Ready To Show – Again!

52 days on the market, 4 open houses, 3 scheduled showings

I think it’s obvious by now that counting is my coping mechanism. Putting a number on the last few weeks has actually cheered me up. I mean, just writing “52 days on the market” presupposes a final day, right? Whether that’s day 53 or day 153 – there will be a final day, right?

As you can imagine, I’ve soured a little on the whole staging thing. My house just looks sterile to me now. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing – in my mind, sterile is a positive in a house you’re about to move into with your family – but not for one you’re actually living in with your family. And, I can’t help but notice how EVERY house I’ve seen on the market lately has had the life staged right out of it. More on that later.

First, let’s get to the business of this post – how I’m keeping my house ready to “show.” I’ve picked up a few little tricks in the past two months.

Meet my micro fibre cloth and lint free tea towel:

Yes, this is a love story. That micro fiber cloth and I are taming the black granite one square foot at a time. I’ve tried many other things, but hot water on that cloth followed by a dry tea towel is THE answer.  Wax on, wax off!

Moving along to my other nemesis – the glass shower stall.

Notice how you can see the reflection in the glass. The spray bottle is a solution of 3/4 water and 1/4 vinegar. After a thorough first clean (see below), I now spray and squeegee the glass after every shower to maintain it. I especially like the professional squeegee move I learned on youtube, though I suppose most professionals aren’t doing it in the nude wearing a towel turban. Mercy!

I try not to use commercial cleaning products when I don’t have to, but I needed some serious help with the tubs and shower stalls on the first go round, so I turned to Scrubbing Bubbles and this:

I can’t believe this wheel brush has been hiding in the garage all my life. It’s genius for cleaning shower walls and tub floors. The pitcher is for thoroughly rinsing the tub and shower and for storing the dripping brush when you’re done.

My final tip  is to hide the “show” towels. I don’t know about you, but piles of clean towels last about 24 hours in my house before they all turn up in a damp pile – whether or not anyone has actually bathed. Here’s the stack I’ve squirrelled away for showings to prevent last minute laundry.

Now, 52 days is a long time to be practicing showmanship. And yes, I’ve grown weary of artfully draping the throws, karate chopping the pillows and planting high brow magazines in not too obvious places. I can’t help but thinking of a comment a reader from Italy made on my last post about home staging.

Apparently, staging is not practiced routinely in Italy. Perhaps the Italians are too busy having a life to obsess over making a living like we do here in North America. I’m generalizing of course, but the goal of home staging is to squeeze every last penny from your abode. And it looks like just about everyone in Vancouver got the memo.

If you browse the real estate listings, one would suspect that no one is actually living in any of the houses for sale in my neighbourhood. We’ve literally staged the life out of them. And, with the number of houses on the market these days, that’s a lot of people forgoing finger painting and fried fish in the name of commerce.

But not so in Italy – these people are clearly off having an espresso unconcerned with their dishes or their parakeet.

And, I think they just might have the right idea. An espresso would taste pretty great right now.

Just for fun: What would turn you off, if it turned up on the counter at an open house?

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18 thoughts on “Ready To Show – Again!

  1. I am not one to be turned off if a house that is on the market looks lived in…to a point…I don’t mind seeing the odd dish, poece of clothing, photograph, etc. But I draw the line at bathroom items. If you don’t care enough to hide the deodorant, medications, gaunch on the floor…I start to wonder if you really want to sell place. Having said this, when we sold our last place we staged the hell out if on the advice of a trusted realtor and it really worked for us. But I have no idea how you’ve kept it up so long, especially with kids.

  2. Hi Christine, I was on your site just earlier this evening… wondering when you’d pop up again!

    I want to tell you that though 52 days may seem long, and yes, it is, kind of. But perhaps you will be comforted to know that there are those of us who have had to wait even longer… ahem… much longer. To be precise more than a year! Yes, that was me, with 2 small kids… one still in diapers, in an 840sqft condo, nothing glamorous about it, but desperately TRYING to sell….. trying to clean the place to immaculate degree, for each and every showing. It was brutal. Staging??? Heck, there was just no way to pretty up the situation. We had too little space to even try! All I could manage was to get most of our “stuff” out and into a storage locker and keep the place as sparce and clean and tidy as possible, fresh flowers were a must… you know, the usual…. and all that was until we agreed to house-sit for a few months for a relative, so we emptied the place… thinking “oh good, this will be the key!” However, on the day we learned from relatives that they were coming home “early” so our house-sitting was soon to be over, we had our first offer fall through because of a “realtor error”…. OH my. It was hell. About 8 months after that, and living back in the place, with too few of our belongings to even function adequately, we sold. The upshot of this was that as a result of waiting that long, the market we were buying into dropped significantly and we obtained a home that we previously would not have been financed for! So, I was grateful in the end. But it was a very arduous wait!

    All I can say is your home, as I see it, is immaculate, and wonderful, and surely buyers can’t be sooo pretentious as to not see past a few finger prints or what’s worse… a few finger-paint spalshes here and there! I would suggest you let it be known that “real live people” do live in your home, and it is a fun place to live too. So… my suggestions are these: Leave elements of “fun” around. Leave elements of peacefulness around. And elements that are “real”, perhaps not so “staged”. Choose a bunch of wildflowers, maybe dandilions instead of that bouquet from the grocer. Keep a picture taped to the wall here and there…. especially in the kids’ rooms. Or a sweet little hand-made card one of the boys gave you, right by your bedside. Leave a yoga mat, a throw, and a good book in a neat pile by the couch. You get the idea… Perhaps the buyers will feel the love!

