being the client AND the agent at the same time, inside the same brain...
When I sat down to write this post, it was to be about the quagmire that is the situation of an agent listing their own home for sale. In looking for photos to use, however, I realized that for me personally, this is more than just a story about an agent selling a house they also happen to own. This is a house that we LIVED in. We built it, some of literally with our own hands, and we have yet to stop adding to it and working on it. It's long overdue time to find a new canvas on which to work, but still, there was a lot of us put into every little corner of this house. It's full of our ideas about design at the time that we built it, and that makes it a bit of a time capsule of our lives back then. There are some experiments, some choices I would do again in a heartbeat, and a few I want to leave behind, and more recently we made some changes both for our tastes and the tastes of the pinterestverse. When looking back at it as a whole, it will of course be heartbreaking to sell it, but if we don't, then we won't get to stretch our design muscles and keep learning from our mistakes. We also won't be able to make mistakes that are made just for US, and are free of the consequences of the market. That's where the separation between owner and agent comes into sharp focus, and cuts a divide between both the two sides of my brain, but you have to hold it together.
I looked back at the photos of our 'befores' and 'afters' and it's pretty funny how many changes we made. I don't even really remember what it looked like in the first few years, it's all a blur because I was probably already planning to make adjustments and changes. I do know, though, that I always felt a bit trapped by the knowledge that we intended to sell at some point. The pressure to do things that will please others' definitions of 'good' or 'appropriate' is really disorienting to me, and at the end of the day when it comes to my own home, I would really prefer to just do what I want to do, and not care about others' opinions. That's not how it works in real estate, though, not by a long shot. That reality left us in a position to curate the house in a way that was both appropriate to the style it has, and also isn't overly personalized and turns off the market. I suppose only time will tell if I did a good job or not, but to be honest it's been completely exhausting to engage in the process.
It's taken me nearly 3 weeks to finish this post, with interruptions from other work commitments, client projects, and a lot of time eaten just by the mere listing of the house. Staging it for showings, open houses, etc never ceases to amaze me regarding how much time it takes up! Going through this process has definitely sharpened my empathy for anyone that is living through having a home for sale. The judgements and critiques, the gushing praise that does not come with an offer attached to it, the cleaning, hiding of important belongings, purging, and all of it combined are simply an unpleasant thing to go through. I think a lot of people will say we are doing it wrong by not painting everything gray, or by leaving up our artwork, etc. but I can only go so far to remove myself from the home in which I live. I would encourage anyone listing their home to do the same - clean it well, remove the excess clutter, but please don't feel you have to eliminate yourself from your own home in order to please others. Most people expect to repaint, maybe refinish or replace flooring, and the like after they buy, so as long as things show pride of ownership, don't worry about it. If you're a buyer's agent and reading this, remind your clients that someone lives in and loves the home now, it's not theirs, yet.... Once those keys change hands, though, that's when the fun begins! Make it your own, be proud of your style, and be content that you were part of both the happy ending and the new beginning for that house. I can say that all of the changes, additions, rebuilds, and repainting that we have done to this place have made it a better house in the end, but that also means it's that much work we will be saying goodbye to. I wanted to write 'hopefully say goodbye to...' but saying 'hopefully' misses the mark - it's my house, and while I hope for a new project, a new design, and a new start, I don't look forward to missing this place. Maybe it won't sell, and this whole drama will have been for nothing. Can you tell I'm utterly exhausted???