"I need a tux." My son matter-of-factly said into his cell phone. "Me and the guys are going to San Francisco tonight." (TONIGHT?!?)
"Sure," I gulped, "no problem," hoping Case could fit into his father's tuxedo as I hit the gas and raced up the hill in a near panic (clearly, my son was clueless with respect to the concept of tuxedos and timing!).
As luck would have it, my husband had purchased a formal tuxedo from Nordstroms a few years back and while our elder son is slightly taller (and slightly slimmer) than his dad, I thought he might just get away with it. If only I could remember where the studs, cumberbund and cufflinks were located, before packing away the bulk of our closet contents prior to the remodel. When was the last time I had actually seen those items and where?
But first, I needed to be picked up off the floor . . .
Is this the same kid who skipped his senior prom, wore basketball shorts under his graduation gown and hadn't yet mastered the effortless flair of Khakis and a sports coat? The same kid who struggled to tie his shoe laces, who never combed his hair, and to whom the idea of tucking in one's shirt was a totally objectionable concept - even when visiting his grandmother's house? (Yes, it was.) Were we really jumping from one extreme to the other with little to NO notice? (Apparently, we were.)
Forty-five minutes later, a trip to Selix downtown (I didn't find the studs) and shaved, showered and dressed to the nines, I have to say Case looked downright handsome and more than just a little bit grown up. He'd even succumbed to my insistence that formal attire also requires one to wear stiff patent leather shoes and black (not gym) socks. And with the help of YouTube, we even had mild success tying the bow tie after only a few clunky attempts. Standing before me, tall, elegant and just slightly awkward, I had a glimpse of the man my son is bound to become.
"Is this really what everyone else will be wearing?" the man-child suspiciously inquired, surprised by his own stately appearance in the mirror.
"Yes, it is," I replied proudly, "You look absolutely great"
(and he did). "Quick, get the camera," I instructed my husband, fearing we might never see him dressed formally again.
"No way! You're not taking my picture." Ah ha! There's the boy I know and love.Good staging is like wearing a tuxedo to a fancy winter ball. One simply can't arrive at the St Francis Hotel dressed in blue jeans and a Wildcats T-shirt when the rest of the participants are in formal gowns and dinner jackets. In the world of real estate, an unstaged home is the the equivalent of underdressing.
Compared to staged properties nearby, your home is bound to look like yesterday's news - no matter how tidy you keep it. Regardless of your fabulous possessions, your antique collections and the level of your taste, it is the rare home that doesn't benefit from a trained eye, SIGNIFICANT editing and a designer's touch.
Here in the Bay Area, it's almost standard practice to stage a property - prior to selling it. Typically, you will also need to paint, prune, and purge your way to Pleasantville. You may need to replace old appliances, address the long overdue "To Do" list, blow leaves from the roof, wash the windows, clean out the closets, and spit shine your home from top to bottom. Curtains come down, photos get stowed and all traces of personal style are shelved. Prospective buyers need to envision their own family in the home - not yours.
With mixed emotions, sellers often discover that their home has never looked better than when they go to sell it. Buck up, you're not alone - everyone's does! Without a trace of mail in sight, a used cereal bowl in the sink, or an open kitchen cupboard, the house is very nearly picture perfect - as it should be when selling.
Selling a home almost always has a fair amount of theater involved in the process and smart sellers sign up for "the show." Your home should look its best when it comes to market - absent the items that make it quintessentially you. (Think Restoration Hardware catalogue and you will be on the same page as every trained Buyer shopping in today's market.)
With one opportunity to make a first impression and with 93% of prospective buyers now beginning their search on the Internet, photos have never been more important - so get it right.
Unlike my son's refusal to take a photo, there will be plenty of pictures for posterity.
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.