On The Road Again, Chapter 4

To continue the saga, now we’re focused on selling our home sitting on beautiful oak-dotted land just ten minutes from the California Coast. It wasn’t happening fast enough for us.

Granted, we put our house on the market in the middle of the coldest, rainiest season in years. It was the middle of the school year so families weren’t moving yet. Retired folks weren’t anxious to trudge through the rain. The few people who came to the first open houses were “tire kickers,” not seriously looking, just offering their sage advice to our realtor about what was wrong with the house.

Our realtor told us not to worry, that the perfect buyer was out there. She even described the ideal buyer as, “A family with 2-3 young kids, animals, and the husband (or wife) is an artist or car collector so they’ll value the 2400-square-foot studio. And, they’ll like the fact that it’s a 2-story house (translation: older, retired people don’t want a 2-story because their knees and hips hurt).”

I heard her words, but didn’t 100% believe the ideal buyer would appear.

I was losing faith. I wanted to keep the faith. Everyone told us our house would sell, just hang in there. We listed the house in late October. The open house events resulted in a trickle of prospects. As the winter months wore on our realtor pointed out, “It’s actually good to sell your house during the rainy season because the buyers will see that the roof doesn’t leak!” Okay, our realtor was really reaching to keep our hopes up.

After the house was on the market for 90 days, our realtor sat down with us and gave us THE TALK (don’t you dread that talk?). “We need to lower the price guys, to attract the right buyers.” My husband was mortified. He was so sure someone would have fallen in love with his amazing 2,400 square foot studio by now, and pay us whatever we asked. But, that wasn’t happening. It was wintertime, and let’s face it, most artists don’t have that kind of money to buy our property. We lowered the price. Now we were in the game…

I’m not superstitious but I do believe in magic and miracles. So, when my business associate told me about Saint Joseph, I acted on it. I went online and ordered a tiny Saint Joseph statue (you can buy it online from Walmart!) and buried the statue with a prayer on our property (and I’m not even Catholic!). I was doing everything I could to get this house sold.

As you may have experienced when selling your home, I grew tired of cleaning my house for each showing. I thought about not cleaning it just to see what would happen, but my upbringing (i.e., my mother) prevented me from allowing strangers to see an unmade bed, a messy kitchen counter, or heaven forbid, dog hair on the floor. So, before each private showing I spent at least 2-3 hours cleaning and staging. Our house was 2,800 square feet on two stories, so there was a lot to vacuum, dust and de-clutter. I tried to keep the house show-ready, but the showings could be 2 weeks apart — let’s face it, life is too short to clean your house every day!

My husband and I were so ready for the right buyer to show up. It had been 120 days on the market.

Then one day, our realtor told us we were getting an offer. She said, “I want to set your expectations that the offer will be low. But I told them to just make an offer to get the ball rolling.” And, the offer was low. I didn’t take it personally, but my husband did (he got over it quickly). I, on the other hand, was ready to play ball! So, we countered their offer, and when the buyers countered back it was obvious they simply didn’t have the funds to go any higher. I was so disheartened because I knew this was our ideal buyer: a youngish family with three children and animals — exactly as described by our realtor! Hopefully there would be another family like this in our future. I thought it was hopeless. But, our realtor convinced us to counter back one last time to close the loop. She said, “I never like to leave the negotiation without a final counter offer. Give them your best offer.” So we did. It was the minimum we could accept that still made our future plans doable. I remember feeling a surge of energy pulsing through my body (the same energy bolt I felt almost twenty years prior when I read my future husband’s Match.com profile) as I signed the electronic Docusign counter offer. It was a powerful, physical surge of energy. I figured it was just nervousness. Now we waited…they had 2 days to accept or reject our final offer. Our realtor prepared us for the buyers to simply walk away.

A Powerful Message

That same night I woke up in the middle of the night. As I always do, I looked at the clock on my nightstand. It read “3:33.” It caught my attention because I thought it was such an odd time. I fell back asleep. The next night I was dreaming and in the dream someone came to me and said, “Linda, wake up and open your eyes. NOW!” So I woke up and looked at the clock, and it read “3:33” again. I remember feeling a shock wave pulse through my body. And I made a mental note to find out if the number 333 meant something.

