I was recalling this series of events, and got to thinking about neighbors….
I arrived at a seller’s home to get ready for Open House, and discovered that a wall railing on the stairs had gotten pulled a bit loose during a showing earlier that day. I texted the seller (who was out of town) just to give him a heads up. The seller, it seems, then texted his neighbor, because within about 2 minutes, the neighbor (let’s call him Screwdriver Guy, who was also a delightful client of mine) quietly appeared in the family room with his tool box and tightened the loose bracket on the railing. While he was performing this speedy Railing Tune-up, another of my former clients (let’s call him Nice Guy Down the Street) saw my car in the driveway and popped in to say hi… and witnessed the screwdriver repair.
Fast-forward a week. On that day Screwdriver Guy’s house went on the market (yes, these neighbors had both just accepted jobs out of town at the same time!). So I arrived at Screwdriver Guy’s home to get ready for his Open House. As I was turning on lights, Nice Guy Down the Street stuck his head in the front door. He said he was thinking about how Screwdriver Guy had jumped in for that last-minute railing repair at their neighbor’s house the previous week. Nice Guy Down the Street just wanted to let me know that he’d be at home, and if any last-minute needs popped up during this Open House, I could call or text him at any time and he’d be happy to help. Turns out we didn’t end up needing his assistance, but his kind offer meant the world to me…and to his neighbors.
Moral of the Story: I seriously have the nicest clients in the whole wide world!
Other Moral of the Story: Great neighbors rock!
Another story from longer ago: Years ago, my husband and I closed on our first home at the beginning of February. We loved everything about that house…but had no idea we were about to discover more to love. As the weather began to warm a bit, crocuses started to pop up here and there. And there, too! And some sunshine-colored daffodils down there! And a little rainbow of tulips over there! Our new home surprised us over and over again as flowers we had no idea existed, that had been hidden underground, leapt up to delight us. I’ve come to think of this phenomenon as the “New House/First Spring Surprise,” and I’m pretty tickled to think of all my clients who bought houses last winter and are about to enjoy this sweet peek-a-boo game in their own new yards.
But I’ve also concluded sometimes your new neighbors are like crocuses!
While house hunting and eyeballing hardwood floors and quartz countertops and that amazingly flat and usable backyard, we don’t always imagine that the real perk of the house is that it comes with the (surprise!) person down the street who is about to become your new best friend.
We don’t move into a house with our toddler in tow, expecting that in 16 years we’ll be co-hosting a graduation party with the friends-who’ve-become-family next door.
We don’t always imagine the stomach flu that will lay you low…and the neighbor who will show up at your door with Gatorade, while whisking your kids over to her house to play so that you can take a nap.
Many years later I STILL get humbly teary-eyed recalling the neighbor-I-had-not-yet-met who showed up at my front door to hand me a casserole just after the birth of our twins. I had 2 newborns, two other young children…and now I miraculously had a dinner plan!! Which brings me right back to Other Moral of the Story from above: Great neighbors rock! Yup, she had popped up with a casserole and made my day, just like a crocus I didn’t know to expect. Well, a very, very kind crocus, who even graciously included dessert for the bigger kids.
When house hunting, of course, we still have to focus on features we can quantify like the 2-car garage or the spacious walk-in closet. No one can put “awesome neighbors” on their wish list, and expect we can check that box. The new neighbors will just do their crocus thing and pop up to surprise you after you move in. Of course, it is always possible you get a few neighbors who seem a bit more like crabgrass than crocus. Truth. It happens. But honestly, I think it tips way more heavily to the friendly crocus experience.
In community after community, neighborhood after neighborhood, street after street, virtually all of my buyer clients tell me about the awesome folks they’ve found nearby after moving in. The guy who showed up with the giant ladder to help get the kite off the roof. The kids next door who went from being their children’s playmates to seeming soulmates in one week. The person who welcomed them with the info that the adults hang out around a firepit in the cul de sac every weekend (with travel mugs of wine) while the kids play. The unexpected gift of the neighbor who drove them to and from chemo. The person next door who is dramatically better than they were at answering their kid’s late night question about calculus. The teenagers who shovel the walk of their elderly neighbors. The folks who let them know, once Covid passes, they’ll be back to their regular schedule of Dinner Out With the Neighbors, once a week…except in the summer when they do dinner at the neighborhood pool on Thursdays instead. No one buys a house because they imagine the person next door will rescue them when there’s a sudden flat tire and a toddler who has to be picked up at daycare…but flat tires and caring rescues happen, every day of the week. No one expects this stuff, but…crocuses, folks. Crocuses do happen.
I know you may also discover that occasional “crabgrass” neighbor who doesn’t welcome you with casseroles and kindness (and maybe irritates you in 12 legit ways), but my anecdotal evidence suggests that you are going to find some wonderful folks around you. So this is me, admittedly drunken on the joy of seeing the green shoots starting to pop up all over in our garden, wishing you many crocuses in your life…of both the floral and the human varieties!
On Facebook: Laurie Simon Goldman, Sibcy Cline Realtors
Tags: home buyers, neighborhooding, new home
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