people who saw our house would LOVE it and make an offer. They didn't, nor did the second, third, fourth or even tenth people. They said things like "love the house, but I want a 2 car garage," (ok, nothing we can do about that), "love the house but don't like that it backs up to the school" (ok, nothing we can do about that either, but we LOVE backing up to the school -- free playground equipment after 5pm and no neighbors behind us...EVER), and the kicker "don't like the new house feel" (to this one we offered to let our dogs back in the house for a week to take care of that, but still no interest).

During the course of this process we have been beaten down. There is a automated service that calls and tells you when a realtor wants to show your house. In the beginning, we got excited when we saw the number appear on the caller ID. When we found out someone was coming, we'd go through all of our "getting the house ready rituals," high 5 each other and talk about how great the offer would be when it came in later that evening! As the rejection started to pour in, we got less and less excited to see the number and we stopped putting as much effort into the showings. No more cookies, no more flowers, basically now I just remind Aaron to make sure the toilets are flushed and the seats are down.

Every realtor who sees our house tells us it is lovely and we just have to wait for the "right people" to come along, but our new house will be done in about 6 weeks and as the fear of having two mortgages sets in, we're less interested in Mr. and/or Mrs. Right...we'd be PERFECTLY happy with Mr. and/or Mrs. Right Now!

Tomorrow is a new day and there happens to be a new showing. Here's to hoping it's the Right Nows!