Erma Bombeck once said, "You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism."
There is something about the 4th of July that brings out the best in everyone. It’s a holiday that no matter our background, religion, or political party affiliation, we can all celebrate together with joy and without reservation. We remember the courage and sacrifice of those who secured our freedom and honor those who continue to preserve our freedom with a true celebration. Fireworks, picnics, bar-b-ques and parades bring us together as one.
So what does this have to do with staging? I’d like to share with you a memory and confess to very unladylike behavior. More than a few years ago, the Navy was sending us to the Washington D.C. area for a two year tour. My wise husband suggested that he watch two of the girls and I take the new one and go house hunt. He expected to spend very little time at the house during his tour anyway, so if I found a house with the two things on his priority list he’d be happy. Of course it had to fit the budget also.
With only a long 4th of July weekend to find the perfect house, I beat my poor realtor to parade rest demanding to see every house on the market within my price range. His patience was amazing, but I did heard him remark to a co- worker, “Usually we only show clients about four homes, but this one wants to see them all!” He drove me and my new baby all over northern Virginia until I didn’t even know where we were. And if he ever was uncomfortable by a breast feeding infant, I never knew. Oh the things we think of in hindsight! I was truly a difficult customer, but typical. I was looking for that house that spoke to me. I even joked to my husband about looking for the one with a dove sitting on the roof.
After three days and no dove sightings, I was ready to give up. There was one house that we couldn’t get into because the renters were on vacation and were only due back late on the third. The fourth of July was my last day in town so the poor beleaguered realtor phoned the renters at my request and begged to let us in. They agreed and apparently decided to let a couple of other potential buyers in also. So on the 4th of July, we slipped in and toured the house even though the occupants were trying to have a family celebration.
Here’s the relevant part. There wasn’t a dove, but the house spoke to me and I was hooked. Just as much as I was a difficult client, I was a typical buyer. Fifteen seconds in the foyer and I was pretty sure this was the one. It had an interesting entry, it was clean, it smelled good, and there was music playing adding to the warmth of the home. It was bright and did I mention clean? I know I did but it’s worth mentioning twice. My initial impression was so strong that and even though I saw things that were slight detractors, I wanted this house – Bad.
Now the unladylike behavior. One - The house did not have the two things my dear husband wanted and Two - I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be the only one that day that wanted that house. I wanted my saint of a realtor to put an offer in right that moment. He took me back to my sister in law’s house where I was staying. She was having a wonderful 4th of July picnic with amazing food and invited my realtor to stay. However, I spoke up and I asked if he wouldn’t like his plate to go. Shame on me, but I didn’t want to lose this house! He dutifully went back to his office with his plate of party take out and got my offer to the owners.
We got the house and stayed a little longer than two years. The baby is a naval architect now and we are still here. I’m a little embarrassed when I think of how I treated that poor realtor but there is a lesson there for those selling a house. When I saw the house, I knew it was “The One”. It was prepared, it was well taken care of, and even before staging was a household word, it was staged. There was no clutter and there was plenty of curb appeal. Not even good manners were going to stand between me and owning that home. It’s true that properly prepared homes sell faster and for more money. After seeing everything on the market, I offered full price for the one that won me over.
I’m sure my realtor learned a lesson or two that weekend too, but that’s his story to tell.
Commonwealth Staging LLC