It’s interesting with this job because we get to see such a personal side of someone’s life.
We often learn about the harmony and discordance within a marriage. We get to know the children and the pets. We meet the parents and the in-laws. We see the highs and lows of our clients’ temperaments. We learn some of the financial realities of their lives.
We see the bright red walls or the flamboyant wallpapers. We see the photographs, artwork, diplomas, certificates, and other memorabilia of peoples’ lives. In some cases it almost feels a little voyeuristic. Working in residential real estate is very personal.
So is buying homes. We look in closets and open drawers to understand the space. We analyze their furniture and how it’s laid out.
Will our grandmother’s dining room table fit? Will the ceiling be tall enough for our armoire? We flush the toliets to make sure they run properly. We try to envision ourselves living in the space. We ask ourselves, "Will this property work for the way we live our lives?"
It's all very personal.
But selling a home… now, that’s different. It’s not personal. It’s business. It’s about merchandising a product and making it as desirable as possible to the vast majority of buyers.
I often say there are two types of sellers. Those who want to sell their home and those who want someone to buy their home. And there’s a huge difference.
The sellers who want to sell their home will do anything and everything to get their home sold. They understand that it’s not personal. It is business and they are selling a product. They will take down the wallpaper; paint those red or purple walls beige; lay new carpet; put up a new mailbox, put away personal memories; organize closets; and put out beautiful planters.
I’ve even had clients install new bathrooms and put on new roofs to make their “product” the most merchandisable. They get it. They see their house in competition with all the other homes on the North Shore and they want to win. They want to be best in show; to be the house that gets the next offer. They want to sell their house!
The other kind of sellers: those who want someone to buy their home, just put their home out there - as is - and then say to themselves, “My house is special. Everyone is going to love it.”
Sadly, that’s rarely the situation. These sellers are constantly disappointed and angry when they don’t receive the complements they are expecting. I remember a very high-end, beautiful home for sale a few years ago. As I walked through the house I admired the gorgeous wallpapers and the beautiful wool carpets.
I could see the excellent quality of materials that were used for decorating. But, it was also very clear to me that the list price was not about the value of the house. The sellers had priced their home in such a way that they might get reimbursed for their decorating costs. It was so personal – no business logic at all.
Rarely to buyers pay for decorating – some do – but most could care less. When making an offer, they mentally deduct the costs associated with removing the wallpaper or changing the colors in the rooms. For them, they want it to be "our house" not "your house."
So, while they may appreciate the lavender colored bedroom, they don't think their teen-age son is going to like it very much. Most buyers want to buy a house that they can move right into with little effort and will work for their family.
So what kind of seller are you?
If you want to sell your house, try to remember, it's not personal.