Getting More Feet in the Door

edeeveeOctober 29, 2013

Our home has been listed for just over two months. In that time we've only had three showings. Real estate is moving slow here. I've seen two stats - one that says average days on market 120, and another that shows average days at 365.

Our neighborhood, in particular, seems to be moving like molasses. There are seven houses for sale on my street. In addition, there is an empty one waiting for foreclosure and another taken off the market to rent. Of all of them, only two are priced lower (very slightly lower). One of those has a highway in the backyard.

Our house is in good shape. Every room has been repainted. The popcorn is gone from the ceilings. Both the full and half baths have been redone and the kitchen refreshed with new flooring (vinyl plank), new countertop (laminate), new backsplash (hammered copper). This is not a "granite" neighborhood but, for this area, it is on the upper end of average.

Comments from lookers so far have been positive with one liking it but wanting a master bath, another liking it but wanting to live closer to town (we're on the outskirts) and one liking it but just beginning their search.

Compounding our getting people in the door problem -- our street is currently under repair. Our house is the last one you can get to without a hike and the workers have equipment strewn across the corner of our yard.

We're meeting with the Realtor tonight. Should we ask her to drop the price? Should we take it off the market until the street is finished or spring (whichever comes first)? Should we get new pictures taken (why they chose to feature the litter box - I will never know)?

Here's the link to the listing:

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Trying the link again.

Here is a link that might be useful: My House

    Bookmark   October 29, 2013 at 7:13AM
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Grrr. That's still not it. Maybe it works on Zilllow?

Here is a link that might be useful: No really, My House

    Bookmark   October 29, 2013 at 7:16AM
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The key question I'd be asking my agent is "what are showings like for the other houses in the neighborhood?" Ask her to talk with the agents that have the competition listed and find out. If you're less traffic, then it's probably a price issue. If not, then it might just be a waiting game. Unless it's urgent that you sell, in which case price can cure anything.

That said, your agent did a lousy job with the photos. 3 different angles of the powder room, a close-up of a fiberglass tub surround, a shot of the middle of the stairs...really??? And the living area has lots of chair backs in the foreground, making the rooms look crowded. It looks like you've decluttered well (except for the littler box), but the photos aren't doing your house any justice.

I wouldn't take your house off the market until the street is done. Yes, it might deter some short-sighted people, but if you're not listed, you might miss a buyer in a slow-moving market that might have bought your house but will buy something else instead.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2013 at 8:57AM
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The appliances in your kitchen are a nice selling point, and you've also done a nice job with the bathroom sinks.

The living room could use some work. I agree with weedy - pictures of chair backs make it look less roomy than it is. However, instead of repositioning the chairs, I think I'd take some more furniture out. First I'd take out the piece in front of the window. Also it seems to me part of the close feel is that you have light walls, light curtains, and dark wood and fabric. The effect puts all the "weight" on the floor level. I'd buy some cheerful colorful curtains that go with the rug, hang them higher and wider than the current ones, to draw the eye upward. Take down the small pictures next to that window. Then get some finish restorer to touch up the scratches on the open space between the kitchen and living room.

Is there a kitchen or dining space? I may have missed it, but I'd include a picture of where the family eats.

Lastly I'd be careful of all the fabric in the bedrooms. The coverings on the bedside tables, the short curtains, wall to wall carpet, and the various pillows and bedspreads that all draw attention from the room size, mean you're not maximizing the visual bedroom space.

I'd retake the pictures, but leave it on the market.

This post was edited by hayden2 on Tue, Oct 29, 13 at 9:52

    Bookmark   October 29, 2013 at 9:45AM
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Definitely, talk to your realtor. I think you may just need to wait it out. If I'm understanding correctly, you went on the market in August. House sales traditionally slow down at that time of year. We went on the market in June in a different market and price range. Sales plummeted at the same time we went on the market. People don't seem to be buying right now. Your market may be different, but it seems to be a nationwide trend.

We ended up turning our house over to the corporate relocation company. We're out of the deal, but the house is still on the market. It is currently priced at about 10% below what the comps were at the time we went on the market. Several other houses in the neighborhood have gone on the market since then. It appears there will be a long wait to sell for many of them.

I'm attaching a link about dropping US home sales that may be of interest to you.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pending Home Sales Fall nearly 6% in US...

    Bookmark   October 29, 2013 at 9:47AM
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I cannot believe how horrible your photographs are! Take a good, unbiased look at them and then answer the question, "Would I go look at this house?" I am betting your honest answer is "no".

