Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Selling Your House Without Losing Your Mind

This summer, our pool has decided it would prefer to be a lovely shade of green.

Despite my best efforts, the pH-level has been bouncing all over the place. The bleach is often ineffective. It wouldn't be so bad, but we are trying to sell our house. Nobody wants to buy a home with a Kermit the frog, pea-green pool.

My husband and I have been working like crazy to keep our home ship-shape. Now I'm not the neat-freak type, so (normally) I am quite happy if my house has only a light layer of dust. This summer, however, we have had to make it look like we live in a model home. Not easy with a dog, a teenager and an elderly mother-in-law.

At our last showing, we spent an hour running around the house like crazy people - dusting, cleaning, and spritzing air freshener. I even plucked a few orange Tiger lilies and threw them in a cut-glass vase on the coffee table.

The buyer walked in, took one look, and left in 3 minutes.Three minutes! He didn't walk through the house, look at the backyard or go downstairs. He probably didn't even notice the lilies!

Can I say, "Aaaaarrrrrrgggggghhhhh!!!!!????"

In the early spring, we bustled around completing our unfinished home projects. We "neutralized" our house as much as we could, and then put it up for sale by owner. After a period of time, we gave in and listed with a Realtor. Now, we are in the hardest part of all: waiting, and waiting, and waiting some more.

Unfortunately, the buyers who have looked at our home don't fit the type who will probably buy it. Our house is a family home with swimming pool, nearby park and elementary school. One couple was older - and didn't like stairs. One was a single woman who didn't want maintenance. One buyer said my retro furniture made the house look old (she did not appreciate our vintage style). Sigh.

Through this process, I've come to a firm conclusion: Selling your home can make even the sanest people crazy.

So if you are considering a home sale in the near future, here's a few suggestions:

1) Get rid of any smells. Stock up on Febreeze. Use a Borox/water solution to wipe down baseboards and basement walls. Clean the pet cage. Get rid of old boxes and stored clothing. Walk around your house sniffing the air like an Irish Setter. Be persistent.

2) Declutter. Throw out half of your possessions - just kidding - but a at least get rid of a good portion of them. That old fish tank you've been saving in case you ever decide to raise tropical fish? Time to ditch it. Get rid of the threadbare afghan, the half-empty boxes of stale cereal. Toss, toss, toss. Call the local thrift store and delight them with the bounty of your excess.

3) Neutralize. For us, that meant bidding farewell to my ever-so-creative, Mary-Engelbreit-inspired kitchen floor. It was a lovely red/yellow/green varied pattern. Now it is a very, every-person appealing patter of beige and lighter beige. My super-cool 1950's vintage curtains? Replaced with a lovely pair of tan drapes. Sigh. It looks like we're living in Pleasantville: all grey and beige and normal.

4) De-personalize. Pack away the photos of your family. Take your personal info off the fridge. Make it look like a very pleasant hotel with no sign of the previous inhabitant. Well, as much as possible. We left our teen and mother-in-law's rooms alone. But, the main areas are cleared of our gorgeous, smiling faces.

5) Take a break. You need some days to kick up your feet and heels and relax. This is stressful! Be kind to your spouse. Try not to overdo each home showing (easier said than done). Allow yourself to have time to just be - go out to dinner, watch a movie, barbeque, take a walk. Remember that your sanity is key to surviving this long process.

6) Be patient - and try very hard not to take rejection personally. One site said that every review of your home will be negative until someone makes an offer. So true. Read the reviews of home buyers, but take each comment with a grain of salt. They may have a hint of truth in them - but they aren't objective. These home buyers have something very specific in mind - and it just might not be your home.

Most of all, keep your ultimate goal firmly in mind. Remembering why you are going through this time of insanity will ensure that you keep a smidgen of self-respect during the coming months.

Best of luck to you, my friend. We are in this together.

Your house is beautiful.

You are beautiful.

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