I’ve always had a love for real estate. Long before the days of HGTV, Fixer Upper and Property Brothers, I used to watch the streaming photos of local real estate listings that was on Sunday morning TV and episodes of “This Old House” with my dad. I opted for electives like architecture appreciation at Penn State, and took all the real estate classes I could get my hands on in law school. I’ve been a practicing real estate attorney since 2003, and I just recently obtained my real estate sales license, so I am officially a real estate agent as well.
Even with all of that, nothing can quite prepare you for the emotional highs and lows of buying and selling your first home.
One of my best friends is about to close on her first home later this week, and she is going through the same emotional roller coaster I went through when I bought my very first house. At times you are super excited and making plans for new furniture and imagining how wonderful it will be living there, and then you think about the mortgage, the obligations of home ownership, and five minutes later you are freaking out, wondering “Is this all a huge mistake?!” I think this pretty normal, and actually, a healthy reaction. While it is exciting to think about the future and new beginnings, it is a monumental life change and it’s only normal to have questions, fears and concerns. It just means you understand the obligations you are about to undertake.
Last week, I just sold my first home. The first home I purchased all by myself as a single gal, years and years ago, was my very first listing and closing as a real estate agent. I think experiencing everything as a seller and a listing agent at the same time gave me a great perspective for future clients, and made me realize that selling a home can be every bit of an emotional roller coaster is buying one. Prepping the house and doing minor repairs is one thing, but nothing quite prepares you for saying goodbye.
Many jobs ago and long before I was married, I scrimped and saved every month hoping to put away enough money for a down payment on my first house. I searched high and low and couldn’t find anything that checked all my boxes, but eventually I found a house that had “good bones” that I could afford in a location that worked for me. Over the next several years I chipped away little by little at the renovations, window blinds in the kitchen one month, curtains in another room the next. Over time I would eventually install all new floors, renovate the kitchen and bathrooms, landscaping and a new swimming pool.
It was all a labor of love. Something that I put my blood, sweat and tears into. That house was my baby, and eventually became the house I envisioned it becoming, except it was without a family.
I eventually met my husband and we got married. That was our first house as a married couple. We dreamed of starting a family there, but we didn’t know just how challenging that dream would be. Shortly after we were married and he moved into that home, we found out that I had some pretty extreme fertility challenges and it would be very difficult for me to have a baby.
As a family of two (plus a few fur babies), we started our fertility testing and treatments while living in that home. I got call after call about failed IVF cycles and bad test results in that home. I had my first miscarriage in that home. I spent countless evenings shedding tears in that home, hugging my sweet puppy dogs and in the arms of my husband, wondering if it would all ever work out. We endured years of IVF in that home, wondering if we would ever hear the pitter pattering of little feet on the floor, running toward mommy and daddy.
But among all the tears, it was also a home of hope. We never gave up hope we would have our child one day. I still remember the exact spot where the guest bathroom met the hallway where I received news for one particular IVF cycle that eventually gave us our toddler son was successful. He had just grown into the beautiful strong 5 day old embryo that we were hoping for. I somehow knew in that moment that this would be “the one” that would work, and I shed tears of joy knowing that he was strong and ready to become our child one day.
Max was born in our current home, but before closing last week we took him to that first home in which he was still just a vision, our hope, our dream. He quickly ran around the house exploring all of the cupboards, closets, and other nooks and crannies. He also tried his hand at using the hose outside on the pool deck (he is obsessed with anything related to water). Before we left, I took Max over to that spot where our guest bathroom met the hallway, and told him that this was a house of hope, and that that was where I knew our dreams would come true. I know he will be too young to remember, but I wanted to show him anyway, and it was part of my way of saying goodbye.
As we were at the door almost ready to leave, I finally heard the little pitter patter of steps headed toward mommy and daddy, and in that moment realized that all of my dreams that I had for that home had finally come true.
At the closing last week, I learned that the couple who bought the home has little boy of their own. It made my heart happy to think that maybe this house that I turned into my home would become their place of hopes and dreams.
A house full of love, and the pitter patter of a little boy’s footsteps…