Selling Dreams

The weather is cooler now, so the housing market is moving into full bloom.What happens in Spring in other areas of America happens in Fall in Phoenix. As snow birds begin to drift in (along with the real migrating birds), houses pop up for sale. Three weeks ago, my morning walk sported no “For Sale” signs; this morning there were six.

gty_house_for_sale_florida_tk_120801_wgThese are the houses that will become rentals for snow birds. Some of them become the second home for those who hate the cold of winter but don’t want to endure the heat of our summers, either.

Most of the houses that now have “For Sale” signs have undergone changes in the past weeks. I’ve seen paint cans, tiles left over from new floor installations, new windows, painted fences, new plants.

With each new sign I see, I begin to wonder why the inhabitants lived in less than they wanted or thought was pleasing until they decided to put the house up for sale. Then they spent money to please someone they don’t know to show them how nice the house is.

For sale signI wonder how many of them wanted those improvements, upgrades or changes but didn’t do it just for themselves, to make their home more of what they wanted.

Yes, I’ve done similar things in homes I’ve sold. But mostly, I put things back to neutrals, hiding my own eccentric taste–the summer melon hallway with Moroccan tile, the three-toned living room with contrasting trim that became beige before it went on the market. But I never made major improvements for others.

In my last house, we sunk an indecent amount of money into improving the kitchen so it would work for Cooking Man, only to have a real estate agent tell us, when we were ready to sell, that we could not expect to recoup costs of countertops that weren’t black granite or a single-space sink (good for soaking big pans) when the “only thing that would sell” was a big/little sink combination–the popular model of the day.

It’s interesting to see how eager we are to please others when there may be a financial advantage. And more interesting to see what we will live without.

And I wonder if we don’t do the same thing with our behavior–we upgrade ourselves to impress people but we don’t make that move for ourselves. We’ll live with those bad habits because it’s hard to change.

Maybe that’s what Brené Brown meant when she spoke of being vulnerable–being worth it to ourselves to be the person we’d like others to think we are.

Quinn McDonald needs to have her rugs cleaned. For herself.