The Tyranny of Resale Value

We’ve been in the new apartment for a year now. And one of these days we’ll need to stop calling it the new apartment…

One of the things I’m really enjoying about renting is that we have no need to keep an eye on the resale value of the place. When it’s time for us to move out, it will be up to the landlord and super to find the next tenant, so we, while we’re here, can arrange it to suit ourselves. The fact that we’re merely renting means that we can’t knock down walls or enlarge the windows, but that’s a small price to pay for being free to turn the living room into a dining room and the dining room into an outpost of the kitchen and why has it taken till now for us to do this???

Most of the homes Alan and I have lived in have been bought, rather than rented and when you buy a house, all the experts tell you that you need to be really careful about what you do to it so that you don’t cheapen the resale value when it eventually comes time to sell. And up until very recently, we followed that advice and, honestly? It didn’t serve us well. Yes, we were able to sell quickly enough when the time came, but we never really bonded with our homes. Never fully enjoyed living in them because we always had an eye on the resale value.

It’s not good for any relationship if you enter into it with one eye on the exit and I’m coming to realize that, far more than furniture arrangements and paint colours, our homes are a relationship. And spending that entire relationship thinking about when it will end really does a disservice to your home. And to your self.

I learned this lesson when we sold the last place we were in. Alan and I had gone out on a limb and taken over the biggest room (aka the living/dining room) as our bedroom and turned the two “bedrooms” into a sitting room and dining room. As we were rearranging all the furniture and taking an axe to the dining room table so that we could fit it through the door, I mentioned that our lovely real-estate agent was going to really hate the set-up when it came time to sell.

“It’s OK,” Alan puffed. “We can put everything back when we need to. In the meantime…”

In the meantime we had seven years of a home that made sense for us with a gracious, big bedroom and a lovely, intimate dining room.

When it came to it, I was actually too sick to put everything back, or even finish off the DIY projects I had started and wandered off from.

“You’re going to have to market it as-is,” we told our agent.

“It’s not ideal,” she said, especially with the tenants from hell living upstairs, but she could see that anything beyond a light dusting was beyond me. So, with low expectations of the resale value, we listed the house.

And had twenty-one viewings in a single weekend and three offers, all of them over the asking price.

Lesson learned.

I was talking about this post to Alan and he pointed out that a lot of people think they want their house to be one way but then when the result is disappointing, they blame the contractors who did the work and everyone ends up unhappy.

But I’m not necessarily talking about major renovations here. A coat of paint and a different arrangement of the furniture can make a huge difference. Ignoring all the room labels and setting out your space to suit the way you actually live your life right here, right now will give you a much better relationship with the home you’re in, which is in fact, your relationship with yourself and the people you share your life with.

And speaking of how we actually live our life, when we moved in, we turned the “main bedroom” into our living room. I bought a new chaise because I’ve always wanted one. The old, painted love seat took pride of place and I’ve spent the past year fluffing cushions, rearranging the furniture and swapping out coffee tables before finally admitting that we don’t actually use the living room.

Sometimes, when people come over, we push them in there for pre-dinner nibbles, but it feels contrived. I think they’d really rather hang out in the dining room/prep kitchen offering to help with the cooking and seeing what magic Alan is working.

So, once the love seat gets passed on and we’ve got some time to rearrange all the furniture, we will have the gathering space and what is now the living room will become a workroom/library where I can spread out my collage-making, we can pile all the books and we’ll each keep our cloffices, hopefully with better lighting. No eye on the resale, just enjoying the space and our lives as they are right now.

If, when it really is time to sell, you want to maximize the sale price, then is the time to call in the experts and set your home up to sell. But living the entire time with one foot out the door seems to me to be a waste of what your home is meant to be.

 

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