Well guys, there is a sign in my yard and the house is officially for sale.
It's been spruced up, tidied up and, well, I think it looks great. Really, I do. The toys are put away, there's a very attractive bowl of fruit on the table and for the twelve seconds each day that the house is "ready" I feel rested, relaxed and like this is all going to work out in a jiffy. I think ridiculous thoughts like, "I'll have my fancy-ass First World linen closet by Christmas!"
Then Claire dumps a box of Cheerios on the floor or we decide we'd like to use our kitchen to prepare an actual meal. Or maybe someone has the gall to want to change clothes and create actual dirty laundry. That's all it takes for me to lose my shit.
Yep, just a few simple acts over a span of moments will elevate my heart rate and make me drop what I'm doing to CLEAN UP OMG CLEAN UP ASAP!
I start to stress that someone will call and want to show the house in a half hour and it won't be "ready."
What if someone calls when I'm in the shower? And maybe I'm taking a long and leisurely shower (you know, the kind I haven't taken since BEFORE I had a baby), WHAT THEN?!?! Yesterday, I took my iPhone INTO THE SHOWER with me just in case someone called while I was shaving my legs. That is when the full-on Batshit Crazy of what we've signed up for hit me.
OMG WE CANNOT EAT, PLAY OR GET DRESSED HERE ANY MORE. Chris, we are moving to the Marriott for the duration of this exercise. And we're going to the nice one that I like downtown. Not the crappy one by the racetrack.
We're really doing this aren't we? We are going to sell this house and buy a different one with a linen closet and I will finally have a place to put my towels and sheets in proper and orderly First World, spoiled American fashion.
Then I will have a cigarette and a vodka gimlet, because I have morphed into Betty Draper since I'm actually daydreaming about a place to store folded towels, sheets and table cloths.
It better be one hell of a linen closet.
Agony the First: Making the house look like a toddler doesn't live here
We didn't do anything dramatic really. We took down every single photo and/or personal item and every surface in the house is bare except for a few lamps. I replaced the happy family photos on the wall with flower shots I took at the Botanic Gardens.
I painted all the places on the wall that have been blessed by Claire. In the process, I discovered that the walls have faded over ten years and the "matched" paint doesn't really match. I figured this out the next day after I had spot painted THE ENTIRE HOUSE. Oops.
I also took about half of the contents of our closet to storage and 5 other SUV-loads of random miscellany that we can't seem to life without. I boxed it up and Chris did the heavy lifting over 5 or 6 nights. I scrubbed a bit here and there, went over almost every surface in the house with a box of magic erasers, had Chris do a serious mow/edge and called it done.
I have to say, the efforts of a week of hurried activity have produced noticeable results. The closets look bigger and so do the rooms. (It has affirmed my notion that we absolutely, positively do not need any more material things in our life.) I think the house will show well.
We don't have any doilies, wallpaper from the 80's, hideous paint jobs, collections of angels/crosses, or other eyesores that might be called "Shabby Chic," Country Chic," or "Early 90's navy/burgundy/hunter green thematics." In other words, we are normal and pretty current/contemporary.
(Compared to some of the houses I've been looking at in our neighborhood, HOO BOY could we ever win a contest at Normal.)
Even though it was a lot of work to cram into a week of evenings after bedtime, the crap thing is that the worst is ahead of us. KEEPING it looking like this is impossible. IMPOSSIBLE! I spent 20 minutes running around before I left this morning to get the house perfect, and then nobody even came by to visit today. I was kind of pissed!
How do people put up with this for months and months? I have my heart set on a quick sell. If this takes more than a month? I might have Magic Eraser'd my brain away by then.
Agony the Second: Hire a Realtor or Sell it Ourselves?
I really spent too much time thinking about this. I was in pains over the topic for about two weeks. It occupied my thoughts constantly.
As a basic concept, I have such a huge problem paying a percentage of sale price to an agent. It's too big of a moving target for a flat quantity of labor. If the house sells for $10 or $15 there's still the same amount of basic work involved. I'm not so sure that a $10 house takes more time to sell than a $15 house. It should cost what it costs. It's a service: I want to be provided with a firm estimate and it's frustrating that I can't get one.
(Obvs I am making up some figures here in the interest of simplicity. We are not selling the house for ten dollars. PHEW.)
I would much rather pay for someone's time on an hourly basis (even at a high rate). I feel like I know exactly what I'm paying for that way and if feels like a much more equitable compensation model. It's transparent.
On the other hand, selling it ourselves sounds like a huge pain in the ass. There's research to be done, photos to take, upload and maintain and showings and follow ups and blah blah blah. I can't seem to find time to upload my photos to Flickr so I don't know where I thought I was going to invent the time for this. I have to be a good employee, mother and wife every single day without fail. I cannot be a Real Estate Agent in my non-existent spare time.
Waffling back in the other direction, we could save a truckload of money. That would be very, you know, uppity of us, right? To tell the Real Estate Establishment what we think of their System and Policies and Customs? We don't agree with it so we just won't play that game. Nanny-nanny-boo-boo! We're keeping our 6% and you can just shut up about it!
In the end, I wasn't sure what to do. Chris told me that he knew I could sell it, but he didn't think I had the time. He was just as spooled up about the concept as I was and we kept feeding off of each other's ire.
We hired a realtor. We had a moment of clarity where it occurred to us that we'd spent the better part of almost TWO WEEKS endlessly debating the topic back and forth with no conclusion. We'd already spent more time thinking about it than it was actually worth in hard dollars.
I made the call, we signed some contracts and a photographer and sign showed up that same day. Ta da. House for sale.
So far, I think we made the right decision. Their pictures are light years better than mine. They sent a dude over here with a wide angle lens and he shot for like forty-five minutes.
For example, here is MY picture of the kitchen taken with a point and shoot, crappy lighting, no special tweaking, just the "green means go" function:
And here is THEIR picture of the kitchen, with proper lighting, wide angle lens and slow exposure that makes it look more shiny and polished than it actually is:
Dudes, it doesn't even look like the same freaking room. This is a shinier, more classy room than my kitchen. Usually those counters are covered with sippy cups, keys, purses, Tupperware and anything else I've dragged in from the car. That wide angle lens streeeeetches everything out and makes it look bigger. The countertops are NOT that spacious. For those of you who have been to my house before? You know that my house DOES NOT LOOK THIS SHINY.
So, high hopes, crossed fingers, rubbing Buddha's belly...I hope this turns out to be a very good idea and not a terrible one. WE SHALL SEE.
I feel the need to write some sort of standard disclaimer here, like yes, we really are aware of how privileged and lucky we are to be in the position of owning a home, with the option to sell it and buy a new one closer to town that has more space. We are very thankful for the good things in our life, no matter how angsty or annoyed I may make this adventure sound.