House Hunting with the Ancestors

We’d been talking about it for a while when we saw a house for sale that caught our imagination. We called our agent to see about the possibilities. The market was hot he told us. Houses were selling in our neighbourhood quickly and over asking.

There was no possibility of even looking for a new one until ours was sold because anything we saw now wouldn’t be on the market for long, and in a sellers’ market, offers with conditions of sale of present home or financial approval aren’t considered.

This house had never felt like a good fit for either of us, having taken plan B. We’d sold our previous house, and the one we’d planned to buy failed inspection with huge foundation issues, creating a bit of urgency.

In addition, the pandemic and my effective retirement from a 9 – 5 life changed everything. We no longer need to be within a short commute or have access to public transit with both of us working from home.

It seems the pandemic is driving a housing boom as well, with people wanting to move from densely populated apartment buildings and condos to single family dwellings with a bit of a yard to enjoy without exposure to other people who might carry the deadly virus. Them that have the resources are buying up houses like ours in droves.

We craved moving back to the country and a little bit of acreage, where the market is not quite as hot. It felt like the universe was offering us a real opportunity. So we decided to take the risk of selling without knowing where we’d end up. An exercise in trust.

The listing went live late on a Monday afternoon and within an hour our agent received enough requests for viewings to fill the next two days, four hours in the morning, four hours in the late afternoon to evening; four visits an hour, for two days. 64 prospective buyers.


We needed to be out of the house that we’d staged according to convention – hiding trash cans and toilet brushes and Kleenex boxes, clearing countertops and table tops; eliminating all evidence of humans living messy lives, clearing the slate for prospective buyers to imagine themselves living in the space.

We were granted a four hour break mid-day to return home, rest a bit, pay the bills, get fed and watered without making a mess and evacuate for the afternoon and evening.

Tuesday morning came too early and felt difficult, not having slept much the night before. We piled into the car in a snowstorm and set out in pandemic times to fill the morning; with no restaurants or shops open, no place to pee, and feeling generally grumpy about the whole deal.

Never mind that the whole deal was of our own making. Texting a friend to express my grumpiness about being homeless while strangers were tromping through our house touching things, he LOLed and replied, “This is what you wanted!”

It didn’t help.

We pulled into a drive through for coffee and a breakfast sandwich I didn’t eat until it was cold. I had a zoom staff meeting to attend and driving while screening makes me car sick.

Tuesday, day one of the house-selling adventure, felt long and arduous and taxing, circling about in the car with nowhere to go and not much to do except not be at home.

At the end of the day, we returned to our house, still full of people who lingered past the designated viewing time. I watched them through the front window from the car, wandering around, taking cell phone photos, turning off all the lights, and TOUCHING EVERYTHING.

It pushed me from tired and grumpy to furious. If this is what I wanted, perhaps my desires should be reviewed.

Our agent texted to say he’d received three offers from the morning viewers.

“ good offers?” I texted back.

His reply: “ No 🙁 ”

Then after a pause “ they will go up 🙂 ”

My grumpy heart was not soothed by this. Nothing ever works out for me. Ever.

Except when it does, but when someone is texting you sad face emojis to dash your hopes for a new house with a real bath tub, it’s hard to remember the good stuff.

Wednesday morning came after a better night’s sleep. The storm had passed, the sun was shining gloriously. Even if the temperature with wind chill was -25C, the car was warm, we had a drive through breakfast with no zoom meeting, and another house for sale on the river to find and fuel the dream.

I’d also baked some errands into the day to fill the time. Online shopping and curb side pickup have become a couple of my best friends in the pandemic. I chose a store location on the outskirts of town to take up as much time getting to and from as possible.

Breakfast and warm coffee in hand, I set the car’s navigation system for the address of the house for sale and we set off down the highway. I remarked how much nav systems had improved over the years.

“You can say that again,” came a voice from the back seat.

My mom’s.

“Doreen, remember the system you had in your car when Janine and I visited you in Abbotsford in 2006?”

“Oh yeah,” my aunt laughed. “That thing was useless. She didn’t know what she was talking about. Didn’t we end up just turning her off? And we got to where we wanted to be anyway! That was such a nice visit. I’m glad you came.”

They leaned towards the front seat to take in the view and marvel at the size of the car’s video console.

I let David know my ancestors were on the drive with us and, to his credit, he didn’t blink an eye.

Which turned out to be a good thing, because his mom piped up from the back seat as well.

“What a beautiful day! Thanks for inviting me along!” David’s mom always loved a drive, and she’d also always preferred the back seat.

I was happy to think that my mom, my aunt and David’s mom had become friends. They hadn’t met each other in life.

In the afternoon, we decided to drive up through the hills to see a house we’d checked out previously. We wanted to see how well the roads were maintained after a heavy snowfall.

The ancestors didn’t join us for the afternoon adventure. Maybe they needed to rest up from the morning ride.

Wednesday felt fun and easy and light compared to the day before, and while we still would have preferred to spend the day at home, lives uninterrupted while people offered us bags of money to buy it from us sight unseen, we were okay with the arrangement.

Noodling to the curbside pickup, back through town with a stop for coffee at a shop we’d found the day before with open rest rooms and friendly staff, over to the opposite side of town for takeout dinners, left us with about half an hour to get home, just when the last viewers would be leaving the house. Perfect timing.

Our agent had texted us one more offer of a little over asking and a happy face. Even if it wasn’t as much as we’d heard other houses went for, we were pleased. We had one visit scheduled for the next morning and we were asked to be available at noon to meet with our agent.

Thursday’s client cancelled at the last minute and before we’d left the house, so we could relax at home, get some work done and wait for our agent to arrive at noon with offers to review.

I expected 4, that it would go quickly and quieted my hungry tummy by telling it we could make lunch when the agent left.

He showed up with a pile of offers. Twelve. Fourteen if you include the amended bids from people who’d upped their offers. Some buyers had included persuasion letters, written to pull on our heart strings and edge us into accepting their offer. Each one needed to be reviewed, considered, sorted and signed, one on the “accept” line and the rest marked “refused.”

More than ten years living in Quebec has taught us everything involves paperwork – a lot of paperwork.

It took a long time, and it soon became apparent to me that our agent had sorted the offers from lowest to highest. We hadn’t gotten a quarter of the way through the pile before the offer of a little over asking was reviewed. That meant the remainder of offers in the pile were higher. And there were a lot of them.

I met David’s gaze over our masks, trying to silently say, “can you believe this?!” with my eyes. His eyes let me know he couldn’t either. I was glad to be sitting down.

In the end, we signed an offer for more that we’d imagined, with no conditions of sale, and even an offer to extend the close date up to four months if we needed to take more time. Who does that?

Days later, I’m still sinking into the idea of abundance and possibility and choice that has opened up for us to pursue our soul goals together.

“Well that was fun!” my aunt exclaimed as we waved goodbye to the agent from the front porch. “Let’s get together again soon. We’re going to have to find them a new house. And the next one’s got to have a real bath tub.” She winked at me.

“I’d like that,” said David’s mom. “Is anybody feeling hungry?”

“Me!” my mom chimed in. “Where can we get some nachos?”