Modernizing the Look of Your Home

If you have read anything I’ve written, you know I have a hint of sarcasm in my vernacular. I can’t help it. If you take this life seriously, it will kill you. I have proof. One hundred percent of the dead people I know, died.

And I’m in real estate now, though my other life work was in science. When I had the corporate ‘personality profile’ done, the result that was that the ONLY thing keeping my job from being Nirvana, was the ‘people piece’. Science suited me to a tee, because of the analytical, data pieces, but I needed PEOPLE. Never would have believe it. Prior to that assessment, I thought my job was heaven. Troublemaker.

“What do you mean by that?” I asked in my wide eyed corporate brainwashed manner. I hate myself when I look back on how I took the brainwashing…though some of it shaped my life in a positive way. Like the ‘valuing diversity’ piece. That was true and right on point. Too bad they don’t teach THAT anymore.

BUT, the evaluator’s answer was about customer service, the face to face kind. I needed more PEOPLE in my life. I thought about that, and realized that in the course of a day, my ‘people’ were the ones who brought samples to the lab for me to analyze. Traffic was not what you’d call heavy. So yeah, I took that to heart, particularly in my second life, thrust upon me by a cheating ….you know.

I ended up…because I was over 50 and NOBODY wants to hire an over-fifty woman…in 1) retail, 2) house cleaning (my business); AND 3) real estate, as a way to survive. Three jobs, all involving PEOPLE. God, did I have PEOPLE.

People are mean in retail. Customers throw things on the counter, rather than placing them, they watch you like you’re trying to steal a penny as you scan the items, they accuse you of all KINDS of things, they throw things on dressing room floors and urinate on them….they steal in the MOST amazing ways. OMG. I with I had not taken THAT part time job. Retail changed my opinion of humanity as a whole. But I had people. People, people, people.

Then, house cleaning. Wow. Not going there AT ALL. And job three was real estate as the ‘foundation’ income. Three jobs, all people. See how karma works?

REAL ESTATE. All about ‘relationships. The good things is that I get a steady dose of the ‘people piece’ AND I get to use the data/analytical piece too. I actually do love that, most of the time. Like every other venue in life, there are good ones and not so good ones, but I try to remember that I AM PROBABLY one of the ‘not so good ones’ in somebody’s list too. Wouldn’t it be nice if that statement mattered to me. HAHAHA. Like I said: I’m over 50. Things don’t ‘stick’ like they used to. Listen, I TRY to be good. I really do. And most of the time I am. But like everyone else, somebody thinks I’m horrible. And I’m okay with that. Remember “I’m Okay; You’re Okay”? You don’t? Hahahah. Never mind then.

But what is the absolute best about the ‘people piece’ is that I get to meet all kinds of people, all the time, and I only do real estate now. So it’s like my lab once was, only with human specimens, and I get to see first hand how they handle stress, how they handle making choices, whether or not they can make a decision without someone holding their hand, how brave or willing to take risks they are, whether or not they listen when I speak about important things they need to know, whether or not they are kind, whether or not they have manners, whether or not they are grateful for their blessings…or not. I get to see whether they have to have every nut and bolt in the box before taking a step, or whether they build as they run. It’s amazing and fascinating. Every single person has something amazing to offer this world, even if you have to step back and search for it. Everyone has a reason for being, and everyone deserves to be ‘seen’ in that way.

Steve Jobs used to say, “Think different.” It sums up two reasons why I loved him. One: The idea…thinking like there IS no box; and Two: Grammar. Because you know that “Think different” means something entirely different than ‘Think differently’. And OMG yes, someone is whining that Steve Jobs didn’t actually COME UP with that slogan but WHO CARES? See how people are??

