We left NYC in 2008 and moved to 5 acres atop a mountain in rural Oregon on the cusp of wine country. It was a delightful move…in the beginning. As my friend Judy Jensen said, “Well, I guess that was some sort of itch you had to scratch.” We renovated and made it our dream home. Everyone marveled at our spectacular abode. We became part of a community, started a theater company, joined the local Rotary Chapter, volunteered on various boards, learned about trees and forestry and all sorts of wonderful things. It was a great life. However, we found we are really city folk. It took a 20 minutes drive by car to do anything – and that began to feel onerous. On top of that commute to do ANYTHING, being responsible for 5 acres of land at 1500′ had become too big a chore for me. We yearned for walking conveniences and missed being able to taste the variety of life without a 90 minute drive. Small town living is great for a while, eventually that urban tug becomes powerful. We decided after 10 years on the mountain to move to Portland’s Eastside. We and our professional thought the Newberg house would sell right away and boom – we would move on to the next chapter of our lives.
We spent a year with two mortgages. We were encouraged to purchase a new home quickly as we were about to be homeless. Our professional insisted our house was going to sell immediately. We needed to move NOW. In fact, our Newberg home may sell before it hits the open market it was so hot. In fact, everyone LOVES the Newberg home sooo much it could go for even more $$ than listed.
So, with the Newberg home not yet sold, we purchased a new home in Portland. Yep, we took on two mortgages with open eyes. We take full responsibility for the decision (we had done our due diligence) but, we were convinced it was gonna sell fast. Then, a long six months later, with no sale in sight and winter at 1500′ looming on the horizon, we were getting anxious. We had a LOT of money on the line. Our professional was still saying it would sell but now noted that “rural property takes longer to sell” and “yeah, you should lower the price, but the value is still there” and “the right buyer is out there” and “we need to wait till Spring, That’s when homes usually sell. Oh, it will sell in the spring” and “you just have to be patient”. Urgency had evaporated and the professional had sort of lost interest in us. We never got another sit down meeting. I was a raving lunatic with worry. Oh, did I mention that my 55 y.o. brother moved in with us two weeks after purchasing the Portland home? No added stress there.
We had serious interest and some great offers along the way. Great offers that just didn’t come through in the end. “Can you guarantee the view?” “Do you have high speed internet up here?” ‘We decided it’s too modern.” At this point we had dropped the price $85K. Long story short, 15 months after the original “for sale” date and a new professional, the home sold for a song.
Trying to sell the house felt like wanting a divorce. You know it is time to move on but you can’t quite let one another go. You and the house want to part but you just can’t say goodbye. No, you have to stay together…”until the kids are ok with it” or “the right buyer comes to the door”. You think, “Ugh, I don’t want to do this anymore, and look, 10 years was a good run. I feel proud of us! We are soooo over, so let’s say goodbye already.”
Finally the Newberg home was sold and what a relief!! It was fantastic. We couldn’t stop grinning or feeling thankful and blessed. We now had one home, our Portland home, where we had been living for over a year! We felt free and felt like we had actually moved from Newberg. We no longer worried about the rug being pulled from under us. We were now truly part of the new community…24 people came to our Christmas Eve party in an unfinished kitchen in 2018 – all neighbors!
In looking back on this experience I have come to the conclusion that selling a home that won’t sell is really more akin to trying to get pregnant. With every showing you are wildly excited and hopeful and sure “this is it!” It’s the early few weeks, that early window of not knowing but hoping you are pregnant! Just like when you have an offer on the house and think it’s sold! Then the sale falls through you are deeply depressed, experiencing severe self blame – and simply feel gutted. You are not pregnant after all (your period came). After a time of mourning having had that joy snatched from you, you steel yourself and rally for another go at it. You get out there and mow the lawn, dust cobwebs away, clean and fluff with the hopes a new buyer will appear and fall in love. Just as you move toward having sex again with the hopes of a pregnancy. And so it goes, a cycle of hope and joy followed by loss and despair — over and over again. Every time a deal falls through (we had three) or a showing doesn’t lead to a sale it is an utter and complete defeat –every time. Every time you muster hope again.
We sold that house. We finally got pregnant! No more disappointment. We arrived!!! Within 10 days of the sale, we started renovations. Seismic upgrades, adding an income producing apartment in the basement and updating the 1911 kitchen. The exercise of renovating really is like being pregnant. You are soooo excited about your condition. We are in renovations! (We are pregnant!)
Our contractor even compared the renovation to pregnancy. You are so excited about the new arrival. Then you reach the half-way mark. For a real pregnancy at 4.5 months you feel it, for a reno it’s at the 2.5 months mark. It’s about then you start to feel tired and bloated and exhausted. Or tired of the dirt and dust and noise and stress. You are ready to feel like you again. You want it over with. You are tired of waiting. You wait 15 months for a house sale only to wait five more months for a renovation. You wait years to be pregnant only to wait 9 months more for the baby to arrive. And, even though you know the timeline, you know when it will end….or when the baby is due. It starts to feel mythical, it feels far far away. But you keep going with dreams of the new arrival! Look the cabinets are in! (The baby is kicking!!) It will be life changing.
So we waited a little longer and anticipated the arrival. Looked toward a relaxed and settled time. Knowing the renovations will have been laid down for a nap. You can marvel everyday at its functionality and beauty and learn and grow together. So, soon, this this little chapter in this thing life will be completed. About 19 months total. We will have learned emotional, spiritual and practical lessons. It is a good journey and we are happy to be on it and I say this…
We are never, ever, ever selling this house.