Selling a house is not nearly as much fun as buying one. Recently, we moved into a condo. It was time to let someone else worry about the outside maintenance and lawn care. We love our new neighborhood, and our condo is perfect for us.
But now we must sell our 35-year-old house. We’ve taken good care of it, maintaining both the interior and exterior—or so we thought. Since we bought it 30 years ago, we replaced the roof, the heat pump, the siding, the deck, the windows, the flooring, and the kitchen and bathroom countertops. We re-faced the kitchen cabinets, adding dental molding and added storage cabinets in the pantry and garage. We painted both the interior and the exterior at least twice, added lovely flower beds and shrubs to enhance the curb appeal and installed a new aggregate driveway. We were under the deluded impression that our house was in “turnkey” condition. Once it was empty, we’d give it a good cleaning and put it on the market. Ha! We moved into our condo before Christmas and have yet to list our house.
We discovered a crack in the foundation from the earthquake that hit the Williamsburg area a few years back. Repairing it was not only expensive but caused cracks in some of the walls. Then, we learned that a couple dozen window-pane seals were broken. Yes, they could be repaired, but it would cost more than new windows. So, we replaced all the windows.
As we were clearing out the attic, we found a leak in the roof. Fortunately, it could be repaired without replacing the entire roof, but that was another unexpected expense. We had budgeted to replace the upstairs carpeting and to paint the whole interior, but these surprise issues were quickly depleting our fix-it fund.
Once all the projects were completed, we confidently invited our realtor to walk through the house. “I’d recommend you fix that seam in the rear fascia and power-wash the driveway, deck, and front steps,” she said. “You might consider painting the wood cabinets and hiring a stager. Oh, and you should replace those shrubs that didn’t make it through the winter.”
This whole outlandish process reminds me of writing. My first novel, Unrevealed,went to print after numerous writes, re-writes, edits, re-reads and more re-writes. I was so sure it was “turnkey” that I never even read the published version until a year later. That’s when I found the flaws and typos. How mortifying! Fortunately, my publisher was happy to let me re-write it until I was satisfied. High Tide released the second edition a few months ago.
As for that “turnkey” house, after five months of phone calls, contractors, inspections, and sweat equity, my husband and I have the greatest respect for house flippers. Our house looks new, fresh, and inviting. It was a good home for our family, and now it will be a good home for a new family—if we can ever get it on the market.
Cindy L. Freeman is the author of two award-winning short stories, a novella, Diary in the Attic and two novels, Unrevealed and The Dark Room. Website: www.cindylfreeman.com; Facebook page: Cindy Loomis Freeman. Her books are available through amazon.com or hightidepublications.com