Real Estate Is the New Dating Game

For Sale

The first week my house was on the market, I got a phone call on a Saturday from my agent asking if it was Ok to do a viewing on Sunday.  I was in New Mexico on vacation, so everything was in order and my pets were out of the way.  I got so excited.  Similar to jumping back into the dating game (minus having to shave my legs all the time), I have been preening and cleaning my house so it looks appealing, attractive and desirable.  The day of the phone call, I began dreaming about how everything would play out.  The person would walk into my house, fall in love with it, know right away that it was the house for him or her and make an offer that day.  Miraculously, a 1920s Arts & Crafts bungalow in my favorite neighborhood would come on the market a few days later.  Then, when I walked over the threshold and noticed all the charming details of the warm-toned wood window casements, the sun porch, the brick fireplace, and the sanded and stained hardwood floors that brought back bygone days of old world charm and sophistication, I would make an offer.  A day or two later it would get accepted, and my new life in my new home would begin.

When I returned home from vacation, my real estate agent called to tell me that she would be bringing in agents from the area to tour my home on a day that works for me.  Obviously the first person who toured my home didn’t make an offer, but I was alright with that.  I rebounded quickly.  I told her “sure” and then again I began the process of cleaning my house.  My toilets were spotless and I went through at least 2 canisters of Clorox wipes.  I mopped my tiled floors with bleach water, and I even organized my crazy closets and drawers, those secret junk storage spaces we all have in our homes.  I was still excited and really believed that my house would sell soon (one must be a bit delusional to be so optimistic in this debunk real estate market).

I would invite you inside, but I haven’t cleaned it yet.

The agents came.  They all remarked how nice my house looked.  A few even left me their cards with their phone numbers and email addresses!  Oooh!  All the possibilities!  Surely they would tell their clients about this quaint duplex that has a pool, tennis courts, and club house right across the street and their clients would be in a bidding war over my home and I would take the best offer and that bungalow would magically appear as soon as I was signing the papers over to the new owner.

Every time my phone rang, my heart lodged itself in my throat.  Could this be my agent asking me when was a good time to show my house to a buyer?  Or could she be calling me to tell me she found my perfect home and asking me what date would work best for me to tour it?  As each day progressed and my phone rang less and less (or not at all), I started to become a little less optimistic, and a little more careless of where I placed my clutter and how often I cleaned my house.  “I’ll just dump the mail on the table and sort through it later,” I thought.  And that tiny action started a snowball of dejection.  Soon, I became resistant to picking up my shoes and eventually 3 – 4 pairs were scattered in practically every room.  One evening I realized I hadn’t washed the dishes in about 3 days and the cereal bowls stacked inside one another were sticky from the previous morning’s milk that I hadn’t fully rinsed out before setting them on the counter instead of placing them in the dishwasher.

One morning I looked around me and realized I was falling into a slump and I needed to rally.  I decided I needed my “wing man” to keep me in the game.  I called my friend Katie and asked her if she was interested in touring a home that my parents and I found a few days ago.   To make the offer even sweeter for my friend, I told her that afterwards we could go across the street and take the open house tour of  the 3 story Arts & Crafts home that sat on 1 1/2 acre lot and looked like an estate. She was game (and a bit excited to put her husband on “lunch & play time” duty with their 2 little boys). It should be noted what type of “wing man” I had recruited.  When Katie was 7 months pregnant with her first child and I was sad and blue and feeling like I was stuck in a rut, she offered to go out in St. Louis with me to help me find cute boys.  A few weeks ago, I texted her that I spotted a silver-haired fox of a man at the Toyota dealership when I went to pick up my car.  She called me back and told me to go inside and pretend that I had lost my Target receipt and I needed it so I could return an item.  I did.  And though I didn’t get the hot guy’s phone number, he did ogle me and act like a teenage boy.  He even walked over to me as he was leaving and looked me up and down and grinned and asked me how I was doing.  If it wasn’t for Katie’s  constant schemes and encouragement, I would have let a fun opportunity like that pass me by.    (On a side note, other things that make her awesome:   her dark sense of humor, her kick ass parallel parking skills, and her kind heart.)

