How much information is too much information? And when does too little information become deceptive? I tend to overshare (no surprise there), but this isn’t about me, it’s about my house. In putting my house on the market this time (as opposed to 8 months earlier), I have to disclose the fact that there was a fire. It’s not enough just to check ‘fire’ on the forms; I need to write up an explanation – what, when, and why. I want to be as honest as possible, but too many details can spook some people. Sharon and Bob, my realtors, suggest that I also include the name of my insurance company and the contractor, including the fact that the contractor guarantees the work for a year. Put in how much money the insurance is paying; that’ll sound good, they say. Yes, over $110,000 of rebuild and renovation does indeed sound wonderful, but a good chunk of that is for the boring but necessary stuff like insulation and dry wall. Still, the floors, kitchen, and bathrooms do look great. Who cares which percentage of the money went into which parts?
Most people decide on a house more with their heart than their head, even if they won’t admit it. Some people feel right at home when they walk into the house they eventually buy. I did. When I first viewed this house, nearly 8 years ago, I could immediately visualize my two kids (and three cats) and me living there. The #1 house on my current shortlist also made an immediate impact on me when I first viewed it. I recently looked at it a second time, and I still like it better than any of the others I’ve seen. Let’s hope it works out, but in the meantime, I need to sell my current house. It’s practically new and certainly beautiful, but a fire can put a stigma on a property. Should I mention that no people or animals were harmed in the fire? It’s mostly true, but not 100%. My son ended up with only minor physical injuries, true, but he has had some post-trauma episodes. The dogs were in the backyard, far from the fire in the kitchen, but Rosie was jumpy and nervous for weeks afterwards. And I’m still stressed from the whole long-drawn-out process from the rebuild and on-going insurance claims. Should I mention that I had intended to sell before the fire, so buyers know I’m not selling now just to get away from bad karma? I’m overthinking again. In the end, Sharon advises me to write the minimal information required. Agents can talk to her if their clients have concerns. Phew!
I write up the disclosure and send it to Bob and Sharon. I also send a list of eco-friendly features of the house to include in the listing. It may not be important for everyone, but who knows? It’s certainly important to me. Then I clean and clean and declutter. How does paperwork multiply so quickly? Luckily, I have cabinets where I can stuff everything and no one’s the wiser. The day before the house is listed, I’m dusting and vacuuming and mopping. My house usually looks tidy as long as you keep your eyes above floor level. But I have dogs. They track in grass and leaves and shed hair. They both like eating in the living room so they often bring in some kibble to drop on the floor for snacking. Like my kids, they leave crumbs and don’t clean up after themselves, so I grab the dust buster for last minute messes. I sure hope the house sells fast because keeping it perfectly clean every day is going to be a strain. Perhaps in the spirit of full disclosure I should have mentioned that while I like a tidy house, I do have dogs. No further explanation needed for fellow dog owners. And if a tuff of dog hair peeking out from under the couch bothers buyers, then maybe this just isn’t the house for them.