So my house was on the market for the “second best” realtor season. Not a single showing. Out of two open houses, we had a grand total of two visitors. I have de-cluttered, de-booked, and absolutely delighted in making sure every single item is put away exactly where it belongs every time we leave the house. (That last part is a lie.) I have a sister-in-law who lives in a home that is sparkling and neat at all times. I once had to stop her from Windexing her front door until after I had left because my son kept licking it and I was afraid he was going to become brain damaged. I have never seen so much as a remote control in plain sight. Even she would find the level of “house for sale” cleanliness exhausting to maintain.
Kids and clutter go hand in hand. Every day, their book bags disgorge craft projects, artwork, and various odds and ends. I tried slyly throwing out most of it. My daughter not only caught me, but she cried. Never will a child cry so hard over a forgotten item as to think that said item will go in the trash. I have tried to get my kids to help me keep the house clean. However, getting my three-year old to make his bed is difficult at best - the stuffed animals take up more room in bed than the child. We had more luck teaching more daughter, but that is mostly because she is anal-retentive about where each doll and stuffed dog belong. Between the two of them, they require more electricity to go to sleep at night than I do to work at home during the day. My backyard is filled with plastic graveyard of slides and swings and my bathtub is filled with foam letters and numbers. This is my life. Unless I throw out the kids, I can’t exactly throw out all of their stuff.
At one point, the few realtors who attended the broker’s open house felt that I needed to stage it even more. They believe that in order to sell it, it has to be an absolutely blank slate. If it is personal, or if is not absolutely essential to living, it needs to be put away. Sound easy? Sure! Oh wait, but I have two kids. How can I turn their playroom, where they spend 80 percent of their waking moments, into a bland and featureless “multi-purpose” room? How can I paint over all the animals on my son’s walls or tell my daughter that all of the toys in her room need to be put in storage? I promise you that if I have to hide the bananas and apples every time I leave the house, I will never find them again.
Personally, I thought the realtors should spend less time pointing out that the grout in the bathroom is wavy instead of straight and more time actually bringing people into the damn house. My job is to make the house presentable and sellable, but if they don’t actually bring people to see it, then it won’t matter what it looks like inside. I have kept up my end of the bargain – but they didn’t keep up theirs. No sale.
I was told that people like to come through homes during the holidays to check out their directions. To that I say, bah humbug. There are a plethora of Holiday House tours to attend – but mine isn’t going to be on any of them. Until the spring thaw, my house will remain unlisted and unstaged. There will be mail on the table, shoes on the floor, and books on every available surface. This house is going to be mine for a few months longer – I might as well enjoy it in its natural state.