Moving My Father (cont.)
The breakthrough came sooner than I thought. My recently widowed 87 year old father called just after lunch from the Maritimes and said “I’ve listed the house!”.
It had taken months to get here. When my mother died last fall, he just wanted to be left alone with his daily lady, Kathie Rose, and not be bothered. Then, he gradually realized he needed company, to be near his kids. He’d sell the house himself, sign on the lawn, ad at the supermarket, put the word out at church… That lasted until winter.
Then he hired an outfit that took a picture, put up a sign and did a website, and left it at that. $150. That lasted until a few weeks ago. Every idle call would be a certain buyer, every enquiry from a friend would be a lead. We tried to work around this; “Move back to Niagara and let the house sell itself. You don’t want to be there another winter”. But no, he refused to leave until he sold the house.
He doesn’t like real estate agents. He doesn’t like paying their commissions. In his mind, that would be the difference between breaking even and losing money on this house and the one he had bought previously, for both of which he used an agent. The leading agent in his small town had handled both transactions, and he resented her. No opportunities there.
I finally got him to agree to think about listing the house, just so he could sell and move before winter. He promised he’d think about it and call me. Well, here was the call.
He’d listed with ReMax (a good move), a larger outfit in a nearby town that was much larger (also a good idea). He said he’s spent three hours that morning filling out the forms with the agent. “She’s 45, very nice, I like her a lot. Her husband teaches drama and English at the university and they have a 19 year old son”. He even agreed to leave the house when she showed it, a first for him. This was all excellent news.
He called the next day. “She had a showing for me right away. A rich dentist from here in town, his partner does my teeth. I remember telling my dentist about the house, why didn’t he tell his partner?”. Dad was discovering why you list your house instead of trying to sell it on your own.
“He’s got lots of money, they’re downsizing. They’ve looked at some other places but they didn’t like them. I think this is perfect. They saw it this afternoon, but they’re going away for the weekend. The agent says they’ll decide Monday and call her”.
I told him this was all excellent news, to call me as soon as he heard anything. My father hasn’t bought or sold many houses, and he’s old-fashioned, I wasn’t sure he was ready for what was to come. He still thinks of every idle enquiry or showing as a sure bet. He’s always been like this; buying lottery tickets and then spending them like sure bets in his mind.
I called Monday afternoon. “No, I haven’t heard from her yet, but I’ll let you know as soon as I do”. Another idle enquiry. Well, at least it was with a ReMax agent. I thought about the next steps. “Well, Dad, if they do want the house, the next thing they’ll do is make an offer. Now, this offer might not be exactly what you’re asking for the house…”. There was dead silence on the other end of the line.
“You mean, pay less than I’m asking?” “Yes, dad, most people make an offer and try to negotiate the price. You have to make a counter-offer back, saying what you’ll accept”. Another long silence at the other end of the line.
“Oh no. Not me. I’m only taking what I asked. When your mother and I bought this house we just said yes, we never asked about the price. They can go to hell”.
I wonder if ReMax is ready for my father? This might take longer than we thought.