Yesterday we met with a real estate professional. During the two plus hours he spent with us, the reality of selling our house began to hit. Until we started to look at various documents that we will sign to list the house, proposed marketing processes, and timing for the listing, selling the house seemed just a future plan. During the meeting, it became a hard reality.
The realtor, recommended by people we trust and people who have used his services in the past, was professional. He knows his business and has a clear selling strategy.
Prior to the meeting he asked us to review several documents that he sent by email. These materials described how he worked, described the networks within his company, and provided links to his Facebook page, his website, the Ontario Real Estate Code of Ethics, and testimonials from former clients. We also received pdfs of the documents we would sign. A plain English version of each clause accompanied the legal terminology of the real estate forms. He asked us to prepare for the meeting by reading each document and thinking about questions to discuss.
We also received a description of how we should prepare the house for selling. This multi-page document, contained suggestions about how each room should look when prospective buyers visit the house. Aside from cleaning, organizing, and de-cluttering, it’s necessary to remove all personal items. The lists include family photos, awards, and personal memorabilia so as not to create a museum of our lives; however, the lists also suggest removing everything from kitchen and bathroom counters — even soaps!
As we walked through the house, I was not surprised with the suggestions. The five briefcases stored in a corner of my den need to go! Two bookshelves and two reading chairs in our bedroom along with the books need to go! Bookshelves in all other rooms need culling. It was suggested that we arrange small stacks of books interspersed with shelved books and empty spaces. knickknacks need to be packed away. The fridge needs to be cleared of all pictures, magnets, and announcements! Oriental rugs need to be rolled up so the floors beneath can be shown. Silverware, jewelry, and other valuables need to be put away securely. Bulletin boards need to be taken down. Desks need to be clear of everything except computers, lamps, and printers.
In short, the house needs to be de-personalized.
We also need a plan for moving our two cats, their three litter boxes, the four cat dishes, and the feeding station out of the house. Apparently, many buyers don’t like houses with pets as inhabitants and won’t even tour a house if they suspect that pets live there!
The realtor’s comments did not astonish us but do signal a lot of work to prepare the house for sale. The messages were delivered kindly with obvious understanding that 25 years of living in a house meant that each room was filled with memories and the stuff of living.
We know that the things that make our home comfortable and precious to us won’t necessarily charm potential buyers. My fear is that the house will look like a hotel or a furniture showroom once serious purging begins.
As our possessions are packed away, given away, or thrown away, the house will begin to feel different. It already does. The reality of selling our house and preparing it for others to see brings strong feelings of angst, loss and change.
Sentimental attachment to a house is normal and parting with it will be difficult. To get through the next few months, we will need to set our feelings aside while implementing the realtor’s suggestions to market the house successfully. We will need to keep a strong vision of the future lifestyle we want as we grow older. Putting feelings into perspective, holding on to our dreams, and reminding ourselves that the inevitable upheaval of staging the house is temporary, will help us to accept the reality of selling.
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