What do you do when you absolutely must sell your house and it refuses to cooperate?
We’d bought 103 Creek Court in 1980. At the time, $129,000 sounded like a ton of money for a house, but our family of five, increasing by one more the following spring, needed room.
Life dealt a disagreeable surprise ten years later, however, when Nate’s thriving business went under, thanks to a governmental change in investment tax laws. Although we had the house paid off by then, when his income fell by four-fifths, we started over with a new monthly payment book.
Our brood had expanded to include seven children, three cats and a dog, all of whom wanted regular meals and a roof over their heads. Being desperate for dollars, we thought about selling the house at that point, but where would our menagerie go? Seeking to maintain a measure of stability when much had become unstable, we tightened our belts and stayed in the house.
But financial optimism dwindled month by month until it petered out altogether in 2004. The better part of a year went by before we were able to haul ourselves over the “we-don’t-want-to-move” bump, but Nate and I met with a realtor that summer to finally do the hard thing and put our beloved home on the market.
Sitting in her corner office on a sunny day in June, both of us were quiet and sad, stained by defeat. But the rocky road we’d traveled while making our moving decision smoothed considerably when she slid her marketing analysis across the desk. “You’ll be surprised at what your house is worth,” she grinned, radiating anticipation like a parent watching a child unwrap a long-desired gift.
“Seven hundred and twenty five thousand dollars?!” we gasped in unison. “Are you kidding?”
“Hard to believe, isn’t it?” she affirmed. “Our town is absolutely red hot.”
Blowing on the growing flame of our enthusiasm, she added, “Most homes sell within a couple of weeks, some even higher than their asking prices. Bidding wars, you know.”
We didn’t know. How could a one hundred year old farm house that was always on the verge of its next repair bill be worth so much? Seeing us frozen to our chairs in shock, she stood, reaching across the desk for a hand shake, which coaxed us to our feet.
“What do we do now?” I asked, searching for something to say.
“Sit back and wait for the offers to roll in.”
Once at home, Nate partnered with his calculator, and I kneeled down to clean out the messy cabinet beneath our kitchen sink, finishing with fresh shelf paper. “One less thing to do in the flurry before we leave,” I told myself.
That cabinet got pretty dirty before our house finally sold. The moving van pulled out just a few weeks ago, five years after I cleaned under there.