This is part of the M2M Series, Moving with Kids…Successfully: A 4 Part Series. To read the other parts, please click here.
I feel like I’ve been living this selling/buying/moving chaos for so long, I had to chronicle it for the sake of others…whether it is for sheer comical entertainment or the remote possibility that there might be some nuggets of wisdom to glean from it. Doubtful, but I’ll leave that up to you.
My husband purchased our first home in 2001 before he and I met. With three bedrooms, two and a half baths and 1440 square feet on a quarter acre lot, it was very roomie for a bachelor and his dog and cat. When I moved in the summer of 2005 with my dog and another cat, it got a little less roomy, but still very adequate for newlyweds.
In 2007 we found out we were expecting our first child and thought very seriously about moving, but it never panned out. Then the market tanked. Five years and three kids later, we expanded our home to add a second living room and 300 more square feet, still toying with the idea of selling. But, again, it never came to fruition.
We continued to improve our house and land; updating appliances, adding new flooring, building an 8×12 shed and sprucing up the yards. However, despite the dream of another place still in the back of our minds, we always chose to “love the one we’re with.”
Awhile back, my husband decided to attend a brewer’s conference to find out more information about starting up a nano brewery. He had been homebrewing in our attached garage as a hobby for several years and it was a dream to think of turning it into a family business. We found out in order to get licensed to legally sell his craft beer, we would first need a detached space where he could brew. Enter our new incentive to move.
We continued to watch the market slowly creep back up, and checked religiously online each day for our next, prospective home, but because of vacation travel and the time it would take to make all the necessary fixes with three young children in the home, we put it off yet again. Months went by and our home’s value kept going up, so we decided to take the plunge. We slowly worked on the project checklist and set a goal date to have everything done in time to list the house. There were a couple properties that would totally work if we could just get our house ready to sell in time to put an offer down, which served as even more incentive.
It was just after Christmas; we got home from traveling, and on less than four hours sleep from our long drive, my husband and I hit the ground running. For two weeks straight, we went from room to room, deep cleaning, decluttering, repainting and making all the necessary repairs on our list. I went into drill sergeant mode, working all day long at my tasks, fighting with my husband about the to-do list and nagging at the kids for simply touching the walls. Gone were the days of playing with my children, homeschooling or meal planning; I was a woman on a mission. My back was killing me from hunching over all the time, my hands raw and peeling from scrubbing with cleaners.
We painted when the kids were in bed so it would have the night to dry, and we used baby gates that had been stored in the garage for years to keep them out of rooms we were fixing up. They watched more TV in the span of two weeks than they had in their entire lives and I lost count of how many trips to Lowes and Home Depot we took. Everyone was cranky and on eggshells with each other. “It’s only temporary” and “It will be worth it when we are all settled into our new place” became my daily mantra when I was so tired of cleaning, when I couldn’t pull one more weed or listen to another, “mommy, PLAY with me” whine.
FINALLY, the day for signing papers and taking pictures with our real estate broker came. The house looked AMAZING and it was a perfect sunny day. We staged all the rooms beautifully and my dad took the kids out so we could concentrate on getting it all just right. I thought I had done a good job of making the home clean and decluttered enough for the staging pictures, but I was completely unprepared for how much farther our photographer would take it. In the pictures, he turned our very kid-friendly place into a chic model home!
After the pictures were taken and papers were signed, I heaved a huge sigh of relief. Finally, the hard part was over. All I would have to do from then on was tidy up a bit whenever a showing was scheduled, and with any luck, it wouldn’t be too long before we accepted an offer and our family could go back to living like the slobs we were!
Our listing was scheduled to go live two days after the pictures and it was the longest forty-eight hours of my life! After working my tail off for two weeks straight, I didn’t know what to do with myself, or my kids, while we waited. They were in heaven that mommy had time to play with, read to and homeschool them again, and I was thrilled to be doing anything but back-breaking house prep.
Finally, listing day came and much to my chagrin, it was entirely anticlimactic. I had pictured in my head being bombarded with interest to see our home that first weekend and having to be out of the house for days because of back-to-back showings. However, that was not the reality. It was torture just waiting every last minute, sitting around a clean house with entertained children, willing the phone to ring. But by Sunday night we had only one showing. Yup, ONE.
