Selling our House — Reality Hits

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.

Thanks for reading this post.  If you like my blog, please consider becoming a subscriber.  I welcome reader’s comments and any advice for de-cluttering, purging, staging, or selling a house.

8 Replies to “Selling our House — Reality Hits”

  1. Carol (Haywood) Powell says: Reply

    Hello Jeanette! I enjoyed reading about your 2016 plans. Mick and I down-sized from Huntsville to a townhouse by the golf course in Bath, ON a little over two years ago. “The Purge” was serious business, but also seriously funny as we confronted our collective and personal “stuff”….what to keep, what to jettison. I do occasionally think of my piano and of Mick’s canoe gone to new owners, but we, and our, also aging, little dog Gus are re-settled and happy with all those decisions behind us. The right move, at the right time! Our daughter, son-in-law, and two grandchildren live in Kingston, our son and girlfriend in Toronto. We have moved numbers of times over the years, as you have. Change of community, in all aspects, has been tougher this time….yes, I have missed our old routine, my pals from the neighbourhood, the gym, the quilt and knitting shops, felt lonely in the grocery store!….but I have been grateful that my husband and I are each other’s best friend…and have always felt confident that the rest will unfold as it should. Good luck with your move! It feels so good when it’s over! ❤️ Carol

    1. Hi Carol,
      What a surprise to hear from you! We are in the beginning stages of the BIG purge. At this stage, it feels stressful and over-whelming. You are so correct in your assessment that this is serious business. Sometimes it seems as though we are throwing away or donating parts of our lives! I keep telling myself not to waste too much precious emotional energy on the decisions of toss or keep especially when I can’t remember what I sent to the garbage last week –obviously things that I won’t miss!
      It’s reassuring to keep hearing the success stories of ‘moving on’. You are lucky to be living in beautiful Bath, a place that has fond memories from the youthful days when we lived in Kingston. I remember it as a town with many artists and academics.
      Our move back to London means that we will be closer to our family and also to our Grand Bend cottage. It’s also a move that comes with facing the reality of aging. We are determined to find a new home where we can enjoy a lifestyle with less house maintenance and more time for doing those things we enjoy. I hope that the move, for us, is also the right move at the right time, as it has been for you and Mick.
      Be well,

  2. Pauline THORNTON says: Reply

    Hey there, Jeanette. We went thru this process last year when we downsized and moved from rural Uxbridge to Stratford. You are right about the feelings triggered when selling your nest. While I tried to combine decluttering with purging, I admit to succumbing to decision fatigue. Our realtor suggested replacing some floorng, painting and even replacing doorknobs as tickets to ensuring the best sale so it felt like a big project at tmes. Yup-the place looked bare and de-personalized but it sold in 5 days for much more than we had anticipated. Psychologically, the process of slowly disassembling the house was a perfect prelude to relocating although it was gut wrenching at times.

    On a personal note…it has been a long tme since our Sparrow days but I have followed your journey thru your blog. Hopefully our paths will cross in the Bend, Stratford or London. (We are wintering in the south for the first time this year (Sedona for 2 months) and I am still a bit ambivalent about that decision as well.)

    1. Hi Pauline,
      Lucky you to be spending the winter in Sedona rather than rummaging through closets, cupboards, dusty boxes of memorabilia, bookshelves, and photographs! Decision fatigue is a great term for how I feel at the end of each session of purging. I’m trying to limit it to two hours at a go!
      Let’s connect in Grand Bend later this year. Hopefully, in a few months, life will feel normal again!
      Be well,

  3. Hi Jeanette…read your post with interest as we went through this 5 years ago. It’s a huge decision to be sure, but one we have never regretted. And while I agree that the house needs to be de-cluttered and freshened up with fresh linens, towels and perhaps a touch of paint here and there…I have never agreed with the concept of de-personalizing a house to put it for sale. It’s the love and emotion in the feel of a house that sells it just as much as the features do, in my opinion. As a matter of fact, when I sold my last house, I wrote a letter for all prospective buyers to pick up with the feature sheet. I listed all the wonderful things we loved about living in the house and why we were selling. I sold the house in a week and it was the emotion that did the trick. People could picture themselves there…they told their agents. See my blog at and the post called “Make it Personal” for an example of my letter. Just my opinion, but it works. You can’t pretend people don’t live in a house in order to sell it. Good luck!!

    1. Hi Pat,
      It’s great to know that you have no regrets about down-sizing. I linked to your blog and read the posts on the letter and on down-sizing. The realtor suggested that we write a list of the ten things we loved most about our house. I like your idea of doing this in the form of a short letter. Thanks!
      Be well,

  4. Sydney Misener says: Reply

    yes a daunting process for sure if you have been living somewhere for a long time, which is why every january we discuss a plan to sell and then ultimately, are overwhelmed with what needs to be done to prepare it for sale, and do nothing!!!

    1. Hi Syd,
      We’ve discussed selling and down-sizing for the past two years but this year we decided to bite the bullet. It’s over-whelming and exciting and frightening — all at the same time! After our son, daughter-in-law, and grand daughter moved to London this summer, we decided to go back there and live closer to them plus have the advantage of driving only 45 minutes to the cottage. This decision means that life takes another turn for us.
      Be well,

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