Monday, April 20, 2009

Adventures in house-selling

In theory, allowing viewings of your house in order for it to be sold seems so straightforward. It goes something like this:

-Keep your house perfectly clean all the time so it is always ready for potential buyers to admire on a moment's notice.

-The viewer's realtor will call ahead and give you plenty of advance warning that they're coming so you can vacate the premises in a timely and relaxed manner.

-When they're done looking, the realtor will give you a call to let you know that you can go home.

In real life, though, we have ended up experiencing the following:

-We got locked out of our own house. This happened on our very first viewing. Luckily, Jeremy was able to break in through our sliding glass door. Now all the doors are labeled with helpful sticky notes telling people which doors they may and may not lock.

-The viewer's realtor forgot to call us to tell us when they left so we hung out around the corner awkwardly, in the blazing hot sun, longer than we needed to until we gathered the courage to look and see if their car was gone.

-We had to wake poor Magdalena up from a nap twice in one day.

Keeping the house mother-in-law-clean has been its own challenge, especially since Magdalena crawls now and likes leaving little messes in her wake. I do my best to have the house at most 15 minutes away from viewing-ready, hopefully less. It's sometimes a frantic 15 minutes, but it's doable.

Today we had an awkward adventure. A realtor called and said he'd come by with some potential buyers in 15-20 minutes. No problem! I did a sweep of the house - flushing toilets (Miriam has a weird aversion to flushing), wiping off counters, etc. Jeremy went into bathroom to take care of some business. I left Magdalena sleeping in her crib so that I could just grab her and go at the last moment to allow for nap maximization.

No more than seven minutes had passed when I looked out the window and saw the realtor pulling up next to our house. Yikes! Jeremy was still in the bathroom, Magdalena was fast asleep, Miriam was shoeless and, unbeknownst to me, had gone #2 in the toilet in the five minutes since I'd checked. And she hadn't flushed.

I yelled back to Jeremy that they were here, right NOW, and swept a startled Magdalena out of her crib. Jeremy finished up as fast as he could, Miriam threw on some flip-flops, and we were out the back door even as the realtor walked in the front. Phew!

As we went on a little walk, there was ample opportunity to panic. In our haste to leave the house, had we overlooked some essential tidying task? Specifically, I asked Jeremy if he had flushed the toilet and, horror of horrors, he couldn't remember. If there's anything more off-putting about a house to a potential buyer than a full toilet, I don't know what it is.

Jeremy did, however, flush Miriam's little toilet mess, which I had missed, so there was that consolation.

It was a tense moment when we got back home and checked the toilet. To our great relief, Jeremy had flushed it after all.

I hope we don't have any more close calls quite like that. These are the things realtors don't tell you about when they're prepping you to sell your home. But they should. They really, really should.

16 comments:

EmmySue said...

Oh, I can't wait! Just today David and I were trying to re-arrange furnature in the kids room to make it look bigger... to no avail. Our final decision... toss Alexis' bed in the garage before a showing. Last time we sold our house it was pre-kids... sounds like fun. Good luck to you. We'll be joining you in the craziness soon enough.

Eevi said...

I know that wasn't fun for you guys but that sure is entertaining to read. There is something wonderful about wondering if you flushed a toilet.

Good luck with the future showings:)

Lilianne said...

This story made me laugh out loud! Nothing like a little bathroom humor to knock on the ol' funny bone, right??

What stress! I don't know how I could possibly keep a house ready-to-show clean at a minutes notice. What a woman!! I have a really hard time keeping my clothes all hung up and they always end up in a pile on my chair!

Liz Johnson said...

Hahahahaha. Yeah... I sometimes wonder if the stress of home ownership is worth it. I think it is... but man, WHAT A PAIN.

And seriously, realtors?! Have you ever heard of COURTESY?!

Jeanerbee said...

Oh, YUCK! I'm having flashbacks to last year. On top of having a toddler, I was preggo and extremely nauseaus, and had TWO hyper dogs to get out the door with me. I feel your PAIN! Hopefully it will sell quickly!

Jennifer said...

What a pain! I'm glad you guys do leave though...we looked at so many places where they didn't even attempt to clean up before we came and then they just sat there and watched TV while we looked around...awkward. I hope it sells soon so life can go back to normal! :)

Jill said...

I'm having flashbacks too. One time we didn't make it out in time and had the extremely awkward opportunity to try to avoid looking the potential buyers in the eye as we passed on the front steps. Another time the kids and I hung out in the parked car for 45 minutes before they even showed up. They then took their sweet time looking. Thankfully, they were the ones who ended up buying, so it wasn't a complete waste of time.

Bridget said...

Emmy, aren't you afraid they'll think you make your kid sleep in the garage?

Jennifer, that sounds SO awkward.

I had to ask Jeremy's permission before posting the toilet story. I'm glad he allowed it and I'm glad you enjoyed it.

sarah said...

haha! i laughed out loud too! i'm glad he flushed it..but maybe it was the realtor that flushed? :) you can request that they post on your listing that the owners need like a 30 min.-however long notice before showing. that way you hopefully have enough time. Jennifer, that's very weird about the people sitting at the house while you looked. i work at a real estate office and they won't even show the house unless the person is gone

Jennifer said...

Sarah, I always found it odd too. Sometimes we'd go upstairs and not be able to see the bathroom because someone was taking a shower. This was after we had made an appointment! I think it was because most of these were short sales and foreclosures? Maybe when you're losing money you just don't care? And I think the people were often just renters. Still, it was always uncomfortable... Glad that's over!

Kat Clark said...

That's awful and awesome at the same time. I am sorry you are going through this but I really hope it works out soon.

Sharon and Spencer said...

I was wondering what you were going to do with your townhome. We are still holding on to ours for another year. I just want to sell it though! How's the market for you guys?

EmmySue said...

I figure in this neighborhood kids sleeping in the garage is the norm... or at least not that crazy. I've seen crazier things since I've been here. Do you think people even pay attention to such details in the 10 min. they are in your house? Aren't you going to miss Tucson? At least a little?

Nancy said...

Not to be the cloud of doom or anything...but you don't know if Jeremy flushed the toilet. All you know is that it was flushed when you checked.

Maybe the realtor did it.

Hopefully Jeremy did...but you never know. ;)

Britney said...

Can I just say that I think this is the funniest house-selling story I've ever read?

I've been in Jennifer's shoes, regarding her comment on viewing a home when the seller is there. Awkward is an understatement. A few months ago we were looking at a home with the owner sitting there on the couch in his pj's!

Nancy brings up a great point with her "cloud of doom" comment. Hopefully, the flushing was Jeremy's doing and not the realtor's!

Shannan said...

I'm getting cold chills remembering our house selling adventures two years ago - whewwww!
We all have great stories like that toilet story. I'm glad you are having showings to say the least.

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