Growing attached to a home

#555 in a series of true experiences in real estate
July 2008, Hills Newspapers

We’ve been tending to a listing in Montclair since the owners have moved out 8 weeks ago, and during those days, we have become quite fond of that house. It has happened to us before and each time it feels good. There is something about tending for a house, being the caregivers who fuss and groom nearly everyday that deepens our affections.

We’d known the house for months, been there for hours at a time getting acquainted, talking to the owners, then inspecting and considering and planning — the freshening of its walls and garden outlooks — but in those days, ours was more a business relationship.

Then, as we thought about colors for the walls and ceilings and listened for the toilet that softly ran when it shouldn’t, we were friends. But when the glass curtains were in place and the dining room light fixture was new, when the red sofa and chair were there and sittable, we grew closer.

We took photos and studied them like new family photos. This is a good one, we said. We hired the best people we know to help us, to sand the wooden counters, to paint the walls and to wash the siding and decks. We brought cases of water and ordered excellent foods for our first presentation party.

The windows were washed, floors waxed and vacuumed. We cleaned out the underside of the house and shopped in a dozen places for plants for the yard. We opened the windows and washed the inside sills, and when it occurred to us that the seats of the kitchen counter stools needed recovering, we shopped for fabric, carried one of the seats to several upholsters, then ended up fixing them ourselves.

It felt like getting a child ready to go back to school in the fall: New socks, new binder, clean face.

In one bedroom the owners had installed a bed in a cabinet that was attached to the wall. It was huge. Very handy, the owners said, and expensive. We thought it was too big for the room, overpowering even and wanted to remove it. Oh no, the owners said, but we took it out, had new carpet laid on the floor, and then, for the first time, loved that room.

Weeks later, we’re still there most days. Hundreds of people have come to the house, and it has sold. It will belong to new owners in a couple of weeks. We go to the house because we need to water the garden but there is no real reason that I’m still taking fresh flowers for the vases in every room. As soon as next week the stager will take away her furnishings but the curtains and garden plants and garden swing will stay, and we won’t empty the refrigerator. The water will be there for refreshment on the next hot thirsty day.

I cut flowers from my garden, strip the lower leaves, pound the stems of the hydrangeas before standing them in buckets of water. We wedge the buckets behind my seat in the car and drive to the house. We park and stare. We’ve looked at that view many times before; we’re checking it out again. Looks good, very good. We give water to the little maple tree we had planted and wipe off the mailbox lid before climbing the stairs to the front door. Green, we had the front door painted green and there is a new hanging lamp fixture just outside; nice.

Anet goes out back to the garden to water and to sweep leaves from the porches and decks. I stay inside to refill vases. No one is coming to the house during this time. The inspectors and loan appraiser have already been there. Everyone is waiting now for the papers to be signed and the deed recorded. But I can’t seem to dispense with the flowers yet. I like that the house is still dressed up.

This entry was posted in Information for Both Sellers and Buyers. Bookmark the permalink. Comments are closed, but you can leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

  • Sign up to receive our newspaper columns: