Worshipping The Real Estate Gods

This is the first time I’ve used a real estate agent to sell a house and it’s been… interesting.  In fact, it’s startlingly similar to joining a religious cult.

First comes the proselytizing:  We can’t possibly achieve salvation (oops, ‘sale’) without the divine intervention of a home stager and real estate agent.

Chastened by our mortal interior-design sins, we allow the home stager to show us the Holy Way.  The most heinous of our furniture is banished to the outer darkness (the garage), while the remaining pieces are rearranged and sanctified by the addition of area rugs, cushions, throws, table lamps, and fresh flowers.

We are admonished to go forth and sin no more, and assured that if we adhere faithfully to the Holy Way we may merit admission to real estate heaven:  a profitable sale.

Accordingly, after the home stager departs we walk through the house snapping photos so we can correctly recreate each detail, in case (gods forbid) anything should get accidentally moved.

The beds must have brand new slightly off-white (not white) duvet covers, with so many pillows, cushions, and throws that the bed itself is mostly invisible and completely unusable.  Each time the house is shown, the giant heap of bedding must be reassembled precisely as shown in the Holy Photos.

There’s only one upholstered chair where I can sit, and I use an old cushion for back support.  Before showing the house, the cushion that has been defiled by my body is returned to the garage and replaced with a designer-consecrated one.  All other furniture is off limits, since using it would leave footprints on the area rug and/or disturb the designer’s arrangement of cushions and throws; which would then take half an hour to re-fluff and rearrange correctly.

The Articles of Faith (the designer’s tchotchkes) must be arranged just so.  The fruit bowl must contain oranges, green apples, and red apples.  Bananas are strictly verboten:  Only spherical brightly-coloured fruits are pleasing to the real estate gods.

We have to comply with dietary restrictions, too:  only bland odourless foods are allowed.

For each showing, the gods must be propitiated with music and delightful scents.  Since I can’t bear the smell of chemical air fresheners, I have to pop a couple of pieces of apple cinnamon cake in the oven half an hour before each showing.  Then the oven is opened to distribute the tasty aromas, while I walk around swinging the baking tin into all corners of the house like a censer.

We carefully check to be sure we’ve complied with each commandment, as though one misplaced pillow will cause all potential buyers to leave in disgust and cast our house into eternal ‘Days On Market’ damnation.

Finally, we turn on every light to welcome the gods, and humbly depart lest our presence offend them during the showing.

I’m doing my best in all this; but I suspect the gods can see into my sinful heart, where I’m secretly planning to reinstate all our tacky-but-comfortable furniture and indulge in a Bacchanalian orgy of roasting garlic as soon as the house is sold.

‘Scuse me; I have to go and remake the beds as penance now…

* * *

P.S. I’m poking fun at our situation, but I don’t mean to ridicule the home stager – she was great, and the results are amazing!  Her accessories make it look as though we actually have taste, and the new furniture arrangements make the interior look bigger and better.  And we aren’t really forbidden from using the furniture – it’s just that we’re too lazy to redo the designer stuff every time.  🙂

P.P.S. This may look normal to most people, but for us it’s the height of designer fashion!

living-room

The only things that are actually ours are the loveseat, dining table and chairs, and the painting. And, of course, the giant fern. We may have to sell that with the house…

51 Comments

Filed under Humour, Life

51 responses to “Worshipping The Real Estate Gods

  1. I’m going to share this with my wife who happens to be a Real Estate agent, I know she’s going to laugh out loud! I’m a Real Estate photographer and I truly understand what you’re saying.
    Great post!

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  2. The best time to sell your house is within the first 30 days and staging definitely helps! Once a house reaches the 90 days on market mark…it goes into the doldrums. Congrats!

