We bought and moved into our first home when I was 23. It was one month after our wedding. We were young, and looking back I am actually impressed with us that we were able to buy and maintain a home so young. We knew NOTHING.
I remember a solicitor coming to the door one day and asked if my parents were home. He didn’t believe me when I told him I actually owned the house. He left in a huff thinking I was just fooling with him to get him to leave.
Back then, our budget was limited to say the least. We saw some DOOZIES. The neighborhood we eventually moved to was actually our preferred neighborhood because it had easy access to the highway (Kevin was working in Atlantic City at the time) so he could commute to work without it being too far from our families. The neighborhood was a touch out of our price range so when one came on the market we could afford we JUMPED on it.
But this folks, was 2008. When the market was high.
We knew that the house was only a starter home. Kevin planned to go back to school for his doctorate and we were holding off on kids until that was completed. So we were on the 5-7 year plan with the house. We knew once we started having kids it would be too small. Here is our first home:
Unfortunately, soon after we purchased the house the market tanked. Houses in our neighborhood were going for sickeningly low amounts. We prayed that things would turn around but they didn’t.
Things were a little tight once Hank was born but we were fine. But once Reid came around, we were tripping over each other. Side note: Baby things are huge! I swear his swing alone took up half of our living room.
We knew we were going to have to bring money to the table to sell the house, plus realtor fees, plus the down payment on the new house, plus new furniture, plus plus plus…It was a tough pill to swallow. We just hoped that someone would find and love our house as much as we did and be willing to pay more than market for it. BUT, we had a pretty big roadblock…the KIDS. Hank was barely two and Reid still a newborn. We had baby stuff EVERYWHERE.
It added a lot of extra stress on our transition from having one child to having two, that’s for sure. We just kept our eye on the end goal, our forever home.
My packing helper.
I am the type of person that, once I decide I want something, I want it NOW. And I wanted to sell that house.
So, I did drive myself a little nuts keeping the house sparkling clean ALL.THE.TIME. I did panic when I would get texts that someone wanted a showing with less than an hour’s notice. But, the house sold. And while we still needed to bring money to closing, it sold for WELL above any comparable house in the neighborhood. Here’s what I did:
• ALWAYS keep an extra laundry basket (OR TWO!) around. Before you leave the house, pile all of the random papers, toys on the floor, etc. in the basket and throw it in the trunk of your car when you leave.
• Try to keep the kids mess confined to one room the day of showings. My kids can be little tornadoes and rip through every room of the house if you let them. If I knew I had a showing, I’d try to keep all the mess in the playroom or the nursery so I really only had one last minute room to clean.
• Keep a “showing checklist” on the counter. In case Kevin was the home when a showing request came, I’d leave a checklist of the minimum things to do before a showing (i.e. make sure all beds are made, close the toilet seats <—- personal pet peeve).
• LIGHT. Open all the blinds and curtains. Open the windows if the weather permits. Leave every light on. Showings a usually short so it better to have the rooms as bright and welcoming as possible.
• Sweep the front step. I’d keep a broom in the coat closet to sweep the front step clean. First impressions.
• Our kitchen was on the smaller side so I’d move some bulky stuff from the counter into the cabinets to make it seem like we had more counter space.
• Quick dusting, especially bathrooms and mirrors. Bathrooms can be the skeeviest places in a house. Everyone house shopping will look to the bathrooms to get an overall impression of the house’s cleanliness. If your bathroom is grimy, the rest of the house will gross me out as well.
• Hide imperfections. The lock on our backdoor never worked properly. We had a door stopper to block the faulty lock. You better believe that the back door was open with just the screen closed for showings.
Our new house is fantastic. More than enough room for all of us. Great neighborhood with a short little walk into downtown.
Part of me (a big part) will always miss our first home. It’s where we grew up as a married couple, started our family, fought, laughed and cried. The woman who bought our house was lovely and I hope she is creating as many memories as we did.