I know you think I’m wandering all over the place, but wait. I’m taking you to the point. I find that thinking different is antithetical to MOST people. For example: There’s a magnetic spice rack from Ikea that has round metal spice holders that stick to a magnetic square plate. Most people mount that on the WALL. I saw one mounted to the CEILING in a tiny house. THAT’S thinking different, people. That’s life without a box. Of course I loved the idea because that person was a GENIUS of creative thinking. At some point, one of the two people living there said, “Wait! Why don’t we put it HERE?” GENIUS! Most people…I’m saying 95% don’t have that. I’m developing it.

Think about this: How many closets have you seen where things are piled on the floor to the extent that they tumble out the door when you open it? And yet, the vertical space above the shelf the builder installed, goes unused. PUT UP SOME SHELVES, PEOPLE. PUT UP SOME SHELVES. USE THAT SPACE. See how that works? Think different. Look up! Look around!

Which brings me to the point. Told ya.

We are in the midst of so many ‘modernizing’ ideas. This or that will make your house so modern and desirable when you decide to sell. Well…here it comes, people…Mason Jar light fixture covers will NOT get your house sold. I can hear the wailing of the 5% now. And if you try to serve me tea in a jar when I visit, I’m going to assume you can’t afford actual glasses and MAYBE the tea bags were used once before. Somewhere, there’s a warehouse FULL of jars that need to be sold. At a profit. And there you go.

Remember that 95% of people don’t think outside that box? Well, there’s a 95% chance that they will be the ones looking to buy your house. Barn doors….not an efficient way to close off a bathroom, folks. Yeah, they’re different, but they are not private. And I mean private related to ALL senses, if you get my drift (and I used THAT word deliberately too). Sponge painting. Oh my gosh, please just don’t. Open shelving? For you, yeah, all day. For the majority of buyers, NOPE. Track lighting: kill me now. Remember that when you put your house on the market, you are going to HAVE to appeal to the 95%, the MAINSTREAM. So you’ll need to ‘de-individualize’.

Do things like new countertops, new, fresh, neutral paint, new appliances, new flooring, and by the way, Luxury Vinyl Plank flooring is hot and it will last into the future and actually BE a good selling point for your home. When you talk about how dark the pantry is, go to Home Depot and buy battery operated, motion sensor lighting. I use it in my pantry and I LOVE it. And by the way, PAINT THE PANTRY interior. It makes it cheerful and shows you can think different. And you will love it, by the way. Use the pantry door for storage. You can actually screw storage onto the pantry door, and that extra space is like a new dimension. You can fit EVERYTHING there.

Under the sinks: Please go search ‘creative under cabinet storage’ and BUY SOMETHING to make that space organized and neat. You will love using it and when you get ready to sell, so will your 95% buyers. I just finished putting up shelves and pegboard in my storage closet. I just stare at it. Who would think that organized storage could be SO BEAUTIFUL? And my 95% will love it too, when it’s time to sell.

Trends, people, TRENDS. “A current style or preference” is the definition. CURRENT. Means it will PASS. So, if your tendency is to go awry of the mainstream (admirable in most cases in my opinion), just remember that that special little sponge paint job can keep you from selling your house when you are ready to move.

And here’s the counterintuitive part. Hang on because this will twist your brain. Remember that the Mason Jar lights was the 5% out of the box thinkers? Well, it becomes TRENDY, and then the 95%-ers, who can’t think creatively, follow. So the jar thing becomes ‘trendy’. I know. But remember we’re taking about herd mentality here. Just remember that the ‘trend’ followed by the masses trying to be ‘modern’, will ABSOLUTELY pass and will have to be changed. Be ready for that. Remember Harvest Gold and Avacado? Didn’t think so. It passed. And so, thank GOD, will Mason Jar decoration.

It’s complicated. The best you can do is make your home YOUR home while you live there. But when you get ready to sell, PLEASE I BEG YOU, cut those emotional ties and just know that the special paint you have loved for thirty years is OLD and will not appeal to current buyers. Know that those precious JARS will need to go. You have to become ‘mainstream’ in order to sell. Unless a handyman comes along, or unless you want to drop the price by a LOT. Or unless you have an 800 square foot loft downtown.

