Sometimes life’s circumstances force us to leave a home we love but it doesn’t have to be an undignified event.

Move in day is supposed to be the most exciting day in the real estate transaction. Signing the final documents is up there but really, the fun begins when you get your key. You wait weeks, if not months, to move into your dream home and while you are waiting, the anticipation builds. The packing, loading of the truck, and gathering of friends to help with the move all contribute to the excitement. You imagine where you’re going to put the sofa, and how you will angle the dining room table. What you don’t expect is to arrive at your new abode only to find the previous homeowner sitting there, not wanting to leave. It is precisely in these kind of circumstances that who your Realtor is matters, whether he remains in touch and concerned after he’s received his commission, or he’s nowhere to be found.

I say this without guile because this exact situation happened to us. Everything went smoothly with the sale of our home and the purchase of our new one. There weren’t any a clues or signs that things were not going to go as planned. But then there we found ourselves standing at our new front door, with a team ready to move us in, staring at the previous owner. He wasn’t ready to leave and while all his stuff was packed up in the basement, it was clear that we had a situation on our hands. We couldn’t move in, until he moved all his stuff out first, but he was all alone with no one to help him. It didn’t help that the basement looked like a scene from “Hoarders”.

So, there we stood: me, my sister, and six big, male friends who had volunteered their time to help us. We were all livid and ready to punch the guy on the nose. But we didn’t. Instead, we called Reece. We needed calmer heads to prevail and he was the solution to the brewing storm.

Reece showed up and made the very realistic point that if we wanted to move in, we were better off to lend a hand to get this gentleman’s stuff out of the house. We all pitched in and started to help move his boxes out of the basement and put them on the lawn. The whole display started to create a disturbance, with neighbours complaining, traffic starting to back up, and with every passing hour, nerves fraying. Once again, Reece came to the rescue. He personally spoke to the neighbours to ease their frustration and promised to wrap it up within a couple of hours.

The trucks arrived in short order and were quickly filled with the previous homeowner’s things, but he still had more ‘stuff’ in the basement. By this point in the day, it was late and my six big male friends had places to be and families to see, so we called it a night, agreeing to reconvene and finish up the next day. When the homeowner didn’t show up the next day to deal with all the remaining things, we called 1-800-Got-Junk to pick it all up and dispose of it all. Again, Reece to the rescue: he paid to have all this stuff hauled away.

As it turned out, the guy was apparently sleeping in his car on someone’s driveway. The neighbours said he grew up in this house, his parents had passed away, and his sister had forced him to sell it. She wanted her share from the sale and, though he didn’t want to sell, he couldn’t afford to buy her out. I can’t imagine what that must have felt like: to be forced out of your childhood home after your parents had passed away. ‘Devastating’ comes to mind… Ultimately though, it wasn’t any of our business and while we felt badly for seeing him in this predicament, there was little we could do. We had already given up the keys to our previous house and had a truck full of boxes, waiting to be unloaded.

When I thought about it later, I realized that I wouldn’t have known what to do if Reece hadn’t been there and willing to help us out. While we were fuming at the situation, he remained calm and composed. While we were at a loss as to how to manage the move, Reece took action. If I hadn’t had him to work with on this real estate transaction, it could have gone very badly.

It is precisely because buying a home is the single biggest financial transaction most of us will ever participate in that it’s hard to look at situations like this objectively; it’s hard not to see a home, instead of a house. That’s why a realtor like Reece, with his relaxed demeanor and a sincere interest in the well being of his clients, was invaluable. After the move was over, he continually ‘checks in’ and make sure everything is okay.

Lily and Loretta* (names changed to protect the previous homeowner’s identity)