Things Not to Do When Selling Your House

Morty the Moose

Morty the Moose

 

I’m in a good mood today.

It’s a gorgeous fall day, and we’re headed to Kansas this week for NASCAR. Life is good.

This week we’re going to take a humorous look at some things you really shouldn’t do if you’re selling your house. I can’t promise there won’t be a funny story or two here or there. I’m just sayin’.

But first, a disclaimer: All these pictures are taken on my own personal properties. These pictures do NOT refer to any specific listing that I (or any other agent I know) have or may have¬†had. These are just general tips from a professional stager. Who happens to be me. ūüôā

This here is¬†Morty the Moose. Morty, short for Mortimer, has resided at the Stanton residence since October, 2006. He’s here to start the week off and¬†introduce the first tip.

Remove dead animals from your walls.

I promise no animal died just so I could write this post.

Morty was already dead when we got him. In fact, he was taken in 1989 in British Columbia by a doctor from St. Louis. Or so we were told when we got him.  Morty is quite large, but he happens to look really good in my living room.

I love Morty. But then, I am not selling my house.

If you are selling your house, you should remove and stow away any dead animals. This also goes so far as to include urns with the cremains of beloved family members or pets (with much respect and sympathy for your loss.)

“The way you live in your home, and the way you market your home are two different things.” Barb Schwarz, the inventor of Home Staging.

If your home is for sale, you want it to appeal to the largest pool of buyers possible. Anything you do to ‘customize’ it more to your own taste shrinks your pool of buyers.

Suppose you really love the tropics, so you decide to paint your living room or your kitchen Flamingo Pink. Great! For YOU. But that is only going to appeal to a small niche of buyers who happen to really love the tropics.

Having mounted trophies and memories of YOUR loved ones, and not the buyers or even anyone they know can sometimes creep people out. That means the showing won’t go well. Which means they won’t buy your house.

I know some of you may be saying, “We live in the deer hunting capital of the world; everyone expects to see mounted deer heads on the wall. That’s a whole LOT better than a moose!”

Yes, that argument may be logical; but then you’re going to shrink your buyer pool to people who are not bothered by seeing a deer hanging on the wall. And that may not be the nice people from California who are cash buyers who have been lifetime members of the Sierra Club. No matter where you live, it’s just a good idea to put away anything that could be considered creepy by buyers.

Back to Morty.

Moose in pickup

This is Morty when he arrived at our house. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture of Jimmy pulling in the driveway, with the long line of cars backed up behind him because he had to drive really slow. It was like a funeral procession.

Do you suppose people wondered what in the world he was doing with a Moose?

One antler comes off to make it handy-dandy to haul him around.

Maggie Sniffing

Maggie was freaked.

Maggie and the Moose

She knew he was an animal, but she couldn’t figure out what. She kept trying to stick her nose in his ears to try and get a bead on what he was.

She was very confused.

Convinced that Morty was stalking her, she kept an eye on him for weeks just to make sure he was still in the same spot.

Jimmy and the Moose

Here’s Jimmy getting him settled into his spot.

“Can we raise him 3 inches, please?” I was kidding. HA

My poor, long-suffering husband. He was not terribly enthused about this moose project, but he humored me.

His life has certainly been a lot more colorful since we met. ūüėÄ

 

The Poston Project: A Downstairs Update

This was a case of a family who loved the house they were in; they were Beth was just ready for a change. ūüėČ What they needed most was someone who could objectively give them some ideas and to help¬†keep everyone’s stress level on the manageable side. That’s where I came in.

When you’re living in the midst of a home remodel, it can be very stressful. I managed to stay married and speaking to¬†my husband after several of them, so I know it can be done. Although I¬†can neither confirm nor deny that there¬†may, or may not have been, meltdowns which occurred during the process.¬†HA

Sometimes, just simply getting started Рor knowing where to start Р is the overwhelming part!

So without further ado, here’s the scoop.¬†ūüėČ

The Kithen Before

If you looked at the photo album on Facebook, you know this is the kitchen before.

