Martha Stewart Does Not Live Here
A few years ago I was asked to help a family sell their home – bright, educated, professional people with a couple of kids. Sounds great, right? But their home was a refuge for "strays" both human and four legged. The place was a disastrous, dirty, cluttered, smelly, mess.
Now this was a real challenge. How do I sell this "pigsty"? First, I told them to paint the dining room. It was packed floor to ceiling and the table was piled three feet high. I figured they would have to empty the room in order to paint it. Wrong! They moved everything one foot from the wall, painted, and moved it all back. We just could not make a dent in the mess, and showing agents were really complaining.
At the same time I was working with a young musician and his fiancé, a referral from my daughter, Erica. They wanted a large, new home. After a lot of searching we found a house that had three bedrooms, an unfinished lower level, and was in their price range. It was new, it didn't have all they wanted, but anything larger was just too expensive.
With their wedding less than a month away, I suggested they look at the pigsty. This house was very comfortably in their price range. It was a five-bedroom house, with a finished lower level, and much larger square footage. But how would I ever get someone who was set on NEW to even consider this place?
I warned and forewarned the young couple. "Do not look at the condition. Picture the house vacant, white walls, new carpet, new appliances etc." The bride-to-be walked in and immediately clasped her hands behind her back – she did not want to touch a thing! I could see she was grossed out and thinking, "How can I live here?"
There was only one way to get these young people into the house that was right for them. I suggested we write an offer and ask the owner to "strip" the house. Remove carpet, stove, fridge, dishwasher, ceiling fans, shower doors, blinds, toilet seats, shades, everything. We requested an empty walk through, and extermination after everything including the carpet was removed. The buyer did not believe they could make these kinds of demands. But the sellers thought it was fabulous because the family could use all of their stuff in a new place!
This was the most creative contract I have written. After the house was painted, new flooring, new kitchen, new baths, new window treatments etc., this young couple had a better than new, brick five-bedroom home for less money than the much smaller brand new home.
It is now five years later and I have this beautiful home listed again. The young couple, now with two children, are moving on up and out of town for a wonderful musical opportunity and a brand new larger house. I think even Martha would say that helping them take that first step was "a good thing."