"You'll need to remove the wallpaper, replace the garage door, and repaint the entire exterior," my intrepid colleague matter-of-factly stated. "Also, it couldn't hurt to update the kitchen with stainless-steel appliances, stone counter tops and a new sink," she continued. "Oh, and what do you plan on doing with that hallway bath?" Ugh!
To be fair, I'd invited several people from my office over for an assessment of my home's recent remodel, aka: "current market value." I had explicitly asked my fellow Realtors to treat me like "any other client" and to their credit, they HAD! And while their frank and unvarnished comments came as no real surprise, given my own experience with such meetings, I hadn't realized just how brutal the process might actually feel from the Seller's perspective, or that it would sting quite so much.
Oh Holy Night!
Like many of you, I have carefully crafted my decorating style over many years and it has taken me countless trips to the flea market and endless hours with a paint brush to create an environment that is uniquely "moi." So imagine my discomfort when fellow GRUBB professionals assessed my "work product" in a matter of mere minutes and found it somewhat - uhhh, lacking? (At least at a Sunday Open, you're not present when Buyers do the same.)
Never mind the many compliments; it was the solicited negatives that were tough to hear - if not downright painful! Unfortunately, if there's an easy way to tell Sellers that their homes would benefit from the trained eye of a professional stager, that they have too much furniture, that they need to put away the lopsided ceramic pots they received as Mother's Day Gifts, and that they should hire a professional cleaning service, I am still struggling to find it. (Even the kids' precious art projects? Yes, even those.)
To which I can only say, "I am sorry to be so blunt. Now start purging!"
Would it soften the blow to know that my advice is under laid with tremendous respect, for I know that the results you seek are largely dependent on my ability to be entirely truthful with you - if not always tactful? (It doesn't? Not even a little?) These observations aren't meant to be hypercritical (although they often seem like it in the moment). They are intended to bring you the best and most profitable response.
"A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices . . ."
The fact is, I have yet to meet the Seller who doesn't want top dollar for their home. No one says, "Just get me whatever you can for the place; that'll be fine." So with that in mind, my goal is to orchestrate a plan that makes the most sense for you, displaces you the least (as if that were really possible) and meets your budget and time restraints.
Short of moving you out entirely (and even then) selling a home is going to be completely, utterly, incredibly inconvenient and disruptive - not to mention an investment of both time and money! As such, wouldn't you like to know that my suggestions have proven to be successful time and again? (Whether or not you choose to take them, is entirely up to you!)
So forgive my frequent intrusions, my not-so-gentle critiques, and my bulldozer-like suggestions and know that I too, have been reminded that our accumulated "things" represent an inventory of our lives - not just evidence of one's clutter. With great efforts and good intentions (a broom, a box, and a beginning . . .) we will eventually cross the finish line together.
Geeze, I'd better get busy. According to my colleagues, I've got some tiles and a new bathroom vanity to order.
"For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn . . ."
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 17 years and has published more than 650 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.