Beth and Bobby actually remodeled the kitchen ten years ago when they moved in. They were Beth was overall pretty happy with the kitchen, just wanting it painted and a new backsplash.

Beth has a clean, uncluttered style without a lot of extra stuff. (When I say a ‘clean’ style,¬†I’m not referring to the state of cleanliness of her house – although she is that too! – I’m actually referring to the fact that she prefers ‘clean lines’, without ornate styles or patterns.)

What amuses me about this picture is two things: the wallpaper actually makes the kitchen look cluttered. And, you don’t really notice the cabinetry; you notice the wallpaper, and the white fridge.

The Kitchen After

The rich, beautiful color¬†is now¬†the focal point of the kitchen. You may notice one other small change: during the remodel, her microwave died, so she switched it out for a matching white one. Now if that stove would just die… ūüėČ

Because successful marriages always involve compromise, we ‘blended’ their favorite colors for the accent walls. Bobby loved burgundy; Beth loved red. So we looked for a modern combination of the two, and found¬†Behr’s Wine Tasting. While it looks a little more red in the photos, it’s a little lighter than a nice Merlot.

Beth and I joked that we would never forget the name of the paint color. And then I forgot it. But that’s probably because I drink white wine.

Beth chose a multi-color gray glass tile backsplash. They are small tile¬†pre-set into 12 x 12 sections, so you don’t have to apply one small tile at a time.¬†This dramatically changed the look of the kitchen, and ties together the countertop and the existing gray tile floor.

Because¬†there was very little open wall space in the kitchen,¬†we painted all three walls.¬†Not only¬†did it make their cabinetry POP (she’s been¬†asked if she got new cabinetry!), but it also makes¬†the kitchen¬†look much brighter and warmer. Their new French door now makes a beautiful picture frame for their very pretty back yard.

The Family Room Before

I think the most dramatic change is in the family room.

Beth’s instructions to me were to leave the fireplace as is, or maybe paint it; they were going to eventually tear it out someday –¬†if they added on the back of the house –¬†because they had not been successful in getting it to work properly.

I couldn’t stand it. Fireplaces add value to your home; the minute you tear one out, you’re taking value away. Besides, think of how many family memories are created around a fireplace! Stockings at Christmas, a mug of hot cocoa in the winter, curling up in a cozy chair with a book and a glass of wine (wait, maybe that was me), etc.

 

The Family Room After

Fabulous!

The ‘Bamboo’ laminate flooring and the oak cabinet-grade built-ins (built by Dwayne Lawson) completely transformed the room. The room only had the one window, so we added lighting in front of the cabinetry. These, and all the other walls, are Behr’s Pecan Sandie.

Or maybe the archway is my favorite.

Divider Wall Before

If they removed this whole wall, they would lose the wall space, and the ability to place furniture there. I suggested several ideas, and showed them some examples. Reid sketched their favorite; now they wondered how they lived without this counter all these years!

 Divider Wall After

The Bar

I love the bar stools! And now you can have a snack or be in the kitchen and see the TV, or just simply feel like you’re a part of everything!

¬†The bathroom was made much more spacious just by simply reversing the swing of the door. It had quite possibly the leetlest vanity I’ve ever seen! We replaced it with a larger one that made sense in the space and dressed it up a bit.

The Bathroom Before

And the wallpaper went away.

 

 The Bathroom After

¬†Now, a downstairs bath that’s proud to meet guests, no matter which side it sees. ūüėČ

And then there’s the living room. Maybe that’s my favorite.

The Living Room Before

We took a room with no clearly defined purpose, and gave it a new life.

Several years ago, the family lost their finished basement, which served as a family room, to a flood while on vacation. They were down to one TV room, and the living room was being used as a computer room and office.

The Living Room After

Fabulous! The bamboo floor is also in here, with a large area rug to make it cozy. Reid added an overhead light and cable, and now this has become daughter Katy’s favorite room to do homework.

