Rebuilding for strangers (28)

I’m meeting my realtor for lunch. Our topic: rebuilding for strangers. My house, that is. I still plan to sell it. When I flew back home from my business trip the night of the fire, I thought I had only one day to clean up all traces of my son’s housesitting from the last week. The photographer had already taken lovely photos of the house, yard, and gazebo, and my realtors were about to post them online. I was already thinking about how I would spend Saturday morning away from the house, hoping that the first potential buyers would be coming by. Instead, I came home to a fire, a son in ER, and a ruined house. My son recovered in a couple of weeks, but it was going to be three or four months for the interior of my house to be restored.

It’s been about eight weeks since the fire though it feels much, much longer. My house is being gutted and there are piles of dry wall in many of the rooms as the giant dumpster outside is already full to the brim. The contractor calls and says I should start thinking about cabinets and paint colors now, just in case they have to order something. This is when I call Sharon, my realtor. I had interviewed Sharon and her husband Bob a few months ago and selected them to sell my house and help me find another one. I especially liked Sharon, who is bubbly in her enthusiasm about, it seems, almost everything. She can also sympathize about the fire as she had had a similar experience some years ago. The son was home alone, asleep, and the dog woke him up to the fire. They were out of their house for several months, too. When I talk about how stressed I am, she knows firsthand how it is.

I’ve brought magazines with photos of kitchens and bathrooms I like as well as paint colors. My contractor had suggested a light beige with white trim everywhere, nice and neutral. Personally, I like more color, but I’m not decorating for my tastes. I have to keep those house-hunting strangers in mind. How about a few other neutral colors in some of the rooms, I ask. Nope, Sharon says, take it from me. When developers paint a house, that’s how they do it – the same neutral in every room. Yawn. I guess I’ll live in a boring house for a few months then. We look and discuss lots of options and then bypass most of my personal preferences for impersonal house-selling ones. Personally, I lean towards the lighter woods and a north European or Scandinavian look, but we decide on the cherrywood cabinetry and slightly darker flooring. At least it will still be modern in its basic design. That’s what most people want, she tells me, and I take her word on it. My contractor later agrees. They’ve seen a lot more houses than I have, so I concur, and I console myself with the thought that I can do whatever I want to my next house.

Light wood flooring, covered with soot

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This entry was posted in Buying a House, Contractor, Family Crisis, House, House Fire, House Sale, Interior design, My Life, New Beginning, Personal Memoir, Realtors, Rebuilding, Son, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Rebuilding for strangers (28)

  1. People unfortunately forget that what their taste in decor, color, and furnishings might be is most likely not going to be the same for a potential buyer. While blandness may seem the height of mediocrity it is in fact a selling tool because it allows a potential buyer to use their imagination and lay out the house in their mind. I believe that men and women react differently to different colors, so neutrality is the best course to take when putting a house up for sale.

    • shoshwrites says:

      I think it’s because most people lack imagination or vision. They can’t look beyond the present condition of a house, so we sellers have to give them a blank page as far as possible.

  2. A house up for sale is like a novel. It is best to begin with a blank page, and that is how most potential homeowners view it. In a highly competitive market a seller needs to do whatever they can to gain an edge with the buyer. It’s like chicken broth. You supply the broth and the cook will supply the ingredients.

  3. Sharon says:

    I happen to be one of those people who can picture what my things would look like in another home, but many people can’t. When I bought my second home I walked in, decided what I was going to put where before I even made an offer and 17 plus years later very little has changed, but for 2 rooms where my adult children took their furniture when they were in college. I do agree that most people are not visual. When I sold my first house my Realtor me to take away a ton of stuff that I stored in the garage. I have a smaller place and more things – keep donating but always to find something new. I agree with Harmon – let buyers decide what they want.

    • shoshwrites says:

      Yes, I’ve decided that living in a rather depersonalized, somewhat bland house will be a small price to pay if it sells quickly [and hopefully with a bit more profit]. The market is hard enough these days – very different than when I sold my California house in 2004!

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