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When home owners do NOT want to be home sellers

by Neil Jenman

Article written and provided by Neil Jenman from Jenman.com.au . To see the original source of this article please click here. https://jenman.com.au/the-tragedy-of-the-18-stairs/. Neil Jenman is Australia’s trusted consumer crusader. He can support you, all the way, from choosing an agent who will get you the highest price guaranteed to when your removalist comes! You get an unprecedented level of total support. All for free. To find out more visit jenman.com.au

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Like many real estate stories, this one has touched my heart.

Alf and May have lived in their home since they fell in love and got married in 1968.

That’s 55 years.

May was 19 when Alf, at 22, carried her up the steep entrance steps and across the threshold of their home sweet home. 18 steps in total – no sweat for a young man who once carried bags of wheat weighing 80 kilos.

As with many elderly folks in similar situations, their home is filled with memories. From the wail of new babies, the tantrums of toddlers, the first days of school, sporting events and those torrid teenage years, it’s all behind them.

Like all families, they’ve had their challenges. But all in all, life has been pretty good. More glad than sad.

Until now.

Now they are selling their home. And it’s breaking their hearts.

“We have to sell,” said May as she leans towards Alf who looks sheepish, like a prisoner resigned to his fate.

When they got married, they promised each other – like a wedding vow – that they’d live in their home forever. Their entire lives. “They’ll carry us out in a box,” we both said.

To be sure, their home is no mansion. By today’s standards, it’s “basic”.

“It’s even older than us,” said May with a sad smile.

Neither of them gets upset that their home needs a lot of work. They don’t complain that their finances struggle to keep up with the maintenance.

As Alf often jokes, he and May need a lot of work too.

They don’t make homes like theirs anymore and they don’t make many people like Alf and May either. Good and decent honest folk. The sort befitting the title “salt of the earth”.

So why sell? What happened to that promise to stay for life?

The steps, that’s what happened.

Those 18 wooden steps, worn down by millions of footsteps, are as strong as the day they were installed.

The same can’t be said for Alf and May.

Especially May.

Tragically, due to age and ill health, she can’t walk up those steps anymore.

And, of course, at 77, Alf can’t carry her.

May has not been out of the house for seven weeks.

To see Alf come home carrying shopping up those steps – one foot after another, one step at a time, head down, determined to look after his beloved wife – is a touching sight.


At Jenman Support, our aim is to protect home sellers and make sure they sell for the best price with the least possible costs.

But one aim overrides all others. We want people to be happy.

There are many people, just like Alf and May, who do not want to go from home owners to home sellers. They are the forced sellers, often dealing with tragedy in their life.

And this is why I always ask what seems like a forward (even impolite) question.

The question is this: Why are you selling?

Selling a home is one of the three most stressful events in life. But here’s where it gets worse: The reason for selling a home is often another stressful event – such as ill health, relationship breakdown or financial problems. There are many reasons why owners become sellers.

I cannot state how serious I am about the goal of happiness for people with whom I speak. Sure, if they keep their homes instead of selling, it means Jenman Support earns no income.

But that’s another story.

The story of one’s life should be about doing good for others. It may sound corny or old-fashioned – and sure, there are plenty of cynics – but anyone who has spent any time speaking with me (or my colleagues, especially my wife and son) will often be astounded that we truly do walk our talk. Your happiness is indeed our priority.

In my real estate life, I have often been told that I “care too much”. Or that I am “commercially unrealistic”.

But how can anyone care too much for people like Alf and May? To just look at them is to believe in goodness. It’s to feel inspirational about our communities, our country, even our world.

To see such good people own a home and struggle to keep it maintained is tough enough. To see them forced to sell because May, now an elderly lady, can’t walk up the entrance steps, is heartbreaking.


Where some people see problems, I see challenges. I search for solutions.

As my friend Jim Grigoriou says, “There is a solution to every problem. All it takes is the intelligence to find it and the courage to implement it.”

So, what’s the solution for Alf and May? How can they keep their home?

Simple. Get a stairlift. One of those elevator-chairs.

But they are expensive. Alf and May don’t have much money.

Okay, then we’ll have to find someone who’s got the money, right?


Yesterday, Monday September 18, I contacted Alf and May. I told them that, because of contacting Jenman Support for help selling their home, we could not help them.

To sell, that is.

But we can help them to stay.

We found a donor.

Yes, someone willing to fund the cost of a stairlift for this gorgeous couple. There are no conditions. This person – someone known to us – is part of a group that helps people who truly deserve help, especially if they need saving from a tough situation or circumstances beyond their control. The group is called ‘SAVE’. It stands for ‘Some Australians Value Ethics’.

They do have one condition: They seek no personal publicity. They remain anonymous. Giving is not true giving if you seek publicity.

Sure, it’s not possible to “save” everyone.

But it is possible to save Alf and May.

It was one of the highlights of my year yesterday to tell this lovely couple – especially May who is housebound, like a prisoner in her own home – that they can now keep their home.

No one should be forced to sell a home they love. Just ask May. Tears of joy flowed through their home night last night.


At Jenman Support, you have my permanent promise: We will do all we can to increase your happiness, not dollars for us. Sure, we need funds, as does everyone. But money is not our priority.

Our priority is your happiness. Always has been – always will be.

Alf and May have lived in their home since they fell in love and got married in 1968.

That’s 55 years.

They can now live in their home for the rest of their lives.