In May 2006, we closed the deal on our home which never had a “For Sale” sign posted. How, you ask, did we sell our house when we were not selling “by owner”? It can only be explained that God’s providential care and blessing allowed us to sell our home just at the right time. After years of preparing and planning for our retirement and eventual relocation the day finally arrived that we retired and were free of the 9-5 work schedule. Now the task of selling our home was about to begin.
Preparing our House for Sale
In preparing our home for sale, we had a budget of $10,000 to finance improvements and repairs. We were able to stay within our budget . We had two weeks to pack, vacate and close our home of 32 years for sale. We had fully expected to contact a realtor to list our home on the market but a trip to my hairdresser dramatically changed the usual course of events in selling a house. As I was sitting in the hair salon preparing to have my hair shampooed, I asked my hairdresser if he knew of a painter to paint some rooms in our house. He replied that he did know someone and from that answer and question exchange, our hairdresser became a central figure in the selling of our home. The painter he recommended painted our rooms and performed minor repairs at a reasonable cost. Our furnace which had faithfully served us for the entire 32 years needed to be replaced. Our local electric utility company installed the furnace which cost slightly more than $3000. A few years earlier we had replaced our hot water heater at cost through my husband’s employer. Other improvements that were completed included new front steps and white aluminum railing to replace the years old black wrought iron, re-pointing the back porch steps, installation of new window treatments throughout the house, new carpeting in the living, dining room and two bedrooms. All of the improvements and repairs were done withing the budgeted $10,000.
Showing the House
Now that the renovations and repairs were completed, my husband and I concentrated on preparing the house for showing to prospective buyers. Coinciding with our preparations to sell our home, our son was also planning to go into his own apartment solo after living several years with roommates. To save money, he asked if he could stay with us a few months while he looked for his new apartment. Thinking that we had at least 6 months ahead of us, we readily agreed to the arrangement. Little did we know that we were woefully in error concerning the amount of time it would take to sell our home. Meanwhile, we took some time off from preparing our house for sale to travel to Georgia to visit relatives and to look for possible places to live. Upon our return, I found out from my hairdresser that while we were gone, a business associate he knew had expressed interest in buying our house when told that we were selling. In fact, we were told that he had driven past our house several times and was awaiting our return from Georgia to arrange an appointment to see the house. Things were moving so quickly that I began to doubt whether or not the offer was sincere or some cruel joke. After discussion with my husband we arranged an appointment for the prospective buyer and cautioned him that our house was not yet “show ready” but he explained that it was not a problem. His mother accompanied him and on another visit his fiancee came to view the house.
After his visit, an offer was made which was under our desired price. Upon further discussion, he agreed to pay our price and the proverbial ball really started rolling. The prospective buyer was so enthusiastic about buying our house that instead of my husband and I drawing up the contract which is the usual procedure, he excitedly stated to us that he would contact his lawyer in the morning to draw up the contact which we could then give to our lawyer for review. The following morning, we contacted a real estate lawyer (again, my hairdresser gave us an excellent recommendation) who explained that indeed it is usually the responsibility of the seller to draw up the contract but that we would let the buyer proceed with the contract and she would review it for our interests. When the contract was signed by both parties in February 2006, we prepared for the closing to occur in May. We had nearly 2-1/2 months to prepare for the completion of the entire moving process from start to finish. We were still working and had a retirement date of April 2006. What amazed us was things were going so smoothly and we were not going to have to put a “for sale” in our yard which we automatically expected to do. However, as I stated at the beginning of the article, the selling of our home did not follow the usual procedure and again can only be attributed to Divine Providence.
Clean Up and Closing
After the emotional experience of retiring, saying good-bye to colleagues and co-workers with whom we had worked for so many years, 27years and 21 years respectively, we mentally transitioned into putting our efforts into preparing the home for its closing. After our retirement, we took off a week to relax and mentally and physically prepare for the final weeks of our living in our home. After the week’s respite, we plunged into a flurry of activity. The arduous task of deciding what to take, what to discard began in earnest. Packing and sorting clothes, contacting the mover, arranging for our vehicles to be shipped were some of the myriad of tasks that had to be placed on the “To Do” list. We cleaned, dusted, scrubbed and removed items all week. We found ourselves racing against time and seemingly losing the battle to meet our closing date. Our son, who had found an apartment and moved a few weeks before us, came by periodically to assist and lend moral support. He saw that we were losing ground and gently but firmly reminded us of our deadline and that we had to step up our activity. He helped his dad pack up items and made countless trips to the dumpster to discard unwanted items. Finally, we were left with the monumental task of packing. We stayed up and pulled an all nighter the night before the moving was to arrive. The next morning, about an hour ahead of schedule, the moving van arrived. It was a long moving van trailer with the contents of two home already on the van. Our belongings would be the last to be packed because we would be the last stop for delivery. The movers carefully and efficiently labeled, categorized and moved our belongings onto the van. After a full day’s work, job was done and the van was en route to its destinations.
Now for the final step-the closing. The closing was scheduled on a Monday but it was delayed until the next day because of a minor medical condition suffered by our lawyer. We were getting somewhat anxious because we had booked our flight for leave on Wednesday. Time was getting so short, we were wondering if we would be delayed. Again, because of what can only be seen as a blessing of God, the closing occurred the next day after it was originally scheduled. The papers were signed, money and fees paid and the transaction was complete. The house was sold!
Selling a house is often an emotion laden experience. If we were to do it again, we would allow more time for packing. We underestimated the the needed time to pack. Thirty two years of accumulation of items cannot be easily sorted through in a week. We would advise packing much earlier in the planning stage. Even though we had done some simple packing, it would have been better to start packing weeks ahead.
Our house was sold by word of mouth. Do not be afraid to tell others that you are preparing to sell your home. It may be that word of mouth will result in a sale. However, do not sell your home without legal advisement. Because you may not place a “for sale” on your lawn does not preclude following legal advisement for your own protection.
Do not be hesitant to ask friends and colleagues for referrals for reputable independent contractors to perfor
m work on your house. Posing that first question to my hairdresser about a painter was the turning point in selling our home. Everything centered around that question. Again, an act of providence. In gratitude for the recommendations and assistance of my hairdresser, a generous monetary gift was given to him as an expression of appreciation.
Finally, be sure to hire a real estate lawyer to represent your interests and to be sure the transaction is complete and legal. We had an exceptional relationship with our lawyer and she made us promise that we would keep in touch and we have done so. To demonstrate the level of trust between us, while we were on our flight to our new home, an unexpected call from our bank to her office revealed an overlooked bill for $700. Our lawyer paid the bill, risking the chance that she possibly would not be repaid. However, when we were notified about the payment, we immediately sent her a reimbursement check. Not many lawyers would have paid their client’s bill.
The entire transaction of selling our home is truly a testimony of God’s goodness and timing. The housing market was at its height and not long after housing prices slowly began to decline. Even now as we think back to all that occurred from the beginning to the end of our house being sold, we can only bow our heads in grateful acknowledgment of His guidance and direction. It truly was an experience that has left a life long impact upon our lives.