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  3. Ahahahahahaah! I so missed your posts…too funny!! I am sitting here, laughing hysterically at the computer screen..and it’s 5 minutes to midnight. Hopefully the neighbours aren’t spying on me..hahahahaha

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ha! Now when I go to sell my motorhome, are they going to stage it also?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Bought and sold four houses in Regina in 34 years. Made no money on any of them, but lived comfortable in each. Never heard of a home stager but did do a great deal of decluttering. Hope your sale goes well. Remember the Real Estate Agent is NOT on your side. They will push you for a quick sale at any price to get their % off the top quickly. Holding out for another 25,000 may be important to you but is not much extra commission to them. Of four agents we used, there is only one I would ever recommend to anyone.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, we’ve certainly discovered the dregs of humanity during this process – some of the agents that came to show the house were real pieces of work. I joked to Hubby that before we started this process I generally felt kindly toward real estate agents, but now I pretty much hate everything about them.

      But at least our agent is pleasant and easy to work with, and I’m sure my attitude will improve when this is all over. Hoping that happens soon! (Both the closing and the attitude adjustment.) 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  6. We had our home staged as well and there was a great clearing our of favourite items. It did seem to make a difference and I shall hope that the same is true for you. It will be so wonderful to live in comfort again as you say. Sending you truckloads of patience. Best keep it in the garage.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Giant fern? I thought actual living things weren’t allowed! Not sure if that includes humans. The room doesn’t look like anyone actually lives there or if they do they must live an extraordinarily bland existence. No food or drink, nothing to read, no plants blocking the light of the windows, no critters trying to trip you or take up residence on the loveseat. Who lives like that?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fortunately the home stager we hired didn’t buy into the ‘no plants’ rule. Yet another reason why we liked her!

      And you’re right; we feel as though we’re tiptoeing around in a hospital operating room, afraid to sully anything with our touch. I can hardly wait until it sells and we can go back to actually living in our house instead of camping uneasily in the corners.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. jenny_o

    It’s such a game, isn’t it? And everyone in the middle profits. House owners and house buyers do not profit from this game. House owners suffer if they don’t play, and house buyers are being seduced by accessories when they should be looking at the actual house. It wasn’t that long ago that “stager” wasn’t even a thing 🙂 I don’t think we have that kind of upscale wool-over-eyes stuff going on here yet; I’ve only seen it on TV. Frankly, I hope we never do succumb!!

    Rant over. Good luck with your sale! I hope it’s all worth it. And your post was hilarious, so you’ve already spun straw from gold in one way 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you got a laugh!

      And I’m right there with you in the rant. It’s big money for the home stagers (particularly the ones we didn’t hire – they were going to completely replace all our furniture, draperies, art, and accessories). They get paid handsomely by the homeowner to supply all the new stuff; they get paid a monthly rental fee by the homeowner; and then the new owners often end up loving the look so much that they buy a bunch of the stuff from the stagers. Win-win-win… for the stagers. Not so much for the rest of us. Fortunately the woman we hired was fun to work with, happy to use as many of our things as she could, and very reasonably priced.

      Calgary was great when I first moved here 30 years ago but it’s all about the flash and dazzle now, and I’ve never felt comfortable in this neighbourhood. I can hardly wait to move to our new place, out in the sticks where I belong!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I feel for you but the pic does look good.
    I think I’m one of the only people who sees the room without furniture even when it’s there. When I was on holiday in Scotland last month there was a show house ok flat/apartment and my mum and I couldn’t resist having a look the rooms were huge and there was space for everything just a tad over my price range by £100k but the lady was wonderful and showed us round about 5 other empty flats. I did fall in love with the views still out of my price range even if I was actually looking for a new place.

    Good luck with discovering other smells, fresh bread is good and you can eat it afterwards

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love baking bread! It’s hard to find time for it between showings, though, since everything has to be pristine by the time the prospective buyers arrive.