You have a few things working against you right now - 7 houses on your street for sale is a lot of inventory, the construction isn't working in your favor either. That is a lot of issues trying to sell regardless of your market.

If you don't need to sell right this minute, I'd pull the listing and revisit selling in the spring - unless you want to slash your listing price so deeply, no one could resist?

    Bookmark   October 29, 2013 at 10:04AM
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Try featuring the "brand new street in progress", in a light-hearted way.

The pictures are poor and uninviting.

1 - Leading pic should be from the house-side at a 45 degree angle, not the full Monty with a prominent garage taking up most of the space.

It's a small house, but the pictures make it look cramped.

I can't see any floor space in the LR pictures. Move and remove chairs and that plant holder and bring in some extra lights (200-300 Watt cheap halogen shop lights bounced off the ceilings, etc) and take pictures that show more house and less furniture.


There is no continuity to the pics - they should be arranged as if you are showing someone through the house. Where does that pass through go to? and why don't I see the dining area?

Kitchen shots - a moderately wide angle and standing further back will help your shots. Head-on shots look cramped, angled ones look more spacious.

Wasted too many pics on that bathroom, and the shower area.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2013 at 10:30AM
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weedy: Thanks for your advice. I agree that the pictures aren't the greatest. One thing though - the shower is solid surface, not fiberglass. We hoped it would be a selling point as it looks really terrific in person. It doesn't photograph well though -- even in the manufacturer's photo gallery. Any tips on getting better pictures?

hayden: I agree with almost everything you've said. I've already moved the chair so that it sits at an open angle to the sofa instead of perpendicular. I placed the small chest that was in front of the window (the one with the plant on it) next to the chair. I moved the plant to the shelf next to the tv to bring more height to that end of the room. I can't raise the window coverings because of the weird bulkhead on one side of the room. I'm happy to take down the two small pictures but - would you replace them with something larger or leave the areas on both sides of the window blank? The pass though is something that's been on my list but keeps getting forgotten. I'll get on that. Yes, it is an eat in kitchen. I don't know why that wasn't shown in the listing. I've been looking for bedside tables forever - thus the two microwave stands with covers thrown over them. What might work better until I find the perfect thing? And, just to check, you're saying long curtains in the bedrooms, remove the decorative pillow on the bed and take away the extra quilt in the other room? Thanks so much for your help.

adella: I suspect you're at least partly right. Maybe nothing but time will work to sell this house - but I don't want to give up without trying first. Thanks for the link - it's a bittersweet comfort knowing I'm not alone.

xamsx: The answers are - No, the pictures probably wouldn't compel me to get excited about this house. However, I will say that photos for other homes in the area aren't a whole lot better and some are downright awful - televisions left on, piles of junk in corners, unmade beds, countertops brimming with ... stuff. That's why I didn't demand new photos in the beginning. And, no, I don't NEED to sell right now. I like my house. We're not relocating to a different town. We'd just like to buy a house on a lake. I'm taking your vote to pull the listing under consideration. Thanks.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2013 at 11:02AM
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lazygardens: Thank you for your detailed suggestions. I have to head back to work but I hoped you would expand on the halogen lights idea - is that just for photos or are you suggesting some kind of more permanent uplighting? Also, anything in particular that stands out as "clutter"? We've done a lot of removing stuff already but I think I might be blind to some of it. Great ideas on the pics, btw :)

    Bookmark   October 29, 2013 at 11:30AM
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Take a pic of the shower with all the bathroom lights off, except for the light in the shower. It will pop!

    Bookmark   October 29, 2013 at 12:26PM
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halogen lights idea - is that just for photos or are you suggesting some kind of more permanent uplighting

Just for the photos.

I've worked with photographers who do shoots for home magazines and you wouldn't believe the wattage they scatter around a room before they take the pictures.

Also, take pictures with as much natural light as possible: and that means the east side in the morning and the west side in the afternoon. Use "fill light" (lights that are off-camera, aimed at something that is too dark) to improve the looks.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2013 at 3:48PM
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I forgot to add... make sure the shower is wet. It just pops that much more.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2013 at 6:20PM
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All my eyes focused on in the pics were what looked like damaged wood work. The counter between the kitchen and something else and the door frames.

I would suggest trying to take your own pictures to send to the realtor.

