Thu, Nov 27, 2014 ●
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The Universal Notebook: For sale by owner

Opinion

The Universal Notebook: For sale by owner

Having only purchased one house in my life and never having sold one, all this real estate stuff is new and strange to me. I can see why some viewers find the reality show (or is it realty show?) "Property Virgins" so compelling; you learn a lot about people when they go looking for a new home.

Personally, I’m something of a minimalist homeowner. I prefer to do as little as possible. Just move in, plug in the TV, tune in the ball game, boot up the computer, check my e-mail and go on with life. Carolyn is much more responsible and detail-oriented. That’s a polite way of saying she fusses over every little thing. Where I subscribe to the One Coat Covers All School of Painting, she insists on washing windows, walls and woodwork, caulking, spackling, sanding and painting two or three coats.

Lately, we have been in the process of fixing up our old house to get it ready to put on the market. It now looks better than it has in years, but there is something perverse about replacing hallway doors for someone else when you never would have replaced them for yourself.

I’m not saying my lovely wife is house proud, but she has become fixated on fix-up as though potential buyers were going to judge us by the condition of our home. She says she just wants to make the house as attractive as possible. I guess that makes sense, but she would have replaced all the carpeting if I hadn’t pointed out that we are planning to tear the wall-to-wall carpeting out of the house we may be buying. Let the new owners tear out the carpet if they don’t like it. It’s worked just fine since 1957. As is-where is, that’s my sales pitch.

Just as we were putting the final touches on the house, getting it ready for its close-up – a photo session to create a virtual online tour – Carolyn was called away suddenly for the birth of our fifth grandchild. That left me, the minimalist homeowner par excellence, to do the final prep. In other words, I am going to throw out a bunch of old furniture, shake out the throw rugs, and vacuum before I head south to see the new wee one.

I have been looking at dozens of online virtual tours and I must say there is something eerie about the spruced up, stripped down look of most real estate photos. It’s almost as if no one lives in these houses. Where is all their STUFF? We took 32 years’ worth of clutter to the dump, the camp, Goodwill and Salvation Army and there’s still a vanload of boxes in the basement.

Fortunately, Carolyn will be back before we have to subject ourselves to the retail ignominy of an open house. We have been to several lately and they do get addicting.

You start out just looking at houses you think you might actually want to buy, then you start stopping in wherever there’s an open house sign just for the chance to see how other folks live and to see if you think their house is worth what they’re asking for it. Open houses are an orgy of voyeurism. I bet there are perverts out there who aren’t really in the market for a house at all, they just attend them as a form of free entertainment. I am not looking forward to strangers wandering through my home making snide remarks about the art work and the fact that I have not sealed the driveway in 32 years.

Our house has been pretty well maintained, so I’m not all that worried about the house inspection that potential buyers will commission. On the other hand, I have only recently discovered the invisible deal breakers of radon and mold. You’d think someone would know if they had a radon or mold problem, but, while I sweated them as a potential buyer, it has never once occurred to me to check my own home for either.

Having lived in this house since 1982, I am all too aware of all the little things wrong with it, but I am also aware of what is right with it. It was a great place to raise a family. Now it’s time for someone else to raise their family here. This isn’t a house for sale, it’s a home.