The accent wall not only gives the room its Wow Factor, but it will also look fabulous from the outside. (Have you ever thought of how your room might appear from the outside?)

And the new spindles on the stairway? What a fabulous change that is! Reid ran the bamboo up the stairs, but added a carpet runner, which will really make it easier to clean. Fabulous!

The Stairs Before

What.A.Difference.

The Stairs After

And did I mention that the top of the railing and the main post stayed the same? It looks fresh, clean and uncluttered. Traditionally modern. ūüôā

One thing I didn’t mention is that we also switched out the original doors, which were flat hollow core, for 6-panel oak doors. Reid did a terrific job of matching the other woodwork. They say life is in the details, and a remodel is no different. Updating the doors made a huge difference.

If you want to see a little more realistic view, you can watch the visual tour here: http://www.visualtour.com/show.asp?T=3169754.

Thank you, Beth and Bobby. It was a terrific project, and we’re glad you love it. I had a blast! ūüôā

 

Getting My Head in The Right Place

Will Work For Shoes

Will Work For Shoes

I was ready to quit.

Seriously.

After a year of challenges, setbacks, discouragements and wasted moments, I was ready to hang it all up.

As I told a friend of mine recently, “I know that ‘failure’ precipitates success; but how do you know when it’s ‘failure’ or if it’s a sign?”

I’m a big believer in signs.

I’d told some of my friends. I was sure I’d made the right decision.¬†And yet, I wasn’t really sure. I kept pondering and looking for answers, but there were none there. It’s like I was in limbo. And I’m not a big fan of ‘limbo’. I like to know where I’m going!

So there I was for most of the summer, waffling.

Periodically, I would ‘check in’ with myself, looking for inspiration or conviction or answers or something¬†to provide guidance. No answer. Nothing. More waffling. Waffle, waffle.

Get the picture? ūüėČ

And then something happened.

Last week, some really phenomenal things occurred. First, I graduated with a group of outstanding Realtor(r) leaders in my Leadership Academy class. We had conversations, we learned, we shared. I benefitted greatly from the final lesson on leadership and their sage advice.

My friend Carolyn said it best: “When discouragements or negative things happen, each thing¬†chips away¬†at you like someone with an ice pick.¬†It¬†eats¬†away at you a¬†little bit at a time.”

Then, unexpectedly, I was honored with the Brady Stevens Award from the Missouri Association of Realtors,¬†awarded each year to “the preceding year’s Outstanding Graduate, Realtor Institute(r)”.

The validation and acknowledgment of my hard work was wonderful!¬†“Is this a sign?” I wondered. “Should I stay in this business? Which is the right path?” Still no answer.

SIGH.

And then, something else happened. I was sitting at the Board of Director’s Meeting on the last day¬†with my friend Beverly, listening to one of the speakers. I had zoned out briefly, messing with my phone, when suddenly, Beverly nudged me.

“Are you listening to this? She’s talking about YOU!” (?!?!)

Well, the speaker wasn’t really talking about¬†me personally. But what she said was something to the effect of “If you work really hard and you keep doing the right things, eventually your hard work WILL be rewarded.”

THERE’S MY SIGN! ūüôā

So on the way home, I had about 3 hours to ponder. I felt like a new person.¬†I realized that what I needed was to¬†get my head in the right place and to get out of my own way. (You know, “Let Go and Let God.”)

See, when you’re in the sales business, judging your success by someone else’s is an easy habit to get into. It’s easy to forget to be authentic – to really be yourself.¬†The problem with this is that then you aren’t being yourself; you’re dancing to the beat of someone else’s drum. And how is it possible to be successful when you aren’t living your definition of your own life?

The honest truth is that I don’t have a desire to burn up the MLS and have the most listings and make the most money. There’s always going to be someone who does that; and by the time I caught up, the game would have probably changed!

What I DO have is a passion to provide outstanding customer service to the clients I work with, in a way that’s ethical, morally correct and authentic; and I have an incredibly passionate desire to advance our industry.

