Sunday, July 22, 2007

A Moving Experience...
(an ongoing series) — Part 8

Blowin’ off steam
Can we tawk? Sorry for being so silent on the house story for the past week, but therein lays the problem — nothin’s happenin.’ Wait — let me restate that…a lot is happening, just nothing good; nothing good for us, and certainly nothing good to write about.

I gotta do a little venting here before I freakin’ explode.

If you’ve read any part of this ‘continuing series’ then you know that we’re building a new house — and that’s definitely a good thing. However, often the flipside of that equation is that we have to the sell the current house first, which they say is perhaps the single most stressful experience a married couple can go through. Now I don’t know who the heck they are, but I’d be inclined to agree with ‘em on that point.

It’s been nearly two weeks since our original buyers, Mr. & Mrs. Potatohead, backed out from their offer, under what we and our Realtors considered to be pretty questionable circumstances. But, hey — they were within their legal right to do so, so vaya con dios to them; they don’t know what they’re missin’ out on.

In the ensuing weeks, Michelle and I have decided that we’re missing out on something as well — our sanity.

All my world is a ‘stage’
I’m pretty sure Willy Shakespeare didn’t have selling houses in mind when he wrote As You Like It, and I’m pretty sure they didn’t have HGTV in 16th Century England either, But then again, legitimate context has never stopped me from bastardizing a popular phrase to make a point.

A year or so ago, I began hearing Michelle referring to this new term: ‘staging,’ in reference to selling a house. My wife is addicted to the myriad shows on HGTV (Home and Garden Network) and TLC (The Learning Channel), two Do-It-Yourself cable channels that would lead you to believe that you can do a complete remodel on your home with a roll of crepe paper and a ball pine hammer.

Seriously though, some of the shows she watches religiously are pretty good I’ll admit, but there are so many of them dealing with the same subject matter, it just makes me dizzy.

One of those ad nauseum subjects is homeselling, either by buying a fixer-upper and flipping it, or simply maximizing the potential of your own home’s sale value. In either case, the term used for making the home as attractive as possible to potential buyers is staging. And right now, we’re in staging HELL!

The basic goal in staging a home is to de-clutter and simplify, removing as many personal effects: photos, souvenirs, unnecessary nick-nacks, magazines, papers — anything that makes the place look like YOU live there. This is in order to allow the potential buyer, who will only be seeing your home when your not there, to project themselves living there instead.

It’s a fine principle and it makes a lot of sense, even if it can be a little extreme if pushed too far. But when you actually have to try and live under those conditions, lemme tellya, it sucks big time.

The fact that we have already packed away nearly all our all-but-absolutely-essential personal items is bad enough, but that’s not the worst of it. It’s like livin’ in a freakin’ hotel, and I’m the maid!.

I feel like a prisoner in my own home. We have to keep the house absolutely spotless, vacuumed every day, sinks wiped down to the last bead of water before we go to work, toilet seats down — including lids, nothing left out on any counters anywhere, not a piece of paper sitting out, not even a magazine in sight.

And why go to all that trouble? Because at a moment’s — and I do mean moment’s notice, one of the Realtor gals could call, announcing that they have a showing at all hours of the day. If Michelle and I are at work, then, no problem-o — the house is in show-mode. The prospective buyer’s agents can come in and show our house, looking its best.

But what that requires on our part is a complete discombobulation of our (read: my) morning routine. Oh don’t get me wrong, Michelle does more before 7:00 AM than I do all day anyway, but because she has to be at work at 8:00 AM sharp, while I can fudge my coming and going a little without serious recourse, a lot of the morning staging chores are left up to me.

And please understand, I’m not just being a typical male, griping about a little extra housework here, I’m just saying that the extra 15-20 minutes I’m going in late for work is starting to grind on me. And the total effort of keeping the house spotless 24/7 is grinding on Michelle too.

But that’s not the worst of it, still.

As if weekdays weren’t enough of a drag, weekends are downright depressing. Now, we have open houses on Sundays as well as the same spur-of-the-moment spot house showings that come out of nowhere on Saturday. We can’t plan to do anything! We basically, for the last two weekends, have had time to drink our coffee and read the paper in the morning, then get cleaned up and get out of the house so that it can be shown.

We’ve been taking a lot of drives out to the new lot to see if anything’s happening out there yet, but so far nothing has. They should be breaking ground in about a week or so, and we know that, yet still we wander out that way, knowing we won’t be seeing any progress on our new house, but hey, we’ve gotta do something to kill a couple hours, right?

Sheesh. Can’t relax; can’t work; can’t write; can’t save money, ‘cuz we’re eating out 3-4 times a week because we can’t mess up the kitchen.

Can’t imagine I can take this much longer.

But I will.

The silver lining
There is one good thing that’s coming from all this, though: practice. Hopefully the fact that we’re literally changing the way we think about how we live is gonna be parlayed into some better housekeeping habits when we move into our new home. I’m not a slob, but you could probably have guessed that I’d played one on TV at least once in my life. But I sort of like this having-a-clean-house-kinda-deal. Hopefully that’s one of the changes we’re going through that will stick.

But please, Lord, won’t you make the staging go away soon?

I guess it’s also good that we are indeed getting a lot of prospective buyers coming through, and in so doing, our house is showing up on the radar of the outside Realtors bringing them through the door. And the more Realtors see the house, the more opportunities they will have to sell it, if not to the person they bring by the first time, then perhaps another client sometime else.

At any rate, it’s our REALity for now. We’ll just have to make the best of it.

That’s all I got, but boy do I feel better. Thanks for listening.

Now in the immortal words of Snagglepuss, “Exit…stage left…ev-en”
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