Friday, November 20, 2009

Selling your house

The new mantra about how to sell your house concerns "staging." This is the art of turning your home into something impersonal. It's supposed to look like nobody lives there. Think motel room, or better yet, motel lobby.

Down come the pictures on the refrigerator. Off comes the wallpaper. Personal mementos: rent a storage locker. Antiques and collectibles: in the attic, or a friend's attic if you don't have one. You are allowed to keep your washer and dryer, but all laundry, clean or dirty, must be disposed of.

My experience of buying a home is different. Our first house: all I saw was the little oriental rug and fancy light fixture in the entrance hall, the landing halfway up the stairs with a window revealing sparkling sunshine, the strawberries on the wallpaper in the kitchen. These spoke to me, and I didn't notice until later that the bathrooms had been designed during the Hoover Administration, the stove purchased during Roosevelt's first term,the carpeting was threadbare, and the exterior paint was peeling. We had moved in before we noticed these things, and to make matters worse, the charming Oriental rug--I am allowed to say Oriental, am I not? had been removed by the previous tenant, revealing more shabby carpet.

Our second house featured harvest gold appliances, obviously from the sixties. The bathrooms had blue toilets, which you can't get any more, thank God, unless the sixties look comes back in vogue. The kitchen was papered with sixties daisies in a color similar to the harvest gold appliances, but a bit uglier. The bathrooms featured flocked wallpaper, even on the ceiling.

But it was Mother's Day, and the tableau of the cute young couple who were selling it, their presentable parents, and their winsome five-year-old boy gamboling on the lawn made it look idyllic. Also featured was a sunken garden, which contained an oak tree that must have been there in Alexander Hamilton's time. It gave a sort of secluded, private air to the place. Except in the winter, when the leaves fell off the trees, we had a good view of the Burger King down the road, which sort of diminished the rustic ambiance.

Our present shelter was sold to us because Mr Charm liked the the double green doors and the green trim at the front entrance. I liked the big screened in porch adjoining the patio. I could just imagine it filled with charming wicker furniture and charming guests sitting upon the same. A few potted plants, maybe some hanging ones. Laughter and jollity and good will all around.

We forgot to notice that there was a steep flight of stairs leading up to the second floor. Actually, we failed to notice that there was a second floor. The floors were hideous and there were no cupboards. Most of our kitchenware had to be stowed in the basement, where it resides to this day. The porch is nice, however.

What I'm trying to say is that decisions to buy a house are not based on rational thinking. One couple of our acquaintance were afraid to look at the second floor of the house they were buying because they feared afraid the owners would be annoyed. A friend of mine recently moved into her new house and discovered there was only one drawer in the kitchen.

Choosing a house is sort of like picking up someone cute in a singles bar. He might be the man of your dreams. Or he might be the Boston Strangler.

1 comment:

Jack said...

What I'm trying to say is that decisions to buy a house are not based on rational thinking.

Often they are not.