what’s a home worth?
In an effort to save money, and in recognition of this family being more firmly settled than I had previously embraced, we are going through the process of refinancing our home. We’ve lived here five years now, and the market looks vastly different today than it did when we purchased this house. As part of all of this, this week I timidly welcomed an appraiser in to inspect every nook and cranny and calculate the worth of our home.
We had been burned before in this process a few years back, and eager not to make the same mistakes twice we scurried around preparing this time. All of a sudden my eyes were drawn to all the imperfections that I have grown accustomed to. The kitchen cabinets, though primed, have never made it past that stage as other, more pressing projects took precedence. The plans for our gardens never quite made it into the budget this year, and we are left with a crop of weeds out back. They say that dust bunnies and dishes in the sink shouldn’t affect value, but how can these things not sway one’s judgement of a space?
And what about the window? We have this window in our bathroom that my husband broke wielding a very large and awkward piece of drywall — two years ago! Yes, for the past two years, this window has been lovingly patched together with stategically placed glorious duct tape. Honestly, I’m not sure the insulating value is much different than the rest of our original-to-the-house sixty-year-old single pane windows. But there it is: in all it’s puzzle-piece glory, behind shutters that are almost never open. (Why, you ask, has it not been fixed properly? Well, we were going to replace all of our windows, and then didn’t, and it is so easy to forget that it’s there….) Clearly, we had our work cut out for us.
We spent our weekend taking inventory, and trudging through lists. A bizarre October snow storm kept us company, and may have been a blessing, really. If that precipitation had been rain, I’m sure our basement could not have contained it’s tell tale signs of weakness, and I would have been showing the appraiser our puddles. Plus, the snow blanketed so many of our weeds, giving them a beauty that is not their own. But that pesky window did not get fixed.
Lying in bed the night before the appraisal, I had images of our home failures running through my head. That morning, I ran around picking up toys and hiding laundry in closets, trying to get my house to sparkle. When the appraiser arrived, I handed her a stack of comparable houses that I had found, and set about giving her the tour of our house. And an amazing thing happened.
Instead of being haunted by all of the flaws I could see, the more I talked to the appraiser, the more pride I had in what we have done. Do you remember the carpet that was in the kitchen? (Carpet! In a kitchen!) Well, before the Eldest was born we ripped it all out and laid down a new tile floor. The Little Ones’ room upstairs is really a gem, and nobody forgets what our bathroom used to look like! Slowly, bit by bit, we’ve been making this house our home. Our fingerprints are all over it. It has not happened quickly, and there are always unexpected, less glamorous projects that absorb more time and money than we’d like. This, though, is our place of living out family life, day by day, together. By the end of the appraisal, I was glowing, babes trailing me around the house, as we told the tale of our family in this space.
I’m not sure what the appraiser will see. I’m not sure if she noticed the broken window, or the missing pieces of trim. It’s a numbers game for sure, and little of the narrative that I gave will influence how she appraises our house. But it made me realize that while, yes, in the real world of numbers and budgets, we’d like to see our house hit a certain mark. But in my heart, deep in my soul of daily living, I know what this home is worth. I am thankful for this house that is our home.