Our next door neighbors are selling their house. It’s been on the market for four months and they haven’t had a single offer.
It’s driving me crazy because a) I am ready for them to move out. Their children scream ALL THE TIME. And b) I desperately want a nice family to move in. Preferably one with kids the same age as mine, a shared passion for lawn games and BBQs, and a belief that neighbors make the best babysitters.
I’ve only sold one home, but it sold in 4 days in the middle of a housing slump, so I like to pretend this makes me an authority on the topic of homeselling.
Here’s what I’ve seen plague my neighbor’s home listing, and others.
1. Hide your crap. Come on, people – doesn’t everyone know this one? Apparently not. I went to my neighbor’s open house and was so disappointed to see they had barely bothered to declutter. The desk in their office was awash in papers and files. Their bookshelves were crammed with photos, ugly trinkets and grade A junk.
As a prospective buyer, I don’t want to see your cherished memorabilia, your family photos, or really any evidence of your existence. I want a blank slate so I can imagine my own memories in “my” new house.
Case in point – this is the kitchen of my last house, as it appeared in person and on flyers when the previous owners put it on the market.
Nothing says ‘this home is safe and sound’ like a fire extinguisher on the counter. Can you at least put it under the sink? Or put away the dishes on the rack? Eesh. I think there were still crumbs from their breakfast in the sink. I remember being thoroughly disgusted by it.
Of course we still bought it – but we were young and poor and couldn’t afford the clean, well-marketed homes.
Here’s the same kitchen when we sold it 5 years later.
A bowl of 10 lemons and limes on the counter. How ridiculous! Who has that many on hand? No one. But by golly it looked fresh as a Martha Stewart cookbook and some fool bought the illusion hook, line and sinker.
2. Hide your stink. Last year we were perusing open houses and went to one that supposedly had an amazing water view. The moment we walked in the door my nostrils were assaulted by a smell that can only be defined as fecal. Seriously – it smelled like someone shat on the walls.
The view was probably breathtaking, but I honestly cannot remember because my breath was taken away by the overpowering stench. Instead of looking at the home’s features and imagining the possibilities, my husband and I were looking in every closet and room waiting to find an animal, or maybe a homeless person, taking a dump.
Again – I thought this one would be obvious to everyone, but apparently not. Don’t poop on the carpet when trying to sell. Or if you do poop, at least bake some cookies to mask the stink.
3. Hide your homicide. The other day when we came home there was a car in front of the neighbor’s house with a cute couple checking out the flyer. I could see a kid in the back seat so I couldn’t help but get excited.
“Hi! Howdy! Look – I have kids too! Do you like lawn darts? Let’s be friends!”
Before I had time to bring them some lemonade or offer a foot rub, they drove away. Then I noticed this random shoe lying in front of the house.
Granted, I tend to have an overactive imagination, but a single shoe on the street can only mean one thing – DEAD BODY.
No doubt there was a windowless van speeding away somewhere, carrying a plastic bag filled with body parts . . . minus this shoe.
Is this the impression you want to give?! Pick up the orphaned shoe in the driveway! Put away your duct tape and plastic sheeting. Hide the rat poison in the garage.
Don’t give paranoid freaks like me any reason to recall scenes from Stir of Echoes, or they will hightail it out of there for fear of digging up a corpse in the basement in 6 months.
To recap, the keys to homeselling success are 1) Declutter, 2) Don’t poop, 3) Don’t kill people.
Follow these tips and I’m sure you’ll sell your house instantly.
Disclaimer: I am not a real estate expert and cannot be held responsible if these tips don’t work. That’s your own fault for following the advice of a wacko on the Internet. Shame on you.