It’s really happened. Mom’s house sold. Escrow was longer than usual, bumps in the road, though buyer and seller were meant to be. Buyer loves the house, seller loves that the buyer loves the house.
And so saying goodbye behind, there is freedom ahead. It’s weird. I thought saying goodbye to Mom’s house would be far sadder than felt. If anything, it’s like she gave her blessings throughout the transaction, I just wasn’t paying attention. Now it’s clear that selling her house was a great decision. It was the right decision. Funny how strongly the head and heart fuse when the right decision is made.
How does one know the right decision is made when selling a house?
You just know. There’s always doubt. There’s always second guessing. Always. It’s when one is able to move forward, despite the normalcy of doubt. Case in point. Since escrow closed last December, I’m currently living with friends. The transition continues, knowing my time is temporary – new living environment awaits. Just gotta go out and look for it.
I learned so much from the experience of selling Mom’s house and those lessons continue. I’ll take those with me, use them to better help and assist my friends and clients. For now, this moment, a brief video saying goodbye to 1405 W. Bay Ave. Mom’s still there. She’s everywhere, beginning in my heart. She moves with me. 🙂
In the throes of prepping a house to sell, always a bit daunting. After my Mom’s death January 2012, her house isn’t the same. My brother and I made the deliberate decision to leave everything of hers “as is” weeks after she died – moving toward week six, eventually gaining the emotional energy to begin a new transition – from Connie’s home to Connie’s Trust.
Connie gave my brother and I the gift of all gifts a parent can give their children – a living trust. That’s not the focus of this post, though relevant for a number of reason, some of which I’ll share another time. That said, nothing quite prepares a kid (even middle-aged ones) for the death of a parent. Whatever age, growing up takes on a new life of its own.
To understand her death is to understand her life. She LOVED her house. I mean, the woman truly loved where she lived – Newport Beach, CA. Far from the east coast shore the Jersey girl grew up in, she found her west coast rendering of the shore in the early 70s years after my parents moved west.
Upon my parents divorce in 1972, going back to work as a newbie real estate agent, the single mom of two young kids scratched and saved every penny, first purchasing a 6 unit apartment building on the peninsula right between 10th and 11th streets on Balboa Blvd. Selling the apartments five years later, Mom and a friend, pooling their financial resources, together bought a 1933 bungalow on West Bay Ave. Ten years later, in 1988, buying her friend out, the entire property was newly titled in Connie’s name only – an incredible accomplishment considering she did most of it on her own.
Which brings us to today, the year 2013. After months of deep conversation, lot of thought through the tears, my brother and I have decided to sell Mom’s beloved home. Has not come easily; mixed emotions, of course. Grateful Mom left her gift of a trust, it’s increasingly expensive living in Newport (currently we both reside on Mom’s property – he in the main house, me in unit behind, an apartment upstairs) In addition, my brother and I are heading down our own individual paths moving forward.
Never having had the experience of coping with the death of a parent until last year, all of this is still new, unexplored, a bit unsettling and at times, overwhelming. Are we doing the right thing? Should we sell now or wait longer? As a real estate professional myself, the challenge lies in remaining pragmatic, not the easiest when the emotional ties lie within the lathe and plaster of a structure.
She’s gone, yes, though I find I talk to her much more these last few weeks; the need to find the right buyer, asking her to share her wisdom and indelible capacity to use that amazing common sense of hers. Her main wish for my brother and I was to experience just five minutes of peace (her wonderful Jersey accent and sarcasm) in one form or another. Ultimately, her gift, a home she worked so hard to attain and keep, her children, now given the opportunity to do with it what would be best for us. She stressed over the never-ending house payments, property taxes, changes throughout the city, the growing number of people visiting Newport each summer, trash left in the alley and litter on the sand. Despite these issues, despite she could have sold during the peak of the market, make more than enough dollars to retire much earlier than she did, Connie wasn’t going anywhere. Point in fact, she’s still here. I have no idea what it’ll feel like when the house sells yet I’ll always feel closest to her on the beach. Difference now, I’m a little more grown up.
Is it the neighborhood? The home design and architecture? Or maybe the backyard BBQ, sparkling swimming pool surrounded by tiki torches and left over props from an aged Gilligan’s Island episode? Two story feel more like a home than single? Is a home a home if it lies within the boundaries of that spectacular Blue Ribbon elementary school you’ve read so much about?
I have come to think about this question, more philosophically than real estate jargon. Most understand that the process of buying, selling a home is quite emotional. We are drawn to a home, often for how it feels, rather than its practical qualities. General statement, yet I’m speaking in generalities. Stay with me. There’s a point here.
Upon purchasing my first home almost thirteen years ago, I realized this entity called a house was not a living, breathing organism. Merely a place, a refuge with a roof, keeping the outdoor elements at bay. A house is a mortgage, a lease, a storage area for unpronounceable Ikea furniture, flat screen tv’s, scuffed shoes and rusted rakes. Told with great accuracy of George Carlin, a house is, “a place for your stuff.”
In 2000, bought my first house. About eighteen months into new homeownership I gathered the courage to admit I wasn’t a happy homeowner. It just didn’t feel like home. Eventually, confronting my then husband with my new revelation left us with a silent relationship for 3 days. To his well-deserved credit, he was a champ upon hearing this new. Yet some how, in some way, after that confession, the 2,300 sqft. abode suddenly became a little cozier; a different air of warmth permeated her walls.
From that point on, I realized this house, our home, was not merely a place of stationary artifacts. More than that, the house was us, the family. Each person living under that roof, began creating their own memories, contributing to our collective experience of what home meant to us.
As a teen, my Mom, brother and I lived in a small apartment. Little did I care it wasn’t the spacious house on the hill, glorious oceanfront or average single family residence. It was our home; a place where we took care of each other, helped make dinners, had friends come stay the night, drink Dr. Pepper and crunch on Doritos. It’s the living room my Mom comforted me when my first boyfriend broke my heart, the kitchen where I learned to cook lasagne, the breezeway where I helped my brother fold the local daily newspapers for his route.
Perhaps we have the capacity to create our own environment after all, house and home.
What ingredients make up your home?