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  • Writer's pictureMaj-Britt Johnson

Don't be a stubborn goat like me

Updated: Nov 9, 2019

When your home goes on the market your real estate agent might advise you to stop calling it your home, and start calling it a house. And to begin speaking of your new house as your home. Clearly that’s about letting go; and it’s a method for making room for the reality that your home will soon belong to someone else. I'd guess they're trying to avoid drama. Like the following:

Back in the mid-nineties my former partner Lisa and I closed on a house (a first for the both of us), in Norfolk VA. At the last second the seller wouldn’t part with the keys. Picture it: Five women standing around the closing table in a windowless conference room. Two agents, two buyers, and one seller. All the papers are signed. The house is MINE as far as I’m concerned, but the seller doesn’t agree. She’s angry, to cover up her grief; but all I can see are her fists clenched around MY keys. “I won’t give them to you,” she says. “I can’t. I’ve lived through so many things there. You can’t have them.”

I could have been a little more understanding. I was a minister after all, though admittedly not in that moment. In that moment I was a buyer anticipating making a mad dash to my car, driving over to my new home and reveling in it being MINE. And there was this mean woman standing in my way. I saw red.

Maybe the agents could have intervened. Maybe they did. I don’t remember. But somehow I wrested those keys from her grip. My partner and I left and promptly called a locksmith. He put on new locks and gave us new keys. If I’d been a little less hot-headed and possessive I might have realized I could have given her the old ones after all.

I have more compassion for that sad seller half a dozen houses later. The truth is, it’s not easy to stop thinking of your home as yours. She’d raised kids there, been divorced there, lived alone there, had to leave there.

But buyers need love too. The practice of learning to call a home a house, and a more distant house a home, sounds like a win-win to me. It could be a good way to stay conscious while preparing for a big move, a gradually relaxing of one's grip. You've heard the expression: “let go or get dragged?" That seller almost got dragged.

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