A great tip for selling your house

If you’ve been reading Art of Simple for a while, you might recall four years ago my husband had accepted a job that gifted us the adventure of a lifetime: living in Germany for a year.

It was wild and wonderful and changed us for the better, but near the end of that year we learned things had changed; we’d have to extend our expat assignment almost two years longer.

That simply wouldn’t do. We had managed family logistics for a year, but with two of our children in college and our youngest in high school, we were no longer willing to live bouncing between two continents.

Someone always had to be left behind with those rare exceptions when we could be together. Wedged between a rock and a hard place, my husband left that dream job on good terms, and accepted a position at a new company. However, his choice meant we would remain stateside but have to move three hours from home.

In a decision that confused many but made sense for us, we didn’t sell our house in Tennessee.

Emotionally, it was an anchor for our family, the place our children grew up, the house they consider home. Practically, it was much larger than our house in Georgia, and much more convenient and accommodating for family gatherings.

The company my husband works for now has locations there. For those and other reasons, the chance always lingers for us to return.

But fast forward three years, and a lot has changed.

Our oldest graduated college, moved cross-country to work as a fellow for an amazing urban leadership development program, and she got engaged (the proposal will make you weep).

The youngest graduated high school and started college. The middle kid scored a sweet internship that will hopefully translate to a permanent position post-graduation. I’ve had some very personal changes, and my husband and I became official empty nesters.

If these walls could talk

We’re happy and thriving in our new hometown, so last fall we made the decision to put our Tennessee house on the market. Close to 30 years old, our house had a lot of square footage but needed some TLC from no one having lived there full-time for a while.

Our realtor explained that we’d be competing with new construction. I knew it would take the right buyer, someone who could see beyond simple cosmetic issues.

It only made sense to me that a family would be interested–the house, yard, nearby creek and caves practically begged for a new tribe of littles.

In the months to come, we had a lot of showings but an offer never followed. People who shared feedback usually blamed it on an upstairs master bedroom. I understood that, because we, too, had wanted a downstairs master, but it wasn’t a deal breaker.

We traded having to walk upstairs to sleep for a lot of room. (Note: I ended up LOVING an upstairs master for the view! Who knew?)

Something had to give. So many showings with little feedback and no offers meant we needed to reconsider our asking price.

Beyond that, though, I began to sense that if people were only looking at a house, they might always choose another. We wanted buyers to see what was right with our house. There were so many good reasons we feared were being overlooked.

Buyers needed to see a home—not just a house. A living, breathing space where a lot of life could take place.

Using my love language—words—I wrote the story of our home, making sure potential buyers wouldn’t miss the most important things about our house.

If these walls could talkRoom by room, I wrote a brief chronicle of what made that room special or what I loved most about it. Each snippet was heartfelt, sincere and true. I didn’t go Pinterest-overboard on this; I kept it simple by mounting each paragraph on cardstock and taping it in a visible location.

In closets and cabinets I mounted a favorite scripture, verses that would inspire and encourage, but most of all let potential buyers know this house had been a refuge; this house was full of love.

* * * * *

Our house closed just before Memorial Day, and the family who purchased it has six children. Oh, that made me happy.

The buyers were quiet and reserved when we met, but I had to ask: Did you happen to read all the little love notes I stuck all over the house? 

They smiled, and the wife nodded and pointed to her husband. I read every single one of them…“. He didn’t elaborate, but it was the way they answered that made me know the effort wasn’t lost on them.

It’s an interesting thought to consider, that our walls are always listening, taking in the story of our lives and our family.

If you feel like the chaos outweighs the calm in your home,

first, take care of the basics.

You already know what to do—you just need to do it.
Focus on just ONE thing at a time, and you'll conquer the overwhelm.

 

9 Comments

  1. Linda Sand

    What a wonderful idea! I have read books that are written as memoirs of houses and the Minnesota Historical Society rebuilt parts of an historic house with photos of families who lived in it at various times and told their stories. It was wonderful, too. But it would not have occurred to me to let a house for sale tell its own story.

    • Robin Dance

      Hey Linda, Gosh, I can only imagine the stories centuries-old houses could tell. Oh, to be a fly…!

      This idea was a “Eureka!” moment for me :). I DO wish I could’ve seen buyers’ and their reactions; or really, what they thought when they read those notes…. Did they stir ANYONE? I’ll never know, ya know?

  2. Seana Turner

    I have a friend who has recently started a business photographing particularly sentimental “bits” of homes when families decide to sell… the growth chart on the wall, the beautiful doorknob, the view of the favorite tree out back. Love this idea!

    • Robin Dance

      Ahhh, Seana….the growth chart on the back of our door is a whole ‘nother post I’ve yet to write :). To me, it’s an amazing little story :).

  3. Guest

    Love this, Robin! We sold our house last year and we had to list in winter which is rarely a positive in real estate. We had tons of showings and very positive comments (from most) but no offers. I found photos of the 250+ bulbs we had planted and wrote a letter that I left on the bar about how people were currently seeing snow but in two short months, they would see rows of tulips and fragrant hyacinths. It was just one page and not as lengthy as yours but I really do think it made a difference. It sold shortly after and I’m told by former neighbors that our tulips are still the prettiest in the neighborhood. 🙂

  4. Gordon . Chwpple

    Congratulations on selling the house and leaving the past happiness and moving forward………after a time “of listening”? So glad you are happy and settled where you are. By the way Robin your last sentence …….may I ask what are you going on about……..a complete mystery to me!! Just shows have the same language is drifting apart. Hopeyou are well. G

  5. Barb

    Robin, I thought your idea to put cards in the rooms and verses were creative and so thoughtful. I would have appreciated seeing this during our search. We just picked up the keys to our new home purchase yesterday. Can’t wait to create new memories in our new home and fill each room with love and care. Congrats on selling your home!

  6. Cindy O'Brien

    This is so beautifu, and so YOU, Robin! Looking forward to reading about your journey in future posts.

    I made the same comment about walls absorbing our conversations and life being held within their listening ears…needless to say, I was rebuked and reminded that walls cannot hear. I beg to differ.

    I love this post and the sensitive soul who wrote it. You are a treasure!

  7. Julie

    This is so beautiful that I cried. Thank you for sharing! I have been struggling lately with the limitations of our home; things that can’t be changed for awhile, and I absolutely love what you said, “I wanted someone to see what was RIGHT with our home.” It’s so easy to stop seeing that, isn’t it? Now I want to record memories in each of my rooms, just as they are here and now, for my own gratitude and contentment.

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