Thursday, February 26, 2009

Your Opinion, Pretty Please

So we're down to the nitty gritty, realtor coming this Saturday, and for all of you who are bored to death hearing about this - I feel your pain. It bores me, and it's my life!

But I need an opinion - I've watched all the HGTV shows, read the articles, blah, blah, blah - but what do real people really think? That's what I need to know -

So could you please leave a comment and tell me how you really feel about the following:

music playing when you are touring a home (I'm thinking Kenny G, no lyrics)

candles lit in various rooms

lights on in every room (some of mine could use a dimmer!)

smells - do you prefer bread baking (how I'd pull that off is beyond me), fresh, clean smell, etc.

family photos left out

Other than that I think I've got it covered, I don't want the house to have a manipulative feel, and the one home I toured that was obviously professionally staged completely turned me off. But then those with flocked wallpaper and 99 photos of people with hairdos from the 1970's were a bit much too. So a little help please - what do you think?

Oh, last, would you be horrified by a cat somewhere on the premises. She'll likely hide under the bed, and I'm afraid she would be completely traumatized to have to leave with us for every showing, but then a lot of people aren't cat lovers either, and we're NOT writing her into the contract, going with the house, as DH suggested!


Linds said...

To get the bread baking smell, just dampen a loaf of bread with water, and pop into the oven and bake a while. No baking necessary! Or buy some part baked bread rolls and bake for the prescribed time.

Music? Not necessary, unless you are in the house too.
The scent of fresh spring flowers like freesias is always great. Lights - yes in darker places and depending on the weather. On if foul.
Cat - well, tell the realtor it is there! I think it depends on whether you are in the house or not. Here the owners are generally out.
And the candles would depend on if you were there or not, of course.
Photos - put them away.

Hmmm. Lots of ifs and depends here! I hope that helped! Good luck, Bev!

Lynne said...

Just my own opinions:

Music - Kenny G or soft piano music so soft you can just barely hear it.

Candles - No, too fake looking.

Lights on - Yes and blinds, drapes, etc. open. Make sure the windows don't have fingerprints or dog nose prints!

Smells - Cookies or apple pie are nice, as is bread. Use a flavored candle for about an hour in the kitchen before people come, then blow it out right before you leave the house (hide the candle or take it with you). Or use a nice air spray, but not one that overpowers. I have one that I like - Lysol Clean Linen.

Family photos - I know they say not to have any family pictures, but I think a few pictures are nice. It shows that real people live there. I wouldn't have any hung on the walls though, just on a tabletop or a nightstand.

The cat - I'd try to move the cat out into a cage if possible, but if not, be sure to let them know that there's a cat under the bed. Be sure to put fresh litter in the box along with baking powder. When you live in the house, your nose gets used to the animal smells. Have someone who doesn't know your house well come in and take a whiff.

I don't like this new thing of "staged" houses. I want to walk into a house and feel that it's someone's home, that they're comfortable there and that I could be too. I just want to see a clean, neat home.

Becky said...

I think candles and music make it look like you are trying too hard.

I do like the idea of a couple of pictures on a night stand or end table. Like someone said, it makes it look like real people live there.

And I'd just tell them there is a cat that will not bother them.

You know, I have an electric tart burner that would be perfect. It looks rather like a night light and smells wonderful, but no one would necessarily recognize it as a "candle" type thing. Might be perfect for you.

I turn mine on a 1/2 hour before we have guests. It is located in the room right off the entryway, which no one actually walks into, but it makes the front of the house smell so good.

Just a thought.

secondofwett said...

Just a thot....some people are highly allergic to cats so that might be a consideration if you leave it in the house. I agree with the other or two pics around is rather nice to see....I personally like to see what the people look like that live in the house!!...I guess it's the nosy part of me!

Dianne said...

Yeah, a too perfectly staged home might make me ask "what are they hiding?!" Youve done well, your home is beautiful. Let it sell itself and I think it will go just fine. A little bit of "lived in" look in a home would not turn me off!

Bev said...

These are great - seriously, such a big help. Thanks guys and keep them coming - a few extra opinions is wonderful, and have to say I love that 'secondofwett' confessed to being nosy! I love Christmas time at night when I can drive by and see into houses, love seeing people and what they're up to. So maybe we're all a bit nosy? How about curious, sounds much nicer!

Kate said...

