Downsizing: Listing house for sale leads to a frenzy of showings

Freelance writer Carola Vyhnak is leaving her four-acre country home, north of Cobourg, Ont., for a smaller place in a nearby town. She’s keeping a diary about her downsizing journey. In the second installation, she describes the feeding frenzy of showings leading up to the sale of her property:

one day. That’s all it took to sell my little piece of pastoral paradise.

But you could have knocked me over with a chicken feather when the flood of requests for showings started filling my inbox and message app, when the listing came out.

Who knew small-town Ontario would be susceptible to the same real estate-feeding frenzy as the big city? (My experienced Re/Max broker Jacqueline Pennington wasn’t surprised, given the lack of properties at my price point in Northumberland County.)

The first realtor to arrive at my house on a hill confides that it’s her clients’ “dream home,” even before they’ve seen it. They’ve been waiting a year with money in the bank, she says.

By the time the dust settled on the dirt road leading to my door, 22 prospective buyers, tire-kickers and nervous first-timers have peered into closets, turned on taps and been wowed by the views of nature. But it turns out the secluded location isn’t the dreamers’ cup of camomile after all, and it’s a young family of four who decides to give it a go.

Several nail-biting days after Carola Vyhnak's listing went up, the financing condition cleared and the deal was done, two minutes before the offer was to expire.  She sold for 99 per cent of the asking price.

They seem like a good fit for the four acres of perennial and pollinator gardens, trees, shrubs and grass that have become too much work for someone who’s closer to old stewing hen than spring chickens.

The sale may be quick, but it doesn’t come easy. It’s preceded by three long days’ worth of frazzled nerves, professional cleaning, primping, staging and photography … all leading up to The Big Reveal.

In the scramble to hide all the signs of life before every showing, I go through a checklist: cat litter box behind a closed closet door; throw pillows on the bed; de-crumbed kitchen counters; dog and dog bed removed.

Much less taxing is my piggy bank’s contribution to keeping those buying eyes on the prize: $200 for laneway gravel, $60 for mulch and pansies in winter-weary gardens, and $15.81 for a sale-priced replacement light fixture in the downstairs hall.

Then there’s the untallied cost of Wendy’s salads, Tim’s wraps, and a smoked salmon crepe from a new café in town, all subbing for homemade meals made impossible by strangers in the kitchen.

Miss you already?  Yoshi, the cat, in a standoff with one of members of the family of squirrels who tap on the glass door for nuts.

Although the conditional purchase offer from the family of four lands the day after the listing came out, other hopes kept coming to see the place.

Several nail-biting days later, the financing condition is cleared and the deal is done, two minutes before the offer expires. My beloved sanctuary, with cows as neighbors, sells for 99 per cent of the asking price.

It feels good, like the ultimate compliment, when someone wants to buy your home. Or maybe it’s just because there’s so little else out there.

As homeowners, the buyers will also become custodians of dozens of hand-transplanted cedars and saplings, homemade birdhouses quickly tenanted during the continuing avian housing crisis (aka habitat loss), and an extended squirrel family who taps on the glass door for peanuts.

After the purchase agreement was signed, I woke up struck by the notion that my good fortune as a seller could easily reverse itself at the buying end. In one nightmare, I join the house-hungry hordes trampling each other in panic mode. It’s a scene rooted in reality: my target is a mid-priced bungalow. They are much in demand, according to local realtors.

Next: The hunt


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