You want to sell your home fast, and you want to sell it for top dollar. After all, it’s the epitome of perfection, right? Well, maybe. But could you perhaps be seeing your home through the unobjective, loving eyes of the beholder? Are your rose-tinted glasses distorting some much-needed repairs and disguising them as “character”?
I recently (yesterday) had the distinct pleasure of showing homes to a first-time buyer in her early 30’s. She’s smart, savvy, and knows what to look for in a property. She’s financially stable, crunches numbers like a wildebeest savoring bones for brunch, and she doesn’t live beyond her means. Respect. Welcome to the new millennial. She has an eye for design elements. Architectural detail is not wasted on her and she appreciates and embraces the art of the quirk. That said, let me share with you what we saw. It was a successful day, (we found her dream home), but the journey was long. Not in the sense of time, but rather in the mental processing of the cornucopia of alarming and downright frightening conditions of some of the properties. I feel compelled to provide this to you in list form:
· The only things that should be plugged in are electronics. Plug-in style air fresheners (and most of the free-standing ones) under $10.00 do not smell nice. Do not think for one hot minute that we cannot smell the mildewed carpet that you are trying to mask with that artificial cherry scent that I can taste (and not in a good way) when I inhale. This home had one in every crevice of the kitchen and living areas – we counted 18. Nobody wants their home smelling like fake fruit. The home should smell fresh and clean, with natural scents. If you want fruit, go with citrus – think lemon, orange, and grapefruit essential oil or candles, and spend a little more for the good ones.
· Duct tape. There is no place for this in staging a home for sale. This home had some being used as a transition strip between the tile and the carpet. This is not OK.
· Does your home have flooding issues? Only when it rains? Well, guess what? It was raining yesterday. We looked at a charming Mary Poppins-esque dollhouse on a lovely, tree-lined street. Walking up to the door, we waded through ankle-deep standing water. I swung like Tarzan from a thick tree branch to get to the front door, and my client (a client in a walking cast, at that) maneuvered through it like she was on Survivor. It was fodder for a good laugh and a good story, but that sweet home lost its charm quite quickly. Gutters are a great investment, and if you have areas that are muddy - please throw down some sod.
· 50 Shades of Lighting. We saw bulbs in the kitchens and bath vanities ranging from fluorescent (never flattering) to warm/soft incandescent, bright LED/daylight, and the list goes on. All in the same room. What this creates is an unsettling, unattractive effect of what looks like the blue-light special of days gone by. The sequel to this would be rope lighting. We saw it tucked into a recessed, coiffured ceiling treatment. It was a pink-ish white color, and it ruined the brilliance of the newly renovated kitchen. We aren’t running a brothel, people. This is real estate. Let’s please stick with neutral soft white light, and let’s buy all the bulbs in bulk so that they match.
· That flea market find you procured twenty years ago in college? You know the one - the oval, wood-veneered dinette table with the straw ladderback chairs? Did you decide to stage a little vignette using that set and a vase of flowers and that plastic tablecloth to protect the table? Is there also a single office chair in the entryway to symbolize how the space could be used? Did you put the colorful ceramic rooster on the kitchen island to greet visitors of the open house? I truly admire your efforts. I really do. That is precisely why I feel a bit of remorse when I say, you are fired! Please pack up these personal treasures and leave these rooms vacant. Stores do not carry inventory that isn’t in current demand (unless we are specifically going for vintage), so you shouldn’t either. Less is more, and when in doubt, remove it altogether. Oh, and please pack up the curio of 500 Precious Moments figurines. They look like they are staring at me.
· Your moose head is also staring at me. His mouth is open and stuck in the same position it was in when you shot him. Please – pack up the taxidermy trophies until you move to the next home. Yes, it’s kinda cute that the antlers of the deer in the child’s room are holding pink hairbows…until the prospective client’s kid goes into hysterics when she leans into it on accident.
· Why don’t your bed linens match? The 80’s called and wants its plaid flannel duvet cover back. And while we are on this subject…is that even a bed? No, it is a pallet several layers thick, of random blankets stacked up like Princess and the Pea. This is cute for a kids’ sleepover, not when you are marketing a house to grown adults. Never underestimate the value of simple, plain white bedding. It will bring you offers! Mark my words.
· No. Your pet boa constrictor has got to go. I know he’s in a cage (it’s hard to miss), but he has to go. Send Rikki Tikki on a staycation until we get the house sold. I know he eats the rats. I saw two of them in the garage that he missed. Let’s exterminate while we are at it.
· Thank you so much for diligently going all around the house and touching up the paint where it was needed. You do realize that you used the wrong color and the wrong finish, right?
· Now for the pièce de résistance! I am going to need you to take the stripper pole down for the showings. It’s nice if you teach dance classes, really. It’s just not going to create the ambiance needed. Oh…this was a former firehouse? Well, why didn’t you say so? My mistake. Carry on.
Fellow agents and potential seller clientele, please…I beg of you…do NOT let that sign go in the yard until you are certain that your home is worthy. I know it’s daunting and that the timeframe from now until you are actually sitting at the closing table seems overwhelming, but it really isn’t. Give
yourself a checklist of things to do, check them off daily, and make sure to give yourself a deadline. Stick to it. It will feel good to have accomplished your goal. Also, please know that the little details will add value to your home, and most likely will equate to a monetary gain. And that sign? It is a direct reflection on both you and your agent or broker. It’s your offering to the world at large. Your home is your signature style, much like the clothes you wear or the fancy hairstyle you sport (perhaps pre-COVID isolation). Make it a good one. Make it the best one. We will notice.