I promised my Facebook friends that I would tell the story of how we sold our Kalamazoo, MI, house (named Serenity) after the closing last Thursday, Feb. 10, 2011. So why not share the saga with the readers of 100Memoirs.com also? The buying and selling of real estate in the current market is not for the faint of heart. So we feel blessed that Serenity has a new owner and that we can breathe a sigh of relief here in Virginia.

The process was long, complicated, disappointing at times, but ultimately satisfying.  We are happy for the new owner and hope he will enjoy our former neighborhood as much as we did! Here’s the story:

In July, for a variety of reasons, we felt an inner call to move “back east”–closer to our families.  In mid-August, we traveled to Harrisonburg, Va., for some meetings and informally canvassed some of the neighborhoods for “for sale” signs. We spotted one house in Park View that piqued our interest and looked at it with a realtor a day or two later.

Although we had not made any specific plans to move, we decided that we would take some steps to begin the house selling process. We had been successful in selling three previous houses on our own, and we thought we should try this route one more time. We ordered an appraisal, bought some yard signs, created a web album to showcase Serenity’s strengths visually, and rented some web space on “forsalebyowner.”  We told our neighbors and friends about our intent to sell and invited them to tell their friends. We had some expressions of interest and a few showings, but no offers that we considered viable.

Meanwhile in early October, we traveled again to Virginia and Pennsylvania. We looked at still more homes for sale and made a repeat visit to the Harrisonburg house that had caught our eye in August. It was still available.  Within two weeks, we decided to move to Virginia and made an offer on the house that had appealed so strongly to us. It was quickly accepted.

Suddenly, we were the presumptive owners of two houses.  Within a couple of weeks, we decided to abandon our for-sale-by-owner plans and contracted with a Kalamazoo realtor. Here are the crucial next steps:

We “let the market speak to us” and lowered our price under the appraisal.

  1. We listened to feedback from the half-dozen or so potential buyers who visited our house (as relayed by our realtor).
  2. We had all the carpets professionally cleaned, and a professional painter did touch-up work.
  3. We rejected one offer and then “let the market speak to us” again and lowered our price even more.
  4. At this stage, Shirley again posted a link to the web album and our new selling price on Facebook. She used the photo web album that we had painstakingly created when we were trying the forsalebyowner route.
  5. One of our neighbors posted this new information Facebook, and one of her friends – who said he checks FB about once a month – happened to see the posting. He loved the photos, visited the house the next day and, soon thereafter, made an offer which we accepted.

So, you see, social media does have a reach and can have real impact on people’s lives! Within six weeks of choosing our realtor, the market spoke to us, and a buyer materialized.

But I have to think something, some One, else was speaking to us also. In these exchanges of homes, spiritual energy is moving from one family’s story to another’s. We stand in awe of the dance of change one more time.

What experiences have you had in buying or selling properties–especially in the current challenging market?

Shirley Showalter


  1. DazyDayWriter on February 15, 2011 at 10:17 pm

    Serenity would be tough to leave behind, Shirley, but I totally “get” the urge to follow one’s heart and instincts. And you had a stroke of luck in the buying/selling process that is always a sign that things are moving in the right direction. When we left Indianapolis the market had definitely slowed, so it took about 6 months to sell, and the new owners wanted possession in 7 days! Cash deal. We negotiated 2 weeks, but it was a scramble moving cross-country in 2 weeks. Luckily, we had been looking in Dakota, so it worked out somehow. Destiny calling or just a throw of the dice? Your homes both look lovely. Enjoy the change of scenery; it can be such an inspiration! –Daisy

    • shirleyhs on February 17, 2011 at 12:04 pm

      So you found your Sunny Studio in the midst of a scramble? That’s when we really need our intuition. Thanks for sharing your story. I think these decisions and processes are fascinating. They even feel miraculous at times, don’t they?

  2. Richard Gilbert on February 17, 2011 at 3:49 am

    Great post, Shirley. You better give your new house a GREAT name, cuz Serenity, well, that’s hard to top. Maybe More Serenity? Endless Serenity. The Real Serenity.

    We put our farm and house up for sale in the teeth of the awful market a couple years ago. The first people who looked at it made a pretty good offer, and we took it. No one else looked at it. It was like when we’d sold our previous house 13 years before. That realtor, too, told us we had a “unique property,” no way, really, to price it or to estimate interest.

    We’re always done things the hard way with houses, creating places from scratch. I am too tired to do that again, I think. But it has paid.

  3. shirleyhs on February 17, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    Not a bad epitaph: He created two livable spaces from scratch. 🙂 It does take a lot of work, and it’s always comforting to think that others are going to benefit from the effort. In the meantime, we get to enjoy being surrounded by the things that matter to us in a place where we can entertain the people who matter to us. Remember Edgar Guest??!!
    “It takes a heap o’ livin’ to make a house a home”?http://sofinesjoyfulmoments.com/quotes/heapoliv.htm

    Thanks for sharing your story!

  4. jzrart on February 17, 2011 at 11:03 pm

    Shirley, I have story too, but it’s not as happy as yours. Will eventually write about it once it is settled in the courts! By the way, you are living just over the mountains from me. If you ever get to Charlottesville look me up!!


  5. shirleyhs on February 17, 2011 at 11:17 pm

    Joan, sorry you have a bad house selling experience. When you have written about it, come back here and leave a URL. Let all the stories be told!

    I do hope to get to Charlottesville, but it may take a while. So much to do right here for now!

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