Home Is Where You Make It

November has been the busiest month Brittni and I have had since the one following the birth of our little girl this summer. Brittni was given an impromptu day off on the first of the month and daycare was already paid for so I took off work to spend the day with her. After enjoying a cup of coffee and the world’s smallest plate of french toast at our local coffee shop, we decided to stop into our realtor’s office and see if she had an update on our home search. Upon opening the door, our agent rushed us into her office and sat us down in the seats opposing her desk. She looked at us with a smile and started to tell us about a property the agency had listed the day prior. As she started to describe the property, it felt as if she was reading the exact e-mail I sent to her describing the type of property we were looking for. Brittni and I scratched our plans for the morning and immediately scheduled a showing.

Within the hour of our spontaneous visit to the real estate office, we pulled up a short gravel driveway leading into what had once been a farmyard. There were multiple structures on the property but not all of the original farm buildings remained. A farmhouse, a three-car garage, an old timber frame shed, a well-house, and a poured concrete silo all stood on the property. It was clear that a barn originally stood near the upright silo but had been torn down some time ago. Along one edge of the altered farmyard is a tillable field that had ripe soybeans on it at the time. The field covered ten of the thirteen acres that made up the property. From the end of the driveway, it was easy to see that the house was the crown jewel of this property.

As we got out of the car, we stopped and stared in awe at this beautiful structure. I noticed the beautiful white brick siding that covered this looming two-story farmhouse. Brittni’s attention was drawn to the beautifully finished wrap-around porch as we climbed the steps and moved towards the front door. Our agent opened the door and welcomed us into the beautifully restored home. As we walked in, I immediately noticed that every room I could see had beautifully restored hardwood floor and we were soon told that it covered the entirety of the house. I also noticed the original wood baseboards and molding around the doorways. The character of the house spoke to me and had the gears in my head spinning wildly. We took our tour and noticed the good and the bad as we spent time inspecting and evaluating each room individually. Fortunately, it seemed there was far more good than bad.

After our tour, we went out for lunch and deliberated about the possibility of making an offer. Before the end of the day, we had done so. Before the end of the week, the owners made a counter. Before the end of the next week, we had gotten an inspection completed, made another counter-offer and signed their acceptance letter. The property was ours. Well, it could be. To get pre-approved for a new mortgage, we had to commit to paying the entirety of our current one. This means that we need to sell our small home on the river before we can move to our could-be farmstead. As risky as this sounds for the seller of the home, it’s not. Until we have an accepted offer on our home, the seller has the right to accept other offers on their home. This means one thing. We need to get our house sold and fast.

Before we had an accepted offer on a different home, I had never considered what preparing a home for a showing entailed. The amount of work this required became quite real when we stopped in the real estate office to sign the acceptance paperwork on the farm. The ink was hardly dry when our agent asked to come and take photos of our house. I was taken aback. Isn’t it common practice to give a guy a week’s notice before asking to collect photo evidence of how cluttered and disorganized his home is? Brittni and I countered by requesting two days to get it ready and we ended up meeting in the middle at an hour and a half. By the time we got home and formulated a plan, we had one hour to complete what hadn’t been done in three years. Deep cleaning. Our plan targeted the worst areas of the house and ignored what could be easily hidden by creative photography. Two hours later, our realtor pulled in and neither Brittni or I felt as if we had accomplished anything. Surprisingly enough, our agent was only at the house for ten minutes. She made a quick walkthrough and pointed out the things that needed changing. As soon as she left, I began making a list of everything that needed cleaning or repair before I felt comfortable with strangers analyzing our lives based on what they saw in our home. Before the work I put into the house preparing for showings, I assume any tentative buyer would have walked through the door and called the police to report we had been robbed and ransacked. I worked on the list every night and as the days passed, the list became shorter.

After being on the market for one week, I received a call from our agent’s office. Another real estate group had a client who had requested a showing. The list I had worked so hard to shrink now seemed larger than ever. I had three nights to get our home in tip-top shape. Brittni was gracious enough to watch Georgia from the time she got home to the time we went to bed as I continued to clean, organize, and stash our possessions. Speaking to a coworker about the situation, I was given what may have been the best piece of home staging advice one could ask for. Stash your junk. That was already our policy but stashing a closet full of should-be trash doesn’t work very well when your visitors are encouraged to look behind every door. What my coworker had told me was to buy a stack of rubber-maid totes and stash my junk in them. This was a quick and effective way to clear up some clutter and helped us organize the things that didn’t have a proper place.

After three long nights of cleaning, organizing, hauling out bags, and touching up paint, our home was ready for it’s first showing since Brittni and I walked through our first time three years ago. Now filled with our possessions and more importantly, our memories, what was just an empty house is more of a home than we ever imagined it could be at the time. As I walked through the house completing a final inspection before our first showing, I remembered all of the amazing things that have happened since we bought our first home. Our first fall in the home, Brittni and I became engaged. On our first Christmas, I told Brittni I was getting her a dog. On the first day of our first spring, we brought our boy Waylon home from the Humane Society. That fall, we were married and a year and a half later, our family grew again. All of these memories and more are tied to this home and will stay with us forever. However sad this may seem, I like to think that our daughter’s first steps could be in the next house. She may speak her first words and get potty trained there. On the other hand, those things could all happen at the house we live in now. We are hopeful to sell our house and move to a more spacious property, but until then, life will go on and we will continue to cherish every moment as a family.

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