When George died Marilyn knew it was time to execute “the plan”. It was time to sell the loved family home and find her new life at a local assisted living facility. To say this was a hard transition is an understatement.
I have known and loved the McGinnis family for years.
I was acquainted with them through Church, but I got to know them on my regular rounds through the neighborhood. I always made sure I had extra time when I knocked on their door- George would often invite me in and tell me stories of whatever he was studying at the moment. It might be Middle East politics, oil prices, fracking, or maybe an ancient parable in the Bible. Anything was fair game as George was a perpetually curious person.
When George and Marilynn first moved into Bruce Ave as newly weds, the home was a modest one story home. George personally designed and supervised the second story expansion. He was one of most senior Disney Imagineers and was used to designing complex rides and attractions. A house expansion was a snap. A local architect friend looked over all of George’s blueprints and marveled at the detail and expertise.
When I started visiting, Marilyn and George knew it would make sense to sell at some point- the home was too large to easily maintain. We would meet periodically to talk about logistics, home values, and general home selling questions, but the meeting always ended the same, “Great info, we’ll let you know when we are ready!” I never minded in the least- my Mom went through a similar journey.
It isn’t about selling a home- it is about closing a chapter on a part of your life.
Sadly, George’s health started to decline and it became difficult for Marilyn to handle everything. Her children rallied around and with their help, Marilyn and George were able to stay in the house for a few more years. We had more meetings, but now I had them with Marilyn and the grown children. We explored all sorts of options to meet the couple’s changing needs- their home represented a huge part of their assets, but it was also integral to the family’s identity.
When George passed away Marilyn was finally able to let go. It was partly financial- even though the home was fully paid, taxes and upkeep would eventually erode her retirement funds. But it was also practical. The grown children were moving further away and couldn’t help with the home like they had before. It was time to put 1344 Bruce in the market.
Marilyn moved to a retirement community and they allowed her to delay the buy in costs and just pay the monthly fees during the marketing and sales process. This is a fairly standard accommodation in retirement communities with a “buy” option. This meant that the only financial time pressure on Marilyn was her comfort with both the house maintenance costs coupled with her“rent” at the retirement community.
However, finances change after the death of your spouse.
Pension payments can change or stop altogether. Social Security payments change. In my parent’s case, health coverage changed dramatically after the death of my Dad. If you are not prepared (and I find that many are not), you can feel financial pressure- if only because things are different from your previous lifestyle.
In order to get on the market quickly, the family decided against a full DIGGS Transformation.
It was more important to sell the home for a fair price relatively quickly so that Marilyn could start the healing process as soon as possible. They also selected a price that seemed a tad below the “fair market” price. Although the home was large, it is surrounded by smaller homes- similar comparable homes sales were hard to find.
The DIGGS Staff did our complimentary “Fluff and Puff” service and the family worked hard over two weeks to declutter and rearrange. Our awesome DIGGS photographer, Cameron Carothers, produced stunning photography and we were off to the races.
The most popular homes in today’s market are move in ready homes with a WOW factor.
Well maintained homes are just not as in demand, even if they represent a better value. After three weeks on the mark, we had one, very well qualified offer, but it was lower than the family wanted. Marilyn, however, was tired of the process and, after a relatively minor counter offer, we agreed on a price and entered escrow.
Escrow was smooth and 30 days later the transition was complete.
It was a long and difficult journey for the McGinnis family. I was completely impressed with how they all banded together to achieve the goal of Marilyn’s peace of mind. Just before the close of exscrow the kids had a birthday party at the home, and I saw a tear or two here and there. It was to be expected.
A chapter in their lives was closing, but a new one was just beginning- for them, for Marilyn, and for 1344 Bruce.
Marilyn is nicely settled in at Windsor Manner, a popular assisted living facility in Glendale, CA. She made enough money from the sale of Bruce to purchase a spacious two bedroom unit in the newer part of the building. She uses the second room as her “office” and plans to get back to writing- Marilyn is a published and accomplished writer.
As always, thanks to DIGGS Tribe Member Steve O’Bryan- street photographer extraordinarie- for his great photos of the Harrisons. Follow Steve at www.smacksmog.com.