Selling a house the new way

Would you buy this house? A summer picture

Seventeen years ago you put a sign in your yard and advertised a front yard picture to sell your home. It worked then. Today it’s all about the pictures. Pictures of every room from every angle. You can see them all on the internet without leaving your home. There are drone shots for aerials. All this to entice someone to buy my house.

We had the photographer here this week. Sounds straight forward but it’s not. Each shot is strategically set up to look like it was ripped from the pages of House Beautiful. I learned a lot about what not to include in a pictures.

Bathroom pictures had no soap dispensers and very few towels. Absolutely no toothbrushes drying out on the counter or cups or66 hand lotion. We were allowed a box of tissues and a glass container of cotton balls. Clean, sleek and it looks like no one lives there because no one could.

We moved cat trees out of rooms. No throws no matter how pretty and no hassocks or ottomans unless part of a chair set. Less is more. Always.

The picture taking took the better part of two hours. My only regret is the timing of the sale. My house looks like a private park with all the vegetation during the spring-summer-fall time frame. Now it looks just as bleak as a dessert with tones of gray. Potential buyers will miss the outdoor beauty.

Gracie sleeping on the loveseat while commotion surrounds her.

As the photographer was moving this or that to make the family room look nicer, bigger or more elegant, I asked if he wanted me to remove the cat. Gracie was snoozing on the loveseat totally oblivious to the commotion. A big gray blob in the middle of a camel colored loveseat. He did a double take as he hadn’t seen her at all. No pets or pet parts (water dishes, toys, etc.) allowed in pictures so certainly no pets!

When I was house hunting, I made it a game to figure out if a house had pets. People with dogs take them along to wherever they go so the lookers have privacy. Cats mostly snooze under the beds and don’t come out.

Some people have the water and food bowls in the laundry room or near the back door – dead giveaway. Some people are more stealth and sneak them into closets. There is even a cabinet pullout for the dishes. During one showing I came upon a cat snoozing in the basement, banished there for the duration of our showing. I gave her some words of comfort. She rolled over and went back to sleep.

After all was done and I could breathe again, I started to put things back. I need soap by the sinks and the cats wanted their toys. Remembering where I had stashed things was a challenge. Cat beds were under people beds mostly. The cat trees had to be repositioned by a window.

Later in the day the beloved husband said, “Where’s my toothbrush and why are my towels thrown in a corner?” Well, oops. The house goes on the market next week. After every showing there will be a scavenger hunt to look for the essentials that people won’t think we use. We don’t want anyone thinking we are normal people with normal needs like brushing our teeth. Our friends already know just how normal we are!

 

78 thoughts on “Selling a house the new way

  1. The world has certainly changed since the last time I sold a house … and I thought renovations were challenging!!

    I love Gracie’s heads-down position trying to ignore the world. I wonder how they can breathe like that!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow – I had no idea all the restrictions. No soap dispensers in an age of COVID … not realistic in the least. Just amazing you can’t let on there are pets … where do you hide litter boxes in case someone needs it during a showing – oops?! I’d better stay here forever. If I were you, I would ask the realtor to do an asterisk and include that header image, plus the blog post photo of your backyard showing the pond at the height of Summer. People should see the pond especially because in this age of COVID, people are all about spending more time in their backyard, staycations, etc.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Is the pets disclosure in case people have allergies to dog/cat fur? I worked with a girl whose daughter could not be around anyone who had cat or dog fur on their clothing or she’d have sneezing fits. Oh, I would definitely get some photos of the pond out there – it might be the deal breaker for people who like the ambiance of a pond in their yard and stay-at-home in your yard is so big now. A friend of mine bought a house based on the pond when he returned to Michigan from a four-year job in Chicago. It is a beautiful pond and he had always had large aquariums in the house and at work to begin with so it was right up his alley. He loaded it with goldfish/koi.

        Liked by 1 person

          • I see – lots of things are different now … at least with the listing online and a virtual tour, people can do that first and then decide on a private showing later. With COVID, at least they will try to be contactless by leaving on lights, no doorknob touching.

