I have limited experience in real estate transactions. We have only sold one house prior to this one, and from what I remember it was relatively quick and not too painful. Looking back, I am thinking maybe I was just stoned on pregnancy hormones. This time, with an extra kid, a stressed out husband, and a time-sensitive move to another state…the process is proving more challenging.
Five Lessons I Have Learned About Selling A House….So Far
1. Give up the Dream of Winning Mother of the Year. One of the toughest parts of keeping the house staged has been the parental guilt. It seems that most toys fit into one of two categories: “Very Messy” (Play-doh) or “10,000 Microscopic Pieces” (Polly Pockets). Weather permitting, playing outside is my go-to plan, but on the mornings when we get a phone call for a showing, I am forced into speed-cleaning mode. Phoebe has watched enough Diego to know the difference between a Ring-Tailed Lemur and a Needle-Clawed Bushbaby. And then God forbid the kid get hungry. When a showing was scheduled during her lunchtime, her mobile meal consisted of Ritz crackers, fruit leather, and handful of cashews. (But they were organic!) I keep telling myself that this is temporary; hopefully the house will sell before she suffers a permanent cognitive loss or gets scurvy.
I also vow to never again judge the mother in Starbucks with children who would clearly prefer to be at Chuck E. Cheese. Because I am now that mother. The majority of scheduled showings have unfortunately occurred on rainy days. The library lost its luster after about a week, and you can only fool your kids into thinking that driving around aimlessly is a fun game. “But where are we GOING? What are we DOING? We are STARVING!” Phoebe knows the drill at this point, and has now become the self-appointed cruise director on these little outings: “Hey Ma! We goin’ to ‘da STA-BUCKS? Dey got ‘doz Wice Cwispie Tweats!!” So to the mother trying to enjoy her venti skim mocha and a rare moment of silence, I apologize.
2. When in Doubt, Hire Out. This has been the biggest area of stress between Phil and me. Phil fancies himself a do-it-yourself kind of guy….which would be great if were actually ever home to DO whatever “it” is. This is not his fault; he has a demanding work and travel schedule. However, this does not stop him from overcommitting to household tasks. Last week he was in Los Angeles, and I called to him to address the Dandelion Dilemma.
“We need to call the lawn guy about the dandelion jungle.”
“No we don’t. I can just pull the dandlions.”
“Right. While you are in LA?”
“Well, can’t you just pull the dandelions?”
“No, because there are about a million of them, and FYI, the root of a dandelion actually begins in Hell.”
“Can’t you just trim them? We should really save the cash; I was just running some numbers and..”
“OMG! So I will pay him in
sexual favors chocolate chip cookies! JUST CALL THE F***ING LAWN GUY!”
“Ok, Ok, relax.”
*Public Service Announcement: Telling your wife to relax (from sunny Southern California) after she has spent the morning in the backyard scraping up dog poop, spraying a wasps’ nest and disposing of a dead bird may result in a psychotic episode or Class A misdemeanor.
3. My Car Will Not Alway Look (Or Smell) Like This. The cleaner my house is, the nastier my car becomes. In the car-line at school, I try to leap out of the driver’s seat and throw Emma in the back before the teacher on duty catches a glimpse of my bio-hazard on wheels and starts a rumor that we are homeless. As we turned a sharp corner the other day, a loud crashing noise erupted from the trunk. Phoebe almost jumped out of her car seat: “MOM! What was ‘DAT?!”
4. Create a Zen Environment: Why is the coffee maker in my car, you ask? Because I have a theory that if I remove all signs of stress related to the daily grind (alarm clocks, coffee makers, school calendars) the potential buyer will feel mysteriously relaxed without really knowing why. The glitch in this plan is that the alarm on my cell phone doesn’t wake me up, I missed a dentist appointment and keep forgetting which day Emma needs her gym uniform and/or library book. This morning I finally found my cell phone charger in the Tupperware drawer.
Household appliances are not the only things getting shoved in the trunk. While I love dogs, I realize that not everyone does, so I have tried to create the illusion of a pet-free zone. Apparently I am doing a convincing job, because I have to keep reminding myself that I actually DO have a dog. After a showing on Sunday, we dragged ourselves in the house to get dinner started. About 20 minutes later, Emma says, “Where’s Ellie?” We all ran out to the car to see Ellie’s face hanging out the back window with a look that said, “Are you serious?” Later that night as I was turning out the lights before heading upstairs, I found Ellie glaring at me from the kitchen doorway: “Ok, now where the Hell is my bed?”
5. Stay Committed…But Don’t GET Committed: Yes the stainless-steel fridge should be free of fingerprints (vinegar + olive oil = magic!), but it doesn’t need to double as a mirror. While frantically scrubbing the inside of the microwave one morning, it suddenly dawned on me that potential buyers won’t be making popcorn or heating up leftovers. Phil gently suggested that maybe I was going overboard when he caught me clipping lilacs off the
neighbors lilac bush…in my pajamas….at 6am…in the rain.
Good thing he didn’t see me lug the Dyson outside so I could vacuum the leaves.