I’ve been in real estate for seven years. I’ve seen a lot of houses during that time. Some are stunningly beautiful and from the moment I walk in, I want to live there. Some are being sold as-is, are essentially trashed inside, filled with mold or dry rot, and are priced accordingly. In the case of the ones where I want to live, they’ve created a scenario for the potential buyer. The furniture, artwork, knick-knacks, etc. are just a touch about average, because then the buyer thinks, “Oooo, my life will be better-than-average if I live here!” Often the dining room table, or at least the breakfast bar, have place settings set out so it looks as though the current owners will be having a dinner party or some friends over later that evening. Because they’re so popular, you see, and you can be, too, if you buy that house.
Yesterday I showed an unusual house. There are several steps up to the front door – a couple flights, and they’re rather steep. From the front door, there is a beautiful view overlooking south Richland and portions of south Kennewick. The foyer is large, and on the same level is an office, a half-bath, the laundry room, the kitchen and the dining room. Up five or six stairs from the foyer is the living room. The office and the living room have the same great view that you have at the front door. Up six or so more steps from the living room level are the four bedrooms, including the master, and the master bath, plus a full bath in the hall. Two steps DOWN from the foyer level is a game room and a family room and the exit to the garage. Finally, from the main level there is a small flight of stairs down to a basement level, which the current owners have staged to look like a movie screening room. Phew! That’s a LOT of stairs! I was trying to think what kind of people would find this place ideal.
I know my kids would. We live in a single-story and my kids BEG us to have stairs in our next house. However, as we age, our joints protest if we climb and descend too often in a day. If I had a brand new baby, I’d hate to be running up and down those stairs every time I’d need to when the baby cried. Plus, when that child was learning to walk – yikes! Baby gates galore! So the floor plan/layout is going to work for a very limited amount of people. The audience for that home is small. That’s not good news for the sellers. You want to appeal to the most people possible when selling your home.
In addition, the kitchen was decidedly dated. The counter tops were white tile. An island had been converted to a beautiful granite top, but everything else was still the tile. The cabinet pulls were black plastic basic handles. The floor was a wood laminate, which has its place, but that place is not in a $400,000 home.
The rest of the house was acceptable. Nothing remarkable…until the master bedroom and bath.
There was carpet in the bathroom. All together now – euuuuuuwwwwww!!!!! The toilet and shower were in a separate, not-carpeted area, but there was carpet in front of the jetted tub, the dual vanity and the closets. Carpet in closets is fine. After all, who wants to pick out their clothes for the day while standing on tile or vinyl? But carpet anywhere in a bathroom is not desirable for the majority of people.
However, the real pièce de résistance, was the bed in the master bedroom. It was round. Like you see in Poconos advertisements and Love, American Style re-runs. I had never seen a round bed in real life. It kind of creeped me out, honestly. I felt as though I was in one of Hugh Hefner’s lesser vacation homes. The client was not amused by the bed, either.
Three things contribute to this home being on the market for more than six months, in an area where average time on the market is 140 days. First, the house is the kind of house that someone will have to fall in love with to buy. Any owner will take a bath on the re-sale because it is so unusually designed. So if you buy it, it’s because you adore it and the fact that it won’t appreciate at a similar rate to other homes in the neighborhood doesn’t bother you.
Second, the master bathroom flooring. Take the carpet out! Keep a strip along the closet, but tile the floor by the tub and the sinks. I cannot stress enough the need to have things accomplished for the buyer already. Don’t have a flooring allowance, just get it done.
Finally, the round bed in the master bedroom! It doesn’t stay with the home, so what does it matter, Cari? It matters because it strikes an incongruous note. It doesn’t belong in a bedroom in a modern house. The point of staging a home is that the buyer needs to be lulled into a sense of belonging in a home…a if they could move right in and start living a fabulous life. How fabulous is your life going to be in a room with a bed from decades past?
The seller cannot do anything about the first aspect. However, he or she CAN do something about #’s 2 and 3, and should. The fewer objections a buyer has to overcome, the sooner they’ll buy the house. It’s that simple.