            Liked by 1 person

  3. The last time we sold and that was a while ago the agent told me buyers couldn’t look beyond what they saw so it had to be staged. 🙂 On the other side of the coin, I lived in a condo for about three months maximum and sold it to the first person who looked at it. They wanted the area, liked the fresh wall colors I had just painted, and overlooked that I was using bare minimum furniture because it had not even arrived yet. I think the area draws first, then the house layout, and then the looks. I bet it goes quickly and hopefully to a cat person. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Our realtor told us the same thing and I believe there are people who can’t envision change. Fresh painted walls in a neutral goes a long way. We looked at a home and rejected it for a variety of reasons but one was that the entire house needed to be painted. They had each room a different color and some of the colors were very bold. Much as I love purple the purple room with the purple carpet was not my favorite. With cathedral ceilings it would have been a very expensive job to get done. There were too many other things that didn’t work for me so it wasn’t the only deal breaker.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Oh, yes. Our human hated showings. Two hours beforehand, things had to be cleaned and hidden. My toys, my food, me… And then afterward I watched her take tons of stuff out of the dryer where it was hidden, or the garage or under the bed… It took two hours to prep for each showing and thirty minutes to put it all back after. It was a nightmare!!! Lights on, soap hidden, toilet seats down… I hope it sells soon, Gracie is too cute to have to suffer through it much longer. My human even had all new carpet put in, kept it covered so I wouldn’t puke on it, and then as soon as it sold, the new owner came by to measure it all for new flooring!!!! I wish I had at least gotten to puke on it first. What a waste of money. Good luck.

    Liked by 3 people

    • What? You weren’t allowed to break it in? We have one bedroom that has the original carpeting from 17 years ago. It was next on the list to do if we hadn’t bought a new home. You get into that should we change it for sale thing but ultimately we decided not to. It’s not too bad and I have no idea what the new owner would prefer. In our area, people are going with some sort of fabricated flooring instead of carpeting. Fortunately the cats will hide except for Gracie who is not intimidated by guests. She will continue to nap wherever she is. If they have sneakers on she will try to do biscuits on their sneakers. That’s her favoritest thing of all.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. You never know what is going to influence a buyer. We sold one house to a couple who were influenced by one of my Chinese brush paintings. As they walked in the door, the woman started crying. The painting reminded her of her grandma. When we bought that house, I felt myself being influenced by a beautiful bouquet on the kitchen table. I knew what was happening, and yet, I couldn’t help feeling influenced.

    Liked by 2 people

    • One of my favorite houses had a stained glass double door out to the patio which you saw when you walked in. It was eye pop for sure. We bought the house and added a huge addition replacing those doors with standard french doors. The stained glass let a lot of cold air in.

      Liked by 1 person

    • We saw a house and I thought I saw a bag of dog biscuits. I asked the realtor and she said the owner would never allow an animal in her home. Some people are not pet people for a variety of reasons. I once met a guy who insisted that all pets pee in the house. Although my cats pee in the litter boxes (which are technically in the house) none peed on carpets. The occasionally tossing of the hairball, yes but peeing no. From my perspective the draw for my house is the private outdoor back yard and I can’t imagine someone who doesn’t like animals buying it.

      Like

    • Me too but there are all kinds of people out there. I sold one house and the buyer wanted to move up settlement by a week. I didn’t have someplace to go with my cats and they volunteered to keep the cats for the week (at that point I only had 2). Ultimately I made other arrangements but I was very touched by the offer.

      Like

  6. I hope you can include a few photos of your yard in the spring or summer in the marketing materials. I guess people who live where it snows are used to it, but I’d have a hard time looking beyond the “dead” trees and sea of ice and seeing your gorgeous yard. I recently did a virtual tour of a house for sale (we aren’t looking, I’m just a nosey looky-loo) that was pretty neat. You could actually “walk” through the house… turn around, choose which hallway to go down or room to enter. I have no idea what kind of camera they used, but I was very impressed.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I remember how hard it was with a 3 and 5 year old when selling our house!! I feel your pain! Hopefully it sells quickly and no possessions lost in the meantime. 🙂
    Thankfully when we sold our house the market was booming and things were selling quickly, we sold our house in 5 days!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’ve moved a lot. Nearly 20 times in the past 40 years. [shudder] I’ve witnessed the evolution of real estate law and marketing. Suffice to say, I never want to move again.

