Taking Off the Mask
"I need a post-Covid facial ASAP," I said to the pretty young woman behind the counter at the skin salon in Montclair. "Now that masks are coming off, it's downright scary what's behind there."
Sad to say, I feel like a teenager again but not in a good way. For better or for worse, those masks hid dark sunspots, double chins, sagging jawlines, and a host of other age-related issues most people over 50 begin to develop; so in retrospect, they weren't all bad.
"Hmmm," she said sweetly, scanning the calendar, "it's going to be a few weeks before we have an opening." (Book me, Dano.)
Facial or no, after more than 15 months of masking up and "social distancing," I'm ready to enjoy the company of others more freely and with far less trepidation. I didn't like the feeling of people crossing the street to avoid bushing up against another human being. It didn't feel nice to get on an elevator and close the doors with others waiting for their ride. I've missed the unexpected smiles from strangers, and warm embraces from friends and loved ones. At the heart of it, humans are highly social beings; we crave one another's company, and more importantly, we need each other.
In the spirit of fellowship, last night I hosted my small book club in my backyard, which meant that yesterday morning I got up at the crack of dawn and deadheaded, pruned, and planted before the gardeners arrived, and then turned over the sheers with explicit instructions as to what still needed attention. (If you want to get your house in order, entertain!) It's an abundant garden to be sure, and it literally grows overnight, which means it requires a fair amount of elbow grease on an ongoing basis. (Yes, I also prep my house before the cleaning crew, so that tells you everything about me in a nutshell . . . nut bag, nutball, nut job - take your pick.)
As a Realtor, it occurs to me that selling one's house is akin to ripping off the mask after months of being veiled. There's often more there than meets the eye. (One darling 30-something client had a full-grown mustache which my brain had never penciled in so it was a real shock to discover facial hair after months of showings.) Furthermore, as many households have also been hosting their grown children, OR homeschooling, OR working from home, the amount of "stuff" we've accumulated to accommodate these divergent needs can be . . . well, a little overwhelming.
Moreover, it took a while for many of us to figure out how to safely reincorporate our home trades. We missed our "essential workers," i.e. painters, stagers cleaning crews, window washers, and gardeners, which meant that there was no one for the first few months of the pandemic to help minimize the storm.
Given that the average time one occupies a home is approximately 12 years, prepping your homes for sale is probably going to need more than just a chemical peel; it's going to require an entire facelift, AND it's going to demand more than a few hours of your time - and ours! which is to say that the sooner you bring us on board, the better.
For those Sellers who understood a move was on the horizon and have planned well in advance, they've been on our calendar for months, if not years . . . meaning that once they deliver their keys, our vendors can often start the very next day. (If you've moved out, but haven't cleared out, please come get your "stuff," before we toss it. Empty means empty.)
The tougher and trickier listing involve the unexpected move when a Seller suddenly makes a change and then wants their house on the market the following week. With all due respect, bringing a property to market in seven days is nearly impossible to pull off unless both the house and the grounds are truly "camera ready," and I've yet to meet that house. Even the most well-groomed properties benefit from editing personal photos, straightening linen closets, organizing the garage, mulching the gardens, washing the windows, and deep cleaning. In short, theres a LOT to do in very little time.
So if you're even thinking of moving, whether it's next week, next month, or next year, please give us a call - before the van arrives. We'll keep your plans confidential if you prefer, but advance notice will keep us from having to put you on the waiting list!
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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.