I am a residential Realtor in Summit and have helped hundreds of families and individuals negotiate the sale of their homes over the past 16 years.

Today, however, I was sent a picture which made even the seasoned pro in me think more deeply about the significance of selling one’s home. The picture I received in my inbox showed a huge yellow bulldozer perched in the middle of a large, debris-filled yard, the only remaining evidence that a house had stood in its spot previously -- the brick front steps, now leading to nowhere.

I thought about the family whose home it had once been, and the memories that were made there. The holiday dinners, the family gatherings, the fights, the love, the traditions, bringing in the groceries, hauling away the trash, taking the bikes off the rack and going for a ride, settling the Christmas presents under the tree. The lives that were lived in that house were at the forefront of my thoughts when I viewed the picture and, at the same time, seemed irrevocably lost. It was as if the people had died with the house.   

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When a house is torn down, there is a certain sense of finality. It is like a death. It is a home that once was, but is no longer. We tell ourselves that the new home that will rise in its place will be even more beautiful, and even more memorable; that it will adapt to the surroundings and create a new beginning for yet another new family.

Perhaps it is because this home belonged to me and my family that the visual of the now vacant land seemed less like progress and more like loss.  

When we had made the decision to sell our home to a builder with the knowledge it would be torn down, many friends had asked how we felt and, although we knew in our heads that it would be sad for us, the reality of it didn’t hit our hearts until the picture hit my inbox.

Philosophy aside, at the most basic level, this experience has given me even more empathy for the losses we all feel when we close our doors for the final time, hand the keys over and hope that the journey ahead is full of outcomes better than we had ever anticipated for everyone concerned.

Jane Johanson
Summit, New Jersey