It’s not as easy as it sounds. Over the past six weeks our lives have shifted from “ready … set … go!” to “ready … set … not so fast!” I have a new appreciation of how the prisoners on Alacatraz felt as they looked across the bay, their lives on hold, their dreams just out of reach.
When we put the house up for sale on March 1, our Realtor told us to be ready to move quickly. Although we’d approached the process with cautious optimism, her boundless enthusiasm convinced us that all of the hard work we’d done to make the house market-ready would pay off in a matter of days.
Her impressive track record of recent sales and no-nonsense “hard-core Boston” approach to getting our place sold made her declarations of immediate success believable. We were certain to get an offer from the first open house, she said, if not before. Her pricing, she assured us – comps in hand – was spot-on. “We don’t often see bidding wars,” she gushed, “but if we were to see one, it would be over this home.”
Now, 45-plus days, four open houses and many showings later, there hasn’t been a single nibble, her enthusiasm is in remission and we’re still stuck here, confused and getting angrier by the hour.
And let’s not forget that we’re trying to live and work in a staged show home. It’s like being in a furniture store window all day, or, depending on the hour, being part of a living diorama in Boston’s Museum of the Perpetually Weird. (Which doesn’t exist but really should. We do have a Museum of Bad Art (www.museumofbadart.org/), but because it’s in a basement and not handicap accessible I’ve never seen it.)
Let me backtrack a moment. Before we put the house up for sale, we invested more than several thousand dollars and several months’ worth of sweat equity in getting it into ideal condition. I think we were both naïve to think the hard part was over. Right now the hard part is reconciling our Realtor’s pie-in-the-sky assessments with reality.
I’ve been able to stay at home for several of the private house showings. For the first two weeks we’d pack up the animals, eliminate all evidence of their existence (who knew a 90-gallon recycling cart would be a perfect hiding place for a litter box?) and pile into the car for a 15-minute drive around the neighborhood. Not fun.
But it’s equally exhausting to stay home, pretending to work, and hearing all of the opinions about the place. Here’s what’s really odd: the feedback has been absolutely glowing. I’ve heard “it’s so gorgeous/charming/lovely” so many times in the past few weeks that I’m starting to feel like a consultant at Kleinfeld’s. Something is clearly not right.
A friend recently sold his Maui home for an obscene sum and credited a plastic statue of Saint Joseph for the sale. He suggested that we do the same, but AF bristled at the notion of co-opting religious iconography for material gain and adamantly refused. Or she did, until we slid into week six without an offer on the house. I spied her on the front lawn last Tuesday night, spade in hand, submerging a $2 figurine into the rocky soil and muttering “I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”
While the patron saint of the working person hasn’t ginned up any leads yet, he may be helping us get a clearer picture of the problem. Saturday morning our Realtor was 40 minutes late for a scheduled showing. She’s mentoring a young salesperson, which was fine when he tagged along with her, but now she’s sending him to show the house on his own. I’ve already had to pull him aside to give him correct information about the property and have had to help out when he’s been unable to answer a prospective buyer’s questions.
When someone receives 5 percent of the sale price, which is close to $20,000, I expect them to know their stuff and practically live here. Am I asking too much? The answer is simple: no. The Realtor may want to live in Boston for the rest of her life, but we don’t. That’s why we’ll be sitting down with another Realtor this week to get new perspectives on the process and hopefully get moving in the right direction.
When we bought this place seven years ago we fell in love with it, even though the bedrooms were on the second floor. (We had no idea that my physical condition would deteriorate and make a nightly trek upstairs nearly unbearable and dangerous.) We’d only seen a handful of places, and knew this was the one for us as soon as we stepped in. The Property Virgins/House Hunters phenom hadn’t hit yet, and the idea of seeing dozens of places seemed overwhelming and frivolous. How times have changed.
As pretty as it is, this little Cape at the end of a picturesque dead-end street has become an Alcatraz of sorts. So, here I sit looking out my window, staring at scenery I’ve grown tired of, waiting for my Realtor to do her job and for someone to fall in love.