It's Been a Good Old House

My house has been on the market for the summer, and as I reflect on this exercise, it reminds me a little of what we see at IMTS.

My wife and I are at the point in our lives where it’s time to downsize our home base. I love our house and really hate the idea of moving to a smaller, albeit more practical, quarters. But reality comes to us all, and because our house is a two-story, the simple fact is that stairs have become the enemy.

There is quite a legacy attached to our home. It was built in 1955 by my father-in-law with help from his sons. The land it is built on is a military deed dating back to just after the American Revolution. My in-laws raised eight kids there including my wife. Needless to say, she is attached to the place, so this new chapter will be difficult.

For our part, we acquired our home more than 20 years ago when my father-in-law was faced with the same issue we now must deal with. The house, land and swimming pool were simply too much to keep up with.

It’s been a wonderful house for us. We raised our four children there and had the space for them to play. In the front yard, which is around 100 feet long, there is still a home plate buried. Many a baseball battle was held there through the years. We even created an outfield fence from various Christmas character cutouts and called it North Pole Field. Night games were facilitated by car headlights.

On the backside of our house is a covered porch that measures 20 by 40 feet and is ideal for parties regardless of the weather. The porch slab was poured by my in-laws so that we could use it for our wedding reception in 1979. The roof to the porch was added shortly after and has turned out to be one of the best decisions my wife’s father ever made.

Shortly after the house was built, my father-in-law and his sons dug a swimming pool. In 1955, that was quite a luxury item. They dug the hole, laid the plumbing and, using cement blocks, walled up the enclosure. They capped the top of the bricks and poured seating area around the pool for sunbathing. According to a signed piece of concrete I found at the back corner of the pool area, they completed it in 1957 with the exclamation “Deo Gracias” inscribed in the concrete. My guess is it signaled relief.

When we re-plastered the pool in 2008, I saved that concrete inscription and had it replaced in the back of the pool area. Fifty-one years of good service for a hand-built pool. Its builders deserve a memorial.

For sure our house is not a “cookie cutter” home. It was custom built and remains a custom-built house. It has quirks that to us add charm, but so far seem to put off potential buyers. The exercise of listing our house for the first time in its 63 years has been interesting to say the least.

Initially, we listed the house with a friend who dabbles in real estate. That proved to be a mistake.  After a month and one showing, we switched realtors. Our current realtor sold my son’s house in another part of town in a matter of days. He swears by her, so here we are. She is very nice, but the foot traffic has not been overwhelming.

When we do have a showing, we usually get very short notice. Another weird thing, it seems to me, is that we are encouraged not to be at home when there is a showing. I don’t remember that custom when we sold our other homes. 

Our house sits on a 1.5-acre lot in between two other similarly sized lots. We can drive to our neighbor’s house, which overlooks our backyard from a distance. We drive up there with our dog, park, and then spy on the potential buyers. That’s when the entertainment begins for us.
A few observations: Around half of the people don’t look at the pool. Seriously, it’s listed with the house, and it’s on the sign out front. My wife and I are just amazed. Some prospects say there is too much yard to care for. Others tell us it needs decorating updates. The list goes on and on.

The house has been on the market all summer, and as I reflect on this exercise, it reminds me a little of what we see at IMTS. For an exhibitor, it takes many booth visitors to find the right buyer. Most manufacturers at the show have specific answers to specific problems. It takes patience to match the right answer to the right problem.