What about your neighborhood is making it less desirable than others? Hard to do something about location, but it might help in marketing it to know especially when it comes to price.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2013 at 7:22PM
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A street with 7 homes for sale and construction is underway would be a big turn off for me. I wouldn't be running to look at the place...

no matter how awesome the photos.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2013 at 8:10PM
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ncrealestate: Thanks for the shower photo tip. I don't have a light directly above my shower but the fan light is close. I tried turning off the other light and it really did make a difference! I showed it to the Realtor last night and she agreed.

lazygardens: I appreciate the explanation. The Realtor is coming out Tuesday to take new pics. If those aren't better I think I'll tag a photographer friend, show him your links, and see if he'll give it a go.

lyfia and sasafras: The Realtor says the problem is with that price niche. Most of the homes in our neighborhood are in the $90-120,000 range and houses at that price just aren't selling right now. Thanks for your input!

    Bookmark   October 30, 2013 at 9:51AM
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Just a thought- pretend YOU are looking to buy the home and walk thru each room with a pad/paper/pencil and note what YOU like and don't like and how you would change it--whether it be design, furniture or color. And if you really do like your home, you mentioned a home on the lake--list the pros and cons of selling, and relocating on a lake. Would you want to spend all your time there? is it close to where you live now? friends? shopping? medical? OR could you just buy some land and use a trailer/motorhome as a second alternative. Many people have two places and go back and forth.
Weather? Winter? Just a few things to think about.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2013 at 3:34PM
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I would insist on new photos and your Realtor should use a photo editing program to really liven them up.
It took me all of 2 minutes to edit your under/over exposed photos and make them a little better (JMHO) and this was with a free editing program.
Photos aren't a cure all for no showing but good photos really help.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2013 at 7:58PM
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That main family room is too cluttered. It feels way small. Get rid of the plant and stand that blocks the doorway.
Get rid of the stand under the candle sconce. Take the picture of this room from some other angle. We can not tell anything about this room from this point advantage. Is there any way to mount the tv on the wall and get rid of the stand? I would not post the pic of the washer/dryer inside the utility room.
The bedroom looks really small and by the position of the camera, it looks like no other furniture could fit.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2013 at 8:43PM
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marie: I really DO like my home. We've learned to make the space work for us. With a bad knee, the only thing I'd really (really, really) like to change is to have a main floor master. Doing that would be cost prohibitive for this neighborhood. The house on the lake is a great find for people like my husband and myself. It's super close to town, the house is dated but has good bones and the property is serenely beautiful. So yes, we will be spending all of our time (and probably all of our money) there :)

LOTO: That is INCREDIBLE! Wow. I wonder why they don't do this, especially if the program is free and not time intense. If the Realtor's office won't do this, I'll offer to do it myself. Thanks!

    Bookmark   October 30, 2013 at 8:54PM
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Windows Live Photo Gallery is free and I use it a lot....have Photoshop too but find windows is faster and easier for most edits.

Here is a link that might be useful: Windows Live Gallery Download Page

    Bookmark   October 30, 2013 at 9:49PM
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This may seem trivial but when I saw the litter box in the photo I wondered if your house smelled like cats or if there was damage. I have a cat and dog so I'm not anti animal but I also know that animals create an odor. Often the homeowner doesn't notice the smell. I would retake that photo without the litter box.

I love animals but when I see animal stuff (litter boxes, dog crates, etc) in real estate photos I always wonder about smell, peed on floors, and damage. If I had to pick between two homes to look at, one no animals, the other with animals I would pick the no animals. You don't want to give people an excuse not to see your house.

just my 2 cents.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2013 at 8:54AM
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Sophie Wheeler

3 showings? That's usually a price issue, and less of a picture issue in that price range. If nothing is moving above 90K, then you should be below 90K where sales ARE happening.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2013 at 12:35PM
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Here's my pictures advice..... strip down down down. It's only a picture, you can move the stuff right back.

For example:
Bedroom with two bedside tables: remove everything from the tables except lamp on one and stack of books on the other.

Utility room -- what are you trying to show? Take out the litter box and basket, then back up and get a little wider perspective.

LR, tables/stands either side of the door---out. Lose the throw on arm of chair and the bamboo plant in the foreground.

Kitchen - everything moveable is out. You can put one nicely decorative thing on top of fridge.

