This morning I had to go out for an appointment.  On my way back I saw a lady, on this drizzly day, carefully raking the small garden in front of her home.  I am betting it was no more than a foot or maybe 2 by 10 feet.  Her care reminded me of the care “Grampa Smith”, our neighbor in one of our homes gave to his @20 X 40 garden.  As I drove home and thought of these two examples of care, it fit right into my theme that has been running through my mind this last few days.

There is no one size fits all in anything.

The beginning this thought came when I was told to ‘stage’ my house for selling it.  We are downsizing some since there are only two of us living here.  I was offended by some of the advice I was being given.  Having bought and sold over 10 homes in the last couple of decades, I am not new at this buying/selling thing.  The current thought in real estate is to strip your house of any presence of you living there.  De-clutter, unclutter, stage the house – the words that are used to tell you to get out of your home before you sell it.

I hope you noticed the two words used.  The realtors are selling a house.  I am selling a home.  There has to be a happy medium here.

As I thought about the sale of this house – our home – it came to me there is no one size fits all for realtors and staging either.  I thought more about ONE SIZE FITS ALL.  Does It?  I do not think so!

I back this answer up with a couple of current facts – statistics if you will of another product.  If there was a one size fits all philosophy out there we would not have 50 different brands of toothpaste according to Wikipedia.  Two countries seem to be the major manufacturers.  Japan and the US currently have the market.   The Japanese even have a brand called ‘”Etiquette Toothpaste”.  I wonder what it is like.

A great story in the research was “Tom’s of Maine”.  I remember when this brand was started in 1970 and trying to break through to the market.  The Chappell’s, Tom and Kate, were big into natural ingredients and wanted that in their toothpaste.  They began the business with $5000.  They sold it for $100,000,000. to Colgate-Palmolive in 2006 retaining a 16% share.  Congrats to them!

Backing up even more with another product we all use – toilet paper.  I could not find the exact number of brands that are out there.  I did find there are 6 manufacturers and Good Housekeeping has tested 20.  Imagining there are more than 50 brands with worldwide usage.  I did find a website that calls itself “The Encyclopedia of Toilet Paper”.  (1) It claims to have the history of toilet paper from 50BC to the present day.  It has much else including the fun fact that 72% of people first start their roll with the paper coming OVER the roll.  A question that is ageless – right?  Now you have an answer.

If there were a one size fits all we would have only one brand of toothpaste, one brand of toilet paper, one brand of coffee and I could go on.  The fact is we do not.  We have choices.

The question then becomes,  as I return to the premise of this blog about real estate,  “Why would we all want to look at sterile homes devoid of all the warmth that a families existence has brought to the dwelling?”  I would answer that with: “Take them to a model house”.  This house will have no knicks or dings anywhere.  A home on the market has had life in it.

There are many different kind of real estate buyers.  I have purchased houses to live in myself and create a home and I have purchased houses for rental.  I still try to find good bones in a building and obviously want it to be structurally solid with utilities in good working order.  My choices for either depended upon their use.

Decor means nothing to me as I see beyond it to what I can place in the house.  Our most recent purchase was an empty house, painted in a color I do not like and can live with.  It is carpeted throughout the living area and has oak kitchen cabinets.  I have no problem envisioning hardwood floors throughout with a white kitchen.  Anything and everything can be changed if the structure suits you.

Supposedly it is easier to sell a furnished house then an empty one.  Thus builders will put furniture into their model houses to help the buyer see themselves in this building.  While most model houses are lovely they seldom reflect my eclectic way of decorating so I have to look beyond their tastes.

That is my point.  As long as the house is clean, picked up and neat then decor should not matter.  The photographer that came to take the pictures of our home told me that she made her father put away all his reminders of his many travels to sell his house.   I wondered how he enjoyed living in his home from then to sale with no reminders of the joy of his life.  Did it sell his house any quicker?

Since 1990 we have sold 6 homes and 3 rental houses.  The homes were in various stages of furnishings .  Some had furniture others did not. Some were on sale in slack real estate markets, other not.  The favorite was the TN home that sold in 20 days for full price while we were on a business trip in Paris.  We did not stage a thing nor put away personal items.  The home was tastefully decorated and had our familiars throughout it.  We decided if we sell another home we simply have to put it on the market and go to Paris.  Sadly this trip has not yet happened again.

We have friends who are selling their home as well. They were told by their realtor to go through it and make it impersonal, to start packing their belongings and paint the walls a neutral color.  They did all of it as the marketing agents said it would sell better and quicker.  They worked extremely hard.  There were many showings in the beginning.  Their house is on the market still while they are contemplating lowering the price.  I hope they do not as their house is worth the price though the marketing people are now telling them differently.  It is a lovely home and will sell.  They are being told their drawback is that the lot slopes back.  Really – they liked it and bought it!  Someone else will as well.  How is staging going to change the shape of a lot?

Here we are being told to start packing our own things as well.  There are those who might say I am a wee bit stubborn as I refuse to live in a house that is not a home.  I have given in some by taking down most of our family pictures that filled our bookshelves.  I have removed any clutter from our closets.  All the clothes are hung up not on the floor.  We are going through our storage and tossing so those areas will look neater.  We are going through the office and disposing of books.  We close up the roll top desk to hide the real clutter.  In the meantime I am still comfortable here at home as I was in all the homes that sold furnished – there were 5 I believe.  This house will sell when our buyer is ready to buy.

It is my job to keep our home clean.  It is the realtors job to sell the clean home.  They hopefully will be savvy enough not to bring someone here who wants a ranch – we are a 2 story.  Hopefully if a person wants a first floor master they will pass us by as we do not have one.  If they want a completely finished basement they must move to something else as we have a craft room, bathroom, a storage room and a workshop in our basement.  Just as I am keeping up my end hopefully realtors do their homework as well.  Tell me they do not like my deck or do not like our craft room.  Solid comments.   To hear that the decor got in the way says the people did not want this house at all or had no imagination thus decor is an easy excuse.

Blessedly our realtor is understanding and supportive of my position on staging.  She believes she can sell our home furnished or not.  Some of the realtors she had at her open house seemed to agree.  My favorite comment was “Lovely home – I have someone I want to bring by when they are in town.”

I leave you with another thought.  There is no one size fits all being the first.  I believe this with all of my being.  No one size in anything!

The second thought is that your perspective is your reality.  I believe our buyer is coming.  I believe they will be here in God’s time not mine.  Our prayer was that the first person who sees this house buys it.  That prayer was not answered.  Now we are praying the buyer comes soon.  They will in God’s time not ours.  It is our job to take care of this home until they arrive.

A sweet friend of mine who lives with MS said this today as she was headed for a treatment…..

“When you have an eternal perspective, and your eyes are on the prize, the little things that can bring you down don’t seem so bad.”  Wisdom from a 30 year old!  Thanks Jenni. Making this my perspective my reality – I am not in control!