Selling your home vs renting out, while living abroad?

selling your home

The Decision – Are you selling your home?

Now that we decided we were going for the big move, what should we do with our lovely home of nearly 11 years?  This was our first home. This was the longest either of us had lived anywhere. This was where our children were born and raised.  They have never lived in any other home. Oh the decisions we had to make. Each one of them was time-consuming and overwhelming all on their own.

  1. Should we could we give it all up?
  2. Did we want to become landlords and rent it out?
  3. What about a home swap, would anyone want to live in Apex, NC from abroad?
  4. How were we going to figure this one out?
  5. Do we hang on to everything or just let go?

In the end this wasn’t an easy decision, but we decided we would try to sell. If it didn’t sell as our planned departure date approached, we would also list to rent (furnished or unfurnished).

The De-Clutter Phase

We took a few months to begin selling all of our belongings “clutter” on Craigslist. That site is a life saver, it is amazing that so many people want to buy what you were thinking of giving away or taking to the dumps. (Thanks to all we sold, we were able to fund the 4 of us going to Spain as a “check out” trip for Spring Break. More on this later). It is also amazing and overwhelming at how much one collects in 11 years.  You know… you have a CD, so you need a place to store it. You also need something to play it on and speakers to hear it, etc…. “There is a blank spot on the wall, oh let’s but a picture”.  The list of “clutter” that is needed to maintain your life is crazy sometimes.

We began this process over the winter holiday break, and most things were selling within 24 hours.  Within 8 days, we had sold most of the bulky or unnecessary items.  Now that most of the clutter was out-of-the-way, we could focus on doing minor repairs, paint touch up and staging.  We moved furniture around, so it would make sense to a potential buyer.  This is when we felt a little of the impact of what we were doing. Our daily routine was now beginning to change.  Our formal dining room (which was always our mud room for coats,shoes, hats and homework desk for the kids), now held a “dining room table”.  The “dining room table” used to be in the kitchen as our daily table. We now had a small 4 seat cafe table (homework table, that was in our mud room).

We turned our lives upside down to let the staging begin

Yep, our daily routine was frazzled. Furniture and belongings were all in a different place. The flow of our home had changed. Our love seat in the family room now became the love seat in the “reading room” (formal living room space).  This one change actually became a real positive for us. We all found ourselves actually using this room now to READ. It was great, so private and cozy.

The repairs, prepping and staging took far longer than we anticipated. I guess we just didn’t realize how monumental the task was, while working the 40+ hrs a week and keeping up with kids activities/lessons.

On the Market

By early March, the house was ready to put on the market. We were ready to have an impact to our lives once again. To allow strangers to come into our home, while we were away. To allow these same people with the opportunity to have our home. To hold our memories and to make many more. We were going to have to keep the house clean at all times. Oh goodness, how were we going to keep this up?  We called the Realtor and listed the house in Mid March.

The estimate was it would take at least 6-9 months to sell. We didn’t have your typical home as it was quite large.  So finding people, in this economy, looking for that 4500+ sq ft home was going to be challenging.  The sign when up in the front yard and we were done. It was a sad moment to realize, we were really going through with this.

Let’s make this a little fun!

Four days after we listed, no showings. We decided to make it a little interesting and fun with the kids, we all gathered in our family room and performed a “rain dance”.  The four of us interlocked our right arms, chanting and stomping in a counter-clockwise circle. Between chants we yelled out, “please rain upon us home buyers. Please have people come view our home”. It was great fun and was good to pretend that we had some control.

Within 24 hours we had our 1st showing!  Did the rain dance work or was it purely coincidental?  The kids were sold on the rain dance, of course.  I wanted to believe as well.   We didn’t do the rain dance daily, in fact it was just random.  A few days had passed

since the 1st showing, and no more activity.  The kids wanted to do another rain dance.  We had to perform it just as we had before.  So we all took our positions and repeated our chant/dance in 3 counter-clockwise circles, with other arm waving in the air.  Again, within 24 hrs another showing.  Wow, was this really working?  Oh goodness, 2 showings while other homes in the neighborhood had no activity.  No offer, but we were getting activity.

We were out-of-town (Spring Break in Spain) the 3rd week and didn’t do the rain dance away.  We kept checking email and there was no activity on the house while we were gone. Our flight home, we had a lay over in PHL for a few hours.  We all talked about doing the rain dance at the airport, but didn’t have the guts.  Literally in the next hour we had a showing.  So now we can just talk about the rain dance and it works? LOL.

The Final Rain Dance

Several days had passed and the house had now been listed for 3 1/2 weeks.  We decided to do another rain dance, but this time we didn’t ask for people to come view our home. This time we asked for “serious buyers”.  I kid you not, in the next 36 hours, we had a showing AND it was their second showing. Someone came back for a second time!  That evening, we decided to do yet another rain dance, but ask for a serious offer.  The kids were yelling out multiple offers, but we said the rain gods won’t like for us to be greedy. We only ask for what is needed.   Two, count them two days later we received an offer. It was from the family that viewed it twice.  Within 4 hours negotiations were complete and we accepted the offer!  We had six weeks until closing and it was all happening.

Can a perfect plan be perfect?

Wait a minute…… we aren’t ready to leave yet! We love our house. It isn’t August, what are we going to do? The kids need to finish school. We still need our visas and are planning to work through July. How did this happen so fast?  How are we going to find a place to live for only 3 months?   We began to look for short-term apartments and found one with a 3 month lease. It was perfect for our plan, we would move in mid/May and have the lease until mid August. Maybe this timing was perfect after all.

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