So the first weekend ended and I was more than a little disappointed. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday came and it was like crickets. Really? No one looks at homes during the week? Just on the weekend? The following weekend was the same. Only one call, only one showing. Then we had Broker’s Tour open houses two Tuesdays in a row, and no one came to those either. I was so frustrated that I had cleaned, turned on every light in the house and took with my kids and dogs away for two hours TWICE for nothing. I seriously cannot remember another time I had vacuumed, swept the floors and kept dishes out of the sink for ten days straight.
I was starting to get really disheartened. Weeks before, I had hoped that within the first day or two and the first couple showings offers would begin pouring in. What was wrong? Did we list at a bad time? Was our home too overpriced? Why wasn’t there more interest in seeing it and moreover, why didn’t we have an offer yet?
My husband tried to reassure me that it was good we didn’t have any offers yet, because we had no place to go either. And he was right. Any offer we accepted on our home would have to be on the contingent that we find our next home. So I finally began to ask God for His peace and for this to happen in His timing. I knew that even the best laid plans without God’s blessing will go to hell. It is so easy to build things up in my mind and start leaning on my own strength and trusting in my own will. I get prideful about things I shouldn’t. I hated feeling like that. I despised checking my phone all the time and barking at everyone because we’re missing “valuable showing” opportunities or getting irritated when nothing went as I expected. So, I prayed for peace and trust.
Almost immediately after I began to trust God with our home, we got our first mid-week showings. Thankfully I knew what to do with the kids after a two week ritual of preparing for the broker’s tours. I loaded the kids into the minivan, took the older one to school, and while a movie was playing in the car parked in the driveway for the younger two (thank God for rear entertainment systems!) I tidied up the house. We had a bin for all our valuables to go in (laptops, cameras, keys, etc) which I would also load into the car along with our two big dogs. We’d head to the library, a park or McDonald’s playland while we waited for our home to be looked at and I tried DESPERATELY not to obsess about!
After ten or twelve times of doing this, though, it started to get a little tiresome. I realized that some things would have to give. My insane, OCD to-do list for showings needed to be cut down. Not EVERYTHING had to be taken off the kitchen counters all the time, I didn’t scoop dog poop in the backyard (gasp) EVERY day or vacuum before each showing and I just couldn’t keep leaving every light in the house on for hours at a time!
By the third weekend we got our first offer. It was not great, so of course we countered, but they rejected it. I was super disappointed, but I remembered to trust that God would provide. And besides, we learned a lot and felt better prepared for the next time.
We continued to get at least one or two midweek showings each week, with only one or two weekend showing, but no more offers. By the time our home had been on the market for a month, I was sad about the circumstances, but completely at peace trusting God that He would bring just the right buyer at the right time. We decided not to lower our price, firmly believing our home was worth what we were asking.
Another month went by and beautiful weather came. Upon looking at our stats, it became apparent that February was the worst time of the year to list a home, with January as a close second. Okay, maybe you already knew that, but it was good for us to see spring and nicer weather beef up our listing views and calls for showings. We began to hear from people nearly every day, many of which were second showings! Every time I heard that it was a previous viewer, I got a little giddy with hope, but, again, days would go by and no offer.
As we approached three months of trying to sell our home, I realized I could no longer live in limbo. It just wasn’t healthy for my marriage and our kids. I changed my mindset from planning our life around showing schedules and possible closing/moving dates, to making those things fit around our family. I negotiated times with agents and their clients when it was convenient for us, and I went ahead and planned vacations and trips for the upcoming summer break, resolving that we would work it all out as offers came along.
After that, our whole family could breathe a little easier, knowing that even amidst the chaos of an eventual move, we could still have fun and plan enjoyable vacations.
My resolve was tested to the limit when I was out of town at a writer’s conference and my husband was home with all three kids, two dogs and a very messy house. We were bombarded with calls for showings and in my husband’s stress, the house was not as perfect as I always tried to make it. But in true God fashion, despite everything out of my control I came home to two offers, one of which was full-price! Of course we took it, countering only on the closing dates so we would have time to secure another house.
God did have a plan. He showed us when it was the ‘right’ time to let go of the place where my husband and I spent our first ten years together and brought all three babies home. Despite years of false alarms and days of disappointment, He knew just when the right time would be and who the right buyers were. I can now look back and be thankful we didn’t move all those other times. The long road certainly wasn’t easy and hardly fun, but the lesson of trust I learned and reward for waiting was well worth it!
—> Read Part 2: Finding the Right Home here!