The childhood home — the very mention of it stirs up all kinds of memories, both fond and not so fond. This is likely true for everyone.
The home (or homes) that we lived in during our formative years hold such a powerful place in our lives. Decades after moving from my childhood home, I continue to have dreams about it, despite the fact that my parents haven’t lived there in decades as well.
Anytime I walk into a home with dark brown, paper-lined kitchen cabinets, harvest gold linoleum with appliances to match and a border of complementary (or not so complementary) wallpaper filling the space between the ceiling and the cabinets; it all comes rushing home. Pardon the pun.
The smell of burnt toast, ironing starch, musty fabric, used books, and pulp paper and ink from the yellow pages are all the nostalgic smells that push me back into a world of Body on Tap shampoo, and pink sponge curlers. I am instantly flooded with memories of sitting outside a locked bathroom door, one of nine children awaiting my turn in the one shared bathroom; or burrowed into my yellow beanbag chair behind the hope chest in my wood-paneled, shared bedroom, reading Little House on the Prairie or C.S. Lewis. The sights, the smells, the sounds, the textures and even the taste of the now stale air.
Personally, I couldn’t go back and live in my childhood home again. However, that is not true for everyone. A few weeks ago, I was contacted by a potential seller. Their parents had passed away and they needed to sell the home. We set up a game plan, including a date to go live. I scheduled the pictures and awaited the completion of carpet and paint.
Yesterday my client called me to let me know that her son wanted to purchase the home. He had been looking at a home for several months and, like the majority of buyers right now, had been beaten out on several offers. In his situation, with limited cash on hand and a lower maximum qualification amount for purchase price, there was little chance of him getting into a home anytime soon. It didn’t make sense to sell this home to someone else. This would work perfectly for him.
The sellers knew that they were forgoing an offer way above ask price, but this was money that already was not theirs in the first place before their parents passed away, so they were not doing anything at a loss by a long shot. Everyone agreed. I would still help see them through the process to be sure everything was legal; we just wouldn’t list it. It is their house, so they can do that.
Granted, this buyer is one generation removed from “the childhood home.” This home, while holding some nostalgic and emotional connection for him, was not the home that he grew up in. The walls of this home did not hold his stories. He could create his own here.
This is not the only occasion where a child, when coming into adulthood, purchases the home they grew up in from the parent or parents (or more accurately, the trust … refer to last week’s article). It happens, and with the housing shortage right now, we are seeing more of it.
New stories can be written on the walls of an existing home; new sounds, new sights, new smells and new textures (meaning, remove the asbestos-covered ceiling — those sparkles I used to play with have since been proven toxic).
In the process of purchasing a home from a family member, whether posthumously or pre-mortem, it is imperative that it is done correctly. Although a handshake (or elbow bump, as the case may be in our “new normal”) may have sufficed in the past, it is no longer that simple. If the home is not transferred over in the correct fashion, it may end up being taken away. Ensuring a clear title and properly filling out and filing the appropriate paperwork can absolve the trust or its executors of legal errors that may inadvertently result from someone unfamiliar with the process. A trusted and experienced Realtor is still essential.
Although I don’t live in my childhood home, my house still often smells like burnt toast and I still have C.S. Lewis and Laura Ingalls Wilder on my bookshelf. However, my current home has an abundance of bathrooms (although toilet paper is still in short supply), and I don’t even own an iron, let alone the starch that accompanies it. That being said, if I could find some Body on Tap shampoo, I would still be using it and my hair would smell terrific.