Monday, March 3, 2008

A House is Not a Home…

…at least, not a home that is for sale. Clinging to the wonderful treasures that make your life comfortable and happy may also brand the building as specifically belonging to you, or less spacious than it really is, or so distracting that the lasting image in a potential buyer’s mind is of your possessions, not your house.
I must admit when a realtor came into my parents’ home which we were about to put on the market and declared that the dining room had too much furniture, I felt defensive. My mother had always kept a beautiful home. Who was this woman to suggest otherwise? Was this a personal attack on my mother’s judgment or taste? Of course not, but having recently lost my mother, I wasn’t feeling objective. When I could detach myself from the emotional piece, I could admit that yes, the dining room was small. With two doorways, three windows, and a built-in corner cupboard, the wall space was compromised; yet my mother had a dining room table, six chairs, a hutch, a deacon’s bench, a tea wagon, a small chest and then the dry sink .This was the piece we children had proudly given our parents to house a stereo system. Yes indeed, there were too many pieces in the room, and removing some of them really gave it a more spacious feeling.
I was not a realtor myself in those days, but now having witnessed the tremendous benefits of staging, I enjoy helping homeowners to highlight their home’s best features and maintain a warm and comfortable feeling, while leaving room for buyers to visualize it as their own. Yes, that means collection pieces must be kept to a minimum, and family pictures as well. Otherwise buyers go through the property seeing it as merely a backdrop for the Dickens village, the lighthouses, or the brides and grandchildren. They may not remember your lovely built-in’s or the wonderful bay window where the collection was displayed… never mind the crown molding.
Let’s talk about closets. If you were to open mine right now, I would not be proud, because I don’t part with things easily, and much of my wardrobe should be donated to a good cause. Anything that’s been there long enough to feel like an old friend has probably earned the right to a vacation in someone else’s closet. I keep adding new pieces without saying good-bye to the old, so you might think my closet is not big enough, but you’d be missing the fact that it runs behind an entire wall of my bedroom. By all means, use your upcoming move to purge the closets, basement, and garage of all the items you’ve “been meaning to part with” before viewers come to see the property. “Ample” and “spacious” are words you’ll want them to be using.
Neatness does count. I remember walking into a house by appointment and the owner’s shoes and socks were under the living room coffee table, there were dishes in the sink., and the bed covers had been pulled up in such a way it seemed a small person might be hiding under them. While the customers were not buying the housekeeper, the overall negative feeling prevented the house from having a fair chance. The condition might have been indicative of a really bad day, but it set up questions of whether the house had been generally neglected in other more serious ways.
Along these same lines, the air should carry no hint of Fido, Fluffy…or cigarettes.
The bathroom towels may be squeaky clean, but if they have few loops left on them, now would be a good time to spring for some new ones.
If my home were to go on the market, I would have to take the line of cookbooks off the kitchen counter and remove those magnets from my refrigerator door. …but at least for now, my house is a home and I can enjoy it the way it is.

For real estate information or tips on staging before listing your house, email us at or click on our website.

Chuck and Elaine Dixon,
The Dixon Duo

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