This morning, I slept in until almost 7:00am (late for me) and then laid in bed with Cliff and Riley (my husband and our retriever), watching Instagrams of flying dolphins, professional surfers, shuffle dancers, exotic far-flung destinations, funkified roller-skaters, transformed houses, exercise/diet/makeup tips (none of which I follow), and funny moments with cats and dogs. (Instagram can suck up a lot of time if you're not careful. Let's not even talk about the babies.)
A few minutes in, I discovered "tidy dad," who is quite possibly, the man of my dreams. (Sorry, honey.)
This cleaning machine is a father of three, as well as an elementary school teacher in New York City. The reel followed his daily a.m. routine making beds, putting away toys, and generally 'tidying up" after his young kids . . .
Although our two boys are now grown and gone, tidying up was my morning ritual for nearly 25 years. In fact, I still pull out a broom at least once a day. "Tidy" is my nature (not Cliff's). But once my "house is in order"(unfortunately, that's NOT a metaphor), I turn my attention to the practice of Real Estate - but not before.
In an effort to improve our day-to-day workings, Sarah and I recently hired Sarah's daughter, Kate Abel, to "tidy up" our practice. Young, clever, and "able," Kate, is in charge of getting us fully automated and eventually, "paperless." She'll also run errands, pitch in where needed, and act as our "gal Friday' (or Wednesday, or Thursday . . . ) but incorporating the COMPASS tools and embracing all things online is her main focus. We're thrilled to have her tech-savvy skills on board. (It seems you CAN teach old dogs new tricks.)
For slightly tech-challenged Agents like us who have relied heavily upon paper in ALL forms for nearly two decades, the goal of running a paperless operation feels both aspirational and simultaneously freeing. In one short month, Kate has uniformly done for us what "tidy dad" does for his family; she's brought more order to our world, taken our "to-do" lists and put them into shared files, and created a system that allows us to track one another's work product. Next up: calendars! In short, Kate's automating a fairly complex process that includes juggling as many as 5-10 properties at a time in varying stages of "chaos."
Managing chaos, redirecting chaos, AND controlling chaos are succinct ways of describing what Realtors tackle day in and day out, although admittedly, with varying degrees of success. Beginning with the premise that we don't actually control other people, places, or things (no one does), let's agree on the fact that moving is an incredibly stressful transition that doesn't always elicit the best behavior. Nevertheless, bringing a house to market requires a coordinated effort on many fronts from both Realtors and Sellers. If there's one small thing out of alignment, the tower of cards can easily topple.
Which is to say that getting a house ready for market can be fairly precarious. Everything and everyone need to line up in a nice "tidy" order and that's tough to do, given the infinite number of moving parts.
Moreover, the longer Homeowners have lived in a property, the more emotionally invested they are, and the more adverse they are to letting go. Our homes aren't generic, interchangeable, cookie-cutter residences, they're VERY personal depositories for the touchstones of our lives; births, anniversaries, holidays, graduations, etc. Of course, it's difficult to say goodbye; you wouldn't be human if that wasn't the case, but in our experience, "chaos" is just another form of anxiety, and both equate to fear. Let's "right-size" the beast, and then politely shelve it. Left unchecked, chaos, anxiety, and fear NEVER serve the deal.
Which is our way of saying that if you find yourself stuck, frozen, or overwhelmed, (as we did with respect to moving everything online) there are talented (younger) people who can help; vendors who aren't going to be sidelined by the nostalgic photographs, yearbooks, school trophies, china, silver, stemware, holiday decorations, and the MANY mementos that make packing for most of us an unyielding, herculean task.
Having sold hundreds of homes, what we know to be true is that there is NO easy way to move. Figure out what you have the time to manage, direct, OR control, and then delegate the rest to others with the knowledgable and practiced skill sets. It's an investment in your sanity. Then go watch "tidy dad" on Instagram. He'll inspire you!
Welcome to the team, Kate.
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Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 18 years and has published more than 670 essays on life and real estate.