Last month, April the Giraffe gave birth to a baby boy named Tajiri, meaning HOPE in Swahilli. The gestation period lasted sixteen months. April was pregnant since 2015. That sounds like an eternity. I think of April because waiting for a house to be sold can also feel interminable. Much uncertainty, much to maintain, and, honestly, much anxiety.
A chicken egg hatches in 21 days, a duck egg in 28 days and a swan egg in 30-37 days. Our house has been for sale since February 20. Now it is May. Do the math. Enough time to have several baby chicks hatch. Each time we receive a call to show our house, we go into Perfection Mode. Every nook and cranny is carefully tidied up, dusted, fresh flowers are picked and arranged, and each room is vacuumed thoroughly. Checking foot traffic on rugs after a showing reveals how much time potential clients spent in each room. Our realtor laughed when I told him, but he agreed it is a good yardstick.
So far, feedback has been positive, but nary a bid. The fact that our house was custom built in 2004 puts it in an “older,” even “dated,” category. No one seems to care that landscaping is beautifully mature, no one seems to care that house itself has been maintained meticulously, nor that the pool is picture perfect. They just seem to care that it is not “Brand New.” All around us, developers are building cookie cutter pricey houses, set on small lots. I call them “Sneeze” lots, because homes are close enough that one hearty sneeze can resonate between homes. My sweet John is a LOUD sneezer, so it is good our house is on a spacious lot.
When we built in 2004, adjacent to an award-winning golf course, the belief was that this area would maintain, if not increase, its value exponentially. Instead, now that other developers have purchased available land, our value has depreciated. We have lots of competition. Who would have predicted? But buying and selling property is a gamble. Sometimes people benefit, sometimes they lose. Our investment will not reap a financial bounty, but we have adored living here every day of every year. No one can put a price tag on contentment.
You ask WHY are we selling? We are older retirees, and it is time to let go, move on and live in a place that can care for us the rest of our lives. Having watched my beloved mother refuse to leave her home of 60+ plus years, we experienced the agony of her end of life care, in addition to her being 500 miles away from my sister and me. We both vowed we would not put our children through that worrisome, demanding challenge. When my sister’s husband died several years ago, she moved to a wonderful retirement facility in Milwaukee, and now we are doing the same in our city. We have paid every dollar of the entrance fee, and we are now required to pay the monthly maintenance fee. However, since our “cottage” is still being renovated, we will be given a credit for the monthly maintenance fee, until our place is ready. Being financially responsible for two homes is a stretch, especially for most all retirees. The silver lining, however, is that once we do move, we are guaranteed life time care… a blessing of the highest order. It is also the “best gift older people can give to their children.” We are so glad we won’t worry about being a burden to our far-flung family.
We thought our house would sell in a wink, but suddenly market trends have proved otherwise. An article in last Sunday’s newspaper reported that there are bidding wars in counties closer to our city, and many first-time buyers are standing in line to buy “starter” homes. Our realtor says that years ago people yearned for country living, thus creating Urban Sprawl. Now, the trend is to move closer to work, to the amenities afforded by city life: walking distance of the shopping center, various restaurants or the movies. We are indeed creatures of change and unpredictability.
Luckily, nothing lasts forever, and one day before too long this adventure will end. In the meantime, we have learned a valuable lesson:
SITTING ON AN EGG takes patience. We may think we are willing to wait, but we are human and we want everything to happen in our own time frame. Life intervenes. We are reminded once again we are not in control of many events in our lives. Rather, we must be calm, cool and serene. When I start to twitch at the thought of dropping everything to scrub a bathroom or push a vacuum, I think of a mother hen and of April the Giraffe. One can never be too old to find inspiring role models! One must be flexible, undergird endurance and remember the old adage, “this too, shall pass”….either the happy or the difficult times.
BUT HARK!! Can you believe yesterday morning the phone rang with delightful news? Our realtor told us that an offer was made. By the end of the day, we had a contract to sell to a perfectly wonderful couple who fell head over heels in love with our “dated” house. Ironically, the husband is the hand surgeon who meticulously repaired my shattered broken wrist and arm last June. He is one of the kindest, nicest doctors I have ever known….and now, he and his wife, my husband and I share the mutual delight of loving the same house.
Our gestation period of two months and three weeks felt tedious. But hey, it has almost ended. Once the required inspections are complete, I can drop my OCD tendencies, start sorting and planning what goes with us to “feather our new nest.” There is a moral to this story: Sitting on an Egg for however long it takes to produce positive, joyful results is worth the effort!
Joy Nevin is the author of Joy of Retirement. Click to purchase on Amazon.