    The staging thing – you know it’s contrived when an entire industry is devoted to the house beautiful campaign. Cat’s shed and use litter boxes and their humans shower and brush their teeth only in an alternate universe. That is, not the one occupied by the house buyer. It’s surreal.

    As for the spring/summer garden – offer some of your photos to the listing agent – or arrange for an album of pictures to be presented at showings. I’ve done that for several of my moves.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We’ve given her some of the best summer pictures and will probably have them available when people come through. You have moved a lot. I have too but not near that much. I have accumulated too much stuff in the past 17 years.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. The selling process is so contrived. I remember wiping down the shower curtain after every use so as not to let potential buyers understand that showers produce water spots. It was all rather exhausting and I remember a day when I forgot and prayed there wouldn’t be any showings lest they realize I take showers. Hopefully your beautiful home will sell quickly. Inventory in my neighborhood rarely lasts more than a couple of weeks on the market before getting snapped up, often with backup contracts. I’ve got my fingers crossed for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I vote for Gracie to have been allowed to stay on the chair! We didn’t use a realtor to sell our condo or to buy our house but we have a very good realtor here and her belief is if someone looking wants/likes the house they are going to buy it as long as it is neat, clean and has been maintained. We bought a house that was not neat and clean and had a ton of deferred maintenance. If ya want it, you want it. Now the house is the way we want it and it is neat and clean. Deferred maintenance caught up. It will sell Kate, it’s a beautiful home. Someone will look and say “this feels like home” and they will snap it up!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. We live in a small town…..the realtors aren’t as focused on “House Beautiful” as just plain finding the right location for their buyers. We’re in a popular neighborhood – people WANT to move here so we had that on our side. We even got away with staying HOME while the house was shown – we met the first prospective buyers – they offered what we asked for before they even left our driveway. They really wanted THIS neighborhood so that helped a lot. THEN we changed our mind (well, hubby did) about selling. The house wasn’t even on the market and it had sold. I would hope that bodes well for the future when we REALLY want to sell. I think you have a BEAUTIFUL home and yard – the realtor would be doing herself a favor to include in the photos some of those views of tranquility: the gardens and pond! It’s gorgeous!

    Hugs, Pam

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I always liked the front door of your house – very pretty. You shouldn’t have any problem selling it. But agree, all that staging is for the birds! A whole industry set up to cater to an unrealistic lifestyle. A cat always makes a room look cozy – they should hire them for just that purpose….there’s a new job for your cats should they wish to seek employment!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I really don’t understand the “magazine” image that is so prevalent with house sales now. Don’t most people know that”staging” means exactly that … the whole thing is a huge set-up! But then, I guess a “clean and open” look with no clutter does allow prospective buyers to use their imagination on what they could do with it. I guess I just answered my own question! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Luckily we sold our last house before inside photos. I would hate to have to produce a house beautiful. The last house I sold was my mum’s after she died and the estate agent who came to value it for probate knew someone who wanted it to be near his father who lived in the same road.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We are relatively neat people but the degree to which we will need to clear things prior to a showing is work. It’s part of the deal. The house we bought, we were the only people to go through. My realtor caught it a few days before it went on the market. The seller was happy to sell without more showings.

      Like

  15. You just gone through what I think is some of the most stressful part about the “new” Selling process. (I will contact you for tips if we ever decide to attempt a move ) At least your photographer was interested enough to move things and do staging – I’ve seen ones who are bored – and very well paid- walk around and act as if you are beneath their talents (and trust me, that guy couldn’t afford half friend’s house). Online you can tell who had photographers that were on their selling team. The drones are interesting – and helpful to the buyer. Look at it this way, maybe it helps screen people so not so many show up that are actually interested.
    Perfect cat picture – head down, small ball looking invisible. We all feel that way when selling.
    Fingers (and paws) crossed!

    Liked by 3 people

    • If it was summertime, I think it would go quickly too. It’s the only house in the entire development that is completely private. We back up to a water retention area and landscaping blocks out both neighbors. Fingers crossed.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Bat Cat totally snuck into pictures when we sold our townhouse. The realtor thought it was cute and let her stay. But any kind of clutter was boxed up and put in the garage. I guess it worked. The house sold quickly and for more than our asking price.

    One of my neighbors has an entire business staging houses for sale.

    Liked by 1 person

Don't be shy, I'd love to hear what you're thinking!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s