And that, my friends, is my definition of success.

The Road To Success

The Road To Success

 

Your definition of success is probably different, and it should be.¬†Otherwise, it wouldn’t be yours.¬†And while people may look at you and think you’re climbing the ladder straight up to success, those of us who are on the path know what it really looks like (see the picture at left.)

Is it any wonder it’s easy to get discombobulated on the journey?

And you know what? I think I might actually be taller with my head on straight. ūüėÄ

My Trip to Key West

I love to travel; it¬†always makes me feel more interesting. More alive. But that’s just me.

As human beings, it is part of our nature to like routine: doing the same things in the same manner and at the same time. Routine brings comfort.

But if we get too¬†complacent, to do something new becomes painful. So we don’t. It’s easiest to keep doing the same things, and to stay comfortable. Slowly, without our noticing, our world begins to become smaller. And smaller.

Mile Marker 0

This is Mile Marker 0, in downtown Key West. It’s the most photographed point in Key West. How they know this, I have no idea. But anyway…

Travel keeps me fresh, alert, and focused. When I’m home, it’s too easy to be too close to the forest to see the trees. When I’m away, I can access the “30,000 ft. View” of my life. I always learn something about myself, something I want to do differently, something that needs changing.

Sometimes they are big things. Sometimes they are small things. But I always come home with new ideas.

For instance, this trip, I decided that I should watch for the occasional piece of “signature” jewelry, rather than just pick up anything I find that I like.

I should pamper myself more often.Room ViewThis is the view from our balcony. It was worth it.

I should paint the underside of my deck light blue, as they are in the tropics. (That actually serves a purpose: they say that it discourages wasps from building nests because they think it’s the sky. I’ll let you know if that’s true.)

It’s time for a leather coat I have to be ‘retired’.

I need to simplify some parts of my life.

I need to slow down, and remember the little things really ARE the big things. (In other words, I need to live better.)

As favorite author Alexandra Stoddard says, “Do your creative work first. You’ll be happier when you’re doing your chores.” Yeah. What she said.

We had a wonderful weekend, filled with new adventures and new experiences, an amazing amount of conversation, and many shared favorite things. I love traveling with my husband, but the reality is that when you travel with girlfriends, the little-known secret is you actually have a better time, simply because you’re doing ALL the things that girls like to do!

(My biggest tip if you’re planning a weekend away is to spring for a room with a Balcony. Trust me on this.)Wine

One of the smartest things we did was to have a wine and cheese tray waiting for us when we got there. After spending 7 hours traveling and “lunch” consisting of 3 teensy bags of peanuts, we were starving.

And one of those little bags only had 11 peanuts in it. Seriously! (I counted.)

We spent a lot of time, and consumed a lot of wine, on that balcony. It was some of the best parts of the trip!Fruit & Cheese

Sometimes, something as simple as a fruit and cheese tray can be a sublime treat. We finished it off for breakfast the next day!

We rode the trolley around Key West, and learned lots of interesting historical factoids. We learned that “Key West is a party town with a fishing problem.” (Quote from one of our servers.) HA HA

We shopped on Duval Street, ate lots of good food, and saw some beautiful sunsets. (Sometimes you can see a green flash when the sun sets ‘into’ the ocean, so sunsets are a Very Big Deal in the Keys.)

We had a wonderful spa experience. I had a Milk and Honey Whole Body Treatment with a Vichy shower. It’s a long bar with 7…yes, 7…shower heads, and in between the showering you have a salt scrub, honey, then milk, then lotion treatment. Then their Jacuzzi.¬†It was phenomenal. And I bonded with the aesthetician. She even ordered me a Mimosa, just because. ūüôā And told me how to do a Milk and Honey bath at home.

Nancy got stoned. (Snicker snicker). Just kidding. She enjoyed a hot stone massage, and the sauna.