Hello there, Bev! I would NOT like music or lit candles. I especially dislike scented candles, or scents of any kind, so I guess that answers the baking bread, flowers, etc. scent question.

I LOVE LOVE LOVE seeing pics of the family. I WANT to see what kind of people lived in the house. It will only HELP your sale for people to see you are clean cut, professional looking people. When I see articles on ebay or Craigslist, I ALWAYS pay a LOT of attention to the background of the photo to see how clean the house is and what kind of shape it's in, because that tells me if they take care of their house, the used product they're selling was probably well taken care of, too. So in my jumbled thinking I think it helps to have photos of decent looking people out and since you're already decent looking you won't have to hire anyone to pose for pics to display. ;o) ;o) ;o)

I'm afraid I'd be opposed to the kitty. I'm not a pet person and knowing a cat lived there would make me worry about cat hair imbedded in the carpet or drapes that may be staying. I'd wonder about pet accidents on the rug, too. I assume the dogs will be gone? I think you should hide EVERY evidence of pets, IMO.

The house will sell FAST as it's GORGEOUS!!

Carrie said...

Thanks for the blog! It helped me out reading it since I'm in the same boat as you! I've actually considered having you take a look at my house to see what you think of my "staging". I do light candles while I'm cleaning, then blow them out before I leave. I don't do music and I leave on every light possible. I set the table today for the first time, only because I had a roast in the crock pot and wasn't sure what to do with it while I had a showing...I hope no one had a meat aversion!! (I thought it smelled good!) Anyway, feel free to pass along any advise you have to me too!

Becky said...

When we were looking for a new home last spring we only looked at one other house besides the one we purchased. The home we bought had (has) such a cozy feel that made us fall in love with it the minute we walked in.

From our experience, people who are house shopping generally don't care about music and candles-they're more interested in seeing the space and imagining whether they could live there. I loved seeing a few well placed pictures of the family who lived in the home we purchased.

I cared more about cleanliness and general upkeep than anything else and you obviously have addressed that very well and people will realize you have maintained the house impeccably.

I'm not a cat lover, so seeing a cat or signs of one might turn me off, but not enough to not consider the house if it had everything else we were looking for.

And remember, God has the perfect family already chosen for your home and you'll all be blessed by His choice!

pcb said...

I'd say no music, lamplight (no overheads), no lit candles, minimal photos. I am a cat lover and we have two, but for showing you probably need to hide evidence of a pet. I agree with other commenters that spotlessly clean, cozy, and lovingly lived in is the look that would appeal to me.

Judith said...

While some people may be allergic to cat dander, if you try hiding or rearranging its daily routuine, you will only create more problems, like an upset cat while the showing's going on. Leave the cat alone. Buyers who are sensible enough to work out buying your house, will understand that lots of people do have cats.

A big NO to music. There's no way to know which person likes what kind, and like others have said here, could come across as trying too hard.
Same thing with the candles. Anything you don't have to deal with about the showings will help present you as a calmer home owner. You don't need to be dealing with WHEN and HOW LONG candles stay burning. Also, music and candles can distract prospective buyers from noticing selling points about the house.

Some lighting in every room, but don't overdo it with several in one room, unless that's appropriate for everyday living.

Same thing about smells: Less is better than too much. Fresh baked bread is fine if you really baked it yesterday, but wouldn't think you'd be making baked bread while you're showing the house. Could be seen as staging too much, and you don't want to have to deal with bread possibly burning.

I seem to remember that the first person who looked at your home in
Pinkneyville, Ill. bought it. Granted, it was right after being all spruced up at Christmas time, but it did sell that quickly, and you and Don have done so many improvements to your PA place. Put in sidewalks, really made the yard beautiful, lots of repairs and new ideas for the inside. and look at all that fresh new neutral colored paint.

I think your friends here have pretty well pointed out what to do, or not, and the next family that lives there will be so gratefull for all your hard work, but they can't have the cat.

Family photos. I agree that buyers like knowing what the former owners look like. If you're there, they will see you in person, but then you should probably fade out of the showing, so buyers feel more free to check things out.
Instead of displaying several family members' photos, maybe just have a family album on a table, but leave it closed.

bella said...

