Seller gives eager young couple break

#22 in a series of true experiences in real estate
August 1993, Hills Newspapers

When they bought the house, it was a stretch for them. The kids were little then. They needed more space. The house fulfilled their dreams but they didn’t see how they could afford it. The price was too high.

They were able to work it out. They borrowed from their parents, and the seller took less. Somehow, even when they had to buy shoes and pay the dentist, they were able to make the mortgage payments. After her husband died and the kids were gone, there was no one to help maintain the house; it seemed too big, too much to keep together.

She knew the house was worth much more than they had paid. If she could sell it for enough, she could invest the money, live carefully, and get along.

She began by getting the house ready. She called one of her sons and hired him to paint the hallway and one of the bedrooms. She cleaned out the basement, the kids came to get their stuff, and she threw away a lot more.

She thought about redoing the kitchen. The floor was old and the appliances had never been replaced, but she’d always gotten along with the kitchen the way it was. Besides, she had no idea where to begin. She told herself, the buyers will want to do the kitchen their way.

Her agent talked about selling quickly, something about houses not being shown after they’ve been on the market too long. But she isn’t in any hurry. She needs money more than she needs time. There is still time.

She keeps the house tidy and walks the dog when the house is shown. She doesn’t allow the grandchildren to make a mess in the dining rooms now.

She spends weekends looking at apartments to rent. She looks for a long while and then suddenly finds one she would like to take. But the house still hasn’t sold. She will have to be patient until a buyer comes along.

The young couple reminds her of herself and her husband. They’ve been back twice to see the house. They don’t have any children yet, but they must be planning a family or they’d be looking at smaller houses. They seem to like the house. Maybe they’ll buy it.

She is sitting at the dining room table with the agents. Something is wrong. The offer is too low. That house across the street sold for more and it didn’t have a fourth bedroom, didn’t have nearly the space mine does. She tries to sound even, but she is angry and confused and is having trouble listening.

The agent is talking. My clients have been looking for a long time, and they love your house. It feels like home to them, a place to raise a family. It’s a stretch for them but they’ve made the best offer they can make. Your house has been for sale for many months; there are things that it will need, and we feel this is a fair offer.

I want to think about it, she says. I’d like to sleep on it. She wants to be alone without these people. She is already hearing her children say, Mom, the house is worth more than that; her son saying, I would have bought it myself if I’d thought you’d sell it for so little.

That night as she fixes her supper, she is thinking that it’s time. Time to get on with the rest of her life. She wants a little place of her own, big enough so the grandchildren can stay for the weekend, but no stairs, no lawn to mow, a place where she doesn’t have to worry about an old roof.

I’m going to do it. I’m going to sell the house to this young couple. They like the house. They’ll have children here. My kids will just have to let it go.

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