Our date of touring the quaint bungalow finally arrived.  We met outside of the owner’s house and Katie had a big smile on her face.  “Oooh.  Nice.  This is cute,” she said.  It was a 1920s Arts & Crafts bungalow in a nice neighborhood with a boulevard and lots of shade trees.  The owner was super nice and he let us tour his home and he answered all of our questions.  He showed us all the work he put into it, and it was a lot.  True to form, Katie even pointed out the man looked to be single and he was good looking.  The home could have been a contender if it wasn’t for the awkward upstairs layout and the obnoxiously large backyard with a high maintenance koi pond and a crumbling garage.  The man could have been a contender too if it wasn’t for the fact that he was moving out of state.  Oh well, on to the next, Katie and I said.  We drove over to the other house and walked in and greeted Scott, the real estate agent.  It was obvious that we were too young and not rich enough to even consider a home like this, but we pretended we were new to the area and were looking.  I had concocted a story in which we stuck close to the truth by keeping our job titles and age, but diverged from it by saying that my fiance just moved to the area and he is an architect for a St. Louis firm and he loves the structure and charm of older homes.  Katie told me she would go along with whatever lies came out of my mouth. It didn’t come down to us having to lie, though.  I think the real estate agent suspected we were just gawkers, in return he was gawking at Katie too. (Did I mention she’s beautiful as well as awesome?)

After that fun day, I settled into a routine.  I kept my house clean, I searched for houses on the internet and around town.  I even toured another house this time with my sister and my nephew.  Nothing was working, however and soon I began to get discouraged.  I questioned whether my dream of owning a single-family home in which I could create a beautiful, inviting, cozy and welcoming space that I and  my future family could live in would ever work out.  This train of thinking led me down the path of worrying about my current situation. I’m still single, and I don’t wish to be.  I’m still living in a condo attached to another person and at her mercy when it comes to making big house decisions (don’t even get me started how long it took to convince her to get a new roof).  I still haven’t traveled to as many places as I had planned for this year.  I still have a bulging varicose vein on my leg that is painful and making me feel embarrassed (though that will be getting removed here in the near future).  The more I cut myself down, the less I felt grateful for what I do have.

Thankfully, a few things happened to me that took away my self-pity (something that is never effective when pursuing dreams).  The first was the opportunity to sub my friend Sarah’s yoga class a few times.  I had to put thought into not just the sequence of the exercises, but had to think about my students’ physical and emotional needs.  One of the students was a college girl who has just started her yoga practice.  Nothing is more humbling than teaching a beginner.  You can’t be egotistical and show off in front of them, and you have to know what their limits are and push them just a little so they will be challenged.  Knowing that I would be teaching her the following week, I made sure I got back into my yoga practice daily so as to be ready to teach her and to answer her questions.  My practice helped ground me and built back my confidence that everything in my life will work itself out as long as I stop trying to control every minute detail.

The other thing that happened was my mom invited me to come and hang out with her and dad for a day or two.  I’m glad I did.  My mom fixed us all lunch and dinner and later that night I watched one of the DVDs of converted family slides that included our vacations, holidays, and family members long since gone.  It was nice to reminisce and laugh with my parents.  My mom and I even took a drive that day to an antique store and bought some fun purchases.  On the drive she recalled a story from her youth where, out of sheer orneriness, she and her friend Nancy signed up for girl pen pals through a teen magazine and pretended to be boys from the hometown football team.  I became immersed in my daily life and was getting enjoyment out of just being.

Then it happened.  While I was still visiting my parents, I got a phone call while my mom and I were at the mall.  It was a realtor and she wanted to show my house between 1 – 2 p.m. that day.  I wasn’t sure just because I had left coffee stains on my countertop, dirty dishes in the sink, clutter in the usual places, and clothes sprawled on my chair in my bedroom.  The realtor informed me that she wouldn’t risk a showing just because of a lack of surface cleaning.  So I said, “Yes.”

I won’t bore you with the details of how the sale went down, but yesterday evening, two days after the interested buyer put in an offer for my house, I gave the green light to sell it.  Last night I became very reflective and even a bit sad.  I’ve lived in this condo for 8 years.  I have renovated it and it is move in ready. It has been a safe haven and a space in my life that has let me grow into a far stronger, more grounded woman.  This is the place where I really began to figure out who I am as a person and what I want in life.  This place has housed family and friends and my dog and my cat.  There are so many good memories here, and this sudden change (that was a long time in the making) almost feels like a bittersweet breakup.  But I’ll be Ok.  Because, by releasing this house, I am opening up to all the possibilities in a new home (that is yet to be determined).  And this new home will be a new space that will help me turn into a far stronger, more grounded woman where I can figure out who I am as this new person and invite in the new, exciting things and experiences I want in my life.

I have spent many a day here reading and sleeping in my relaxing hammock underneath my glorious shade trees. I will miss this.

At times this is an extended living room area. Family come out here with me to sit and visit while my dog Sancho roams the back yard. I have sat many hours out here grading in the sunshine (which is one of the only benefits of grading papers at home).