By Eileen and David Coates

One of the least glamorous aspects of building a new house is the joy of having to sell an existing one; and, in our case, also of bridging the gap between the sale of the old and the creation of the new by camping in our condo overlooking the third fairway on the Bald Mountain course in Rumbling Bald Resort.

We are well used to the joys of combining a house 150 miles away with our condo here – a combination that absolutely guarantees that whatever piece of domestic equipment is urgently needed, it is always in the residence you happen not to be in at the time. We cannot tell you on how many occasions, in supermarkets across the state, we have not bought some vital ingredient for the night’s supper, thinking we already had it; only to discover that in fact, yes, we did have it (at the other place) and no, we didn’t have it here. Our recent solution – bulk buying whenever in doubt. We have currently cornered the entire North Carolina supply of paper towels, on the principle that “better safe than sorry!” If your supermarket is short, it’s likely our fault.

When you have to sell a house now overflowing with paper towels, two things immediately happen. One is that you join the army of renters of storage units, and become an expert at piling possessions you had forgotten you ever had, not to mention more paper towels than you need, higher and higher – because empty space is wasted space. There is no point renting air in a cave (or a storage unit). We call ours “Aladdin”. The more we visit Aladdin, the more we ask ourselves – not simply when did we buy all this stuff, but increasingly “why?”

The other thing you do is surrender control of your house to a realtor so that they can first stage your house and then (hopefully) sell it for you. The term ‘staging’ is entirely appropriate here. It’s like going to the theater. The first thing you do when facing the stage is suspend disbelief. Likewise, with the staging of the house.

“Everything out,” was the instruction. “Off with it to the storage unit. Bring in the photographer. Let him make magic.” The current result on our realtor’s website is a set of pictures of a house so beautiful that we now wonder why we are selling it in the first place. The house was always lovely, but the pictures flatter to deceive. What is the penalty for fraud?

We are in the middle of all that now. Awash with paper towels, the proud owners of an immaculately clean house with very little furniture and an overloaded Aladdin’s cave. All we need now is the genie. Don’t hold your breath. If he turns up, or more likely the house sells, we’ll let you know!