Member Musings: Iris Shur

Member Musings features the reflections and thoughts of an NPC member.

Selling a Home

Iris Shur


There were people in my house, dozens of them, opening my closets, checking out my cupboards, measuring my walls and floors. An invasion of strangers wrecking my privacy.

Selling a home is obviously stressful, but it implies so much more than the sale of an item. It is not like selling a dining room table. Who cares who buys it? No, it is more like selling a pet. You establish a more personal relationship with the buyer because you are selling them your life. I think it makes you feel better to part with a home if the people who live in it like you as well as your house and you like them, too.

A house offers so much more than a central vacuum and air conditioning. The house is a memory box.

This is where one son kicked in the post when we had that big fight. This is where another filmed his middle-school project that led him on the road to his career. This is where yet another son made his first puppet and now he has performed for thousands.

This is where we were angry, where we loved, where we cried, where we comforted and where we found out good news and very bad news. We are not just selling a house. We are selling the place in which our lives took shape for so many years. It is where our children’s lives were molded.

Selling a home means getting the house ready to be sold. You fix all the little glitches you put up with for years so that the house is perfect for someone else. Why didn’t we make it perfect for us? Ah, that is a mystery.

Over there is the cherry-paneled study. House lookers see handsome paneling. I see the workmen carefully sawing the pieces of wood so they fit just so on the walls. And I know that I never hung a picture from those walls because I didn’t want to put any nail holes in them. Will they?

I was at the house we helped design every day of its construction. I watched the excavation, the pouring of the foundation and everything in between the frame and the roofing. Every day I brought the builder homemade cookies and cakes to make him like me so he would build a great house. Thus, one could say, the walls are made from brownies and chocolate chip cookies. The sale price of my house does not reflect the daily inspections and culinary ministrations.

Then there were the “extras” and all the decisions we made regarding them. Should we put what are called “coins” on the brick edges of the house? Should we have a fieldstone fireplace in the family room? Or opt for less expensive brick? What about those fancy chimneys? What color tile for the kitchen? What kind of wood for the kitchen cabinets? The house was built on decision after decision. You can’t build all those decisions into the price of the house, can you?

I even had a sweatshirt made for my builder. On the front was a picture of a man hitting his thumb with a hammer as he knocked in a nail. The copy said: “Sure I can do it for you.” On the back it said, “But it’s extra!”

Selling a house is so disruptive. “Quick, someone is coming in a half hour. You fix up the couch, while I make the beds. We’ll turn on all the lights to make the house look bright. We’ll stick some cinnamon in the oven to make it smell good. Then we’ll jump into the car and drive around until they are gone. Do you think they liked it? Do you think they will buy it? Call the broker. What did they say? They bought another house? Ours was too big, too far, too modern, too expensive?” What turmoil!

Oh, I often wished we could have just moved the house to Florida and be done with all the angst.