Moving on opens a whole new world of diversions #658

#658 in a series of true experiences in real estate

Phoebe is a client who recently moved to San Diego. We have very much enjoyed knowing Phoebe, and we’re having a fine time watching the house where she lived for more than 40 years being renewed.

Phoebe and I have conversed primarily by e-mail. For quite a time after we met, we wrote most every day, and we were chatty. Phoebe is a night owl who usually “talks” to me late at night, often including stories of her life. Each morning I’d find a new letter from her telling about her children and grandchildren, jobs she’d held, gardening and craft projects she’d enjoyed over the years.

After the movers had come and gone and Phoebe had flown to her new home, we were out of touch for only a day before she wrote from a friend’s computer apologizing for leaving the old house in a mess. “My blessings go out to the cleaning crew,” she said. I wrote back to say everything was under control. The painters were prepping surfaces, stripping old wallpaper before beginning to paint.

After that we began to work on disclosures, sending back and forth a list of items we wanted to tell buyers about the house. “There is some minor cracking in cement walkways,” Phoebe wrote. “The oven clock no longer works,” she added. I suggested that she put in something about improvements she had made. “Five years ago a new roof was installed,” Phoebe replied.

The disclosure was completed in this way. Our e-mail communications were working splendidly.

Then we stopped hearing from Phoebe. For a day or so, it didn’t seem too unusual that there was no word from our friend. After all, she was in the thick of unpacking, probably up to her neck in boxes and decisions. But by the third day with no word, I was concerned, maybe even a little miffed. I wrote asking how things were going, but didn’t hear back.

“Where do you suppose Phoebe has gone?” I asked Anet on the fourth or fifth day. “She’s just busy, ” Anet, quite reasonably, assured me. That had to be true, and yet, each day I worried aloud to Anet.  “Maybe she’s simply moved on,” I suggested. It’s a new chapter in her life and she’s busy living it. What’s going on back in Berkeley isn’t as fascinating to her now as it was.” Anet replied, “You could always call her, you know.”

But I didn’t call. Instead, I imagined what might be up with Phoebe. Each morning I’d look for a message, and when there still wasn’t one, I’d bug Anet. “Do you think she’s sick? Dead? Wouldn’t someone tell us?” Anet stared at me. “Nothing is wrong with Phoebe,” she said.

On about day 10, my fantasies jumped completely off the track. “How about this? What if Phoebe doesn’t like San Diego? She got there and decided she doesn’t want to live there after all. What if she’s homesick and wants to come back? What if she never moved into her new house but instead stashed all her stuff in a warehouse somewhere? And now she’s waiting until the house is all done up to move back in, and she doesn’t know how to tell us?”

Anet found this hilarious. She laughed and laughed, then she said, “Well, she certainly wouldn’t be the first seller who said ‘My house looks so good now, I’m sorry I didn’t do this work long ago.’ But I think you can believe what Phoebe told you. She’s quite happy in San Diego. I’m sure she has no plans to return.”

On a roll now, I said, “But I’ve read about situations where people hire everything done for them. They move into a house that has been completely renovated and furnished for them. Rugs, towels, dishes, olive oil in the cupboards — everything — are provided. Wouldn’t that be a neat job? I’d love to do that.”

I paused for a moment before accelerating. “I wonder if Phoebe will like the curtains the stager is putting up? And the new light fixtures?”

At that Anet couldn’t stand it anymore. She picked up the phone and called. “Hi, Phoebe,” she said. “Pat’s really concerned about you. Are you ok?”

Well, of course, she was. Phoebe was fine. Relatives had been visiting, she’d been busy with them, and she’d been trying to make a dent in unpacking boxes. She loves her new place and, she told Anet, she was so sorry she’d been out of touch. She’d write soon.

“See,” Anet said, hanging up the phone. “I told you.”

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