The Mystery of Staging

My Desk... BEFORE

Here’s how I feel about decluttering and depersonalizing… get an imagination people! I mean, if seeing a few pictures or my children’s artwork on the walls is enough to turn you off from buying my house, then you have zero imagination. Obviously, all my stuff will move with us and you can surely make the house your own.

But, that’s what we’ve been told to do. Declutter. Depersonalize.

Eleven years ago, we sold our first house. Yes, I cleaned, I think *smirk*, but I don’t recall packing up anything that identified us as a family for the sake of inspiring potential buyers’ to imagine their own families there. Staging was something done in the theater, not in one’s own house.

We sold that house within two weeks.

Times are different now.

HGTV has ruined real estate for normal people.

Something near perfect isn’t just hoped for, but expected.

And shamefully, I’m guilty of it too. When ogling houses online or in person, I’ve snubbed my nose at popcorn ceilings and wallpaper. If I see wood paneling, I wince and turn away.

Granite countertops are so normal that anything else seems cheap, even though my own countertops are good, ol’ fashioned formica. I can look past odd paint colors, but don’t really want to. If the carpet (if it has to have carpet) is any color other than neutral, it might as well be crime-scene carpet. It’ll have to go. I want turn-key, but also the charm and character of a house with stories to tell and mature trees in the yard.

Real estate agents are different, too, at least in my limited experiences. Our first agent, Allen, took care of everything and asked us to do little. Sure, we did some routine repairs to our first house, but Allen didn’t ask us to change a thing - even the very unprofessional “mural” I created in my son’s room (I still don’t know what I was thinking with that one).

Allen also found us our new home. He understood what we were looking for, found listings that could suit us, and patiently gave us tours. He picked really good options, all contenders, and fought for discounts for us when we decided on new construction. Allen made it all very easy.

This time ‘round, we’ve had to do mega-work. Fixes, yes, but painting, decluttering, depersonalizing, and staging. Bye-bye all the pictures of my children growing up. Bye-bye all the cutesy cards, pictures, and notes I taped above my desk for inspiration. Bye-bye weird ceramic plate with a picture of an antelope on it… Our agent came by the house for our photo shoot to make sure we’d done well. We passed.

On the other end, we’ve gone through two agents so far to find a house. During Joe’s first trip to Wilmington, he found an agent, asked several times to see some houses during his week there, and when she couldn’t make time, he went with another. They toured a dozen homes in two evenings. But, this time around, we’re finding the homes online that we’re interested in seeing, and the agent is setting them up. She’s not suggesting listings as much as she’s working off our list. Kinda takes the fun out of it. Plus, it’s more work for us.

Back home, showings have been slow. The house has been on the market for over a month. We had an open house, but no one came. Though we know that everything happens in God’s timing, not ours, selling the house has become a tremendous source of stress. We can’t move forward until it sells. We are in house-selling, home-buying limbo.

Maybe I’m venting about things not being like the ol’ days, but the good side of this is that I need to work on my expectations. Instead of trying to find perfect, I need to accept perfect peace.

"I will walk within my house with a perfect heart."

Psalm 101:2