Tips for Sellers
Lets define "embarassing" as reaching into your pocket to hand your business card to the listing agent at a $2 million property, only to realize that the cards you brought claim that you are some kind of "writer/editor" and not a realtor.
And lets also say that asking touring realtors to remove their shoes before entering an open house is to ask them to assume an uncomfortable level of intimacy with the several strangers, also shoeless, who are likewise touring the property. Padding downstairs in your socks is for midnight snacks and Christmas morning, not for the Tuesday broker's tour.
Even worse is the option of slipping pale blue paper booties over your shoes. Unless you feet are of Lilliputian size, the act of "slipping" these booties over your shoes is nearly impossible to do without falling down. Once they're on, you are faced with a dilemma: to obsess over how ridiculous they look, or to wonder how many realtors have worn them before you.
Here's a tip for anyone looking to sell their house: remove all personal items. Empty your closets, put all of your books and cds into storage. You never know if some smart-aleck realtor is going to use their PDA to take a picture of the six pairs of Manolo Blahniks you have hanging in your walk-in closet, or who will be either judging you or constructing a life story for you, based on your taste in music and reading. That picture from the PDA could then be emailed to someone in Seattle, as proof that there are people in the world who own multiple pairs of Manolo Blahniks who are not on "Sex and the City."
And please, remove things like coupons, photos. opened mail and phone numbers from your refrigerator. If you think walking around some stranger's house in your socks is inappropriately intimate, imagine if that person also kinows that you have seventeen unpaid parking tickets and a dentist's appointment next Wednesday. At that point, touring realtors may as well just open up your refrigerator and see if there's any beer in there.
Most importantly -- and I'm not kidding here -- if you leave your personal stuff in your home while it's for sale, prospective buyers will focus too much on you and your life and not enough on what a great value your home is. That's why people use stagers: to highlight the house, not the stuff in the house. We used to scoff at staging (removing your furniture and replacing it with generic, Pottery Barn-esque stuff), but it works. Believe it.
Unfortunately for my repreatedly lame attempts to attain "professionalism," I still find people's stuff more interesting than their houses, especially when I'm lucky enough to be touring a home owned by one family for a long time. Two weeks ago I saw a Purple Heart from the Korean War. An old guy had it hung in the garage, next to a collage of photos -- war buddies and Harley buddies. The whole deal was on the wall over his work bench, so he could go into the garage after work (he was a Teamster, according to a framed certificate nearby), listen to Giants gams on the radio and tinker with some stuff. Upstairs, over the mantle, was a gold-framed portrait of his wife.
And in this, I saw his life. Fortunately, while wearing shoes.
Did you know that eight-year-old boys have an irresistable urge to shove both hands down their pajama pants while watching TV? And that, while this is merely a slightly interesting aside to a father, some mothers get very disturbed when they see their cute, barely-out-of-toddlerhood son doing this?
The same mothers seldom see the inescapable humor of a loud, well-timed burp.