      And only £100k over your price range?!? Yikes! Still, it’s great fun to look – almost more fun than actually buying, since you don’t have to worry about the logistics of moving. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • el Tea

        There is always the idea of keeping a loaf of frozen bread dough thawing or raising in the fridge until you need to pop it in the oven. They also offer it in roll sizes for quicker route from fridge to oven, and two rolls will add just as much perfume to the house as a whole loaf. Also it won’t overwhelm the two of you with lots of cheap white bread to eat or turn into bread pudding.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Shirley Trowell

    I find it interesting that we all have to go through this ritual to sell a house. People never actually look at a house but at how it is furnished. A case in Point. When my parents moved to Red Deer, many many moons ago, they bought a brand new home in a brand new subdivision. Only after the moving van started to unload the furniture did they realize, that it was not a double bed in one bedroom, but a 3/4 and that it was not twin beds in the other. Once everything was setup there was virtually no room to move in either room. I tried to remember that every time I have bought a new house( and there have been many). I look past how it is furnished, to how my stuff will fit. Will always remember looking at a house in Calgary advertised as …”cute and cozy, big bedrooms” Yeah right! And discussing the house after viewing realized there were no closets !!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oops! Always beware of the word “cozy” in real estate listings!

      You’re smarter than we were – Hubby and I are both analytical engineering types, and we just assumed that people would be looking at the house, not the furnishings. Boy, were we wrong. This has definitely been an education!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Kathy

    The gods must be crazy.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Haha, I know the feeling. We didn’t have an official home stager, but we decluttered a lot and followed some other advice of our realtor. But we managed to sell our house without investing in new bedding. A miracle, for sure, because believe me, teen sons’ comforters were (are) in scary shape. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • White duvet covers are SO not us, so that was basically money down the drain. We got quotes from a couple of home stagers, and the first one casually remarked that we could pick up duvet covers for “only” a little over a hundred bucks apiece. Gulp. Forty bucks at IKEA and we were away to the races – thank goodness for IKEA!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Would you believe I’ve never been to IKEA? But I’m a frequent flyer at Target. That’s my dream store. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • el Tea

        I just realized what you can do with those white duvet covers that are so not you, but as I think about it more ideas keep coming. Easiest is to resell them to some other home seller trying to keep it neutral, or if you are as lazy about decorating a spare bedroom as I am, you can just have a boring but antiseptic duvet cover for the spare and go nuts with pillow covers seasonally or depending on the personalities of the anticipated guests, or thirdly-go to your favorite full service art or fine craft store and buy a selection of fabric dyes for hand painted dyeing- y’know, just what you described Moonbeam Meadow Sky doing on silk. A friend does hand painted and hand dyed fabrics and scarves and yardage for a living. She uses carpet tacking slats that she clamps to saw horses instead of a table and works where it doesn’t matter if drips stain the flooring. I think she has to steam it afterwards to set the dyes, but I’m afraid the technical details are unknown to me. Her tools are mostly nearly free. She uses foam brushes and clear plastic highball cups for each color. She uses squeeze bottle and a thick carrageenan size to separate color fields she doesn’t want to blend, which she sometimes adds dye to also. Sometimes she further embellishes the work with fabric paint. I’m not sure if you have any fine craft interest. Since you did the research or know enough to write it into Spy High, it might be a fun thing to try out.

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        • That sounds like one of many fabric arts I’d love to try! I did a bit of fabric painting many years ago but haven’t had the time in recent years. I did solve the issue of the duvet covers, though – two of my friends volunteered to take one each, and that was that. Whew.

          I keep resolving to find more work/play balance, and then I look up and realize it’s 9:30 PM and I’ve worked all day again. But hope springs eternal – maybe I’ll manage it after the move… 😉

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  13. Karen Logan

    OMG Diane!! This is to be my not too distant future! I’m getting my house ready to sell and I’m only a couple of more days of work away before my realtor will come by to start the process of making the house look good for photos. After that, I guess me and my two house dogs will try to live lightly. LOL

    Can we see some pics of the arranged house for sale? Not to give out info on where it is or anything, just to see how nice it looks. And I’m definitely with you on the cooking with garlic. Right now, I’m gathering all the scented wax and candles so I can make the house inviting and yummy. Hopefully, this will not bring Hansel or Gretel around to munch. LOL

    Crossing my fingers that you have the same timeline that is happening in my area these days. About a week from appearing in the website to getting a good offer.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the good wishes, and I wish you the same! Calgary’s economy isn’t very good right now so we likely won’t have quite such a quick sale, but we’re keeping our fingers crossed! I posted a photo above (you may have to press F5 on your keyboard to refresh the view so you can see it). The designer added the rug, cushions, lamps, coffee table, and tchotchkes, but at least the loveseat and table and chairs are ours. The painting was done by my Dad’s great-aunt in 1888 and it has no value at all except to us, but it makes a nice focal point. 🙂

      And just today I’ve discovered that boiling a little pot of water, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, and a dollop of molasses makes the house smell like gingerbread cookies without having to heat up the oven. Hooray!

