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New: Live Like You Were Selling

Posted on Apr 15, 2007

A seller and I may work together for weeks (sometimes months) to prepare their property for the market. This is more work for the seller than for me obviously: decongesting closets that are busting at the hinges, getting the kids to put their clothes on hangers, painting a few spots that were missed because of large furniture, and fixing the hole in the drywall that was borne out of a misbegotten re-enactment of WrestleMania. When it’s ready for me to step in I schedule the cleaning, followed by the staging, followed by… [insert obligatory surprise service that is needed due to revealing nature of the prior events – carpet cleaning for spots that were covered by a rug for the last five years, handyman services for remembering that the large picture you didn’t like was placed only to cover several holes that were created in an attempt to prove that you didn’t need a studfinder, etc].

When all is said and done, I stand back with the seller and peruse the fruits of our labor: the floors are clean, the rooms are uncluttered and tastefully decorated, unsightly blemishes have been covered with designer paint, and the home even smells inviting. I look toward the seller with a smile, satisfied that we’re finally ready for market, and then they say the inevitable: “Why didn’t it always look this good? I want to live HERE!”

It’s true – I’ve seen it happen on almost every listing I’ve had, and still, I can see our own home creeping toward this same realization. As homeowners we attack our home with zeal after the initial purchase, ready to implement the changes we envisioned when we first walked through our eventual domicile. Over time this zeal fades and we become more sedentary – leaving things within easy reach rather than putting things away – compiling until they’re categorized into piles, where (over time) they become part of the floor plan. Eventually a relative threatens a visit, and we’re forced into stashing our piles into corners of the house that we consider “hidden.” In reality, every corner of our house is already utilized, so closets become unmanageable and rooms become impassable.

I usually see people on both ends of this process: from the wide-eyed potential-laden looks of my buyers to the bittersweet look of regret I see in my sellers once their house is reborn. The remorse of re-discovering their home’s potential is partially my fault, in that I hire professionals that do their job well. The maid service is good at their job, as are the carpet cleaners, the stagers, the handymen, and the photographers. All of them lend their support to make the home appealing to the most discriminating eye. Sadly, the only person in a position to appreciate the transformation is the seller, and when faced with what could have been, their reaction is nothing short of regret.

“Why didn’t it always look this good?” Words and phrases like these are the best indications from my seller that their home is ready to go on the market. Sadly, it’s also a powerful reminder that we should all live like we were selling. Still, it’s some consolation that the few days that their home is on the market are some of the most enjoyable for my sellers – for those few days they relish their home with the same zeal they had when they moved in.

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