We took a sunset cruise with a band. We powerwalked the entire length of Duval Street to the other end. We found all sorts of new restaurants that taking a day trip simply didn’t allow time to discover.Me & Nancy

The highlight of it all was an outstanding dinner on Sunset Key. We took the ferry over to the Island, and our Concierge got us a prime table outside with a premium view. It was, without a doubt, an experience to remember.

Sunset Key

The best part of it all was it wasn’t crowded. Apparently, September is the deadest month of the year. With school starting and this month being typically an active month for hurricanes, it wasn’t nearly as crowded as peak season, when we’re there in January. Our Hotel BeachThis is our hotel beach, taken from the catamaran ride we were on.

It was awesome.

I love the Keys. Each of them have their own beauty and atmosphere, and I can’t wait to go back. ūüôā

Cleaning Out My China Cabinet

I’m sure you’re wondering where I’ve been and what I’ve been up to.

What I can tell you is that it’s very hard to be creative and insightful when life’s abundances happen all at once and it begins raining metaphorically.

Just as I began to “settle in” to our new office at the shop, my real estate business picked up. It’s incredibly gratifying to help my friends and clients make what may be¬†their biggest and most important move of their lives.

I love, love, love my Master Gardener class, which is 3 hours one afternoon a week. And I have homework! GASP!

Of course, there’s volunteer¬† work to be done.

Then my father-in-law had to be hospitalized, where he received a pacemaker.

I drove my dear friend Sophia to Columbia (Missouri) to see her mother in ICU one day.

We were thrilled that our good friends from Kearney were able to come up¬†last weekend.¬† My husband was one meat-smoking machine before they arrived! Then¬†there was¬†more smoke, and fire alarms, and calls to Central Dispatch to tell them to please disregard any fire alarms from this address. And Macaroni and Cheese that tasted like Hickory Smoked Mac & Cheese. (But that’s another story).

So, apparently I was amped up from¬†the busy¬†last few weeks of work; last Sunday I had the overwhelming urge to clean out my china cabinet. And it had to be done¬†right now.¬†¬†I’m sure that happens to everyone. Doesn’t it? Please? ¬†ūüėČ

This¬†is¬†my china cabinet. It’s one of my favorite pieces of furniture in our whole house. And versatile. It has served as a bedroom “dresser”, a linen closet, and now a china cabinet. I think I’ll keep it. Who knows what I might morph it into next?

My China Cabinet

It is filled with beautiful things that I almost never use anymore. We live a very casual lifestyle, and I am quite happy with this.

My grandmother’s china and crystal I am saving for our nieces, who haven’t picked it up yet. (Ahem!) ūüėČ

Grandma's China-Before

Grandma’s China-Before

Gifts given to me by beloved friends I will keep and treasure, as well as heirloom pieces that have been in my family for several generations.

However, I have a few pieces that were given to me years ago by people with whom I’ve completely lost track of, as well as things I’ve purchased that I no longer use or like. I have a dear friend who’s daughter is collecting things for her future apartment. Perhaps I can bless her with some of these things.

I have no idea why I somehow felt this particular need to start this project now. After all, it’s not anything that can be done in one day (especially by the time I wash everything I’m keeping!) So this is what my kitchen looked like last Sunday.

My Messy Kitchen

My Messy Kitchen

 

Sometimes I think it must be my version of ‘nesting’. When life gets out of control, it brings me a certain degree of peace and comfort to bring order to what I can control. This would, of course,¬†be my house.

For me, it’s a soul-soothing process to bring order and beauty to something that’s cluttered. It feels so good to open a cabinet door and have the space be pleasing to my eyes. Ahhhhhh.

This also means that my kitchen is a form of chaos until the project is done. But if you aren’t spending that much time there, you really don’t notice.

The Kitchen Counter

The Kitchen Counter

So today I finished washing all the china and putting everything back in. Did you know that you can actually put your china and crystal in the dishwasher? Yep. I loaded up the dishwasher, WITHOUT soap or rinse agent, and set it on the delicate cycle. Perfect!

After

It’s done. Doesn’t it look nice? Ahhhhh… ūüôā