No pets, litterboxes, candles, music, baking scents, flower scents, pics, gingerbread, etc. None of that matters. Take as much out of a room as possible. You might have to put some things in storage. Put everything away in the kitchen. Clear off the counters. The two most important things are: #1 An updated bathroom with ceramic tile, a large glass enclosed shower, large bathtub, and washer and dryer on the second floor. #2An updated kitchen with stainless steel appliances, granite counter tops, new cabinets and hardwood floors. That's what my realtor told me. That's the bottom line! Hope and pray that you sell your house to the first person that walks thru the door. Good Luck

Bev said...

Still thanking you all for the great comments, and appreciating them all. Unfortunately Bella, we have a 40 year old home, with a small master bath, a normal main bath, no big glass shower, no big bathtub (just regular), no granite counters, and all the appliances arent even stainless. I'm praying all we've done will be enough, but if they want all that they're probably going to have to look at the newly built homes in our area. Our older Pittsburgh homes just don't have all that.

Lots of back and forth on music, candles, etc. but I think if even half say no, then no is probably the way to go. I would find the music distracting myself. I do love the idea of having a candle (or oil burner) before, then blowing it out before we leave. And we will NEVER be here for a showing - I've suffered through a few with the owner sitting there - did not love that at all.

Thanks again so much for all the input - it's so much appreciated, and Carrie, I'd be more than happy to stop over and see your place. More eyes are always a good thing.

Margaret said...

Here's my 2+ cents:

Yes leave every light on, and every curtain open. No to candles; it seems unsafe to leave them lit.

Fragrance -- something light, but not food. Love the idea of fresh flowers on the dining table.

No to music, but yes leave the cat in the house. I think a purring, sleeping cat would make it seem more homey.

On kitchen counters I've seen pretty bowls of green apples, or lemons, and both looked really nice.

If you haven't already done so, buy new towels for all the bathrooms, and have a planter/pot or two of flowers (like winter pansies) on the front porch.

Barb said...

Goodness, I couldn't add a thing here except to say that I agree the candles and the music would look like you're trying too hard. I think people know a home is staged, but they'd like to pretend it's not. :-)

About Miah, I wonder if it would be better to just put her in a large pet carrier than to try to take her with you. I don't think it's a good idea to leave her loose. You'd be a wreck worrying that she got outside for one thing. But moving her out of the house would probably upset her a lot more than just putting her in a nice comfy pet carrier. Cat's like to be enclosed, so she'd probably do quite well with that.

Boy, I'll bet you're going to have a huge celebration when this is all behind you.

Oh, and I love the green apples or lemons in a bowl on the kitchen counter.

Of course, you can't be ripping out bathrooms and kitchens - that never pays for itself - but I've been in your home years before you even thought of selling it and I know for a fact, it's a lovely, welcoming home. Someone is going to be very blessed to get it.


Paulette said...

Pier 1 import has some awesome baked sticks you set down in liquid, not too strong at all yet smells yummy.
Definately a few pictures out, gives it a def homey feel.
Perhaps a few lamps lit.
Just be honest about the cat right off, she probably won't show herself any how.
I would definately want to buy a place that isn't stark and has the feel of trying to hard for sure!

Gretchen said...

I'm late to the party, but an opinion is a terrible thing to waste, so...

music playing when you are touring a home (I'm thinking Kenny G, no lyrics)--My real estate agent had us put on the local lite jazz station

candles lit in various rooms--not necessary, and kinda dangerous.

lights on in every room (some of mine could use a dimmer!)--yes

smells - do you prefer bread baking (how I'd pull that off is beyond me), fresh, clean smell, etc.--as long as it's not over done, it's great--you don't want to seem like you're hiding anyth.

family photos left out--why not? We're not robots. :)

Just from your description of all your hard work and care, I know your house will show well. And Becky is spot on: God already has the family picked out. Yes the economy stinks. Yes, you might have to show it more often/longer than you'd like to, but i know there is a family just waiting to make memories in that house.

In terms of the cat--I think a quick note on the countertop is fine (letting them know). And make sure you let the realtors know whether she's a runner and/or is allowed out of the house.

Ah...opinion shared. I can sleep well now. :)

Kelly said...

Oops! Looks like my comment disappeared, but seems as though you have a good range of opinions anyway:-)

So I'll just add that I'm praying your home sells quickly and easily, to the perfect family that God already has out there waiting.

As my husband keeps reminding me, it doesn't have to appeal to everyone- just one person (with money to buy!!). Your home is beautiful and inviting, and that is the most important part.

Please keep us posted:-)

Bev said...

