Clutter-Upper For Sale

I’m selling a house again. At the risk of sounding braggy, this house is really nice. 

Especially now that we’ve cleaned it up, cleared all the crap off the kitchen counter, touched up the paint and wiped away any trace of anyone actually living here.

Whenever I get a house ready to show, I clean it so well, I’m forced to look around and wonder, “Why didn’t I do this for me?”  When we were selling our house in Cleveland, I borrowed my sister Kathy’s good sweeper, the one with enough vacuum power to suck a Wizard of Oz collectible figurine out from under the bed. It had all kinds of attachments, including one that could get years of dust and grime out of the woodwork. For the first time since we moved into that house, it was vacuumed like it was supposed to be. 

“Was this carpet always white?” my husband asked when I was finished.

“Apparently, yes, it was. We’re going to have to change the listing description.”

Right now, Day 4 of selling our house in Lexington, my shower doesn’t have any shampoo in it. There are no perfume bottles, hand cream or makeup on my dresser. The laundry room doesn’t have any clothes baskets in it, let alone clothes. Even the dog dish has been relegated to the garage. You might think that robots lived here or we’d been recently robbed.

For some unexplained reason, this helps to sell a house. 

Home buyers are like brain damaged puppies. And I’m allowed to say this because as a home seller, I, too, am a home buyer. The two go together unless you’re selling your house to be homeless.

A home buyer can look at a kitchen that’s too small, a bathroom that doesn’t have a shower, and a bedroom that won’t fit your queen-sized bed, and as long as things are neat and tidy, they’ll fall in love with the house and pay any price.

Do we think the house will stay clean if we buy it? Do we somehow believe that the cleanliness comes with the house? “Clutter-free counters convey” isn’t written anywhere, but we feel so darn good about a house that isn’t being taken over by backpacks, stacks of junk mail and small appliances, that we must own it.

The same is true for all the cool stuff in a house you’re looking at. You’re a smart person, you know the Appalachian weavings in shadow boxes on the living room wall are not going to stay in the house if you buy it. You have half a brain, you know they’re not going to forget them. But it’s things like that which make you say to your subconscious “If this house is good enough for cool, trendy, artsy people like them, it’s certainly good enough for tacky old me.” 

So I’ve cleared all signs of my drab, kitschy life out of my house (many of them are in garbage bags in my car) and I’ve left out only the cool stuff. Unfortunately, that’s not a lot, so we’ve got a lot of bare surfaces.

If you come to see my house with your Realtor, you won’t smell chocolate chip cookies, you won’t see champagne next to the tub, you won’t see a fresh flower centerpiece on the dining room table. But wallow a while over by the kitchen desk, which doesn’t have one piece of mail on it, no school forms to fill out, buttons to be sewn on, or birthday cards to mail. 

I’ll be here, sitting in the empty family room, waiting for your offer.