"Any scary tales to share?" came this week's inquiry from Jordan Gunn at the SF Chronicle who edits the Sunday "Sound Off" column, to which I promptly and glibly replied, "Isn't the market scary enough?" (Why yes it is, as Buyers and Sellers try to quickly adjust to rising sales prices and the shifting sands, but that's another story for another day.)
But in the spirit of Halloween, I do have a few spooky tales to tell and it usually involves unrealistic Sellers who are no longer objective about their homes.
"I see dead people."
That isn't just a well-known line from the hit movie, The Sixth Sense, it's one I've uttered more than a few times when I'm out on Brokers' Tour. No, I'm not literally seeing the walking dead, but there are few things more frightening to a Realtor than a Seller who refuses to clean and stage their homes. (Evidently, there are a lot of Zombies out there.) If you don't realize that wallpaper from the 60s is super scary, you may need a professional exorcism. (That's where I come in.) I'm talking about doilies on the couches, plastic covers on the lampshades, soiled carpeting and faded linens that are ghosts of their former glory.
And with all due respect to the aging process and how difficult that can be, hospital beds, toilet caddies and discarded walkers all paint a picture that's not conducive to a happy life in the home. Ditto for bars on the windows and doors, garages that are stuffed to the rafters, and homes that have been occupied by hoarders for years. (Ironically, these are the ones that always ask you to take your shoes off before coming in. No thank you.)
Let's not forget those smelly litter boxes, evidence of smoking, spicy cooking aromas, sweaty athletic shoes, must and mildew, funky refrigerators, and those overwhelming plug-ins that all make for scents that are less than pleasurable to prospective Buyers. For everyone's health and well-being, open the windows and let the spirits OUT and then let's bring in a team of professionals to eradicate The Blob. (Just a side note; how exactly did The Blob move so quickly when it had no legs? I mean it was a BLOB, right?)
Listen, if you want to present your home as a veritable "haunted house,"it's your choice to do so, but your final result will be far less than your neighbor's fantastic sale down the street who listened to their Realtor and invested the necessary time and money to present the house in a fresh, new, and totally inviting way. Remember, you'll be selling your property to the LIVING who are more and more photo oriented. (Instagram currently reports 500 million monthly active users.That's a lot of eyeballs!) Buyers are searching on their phones before they ever get in the car, so first impressions are everything . . . and their expectations are going to be anything but frightening.
Now if that's not a "scary" tale, I don't know what is. Boo!
How can I help you?
(To check out my Instagram page, go to: instagram.com/piedmontrealtorgirl)
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 15 years and has published more than 600 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.