Columns: A Boy’s Life: On the Market

Just how hard can selling your house be?


I balked at hiring her home stager (I’m gay—I know how to match a comforter and a pillow), but dutifully employed an army of pricey handymen to do the rest, from fixing the sticking front door to patching the plaster in the third-floor staircase to replanting the garden with “Come buy me!” spring blooms. For the next three weeks, Caryn called to check my progress, until I was finally able to report, “We’re ready.”

And so we were. Caryn hired a photographer to come shoot the house, and the pictures turned out so House Beautiful-ly, I almost wondered if I was making the right decision to sell. I was encouraged when we had several showings the very first week. “People love it,” Caryn reported breathily from her iPhone a few days in. “It’s absolutely gorgeous.”

And then … nothing.

E-mail from me to Caryn, a few weeks, numerous showings, and no offers later: I think everyone hates my house.

E-mail from Caryn back to me: No!!! J Everyone loves the house. The only comments are the size. However, the last buyers were surprised at how much room was in the house. … thought it was very deceiving. I will call them again for feedback. Keep in mind that the spring market here usually doesn’t begin until mid-to-late May anyway and now throw into the mix the economy. But, I have become very busy so I feel that in time, things will really pick up.

E-mail from me to Caryn three weeks later: My spirits are flagging. I still think everyone hates my house.

E-mail from Caryn to me: Hang in there.

Realtors have a tough job. Sure, they get to act like Price Is Right models as they show off homes to potential buyers, but they also deal with a mountain of paperwork, canceled appointments, and cranky and paranoid clients (okay, me), all without the guarantee of making a dime. When we made the listing deal, I told her I was giving her and her fancy French nails six months to move the merchandise. The clock is ticking.

Meanwhile, I was learning the lesson no one really talks about: As soon as you put that “For Sale” sign up, you’re in the middle of a divorce. Each day I come home now, I sigh just a bit more heavily, walking in and remarking silently to my house: Oh, you’re still here. “Once you decide to sell, it’s no longer your house,” my very wise friend Jackie remarked early on. She’s right. With each passing day, I feel more and more tethered, more and more stuck, more and more impatient to not only move out, but move on. As with any amicable divorce, I wish my house well, hope she’ll find someone new who will love her and cherish her and buy her new windows. But for now, it feels like we’re both staying for the kids. Or in my case, the mortgage.