Be proactive when you plan to sell and please, consult a real estate agent. Let the licensed real estate agent be the licensed real estate agent, and you be the client…and stop trying to know more than the trained, licensed expert knows. Because if you insist on driving that bus, your agent will let you, and then you get to deal with the result. I can’t tell you how many tens of thousands of dollars have been left on the table because sellers would NOT let to of their avocodo paint or grandma’s furniture. I’m shaking my head right now. Consult your real estate agent about this stuff, folks. And keep that 10K (or 100K as the case may be) in your pocket where it belongs.

DECLUTTER: the Seller Dirty Word

Nobody wants to hear that their home is too full of stuff. But let’s face it: If you live in a home long enough, you accumulate a lot of it, and only you become blind to it. Everybody else walks in and says (hopefully to themselves), “Wow, there’s a lot of ….” you get the idea. I’ve lived where I live for almost 7 years, and I KNOW if I list I’m gonna have a LOT of work to do.

I’m a realtor who actually likes to see personal items in the home, because to me, it makes the place warm and…well, home-like. The other half of the realtor word will tell you to take out all personal items and paint everything and put in new carpet. In other words, try to make your used home a new home. I don’t necessarily advise that, unless the particular case needs it. For me, it’s only pix of your children that should go, and alters. Yes, people do have them, and yes, they can effect your selling ability. But CLUTTER (sorry about the dirty word) has GOTTA GO.

You will say, “If they don’t like my stuff they can take a hike.” Yes, I have heard that. But that statement comes from a person who has not gotten their brain around the true idea of selling. If you are not willing to take the advice of your professional listing agent, then you don’t really want to sell you house. It’s that simple.

I had clients who held on to their clutter so tightly that it cost them tens of thousands of dollars to sell the home. Kid you NOT. Clutter makes a difference in how much cold, hard cash you put in your pocket at the end of the transaction folks, and here’s why:

  1. Buyers will think you don’t take care of the house, i.e. MAINTAIN it, and therefore will not want it. OR they will make a lowball offer. Yes, it’s a leap to go from ‘too much stuff’ to ‘they probably don’t maintain the house’, but trust me! They do! Every time. Even though they, themselves, probably don’t run a tight ship, they will expect you to, and will judge you harshly if you don’t. And they will walk away with their money, which you are trying to get.
  2. Buyers need to envision THEIR stuff in the house. You want them to stand there and place their furniture and other ‘stuff’; and if yours overwhelms them, then they can’t see theirs. You WANT them to see THEIR STUFF there; that’s how you sell the house. If they think they can’t fit their stuff in the house, they will leave with their money, which you are trying to get them to give to you.
  3. Buyers are buying SPACE. The more ‘stuff’ you have in the space, the smaller the space looks. If the space looks small, the buyers will think, “Hmmm, this house is small.” And they will leave, taking their money with them. That would be money you would like to have. Following me?

So, here’s the deal: Ya gotta clean out the ‘stuff’. Get rid of the clutter. Now that doesn’t mean THROW AWAY the clutter. NO! It means go ahead and move it out. You’re leaving anyway. Just let it go first. Put it in storage or your friend’s garage. That would be a GOOD friend, but I digress. Then, dust in all the spots you couldn’t get to because of all of the stuff you used to have there, and your offer price JUST WENT UP. I am NOT kidding about this. Oh, and guess what? When you have to decide what size storage unit you need for your stuff? Suddenly you don’t mind actually getting rid of some of it.

Listen, I feel your pain. I think about the day I have to list my home and I literally shudder. I’ll even have to paint because I have so much wall art. So I get it. But you gotta do it.

And finally, let me say that when I say ‘stuff’, I’m also thinking of another ‘s’ word, that most buyers ACTUALLY USE, as in: “There’s too much s*** in here.”