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Selling our house has become an emotional endeavor

Selling a house in Spokane this summer is like being a pretty girl.

You get a lot of attention, whether you deserve it or not. People smile at you and try to win you over. They laugh at all your jokes, even if you aren’t really funny.

They want you. Or, I should say, they want your house.

At least that’s my theory. I don’t really know what it’s like to be a pretty girl. But I’m learning about selling a house in Spokane this summer. Last weekend provided more than a few lessons.

You see, our place got listed Thursday, but the first showings would not be until a couple of days later. By the time Saturday arrived, we had something like 20 potential buyers scheduled to tour our home that day in half-hour increments.

We needed to be gone while all these strangers trooped through our house, judging our tastes in art, furnishings, wall colors and family pictures. So our next-door neighbor invited us to decamp to her house. She was going to be in Idaho that day.

Seemed like the perfect solution.

Because our neighbor has a cat, Phoebe, and I am allergic to felines, I planned to spend the day out on our neighbor’s back patio reading and looking at my phone. And perhaps going on occasional reprovisioning forays.

Here’s the thing though. A tall wooden fence separates our own backyard from our neighbor’s backyard. But sometimes you can hear voices coming from the other side of the fence. I quickly realized Saturday morning that I occasionally would be able to hear prospective buyers and their real estate agents talking.

Talking about our house and how much money they might be willing to pay for it.

This didn’t really pose much of an ethical quandary as there had been no intention on our part to eavesdrop. None.

We just needed a place to crash for the day. And though Phoebe seems perfectly companionable – an impression supported by my wife’s reports – I could not spend hours indoors there.

(If I might interject something at this moment … Yes, this is the same neighbor who had the cat whose feisty antics I assiduously chronicled in the S-R for years and years. I like Phoebe and wish her nothing but the best. I’m glad she stays indoors. But when I refer to “my neighbor’s cat,” I will always mean Chloe. Even though she is gone now.)

OK, getting back to my story.

The truth is, most of Saturday’s house hunters didn’t spend all that much time in our backyard. Moreover, the drone of air conditioners effectively drowned out 99 percent of what was said. Just as well.

Still, I couldn’t help but overhear a few things. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t interested.

One woman seemed to say something vaguely disparaging about our apple tree. I wanted that venerable fruit producer to turn into a relative of the irascible apple tree in “The Wizard of Oz.”

“Are you saying there’s something wrong with my apples?”

Actually, I think that woman’s objection might have had more to do with having to pick them up after they had fallen to the ground. Or something like that.

Another guy opened our back door from the inside and immediately declared that he was not impressed. “So, no backyard.”

We prefer to think of it as compact and virtually maintenance-free. We like the patio.

Another guy, a man I assumed was a real estate agent, listened to a prospective buyer going back and forth about the pros and cons before gently reminding her of Spokane reality in the summer of 2019.

“Well, this house is gonna sell.”

Of course, the stuff that might actually have been interesting to hear was mostly said inside. I assume.

What did they think of the antique piano? Were they impressed with the storage space downstairs? What did they think of the floors? Did they notice the Beatles poster or the huge photo in the office of the B-24 assembly line outside Detroit? Did anyone notice our small Stonehenge rock arrangement in the front yard?

We didn’t need praise. We like our house. But it’s an emotional time, and any unkind comments might have hurt my feelings.

I guess it doesn’t matter. The strangers touring our house don’t know us. They don’t know anything about the ups and downs in our lives.

They don’t know where I was in the house when I got a call from a nurse at Sacred Heart saying my father had died. They don’t know where my wife was when she did Facetime for the first time with her family in Michigan. They don’t know where my sister-in-law was sitting when Chloe bit her.

Some people subsequently included letters with their offers on our house. That’s a thing now.

I used to think letters were unlikely to make any difference. I no longer feel that way.

Like I said, it’s an emotional time.

We’ve lived there 22 years. The only other time I have been involved in selling a home was when my parents moved to Spokane from New England in 2000.

I thought I realized it back then, but find I am learning it again this summer.

You can leave a house and move on. But some part of you stays there.

At least that’s what I want to believe. Maybe it’s so I don’t have to think about saying goodbye.

Columnist Paul Turner can be reached at

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