      Liked by 1 person

      • el Tea

        I imagine that your witch’s brew can be stored in the fridge between showings, and pulled out, some water added, reheat and repeat as needed.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Exactly! I think it’ll be a much easier process. But I’m already a little tired of the smell of gingerbread. 😉

          Liked by 1 person

          • el Tea

            Oh no! Gingerbread is my favorite thing. I’ve been trying to replicate a gingerbread loaf that was offered in the grocery area of Targets that included groceries. They haven’t sold it for several years now. It wasn’t so cake-like, it was much more like a quickbread in texture and far less sweet than gingerbread cake. Gingerbread cookies are too dry, but offer many artistic possibilities.

            There are other spices you could boil up before you can’t stand gingerbread anymore. There are spices used often in chai teas, namely star anise and cardamom pods, and a little ginger root perhaps. It will have the sweet spice thing working, but be a bit more exotic.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Mmm, I love chai – that’s a great idea! And maybe you’d like my grandmother’s ginger cookies – chewy and packed with flavour instead of hard and dry (and they’re fat-free, generations before fat-free was even a ‘thing’).
              Grandma Falk’s Ginger Cookies
              1 cup sugar
              2 teaspoons baking soda
              1 teaspoon lemon juice
              2 eggs
              1 cup dark molasses
              1 teaspoon cream of tartar
              1 tablespoon ground ginger
              1/2 teaspoon salt
              2-1/2 cups flour
              Mix together all the ingredients EXCEPT the flour and let the mixture stand for 1/2 hour. Then mix in the flour and drop in spoonfuls on a cookie sheet. Bake approx 10 – 12 minutes at 350 degrees. Enjoy!

              Liked by 1 person

      • Karen Logan

        Very nice area! I love the wooden floors, real or laminate. I have both in my home. And I really like it when it flows from one section to the next without looking like separate rooms. Down here, darker wood floors are the in thing so although I prefer light, I now have dark. It looks good but I draw the line at painting my kitchen cabinets white! Sure enough, most of the houses I’m looking at now have the painted white cabinets. Ugh. Not my preference.

        I hope you house sells quickly to someone who will love it. How’s your new house coming? Unpacked yet?

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thanks, and I’m with you on painted kitchen cabinets – ours have solid oak doors and it just seems wrong to put paint over them.

          Our new house exists only between our ears at the moment. Our project manager is hoping to apply for permits this week, and the modular portion of it should be placed sometime in February. Who knows when the site-built portions will be done! We’re planning to move and rent a condo out there in January. So much to do; so little time…

          Liked by 1 person

          • Karen Logan

            Oh, I remember your trip to your new home and talking about it being built. I kinda forgot that meant you didn’t actually move in. LOL This is the part that makes me wanna cry. I’m looking for a new job, trying to put my house on the market and not sure where I’m going to be living since I’m job hunting. I don’t do well with uncertainty so I’m feeling almost homeless and jobless right now, although I’m neither. Good grief, I’ve lost my mind!

            I’m trying to solve all my problems by purchasing lotto tickets. Of course, spending without winning is going to make me homeless faster than anything else that’s happening, but at least I can hope for a miracle this way.

            Off to start readying my turkey breast for cooking tomorrow. I’ll just let the tryptophan soothe my anxieties.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Oh, no – what a miserable situation. I feel for you! I don’t like uncertainty, either.

              I take a slightly different view of lottery tickets – I rarely buy them, but when I do, I only buy one. The five bucks I spend on that one ticket gives me just as much hope and anticipation as buying a dozen (and pretty much an equal chance of winning, given the odds). And five bucks for a bit of hope now and then won’t break the bank. 🙂

              Happy Turkey Day!

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