Getting a house ready for sale is hard work

Columnist Jen Koski's best advice: Don't ever, ever move from your house. Ever.

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If you’ve been following along these last couple of weeks, you know all about the latest development over at my house: Jay and I are moving "up north." Or, as my Grandpa Haugen would've said, "up nort."

It all happened very quickly. We looked at a house over FaceTime one rainy Thursday afternoon and by Friday we were the new owners of a rural property in Bemidji.

When a person discovers that they’re about to move from the city they’ve called home for 25 years in just six weeks’ time, there are a lot of things that go through her head: Excitement over the new adventure, sure. A reflection on the gravity of that decision, of course. A mental cataloging of the people she’s going to miss, absolutely.

But that all came later. Because the first thing I thought after the initial shock was: “Holy crap, we have to get our house ready to sell — like now.”

Because in order to pay for that Bemidji house, we had to sell our Rochester house.


We knew getting the house ready would be hard work, but we also figured we were halfway there. We had, after all, recently made a bunch of upgrades, like new wood floors, fresh paint, and updated trim. Plus, the boys were off at college, so there were only two of us to clean up after.

But I should know better. Because whether it’s making a trip to Hy-Vee or writing this column, things always take twice as long as I think they will. And when our super-fantastic Realtor came over to offer her advice, we realized that prepping our house would be no exception:

"Can you empty the boys’ bedrooms?"

"Let’s move this couch upstairs."

"I think we should repaint these rooms."

“Let’s replace those light bulbs.”

Jay and I followed behind her with our notebooks like little puppies, scribbling out her missives like she was telling us the secret to life: "Take down the family photos." "Use ammonia to remove grease spots on the stove." "Give up all sleep and sanity for the next two weeks."

She didn't actually say that one. But that's what we did anyway.


I am not lying to you when I say that if I was not at my desk working during the full two weeks it took us to get our house ready, I was working on this house. Jay and I were scrubbing. We were painting. We were filling nail holes. We were boxing up our boys' belongings. We were lying in bed at midnight, saying, "I'm soooo sore."

If you had a conversation with me during those two weeks, I can guarantee you this is how it went:

You: Hey! How’s it going?

Me (grabbing you by the shoulders and staring into your soul): You must never, ever, ever move from your house. Ever.

But, boy, all of that work paid off. This place looked glorious when we were done. Especially after our super-fantastic Realtor came over with the finishing touches: Plants for the bathrooms. Art to replace our family pictures. Matching lamps for our nightstands.

After she finished adding extra throw pillows to our couch, she turned to us and said, "Would you buy it?"

We nodded yes, we would absolutely buy it. Our house looked amazing. But mostly? By that point? We just wanted to sleep in it.

Jennifer Koski is associate editor at Rochester Magazine. Her column appears Tuesdays. Send comments to .

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