I've spent a good bit of time over the last five months dealing with my mom's house, both the disposition of contents and the selling process. It's been an interesting journey.
It was actually supposed to be my brother's responsibility to take care of this, but it didn't turn out that way. A lot of things were just easier for me to do (he lives in Austin, so a plane trip away), plus he was traveling a lot. And I didn't have any grand plans for the spring and summer (such as an O' trip), and I'm retired, so I had the time.
The house is not your normal house, and selling it did not turn out to be a normal process. It's in a style I believe is called mid-century modern, designed by Marcel Breuer, built in the mid-70s. It was a smaller version of the first Breuer house the family had (and the one I lived in during my teens), just up the hill from the current one, but when the kids were gone the big house was way too big. Hence the downsizing.
It's a beautiful house, but like any unusual property it might not appeal to a lot of people and we figured it might take a long time to sell. But we thought we were in good shape because there was already a possible buyer.
But life was not so simple.
Over the couple of months from late March to late May, we went from having one possible buyer, to a second possible buyer (a letter of interest out of the blue), to having the second possible buyer drop out after finding out what the house was appraised for, to having the first possible buyer drop out because it wasn't the right time. Well, damn.
In late May we talked to a real estate broker, friend of the family. Said we'd list it in a week or two if nothing came up in the meantime. Let the two possible buyers know it was a last chance for a private sale, the house was about to go on the market, and that we would entertain an offer for less than the appraised value. And much to my surprise, within a week we had a deal with the second buyer. A price that they could just manage and that we were willing to take. And no contingencies.
The negotiations, well, a sign of how times have changed. My brother was the only one who could sign papers, but he was in St. Petersburg (Russia, not Florida). A variety of phone calls, texts, e-mails with various attachments, and a couple of days later I was sitting with the buyers in the house, and at some point they asked, "Do we have a deal?" And I checked the laptop again, and there just arrived was an e-mail with the signed contract, and we had a deal.
The nicest part of it was that they really liked the house, had had their eye on it for a long time (just waiting for mom to pass...). And I really liked them, couldn't imagine nicer people to sell the place to. The closing was set for mid-July.
And we gone on with cleaning out the house.
You read of family feuds because of fights over who got to keep what from the estate. This one actually went pretty well. Got the whole cast of characters together (sister, brother, his two kids, and the boy's wife, plus Gail and me) to see who wanted what. And there were very few conflicts. Not that it wasn't stressful, not that I didn't come close to a meltdown. But we got it done.
Stuff got shipped off. And then Lina took a few things, and then the new buyers wanted a few things. And for the rest I found an older couple who do clean-outs (and various other stuff) for a very modest fee, with as much as possible the stuff going to the area homeless shelter or local churches.
We ended up closing last Friday, a month later than planned, but it's done. Various paperwork/money issues with the local bank and the IRS that left me just shaking my head, amazed and appalled that things that could be simple were just unbelievably complicated. But it's done.
So no more regular trips to Lichfield (a couple of hours each way), except occasionally to visit Lina and Angelo and their kids and grandkids, just a wonderful family. Can never repay them for what they did to take care of mom, though I will certainly try...