Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Selling Houses In the HGTV Era

God save us from the current real estate market. We have just been through the purgatory of what those in the biz and, thanks to HGTV, millions of others now call "staging" a house for sale. If you've not had the pleasure, take it from me: it is the housing equivalent of girdle wearing--of squeezing your protesting, cellulite pocked, middle-aged ass into that pair of pants that were made for the version of you that was two sizes and two decades ago. Only in this case, you're actually doing everything you can to make things look BIGGER, and it's your stuff that's bloated and out of control instead of your gutbuttthigh corridor.

This past weekend was the yard sale on Saturday, frantic preparation Sat night, and an open house on Sunday. In preparation, we frantically removed all the trash from the trash cans, took down all the pictures from the walls, removed all traces of personal memorabilia (read, liquor bottles--that was all that was left from the last round of showings) from the house. We cut fresh flowers, carefully removed all evidence of pet habitation. We trimmed the hedges and weed-whacked. We lit candles and put on soft music. We baked cookies. Well, okay, WE didn't bake cookies, but the realtor manning the open house did. In the end, I couldn't tell if we were trying to seduce the people, or sell them a house. I guess it was a little of both.

This is what people have come to expect. They want fresh paint and curb appeal. They want spacious bedrooms, grandiose baths, amenities, pristine yards, quiet neighborhoods, home warranties. They want guarantees. They want instant access on multiple occasions to see how the light looks in the living room. They want to shop around, and then shop around some more and then come back to the places they originally visited to compare notes. As exhausting as it is to get up every morning and make the bed, pick up all the dog toys that have been strewn about the living room, keep the dishes washed and the clothes put away and the shades at that precise angle that allows the most light to penetrate--as tiresome as it is to have to remember to hide the sweaty workout clothes and keep the cat litter and dog hair swept up, it must be that much more so for the poor realtors. It's like having Leona Helmsley as a client, every time. They are wanted, they have power, and they know they can afford to be high maintenance. HGTV has created a generation of real estate monsters, and some of them will be looking at the house this weekend.

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