    I am wishing you huge luck, and hope that my horror story has not scared you. What I can say is I believe it will all turn out just fine in the end. Patience…… ommm…… 🙂

    • Your experience sounds horrific. I’ve been very lucky so far in that we have Squirrel’s parents house nearby that we escape to when there’s a showing. I don’t know what I’d do if one of the kids was still in diapers or if a deal fell through due to anyone’s error! I’m glad there was a happy ending for you.
      I’m off to implement your suggestions. We have people coming through today with two little boys this afternoon so the boys toys are coming out of the closet this time. Fingers crossed.
      Thanks for sharing your story. It didn’t scare me, just made me feel less alone. Somehow “shared” suffering is reassuring. 🙂

  3. Try baking prior to the showing…chocolate chip cookies on a plate or even some fresh baked bread. Trigger the sense of smell of your buyer & recall the memory, “I remember when…”

    Give it a whirl…ya got nothing to lose

    • Mmmmm. My realtor actually bakes delicious cookies at the open houses which is great because I am a terrible baker. I’m off to google how to fake baking though because you’re right the sense of smell is so powerful, I will give it a whirl and let you know how it goes! Thanks!

  4. I’ve only ‘bought’ not sold (and I’ll admit, I still swoon over professionally furnished and stages properties – it’s big in Sydney, Australia!). That being said, there’s NO way I could ‘clean’ my place for twice weekly showings (the standard in Sydney, and sometimes more if a interested party asks!). I struggle to keep my place ‘company’ ready, and that’s a much lower standard (though perhaps I have too high standards!?) Best of luck, it’ll happen it’s own time (as frustrating as that might be!)

    • Thanks Sarah! I am a sucker for well-staged homes too, but when I think about the places we’ve looked at in Whistler (and they were all pretty clean and tidy), I am only thinking about whether the layout suits our family and what my stuff will look like in them. So, I guess I shouldn’t assume that other people are obsessing over my throw cushions! I can’t believe you have twice weekly showings in Sydney, I’d die!

      • The argument I always hear for staging is that it makes it easier for the buyer to imagine themselves in the home. So, it’s not so much about your throw cushions as a reflection of your taste as it is about depersonalizing the place. And then living in it! You’re right, it is a weird process.

  5. I dread the very thought of ever selling this (my first) house for this very reason. I have to say though, in my neck of the woods, there are people who need to stage at least a little bit. I’m not talking about anything fancy, just you know, clean counters and floor and maybe run the vacuum. Seriously, some of the open houses we go to amaze me. Don’t those people watch HGTV?!

    On the other hand, I would probably hate to see the very thing that is on my counter right now: a cat. Yeah, there’s a cat on my counter. All the time. He’s 15 and spoiled and he refuses to move so I gave up.

    Speaking of counters, is yours absolute black granite? If so, how do ya like them? Are they hard to keep looking clean (assuming you know, you don’t have cats sleeping on your counters).

    • Ugh! They are hard to keep clean. It’s not so bad now that I figured out the micro fibre cloth trick, but we’re a family of snackers and I could spend all day keeping them clean. I don’t though…unless someone is coming to see the house. I’ve had cats all my life, but our “Frankie” died about two years ago, enough time to have eradicated all the pet fur but not enough that I don’t miss someone jumping up on my counters. She only did it at night though when no one was looking. 🙂

  6. I have never bought a home, but if I had to guess, I’d say that I would be turned off by dirt and by overly personal items. Actually, I went to see an apartment here and the couple had a very sexy poster up in their bedroom. We had a good laugh about that later 🙂

    I love your towel gripe. I don’t know why I never noticed before, but my husband is a real towel consumer. The other day I couldn’t find my towel, probably because he had stolen it and then hung it in some random place to dry, and he offered to get me a new one. I said “that is a laundry producing decision!” I’ve been doing all the laundry in our house, but we’ve just re-distributed duties and now he gets towels, maybe he’ll be more careful? I don’t even mind washing them because it’s still only one load, I just don’t like the way they are everywhere between loads (our place is small and we have a shared machine). Anyway, that was way too much detail about my towels!

    • Towel angst deserves press! When I visit Squirrel’s parents place, his Mom has stacks and stacks of towels in every bathroom and it actually gives me a panic attack thinking of the damage my family will do that I’ll have to deal with later. It’s scary!!!!
      I never considered sexy posters as a staging tactic. Makes me wonder what other things I overlooked like Hustler under the mattress or a colourful array of bedside toys. OK – grossing myself out now! Thanks for the laugh.

  7. Just come across this blog so very late to comment! We bought a house a few days ago for $40,000 less than asking price because the place was a pigsty and the owner was embarrassed and barely put it on the market and discouraged viewers! I was against it at first but on the second visit we brought a tape measure to measure the rooms and we realised it was big enough! When we moved in it was completely empty and had been professionally cleaned.

    So I would recommend a good declutter, tidy up and clean is essential to get a decent sale!

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