Later that morning I sat down at my computer and started typing into Google, “What does 33….” And, Google finished the question for me!!! “What does 333 mean?” I hit return, and Google pulled up a list of articles about 333.

The top article said, “The Hidden Meaning Behind Angel Number 333. Angel number 333 means that your angels are just nearby, ready to help and reassure you that your plans are going well. It sends the message that your prayers have been answered, and seeing 333 means that whatever you requested for is on its way to you..

I was gobsmacked. This was so real and so powerful there was no talking my analytical/skeptical mind out of it. I was being sent a clear message from my angel network: YOU CAN RELAX, EVERYTHING IS GOING TO WORK OUT JUST AS YOU DREAMED. [Author’s note: I’m crying as I write and re-experience the miracle of this message]

Later that day, the buyers accepted our final counter-offer. I was SHOCKED! Our realtor was surprised. But these people were the exact demographic she described: Youngish parents of three children, dogs, cats, a lamb (FFA), and a horse. They were meant to live on our property, and they were the nicest people ever! They loved everything about our house, the studio and the property. He was a car collector. It was meant to be. Note: As we got to know the buyers, they later explained that they had put an offer in to buy a different property but it didn’t work out. They were glad it didn’t work out, as they loved our place more.

Our angel network was working fast! The sale and the move was happening. In fact, the buyers needed a two week escrow!!! No one is ever adequately prepared to move out of a big house and art studio. But, to do it in two weeks would require all our friends, angels, and a lot of luck! I took two weeks off work. All I did was pack for two weeks — all day, every day. And, by the way, my husband and I had been packing and de-cluttering for months prior, but we still had a lot to pack. What’s up with that?

Linda’s Home Packing Tips
Tip #1: Don’t Panic or Lose Faith

Do not panic or have a meltdown — this just wastes precious packing time! It will all get done one box at a time.

Tip #2: Call In Friends and Family

Think of everyone you know who either loves you unconditionally or owes you a favor and ask them to help you pack. Give them the complicated jobs or the boring jobs of wrapping your 12-piece china set. They don’t have fifty-million things swimming around in their heads, so they can focus on packing for a few hours. Our artist friend, Abby (pictured below) came up with the cleverest ways to wrap Robert’s oddly shaped art pieces! Can you tell she’s a sculptor, too? Feed your friends delicious food and/or sweets, and keep everyone hydrated. Finally, anything your friends look at and say, “Wow, this is beautiful,” give it to them as a gift. You’ll be glad you did!

Tip #3: Start As Early As Possible and Be Brutal

As soon as the germ of an idea to sell your house comes up, start sorting, de-cluttering, selling, and giving away anything you don’t want to move. Call your kids and ask them to take things they want. Go through kitchen cupboards and donate all the appliances you bought but don’t use anymore (hint: if there’s a layer of dust on your espresso machine, don’t take it with you!).

Anyone who has an artist studio or craft area, you need to start one year in advance to sort, de-clutter, sell, and give away things you don’t want to move. The whole idea is to only move what you will use in the near future, and for most artists or craftspeople, you have way more than you need! Note: the art studio took two full weeks to pack, with many friends participating in wrapping my husband’s art works. It was a massive project. Start early!

So many women I talk to tell me stories of moving stuff that they really didn’t want anymore. Be brutally honest with yourself about the importance of your clothing, kitchen equipment, books (oh the books!), towels and sheets, old photos, and love letters from people you don’t even remember (I had to laugh when I remembered back in the 70s we were writing letters to each other!). Do you REALLY need these things? They’re just things. The memories are forever.

Tip #4: Use Vacuum Seal Bags To Pack Clothing, Sheets and Towels

To save precious space, purchase vacuum space bags. I bought mine at Bed Bath Beyond (aff. link) You can find this Ziploc brand at many department stores. I vacuum sealed my sweaters, workout clothes, towels, sheets, and small rugs in the extra large vacuum bags and it saved tons of space in the packing boxes. I also used heavy duty garbage bags for my blankets and down comforters.

Tip #5: Play Music While You Pack

Music was our savior during the long days of packing. iPhone + Pandora App + Small Bluetooth Speaker = Greater Efficiency. Get the whole gang singing and grooving to Sam Smith and Jack Johnson.

Next chapter…the road trip to Santa Fe with my younger sister, Karen, and my dog, Rita.