Because Joel is family, or just awesome... I don't know, but he agreed to come over and rattle off the things in our house that need to change before it would be "show ready." I pride myself on my organization and I can keep a pretty clean space, but let me tell you.... selling and staging a house is entirely different.
Jim and I walked through our townhouse with Joel, me with paper and pen in hand and wrote down everything he said:
New porch light.
No playroom. Make this the dining room.
Stage the current dining room as a breakfast nook.
New mulch out front.
Re-do the whole back yard.
Make it look like you have 2 kids instead of 5.
Clean all marks and smudges.
New basement flooring.
The list went on and on. We didn't get offended. We didn't get overwhelmed. We took Joel's suggestions, make a check list and got to work. We put everything Joel mentioned on the list and ranked them in order of importance. There were easy things and hard things. There were cheap fixes and expensive projects. Essentially we removed our style and personal touches and kept things "light and bright." Jim and I worked in all our free time to complete tasks on the list. In the following two weeks, our house became a neutral space. It was no longer ours, but not yet anyone else's. We kept up with normal life, but also threw ourselves into our home projects. I remember being at a party during that time... I had been dressed in sweats and painting trim until 10 minutes before we left. I was exhausted and mentally preoccupied thinking about what project I would work on when I got back home and how much was left to do. We jumped all in with fixing our house and were almost actors in outside life. Normal life wasn't where our priority was. "What's wrong?" I was asked while at that party. "Nothing!" I said. How could I sanely explain that I've been working non-stop on house projects when a week ago nobody was aware we were interested in moving. I would sound insane, so I played normal while mentally immersed in our house process.
That same week Joel stopped over to officially have us sign the papers to put in the offer. Papers signed and submitted, we found out the new house was owned by the neighboring church. The church board had to meet for each step and every decision. This actually was a blessing for a few reasons. There were days of lag between steps, which allowed us time to be ready to sell. A few days after the offer went in, it was accepted! They didn't counter on price, amazing! They did counter us on the time frame. We asked for a contingency of sale of our old home. We set a date in September to have to "sell by." They were ok with us having the contingency, but it was mid July at this point, and they countered for us to be under agreement by August 1st.
We have two weeks to sell our home?
We were ready, though. We did every project big and small. "Game on. We've done our best... let's do this." It's in God's hands whether we can sell that quickly, but we have done our due diligence. Addendum signed and submitted, we are officially under agreement for the new house and are set to put our townhouse up for sale.
Two days before we were officially set to list, Jim came home from work and announces "I might have someone to buy our house." "Wait... what? Are you serious?" "Yeah, there's this guy at work who has been looking for a house and hasn't found what he wants yet. He's interested." That same day, Patrick came over for a quick unofficial showing just to see if the house matches what he wants. It does.
When we sit down with Joel to put our house up for sale, we write in Patrick as an exception. If Patrick buys our house, we can do it as a private sale instead of going through the real-estate company. That would be awesome, but we are fully prepared to do showings and entertain offers from wherever they come. We buckle up and get ready for the ride...
All of a sudden, we are officially on the market. The house which welcomed all our baby girls home from the hospital, the house where the boys learned to ride bikes, the house where we grew our first roots... was in limbo. It was up for grabs. It was out there for the picking. It was no longer ours.