Well girls - let's hear from a male! Our dear friend Tom, in Indianapolis, emailed me his thoughts - had to share them:

6 pack Iron City

Kielbasi on the stove stewing with onions

Terrible towel on recliner

TV playing endless loop of Steeler Super Bowl Highlights

ditch the touchy feely stuff, you are in P'brgh - Martha ain't buying your house

See why we love him?! He's possibly right on!

Deidre said...

I for one love the smell of something baking, so I would be attracted to that. It smells 'homey' to me.

For lighting, I would turn on lamps (low light) in various (darker) rooms. I love lamp-light and think it warms up a room.

Photos - okay, when we bought the house we're living in now, the previous owner had a TON of photos sitting out. I didn't like it and had a hard time getting past it (we still bought, obviously) but I think a few photos are fine. Just not over the top.

I don't think music is necessary and when someone is trying to make a decision on your home, it may create 'internal noise' that distracts. Not all people love the same music.

No candles.

Sarah said...

I'm amazed at all these comments--clearly we did everything wrong, except that every touring realtor commented how well it showed, and our house sold in 10 days! Different strokes for different folks, I guess. :)

You know my opinions about all of these things already, except for the light--it's dark in Pittsburgh, and I'd leave the lights on. Our realtor told us not to bother with lamps, since you'll be taking them with you, but do turn on overheads, because buyers will want to see how the house would be lit if they lived there.

The bottom line is what everybody is agreeing on--a clean, orderly, uncluttered house is what people will be looking for, and everything else is just details. Not having to light candles, bake bread, turn on music, and hide the cat, would all make getting out much smoother, that's for sure! That house is gorgeous and will sell easily, whether or not you do all the little stuff. :)

Good luck tomorrow!

Vickie said...

I would make sure that the realtor's are up front with prospective buyers(that ask)in regards to the cat. Many are highly allergic to cats and that may be a deal breaker for some. My son has asthma and after we bought our home we found out it had a cat that had lived in it. We had to kilz all the cement floors before putting down carpet, paint everything, and wallpaper where there was paper, clean all the vents,etc. It still did not take care of the allergens for my son after a great deal of money was spent to eliminate what the cat left behind.

People that are highly sensitive to cats may want to move on to another home. Just my opinion from my experience. Sadly I LOVE cats but they do not love my son.

Linda said...

I was tempted to read all the other comments before making mine, but I'll be brave and just plunge in.
I don't think the music or candles are necessary.
I like the idea of a nice fresh smell.
I would leave the lights on - just so all of your hard work shows to best advantage :-)
I think the cat is fine. They're always well behaved.
I love to see all the personal touches in a home, so I would leave the pictures out. I know that your home is perfectly lovely (your daughter said so - I did read her comment) so you don't have to worry about it overmuch.
I pray it will sell quickly.

Ann said...

I like seeing a house that feels like a HOME!! One that has a couple of candles burning and "some" family photos make the house feel real to me. The cat is part of the house (right now) so she stays!

That's my 2 cents for what it's worth!

Susanne said...

I prefer a fresh, clean smell. Maybe a little cinnamon or nutmeg boiled on the stove just before. Nothing heavy. No candles. Scent is such a personal thing. With candles, some will hate it, some won't mind.

Pictures I don't mind as long as like you said there is not a bazillion. But to me having the odd family picture out just shows that a family really did enjoy that home.

Music. Not for me. Lights on, yes.

Good luck!

gail@more than a song said...

It looks like you have plenty of advice already! I think I'd also say no to music and candles, yes to lights and curtains on and open. It looks like you've already got it clean and orderly so you're probably good to go. Maybe the cat in the carrier? I visited my daughter a few months ago when they were showing a house, we baked cookies before the realtor brought people over and left them on the counter to eat and did burn candles but blew them out before we left....their house still hasn't sold! We're thinking it's more the economy for them though and still praying for it to happen soon! Good luck.

dianne - bunny trails said...

Not that you don't have plenty of input already . . . I would NOT leave candles burning. I just see that as a HUGE safety issue. Plus you always risk having a scent that others don't like.

I like seeing photos of the people who live in the house. But that's going to be totally a personal issue.

Music? Probably not. Too many opinions there, too.

Fresh flowers are nice, but they would have NO affect as far as my choosing a house.

Think about house-hunting from your own perspective. What are you looking for? Hospitality or a potential home? A nice, clean home is really the most important factor, imho. And we looked a lot last year - from February until September.