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.


8 thoughts on “Selling Dreams

  1. i agree with you. A few years a go I decided my house should be “sell ready” and have everything that I wanted. Then last year we decided to downsize and had to do everything in boring beige. My gorgeous orange and blue kitchen became painters’ white. You should have it the way you like for yourself.

  2. Oh dear, the walls of my home is neutral inside and I like it that way, but it blends with the driftwood colours of the beach and I have so many big doors that open out. I’d live outside with just a movable roof for the rain if I could! Or maybe a house of all glass and just interior walls. I love it that me and my ‘stuff’ to provide the splashes of colour.

    But yes, most people adjust voices, manners to fit in, to sell themselves. As I get older I am more ‘me’ all the time, but then we’re all multifaceted aren’t we? Brené Brown’s TED talks are wonderful . . . and as I get older I have more of the courage she speaks of. I’ve recommended her to so many.

  3. In our old house, we elaborately stenciled the walls in my daughter’s room and painted it periwinkle. I believed that someone would think it was beautiful! The realtor advised us to paint over it but we opted not to. The house was sold and the buyer later told us that although she didn’t have kids the room was perfect for her visiting nieces & nephews! So you never know.

  4. Quinn you must read my mind! I just de-shari-fied my whole house… and it is really hard to live here now, as it is not me… This was going to be my forever home, so I have purple carpet in the studio and a very creative paint job in there. Alas my life has changed and I must relocate after 12 years here. Great loss, but I have neutralized everything (de-shari-fied!) to appeal to the masses. But I did not sacrifice my paint job in the studio yet and will only paint over it if it does not sell in 6 weeks. Here is a pic of what my studio looks like after I made it back into a master bedroom.

    • It looks like a Master Bedroom. I’m sorry you have to de-Shari-fy it. That’s sad. The people we bought our D.C. house from hadn’t quite understood the concept of painting it neutral. When we went to look at it, it was high-gloss white enamel–walls AND ceiling. It was like standing in a urinal. We changed it.

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