Jan 28, 2010

Sell My House? Never! (Uh, I Mean, Last Week)

It was the perfect house for us: built in 1917 with Arts and Crafts character and a showcase dining room and living room; a modest two bedrooms, which always made me happy that there wasn't more to vacuum; a backyard lovingly created by the former owner who was a landscape architect; and a pleasant kitchen, with tile in my favorite green.

"We'll never move!" we said, and congratulated ourselves on having found a place that we could stay in right through retirement, thanks to the lack of stairs.

The great part about thinking you'll stay in a place forever is that you stop obsessing about your home's investment value, or whether certain improvements will help or hurt its saleability. A home is, after all, a place to live in, and what's the point of home ownership if you can't turn the place into one that suits your personal needs?

But then there's the downside of thinking you'll be in a place forever: You, that is to say "I," get a little complacent. New paint on the inside? I still hadn't found the perfect colors. A new roof? It's not leaking yet, we figured we'd give it one more year.

And then came the "never say never" moment. We'd been planning to remodel the garage to gain a little space for visiting relatives. At dinner one night, my husband mused, "Should we consider finding a bigger place, instead?" The very next day, we visited an open house, fell in love with the place, and put in a bid. By that Thursday, we were in contract to buy it.

And now, fast forwarding a bit, we've just sold the house we thought we'd never leave. The process was crazy -- on short notice, having to organize years' worth of stuff, plus hire an army of carpenters, painters, cleaners, window washers, a stager, and more -- and still I was out in the yard every day, pulling weeds, putting in new plants, and getting my hands so muddy and calloused that I fear they'll never accept lotion again. Lucky for us, the buyers agreed to deal with replacing the roof. 

So much for certainty! But I'm not sorry -- the house we sold deserved our efforts, and we love our new place, too -- so much that I'm determined that we'll never move!