It's just for the pictures.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2013 at 7:39PM
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I agree, but not for just the pictures. You have to pack these things away sooner than later, so why not get a head start on it now. If you do it for the pics and then put it all back, buyers are going to be very disappointed.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2013 at 8:50PM
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We sold our house in 7 days..... We pared way down, and our realtor used a professional photographer. The pictures were truly incredible! When we were looking at houses to buy, we dismissed many of them from pictures alone.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2013 at 10:40PM
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The photos on your link are more suitable for selling appliances, furniture and fixtures instead of house. They do not show rooms, house and flow. They leave no imagination.

It is hard to tell the size of your rooms, but from photos, they all look small, stuffy and cluttered. You need to remove tons of items, stage the rooms to make the rooms look spacious, airy and clean.

Even the best photo editing tool cannot change photos with poor composition; it can only make poor exposure look less bad. Your realtor needs to find a professional photographer to deliver more serious work.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2013 at 6:55AM
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You say that the property is serenely beautiful and in a great location. i think you need to mention and better yet, show that. Also, check out some of the links on staging at Houzz, especially on how to appeal to younger buyers.

Here is a link that might be useful: Houzz guides to faster sale/staging etc.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2013 at 11:32AM
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Sorry to be so long in coming back here. It's been quite a week. We had a showing on Wednesday that we haven't heard feedback from yet. I had already implemented some of your suggestions before then so ... fingers crossed.

nc: I've moved the plant to the shelf beside the tv and pulled its little stand beside the chair - which I've repositioned so it sits at a more open angle to the sofa. I like the idea of getting rid of the stand under the sconce. On the decorating forum they've suggested I nix the desk completely but I really don't want to do that. I'm hoping just deleting the stand will make a difference. I've convinced the Realtor to take the laundry room photo out. The bedroom isn't that small but the furniture is big. Yesterday I found a more delicate, leggy nightstand that I'll be painting today (I hope). I'll get rid of the other stand until I can find a replacement for it. Thanks for your advice!

LOTO: Thanks again for your photo help. I actually already have Live Gallery on my laptop. Looking forward to playing with it.

debrak: We just have one cat and, luckily, she prefers to do most of her "business" outside, lol. I'm pretty certain that it doesn't smell of animal in here. I've asked the Realtor to remove the photo that shows the litter box though - just so browsers won't get any of those bad pet ideas in their heads before coming to see the property. Thanks!

holly: We wanted to list at $89,900 but the Realtor talked us into going higher. Even after discussing it again last week, she'd like us to hold at our price for a while longer. I don't know what to do about that.

sushi: I'm trying to make the bedroom look more spacious by replacing one of the stands and removing the other until I can find something that doesn't have as much bulk. We're taking out the photo of the utility room. I think we all agree it doesn't add anything to the listing. I've already moved the plant stand in the livingroom and will try deleting the stand on the other side of the door. I'll take out the throw and I've placed the bamboo plant on the desk. It looks a lot better there. Our Realtor is taking new pictures after an agent open house on Tuesday. I'll make sure everything is off the kitchen counters by then. Thanks for your help!

carra and azmom: This is a rural area, It doesn't appear that any of the area brokers use professional photographers. Believe it or not, the photos of my house look pretty good compared to some of the other local listings. Not good enough though, I agree.

nosoccer: It's the place we want to buy that has the serene lot in the great location. The neighborhood we're in now has its pluses, but serene isn't really one of them, lol. Thanks for the link!

    Bookmark   November 3, 2013 at 8:47AM
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When I saw your price I though wow what a great deal on a house. I thought our area had good real estate deals.

I clicked on the zillow link and see that your house was taken off the market on Oct. 31. I mention this as you did say anything about it in your last post.

This post was edited by debrak2008 on Sun, Nov 3, 13 at 10:49

    Bookmark   November 3, 2013 at 9:18AM
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debrak: WHAT?! Our house is still for sale. We asked to make a couple of changes to the listing but we did NOT take it off the market. I wonder what is going on? Thanks for the heads up!

