Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sitting On Our Hands

Our house has been on the market for some time now. How long? I can't even remember. Must be around 6 months now. I definitely recall telling Trevor that I wouldn't put a "For Sale" sign in our yard until Marta was 6 months old, and now she's 13 months old. So there, at least 6 months. 

In that time we've had, oh, maybe 20 showings. More? Probably. Less? Possibly. (Though it may seem as though this post is about my sleep-deprived memory, it is not. Please stick with me.) Those of you with children are probably right now envisioning getting the house ready for each showing -- and you can't hide things in closets, because buyers look in those! At times one of us has taken the kids out and the other has cleaned, moments before a showing. Other times, like yesterday, when Trevor was still in Vegas, I've corralled the children into small spaces, vacuuming with Marta in her front pack and making the dog stay outside in the cold while I washed the floors, then yelling frantically as I made the last few touch-ups, "Nobody touch anything!!!" (Though in retrospect I'm now wishing I had instead yelled, "Not a finger!" for retelling purposes.) My favorite times are when we've hired a cleaning crew, and we hit the road. Very satisfying. 

And I know there's just no getting around the toys. I've tried. It doesn't work. I remember before we had children, and Trevor and I were adamant that we'd never let our kids' stuff overtake our grown-up lives. No clutter, no bright, plastic, noisy things in the living room, the fridge clear of clutter and a few tasteful photos hung smartly around the house.

Oh, my. Our living room is our play room, and the dollhouse has its own wall -- a big wall. The lower half of our built-in bookshelves houses toys and kids' books, and the top half contains no less than 15 books about child-rearing. Our kitchen's magnetized surfaces are awash in finger paintings and cute pictures, and a high chair rolls around the dining room. The basement, besides having an office and bedroom set up just for show, really, is F.A.O. Schwartz. We have a slide, a swing (hanging from the ceiling!), a trampoline, two kids' lounge chairs, a kids' kitchen, a babydoll nursery, a bin of dress-up clothes, a mini piano, a whole village of Little People stuff and... and... and... (and really, really, really generous grandparents). Upstairs is no better, but I'm not going to write about it because I think you get the picture. Oh, don't forget the garage, stacked with warm-weather outdoors stuff, and the outside's swingset/playland. It's just ridiculous. 

So I know the odds are against us, no matter how we try to minimize the look of the toys, when people without children enter out house. I always picture them coming in and saying, "Geez, do you think they have kids??" (And then sniffing and saying, "GEEZ, do you think they have a DOG?")

The showings seem to come in spurts. Right when we put the house on the market we had quite a lot. It was warm then, and we could easily head outside and wait the showing out with walks and trips to the waterfront. In the fall we had a string of them, during which our Realtor thought we'd have at least one offer (and of course we fantasized about a bidding war, which would push our price into the stratosphere and we'd be rich, rich, rich). After one showing, which was actually the third time this couple had come to see the house (not counting the time they showed up unexpectedly to walk the property or the time they called my father-in-law, thinking it was us, to chat about the construction of the house and possibly building the same one on a bigger lot somewhere -- what??), our Realtor (who is actually a dear friend who threw Trevor and me our "Up North" wedding shower) called me while I was driving. I turned down the news channel I was listening to on the radio to take her call. She said, "They love it! I think you're going to get an offer today. Stay by a fax machine, and keep your phone on." Yay! I turned the radio back up just as the reporter said, "Today is the worst day in history to buy a house." No offer.

Then, nothing. The market dove, then dove again and again, and the house next door to us and the one next to that were foreclosed on, and nobody could sell anything to anyone. 

And, randomly, on Friday we got a showing request. Last night, long after the kids were in bed and as I was getting out of the shower, our Realtor called to tell us that they wanted a second showing, first thing in the morning, and by the way, she had run into a man driving in the neighborhood who was looking for a house here, needed to be in it in less than a month, and he liked ours. He snapped pics of the outside and she gave him a packet of information (how coincidental is that, that she happened to be out here and he happened to be driving by?). He planned to call for a showing this week. 

So we're waiting, and hoping, and trying not to wait or hope, because we just WANT to move -- we don't HAVE to move. Being a builder who did not build his current house, Trevor needs that satisfaction and perfection. But we know that we have a great house now, and that building a new one will just be plain old expensive and hard work, but oh do we want to do it. So we're staving off the urge to pull out our plans and start the line of self-questioning. (You know, "Where would we live?" "Would we put our things in storage?" "When should we break ground?" And the ever-imposing, "Can we really afford this? Are we making the right decision?")

We're also a little unsure about how we'll keep our house in show condition, with the weather outside so frightful, and a toddler who loathes the cold and would rather spend the entire day cooped up, tearing apart the interior, and a baby who likes to walk around picking things up and taking them to the other end of the house. Best not to even mention the mess the darn dog makes. 

Little by little, though, positive thoughts about this are creeping into our minds, and we're once again envisioning a massive bidding war. To sweeten the deal, we may even throw in the dog.

1 comment:

Liza said...

You are a superstar mom, staying home all week plus tackling the showing. I hope everything works out well for you. I can't imagine the chaos of moving and building with two little ones! Yet another reason you are so ambitious! Enjoy Trevor being home this week. Relax, have a glass of wine and dream of your floor plans!