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When you buy a new-to-you home, foremost on your mind is changing everything to make it yours. You paint the inside and even remodel the kitchen. A priority is removing the old carpet and installing new flooring. Lower on the list are changes to the exterior, but they are on the list. If you bought the house from family or people known to you, they might want to come check out the changes you’ve made. Sometimes, though, you notice a former owner driving by, and because you don’t know them, you don’t know what to think.
Should You Worry?
It’s doubtful. People move from a home for many reasons. Sometimes, it’s because they’ve improved their income and moved to a bigger home. Other times, the move was due to financial hardship, divorce or death. In the case of the latter three, the former owner naturally needs a time of grieving to deal with their loss and the home may represent a place of happiness for them. Or, it may be a reminder of their lost spouse or family member. Some folks like to drive by the homes they’ve lived in merely because they’ve moved away and are home for a visit. If the former owner built the house, seeing it may evoke a sense of pride that something they created still stands and shelters another family. If the house belonged to their grandparents or parents, they may simply need to see it to be in contact with their roots now and again. Humans form an emotional attachment to their homes and, even though they’ve moved on, might find it hard letting go.
Some families stay in the same neighborhood when they move so that children remain in the same school. Or, they may still have family and friends in the neighborhood, so driving past is incidental. It could simply be happenstance that they must drive past the old home to get to the new.
Does It Matter?
It might be worth your time to meet them and find out. They may have stories about the house that inform how you proceed with a remodel. What you thought of as an odd niche may be a boarded up dumbwaiter or fireplace. Each tree in the yard may have been planted at the birth of a child. Knowing your home’s history might give you a sense of its place in the community and even make it more valuable when you go to sell it.
If you feel unsafe, for any reason, contact the police. There’s likely no cause for concern. In fact, you may find yourself doing the same thing when you move away. Make the effort to change a few things like painting the front door a vibrant color. Or, change out the garage door. Rearrange the flowerbeds and plant some bushes or a hedge. The more it visibly becomes your home, the less it will seem like theirs.
If you’d like to meet the former owners, talk to your real estate agent to see if they can arrange a meeting for you. Who knows, they might have a wealth of information that saves you from renovation mistakes down the line.