After six years in our home, it was time to list it.
I dislike any big-ticket transaction, which I’d define as anything between a major car repair and the national debt. Rest assured, as much as I love cars, buying one is like a trip to the dentist. Purchasing a home? Fugetaboutit.
Which is why I was a little surprised I wound up owning a home in the first place. Signing the papers struck me as playing with silly money. Why would a bank ever be willing to make that kind of deal? With a journalist, of all people?
But it was the right thing to do at the time, providing us with a stable base of operations, particularly for the kid. With her now just a year away from college, and knowing this wasn’t where we wanted to spend the rest of our lives, the time had come for me to suck it up.
It has been eye-opening, to say the least.
For most, monthly open houses and surprise showings on a couple hours notice are simply opportunities to get out of the house, eat out or run errands.
In that respect, I have two major obstacles.
For one thing, I work from home. The nature of my work requires me to be near a computer, often on deadline. You haven’t lived until you have cruised around the area desperately looking for a WiFi connection to send pages or post a story.
There’s only one thing I can think of to make it more of a challenge.
Two of them, to be exact.
Each showing becomes an afternoon of madcap racing around trying to de-dogify the house. Then, we all pile into my surprisingly subcompact car to wait it out in the air conditioning. After all, it is the “dog days of summer.”
Nowadays, it seems everyone wants to see a house as a blank slate. Bland walls, minimal furniture. No personal items. All that “noise” makes it harder for people to see how their stuff fits in a house.
We live and work in our home. It’s going to look lived in. No offense to the experts and agents, they know their profession, but there are times I feel I could move all of a potential buyers’ stuff into the house and they still couldn’t see it because of the color of the walls. That, to me, speaks more to a lack of vision.
We didn’t much care what color the walls were. We didn’t need a home to be empty to picture how our stuff would work in it. And we certainly didn’t criticize peoples’ personal choices or style. We acted as if we were guests. Sure, the sellers were motivated by a hope of selling us their home, but they had put aside what they were doing to open their doors to us. We were respectful of that.
I blame HGTV. I’ve watched my fair share of flip-it and house hunter shows — the kind where half the couple sold the business and the other half is a professional blogger — and words like shiplap, staging and open-concept are tossed around without mercy.
Frankly, I think that kind of stuff has distracted house hunters and tainted their expectations. It just isn’t reasonable to presume the average seller will drop thousands of dollars into a home to make it sellable. Were we to sink that kind of investment into the place, we’d be sticking around to enjoy it.
Rather than focus on critiquing homeowners’ decorating choices, it might make more sense to look at what we used to call “the bones.” Is it sound? How was the equipment? Any chance of a pricey issue popping up?
In the end, it’s just a structure. It’s what you do with it that makes it a home.
Chris Six is a freelance writer and consultant. Learn more at cdsix.co