    Bookmark   November 3, 2013 at 11:18AM
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OP, you are doing what it takes to get a buyer. But, my suggestion was to get rid of the stands all together, not just find a better place for it. I was trying to get the point across that the room looks small because of all the furniture. It needs to go in the garage, the attic, in storage or sold.
Also, is the wood shelf that the bowl of fruit on dried out. It looks damaged and very dry from the picture. If so, wipe it down with something that will make it look "new" again.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2013 at 1:52PM
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That's why I posted. Check it out yourself. When I clicked on the link you posted Tue, Oct 29, 13 at 7:16 if you scroll down.... it says it was removed from market on Oct. 31. If this is not correct I would make sure your agent gets zillow to fix it. Not just have it active again but remove that notation. It may look odd to a buyer that a house is removed from the market and then goes back on the market a few days later. Maybe no one would care.... but I would have zillow fix it.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2013 at 3:13PM
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Yep, what debrak said. When I click your Zillow link, this is what I see.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2013 at 3:21PM
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ncrealestate: Gotcha. The stand isn't serving much purpose without the plant anyway so we might as well clear it out. Thanks. The shelf has been sanded and repaired.

debra and writer: UGH. Will call Realtor tomorrow. Right now I have a spray paint disaster on my hands. (Literally, you should see my hands.) Why can't this be easy, lol?

    Bookmark   November 3, 2013 at 4:04PM
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We agents have NO control over third party RE sites, such as Zillow and Trulia. Actually, most agents hate these sites, because thay are nothing more than third party data aggregators who do not give a ______ if the data is incorrect, wrong or missing. They are an advertising site. There is a growing trend in the Country for some large brokerages to stop allowing them to pull from the local MLS.
If a buyer is able, willing and ready to purchase, and if it is in your local MLS, it will be found.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2013 at 6:40PM
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I found it on Link below

Here is a link that might be useful: OP's listing

    Bookmark   November 3, 2013 at 7:47PM
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I just remembered that I changed info on my own home on zillow. I think there is a spot you can click on. Something like...are you the homeowner?

    Bookmark   November 4, 2013 at 7:49AM
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Some quick suggestions:
get rid of "cozy."
Add that it's a great family neighborhood.
Show a picture of the walk-in closet.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2013 at 9:42AM
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I'm someone who really likes to see what the outdoor space looks like -- so maybe a better (pulled away) shot of the back?

I have pets who I love dearly, and sold a place as a pet owner -- but I think it's really important to minimize their impact when selling. Not just the litter box but everywhere. Some people really, really just don't like the idea of pets. My realtor actually didn't want me to leave the dog's water bowl out for fear it would turn people off (but she really didn't like dogs!). I shipped my cats off to stay with my parents because there was no way to stay on top of cat hair when showing such a small place! I'm not suggesting you go so far -- I have friends who actually sold their places w/pets in the house during showings -- but it's surprising to me how much of a turn-off it can be.

Good luck!!

    Bookmark   November 4, 2013 at 1:41PM
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Another wrinkle -- My husband went for a routine test to monitor the growth of a teeny tiny aneurysm. That part turned out fine but in the process, a condition was found that may turn out to be something serious. Really serious. We'll be talking to his doctor later today to find out the next steps but, while worrying about all of this, the thought 'what about the freaking house?' popped into my head. That's not something we'll want to decide in the emotional upheaval of a major illness. I'm praying this is Option B: Something superficial that is easy to treat, but if it isn't ... what would you do? Keep the house up for sale, knowing that my husband would dearly love to sell it and buy a house on a lake? Or forget it for now and relist later, once he's better?

    Bookmark   November 21, 2013 at 8:50AM
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I would wait until you really know what the condition is and what treatment will involve. Without knowing more.... if you husband wants to sell and buy a house by the lake then I would continue. I would let him be the judge of that. Having life moving ahead with things to look forward to (house on lake) I think is important for mental well being during times of stress. Of course it will depend on what if any treatment is needed. Hoping you get good news today.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2013 at 9:35AM
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edeevee- I am hoping your DH does not have a serious medical problem. I think the decision to keep the house on the market depends on how stressful it is to him at this time. Sometimes stress is good, if it is there because we are moving forward to obtain our dreams. It gives us a chance to hope, dream, and plan, when the rest of life is well...the rest of life. Best wishes to both of you.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2013 at 12:49PM
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Thank you both. Just what I needed to hear.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2013 at 8:02PM
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I started looking for our 'retirement' home in Dec 2006; April 2007 my DH was diagnosed with a very difficult to treat/beat cancer.

We signed a contract on our retirement home shortly after his diagnosis and closed the Friday before he started radiation/chemo.

He was able to enjoy our new place for 22 months so I feel it was worth going ahead with our plans.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2013 at 10:10PM
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Thank you, new-beginning, for sharing your experience. I am sorry for your loss but glad you and your husband were able to spend time together in your new home.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2013 at 10:09AM
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