House for Sale

David and I are usually lucky when it comes to selling and moving.  When we sold the house in Sugar Land, I took that on solo because David had already gone to Kuwait.  The sale went smoothly—on the market for less than a month and we got more than we expected.  Also, we got a good deal when we bought this one.  So we’re keeping our past good fortunes in mind as the sale of this house drags on and on and on.  Within a week of the sign going up out front, the price of oil dropped and the housing market in Houston came to an abrupt standstill.  At this point we count ourselves lucky if we get a showing a week. 

We were presented with two clear options when it came to selecting an agent—one was our neighbor, a fifty-something woman whom we liked, and the other was a go-getter whom we both felt would tell us whatever we wanted to hear in order to get the listing; an antsy guy, too jittery to sit, he spent the entire time he was talking to us pacing around our kitchen.  He overcame the circumstance of the smallness of his agency by referring to it as “boutique”, a pretension that was jarring. 

Though the sale drags on, we’re still confident that our neighbor was the best choice—she has an interest in getting a good price and she’s sincere in her niceness—yet she is proving to be feather-brained.  For instance, on Saturday, though there was no open house scheduled for Sunday afternoon, she notified us that—oops, somehow the newspaper got the idea that we were having an open house, so we had to get ourselves and our dog out of our home from noon to two. 

“I have no idea how this happened,” she said woefully. 

“You screwed up, that’s how,” was my snarling response. 

The short notice was inconvenient and annoying, but we will do whatever it takes in order to sell.

It’ll come as no surprise that this open house nonsense is an issue with me.  (I take issue with many things, why not this one as well?)  Yes, we want to sell, but we’re still living here.  As a rule we’re tidy and it’s no difficulty to wipe down the kitchen, and sweep the floor on a daily basis in the hope that a potential buyer will want to do a walk-through.  But I know all about Sunday afternoon open houses.  An open house is what the real estate agent does in order to make herself feel proactive when there’s nothing else she can do.  And it provides free entertainment for people who don’t have anything better to do.  A couple of weeks ago we returned to our home after the allotted two hours, to find that only three people had come through—strangers who strolled through our rooms commenting on our taste, poking through our cabinets and closets, and using our toilets—I know this last for a fact because they neglected to flush their brown deposit. 

At the urging of the realtor, we paid for “staging.”  This is when two girly guys charge five hundred dollars to come in and discuss color combos and flow.  They removed the knick-knacks from the shelves, the rugs from the floor, and half the furniture.  The objective, it was explained, is for the buyer to see all the empty space and long to fill it with their own possessions.  Where did they put all the banished items?  They crammed crystal into closets, stuffed curtains into drawers, stacked Dutch oils in the garage.  Meanwhile, things are not where they should be, which is disconcerting on a fundamental level.  But I must admit, the place looks positively cavernous.   

Another aspect we’re dealing with is the neighbors’ representation of the area.  Curb appeal is important.  Our home is quite lovely inside and the location in the Galleria area is sought-after, but we’re on a busy street lined with closely packed townhouses, so what the neighbors do with their properties influences the sale of ours.  Sadly, the first thing a potential buyer sees when they enter our well-groomed courtyard is the rotting deck of the next door neighbor.  And the people across the street, new to this country, don’t have a clue how to go about hiring a regular mowing service.  Their weeds are up to my knees and in a couple of days they’ll be hip-high. 

Just got a call.  Though ordinarily this is the time of day when I’d be sipping Merlot with my feet up, I must grab my little dog and bolt.  Maybe this is the one. 

 This is Thebe, our realtor and neighbor.  The recently purchased mailbox is going to make people long to receive their mail at this house.  

This is Thebe, our realtor and neighbor.  The recently purchased mailbox is going to make people long to receive their mail at this house.  

 Doesn't our living room look huge with the desk and chests gone?  

Doesn't our living room look huge with the desk and chests gone?  

 Our neighbor's house looks like a slum and there's not a thing we can do about it.  

Our neighbor's house looks like a slum and there's not a thing we can do about it.  

 An open house is an ineffectual tool designed to make the realtor feel empowered.  

An open house is an ineffectual tool designed to make the realtor feel empowered.