Releasing and moving on (continued)

Maybe the house is resisting releasing me. I’ve tried to reassure it, tried to convince it the next owners will love it as I do. Perhaps it senses my uncertainty about this.

Is it too much to hope for the ‘perfect’ buyer? Someone who will enjoy the house and environment for what it is and not merely see it as an ‘investment’, something to be manipulated for profit. There are such people around, but is it then too much to hope that such a buyer would also have enough money at their disposal to pay us a fair price.

Last week we signed another contract, for much less than we’d been hoping for, and much less than the earlier contract. There’s no doubt the market has been dropping, and we are more anxious to sell quickly than we were 3 months ago. So we were reconciled to a lower price, though probably not this much lower. What we weren’t prepared for was that the new buyer, just like the last, would try to reduce the price drastically once the contract had been signed, over perceived flaws which should have been accepted as part and parcel of an old house. After all, you don’t go into a used furniture store and demand the price of recovering be deducted from the selling price of an obviously used sofa.

Part of the problem lies in current real estate practice in these parts. There seems to be a determination on the part of agents to keep buyers and sellers apart, thereby depersonalising them and casting them in the roles of adversaries. I have an uncomfortable feeling of having my space desecrated … my home, which reflects me, is open for all to see, but I know little or nothing about these people who wish to take over my home. People who, the agent tells us, are absolutely in love with the house … yet expect it to cost no more than other places they’ve seen which they like much less.

Maybe I’m unusual, but I’ve come to expect to pay more for things I consider superior.

I’m tired of all this game-playing. If I leave feeling I’ve been screwed I’ll leave bad vibes behind … not that I mean to, but I’m human after all.

At this moment, I just want it all to be over.

The coming week will tell. There are a couple of other contenders who seem to be prepared to pay a better price, but after 2 failed contracts I’m not exactly filled with confidence.

Would someone like to pray to the patron saint of house-selling for me?

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Releasing and moving on

A time comes when you just have to let go … when the pain of holding on exceeds the pain of releasing and leaving behind.

It happens with things (all those books I’ve accumulated over a lifetime, for instance); it happens with people (once dear friends with whom I’ve somehow lost contact); and it happens with places.

This is a tale about place.

We’ve lived in this house for over 16 years. It was a small, modest, 1930s workers’ cottage when we moved in. As soon as possible, my husband added a front and back verandah (carefully accommodating the resident white wisteria). He also added another room, opening onto both verandahs, which served as my office and studio. In the small back yard we cultivated a rainforest garden and trained the wisteria to climb over a pergola. The back verandah became our favourite place … a haven from which to marvel at the seasons, the play of sunlight through leaves, the birds and wildlife that frequently came calling.

I’ve loved living in this place. It’s a leafy sanctuary in the midst of suburbia, just 6km from the Brisbane CBD. Sit on the back verandah and you’re unaware you’re just a few allotments away from a major road and public transport to the City. Four beloved cats lie buried beneath its soil … animal lovers will understand when I say that gives it the feel of ‘sacred ground’.

But the time has come to move on. I realised this, with a jolt, about 4 months ago. We’d thought about moving a number of times over the past few years, but each time opted to stay where we were. On this occasion it was different … a sudden knowing that the time was right.

The reasons are several:

–  Our son returned to live with us some years ago and I gave up my art store-room to give him a place to sleep. As a result, my studio became so crammed with stuff that there’s no space to work.

–  The house is really too small for 3 adults, all of whom need work areas and who value their privacy and like to play their music without headphones.

–  Having fallen upon difficult times, paying a too-high mortgage has become too great a burden. Selling the house and renting for a while would give us a long overdue respite from financial concerns.

–  We also just need a ‘change’. I have a yen to be near the sea and we feel drawn to the Redcliffe area.

So, after a neighbour’s house sold for far more than we would have expected, we decided to put the house on the market.

But first we had to ‘declutter’.

We collect things – books mostly, and information of all kinds. Other stuff too. Let’s focus on the books. When we moved to Brisbane from Buderim in ’87 we brought with us 129 boxes of books. There followed 6 moves in 7 years, before we bought this house. The moves whittled away at the books and when we came here we were down to 70 boxes. But we’ve been here 16+ years …  need I say more.

Added to the books are all my art materials. Photography used to be my main interest, but now I’m into artist books, collage, doll-making, jewellery, painting, print-making, and other things that don’t immediately come to mind. I’ve accumulated a vast store of unusual materials which you can’t just buy in a store, so I can’t throw or give them away, can I.

With quite remarkable discipline for a person so self-indulgent, I managed to fill 10 give-away boxes. The rest I began packing away in boxes to store under the house in preparation for The Move … just to show the Universe that I’m serious about this.

The house looks slightly uncluttered. The wonder is that all that other stuff fitted in without our constantly stumbling over it. Those who give advice on selling houses would undoubtedly recommend moving out at least 50% of what remains. But I say it looks like an artist’s house, and besides, we have to live and work here till the house sells, so putting everything away is impractical.

The decluttering took a month. Then the house was advertised and the routine of Open Houses began, along with the ongoing task of keeping the place presentable … not easy when you have two of the world’s most creative messers on board. After a false start with an agent who managed to attract only 4 groups of people to 3 Open Days, we changed to another who has been much more successful – so much more successful, in fact, that you wonder what the first agents do with their time.

Three weeks ago we signed a contract, which seemed iron-clad, but fell over in circumstances which almost made us lose faith in the human race, or at least that part of it labelled Buyers.

I’m tired of Open Houses, and I’m especially tired of house-cleaning. I’m almost tired of buying flowers. There’s a lot of interest, so I suppose eventually the ‘right’ buyer will turn up.

I’m impatient though. Having ‘released’ the house I want to move soon, before I start to cry. I want to move to Redcliffe now, and walk daily on the beach searching for interesting stones to add to my collection of Intriguing Things I might use in an Artwork Some Day.

You can check out the house at:

http://www.eplace.com.au/property.cfm?propertyID=1429737&realestate=45_Leiper_Street_STAFFORD_QLD_4053

While we’ve been waiting, the wisteria has bloomed again, the nasturtiums almost finished their annual bid to take over the back yard, and the jacaranda in front of the house is bursting into bloom.

Somewhere out there is the perfect new owner for our house … one who will continue to love it as we do, and give it a fresh lease of life.