Gold Knobs & Broomsticks

The other day I was speaking with an acquaintance of mine about her house, which she had recently taken off the market. Again. Her home has been on & off the market several times over the past few years. She and her husband even accepted an offer for $500K LESS than asking, only to have the financing fall through prior to closing. She was frustrated. REALLY frustrated.

She wanted to pick my brain about what she might do differently when she puts it back on the market. Again. Not having seen her house, I wasn't sure how much of a help I could be to her.

I asked her all the transactional questions pertaining to the home - square feet, market price, appraised value, neighborhood, etc. I'm not a realtor but the price seemed in line with the size of the home and neighborhood. She had worked with a few large realty firms who have good reputations and specialize in homes over $1 million. 

Huh, that wasn't the issue.

Then I asked her to describe her home to me. I won't go into great detail, but let's just say it's a nice home. A REALLY nice home in a REALLY nice neighborhood. The home sits on a peninsula with 360° water views, each bedroom has a view of either a sunrise or a sunset, it has an indoor pool and was professionally decorated. My dream home. She even had the property professionally staged - twice. 

Huh, so that wasn't the issue.


I kept pressing for details and then a half hour into our conversation she mentioned her house might have tiny details that may need some updating like...the knobs. The gold knobs. And the chandeliers....the gold chandeliers. 

Hmm, got it. 

I couldn't get to my laptop fast enough. While we were still on the phone I looked up her listing. True to her description, it was an absolutely stunning property...with gold knobs and gold chandeliers. They weren't horrible by any means, but they weren't in line with the prestige of the property. 

Buyers don't buy work, especially at that price point. 

I suggested she invest a few thousand and replace the gold knobs and the gold chandeliers with something more on trend. She flipped out. 

Well, flipped out for her, she's a very calm, centered woman. Usually.

Obviously, it wasn't the money as she was willing to lose $500K by dropping the price of her home in order to sell it. So, what was it then? Why would the suggestion of replacing knobs and lighting cause an otherwise rational woman to lose her mind? Again, I'm exaggerating but I heard the anxiety in her voice.

More pressing (cautiously this time).

Emotions. Specifically, love and fear. 

She was emotionally attached to the chandeliers. She had purchased them after she and her family had moved into the house. They held a place in her heart because there was a fond memory attached to them. When she looked at them, they made her happy. 

I get that. 

I suggested she take them down and take them with her to her new home. Problem solved. 

Or so I thought. Now fear.

"What if I change the knobs and chandeliers and the house STILL doesn't sell and now I'm living in a house I don't like. It won't be like my home anymore."

Ah, my heart melted and all the pieces fell into place. I felt for her, I really did.

Here is a woman who loves her family and has had many happy memories in her home. The kids have grown and now it's time to downsize. Her home, both the physical house she lives in as well as the emotional concept of home, has been slowly stripped away every day, every month, every year it's been on the market. Like slowly peeling a band-aid or scab, it hurts. 

The point of this little story is, well, I have two points really: 

1. Don't be a witch when you tour a home for sale. It may not be your dream home (or theirs) but they have memories, good and bad, attached to it. Don't low ball your offer either. It reflects badly on you, waste your agents time and insults the buyer. Remember if you're buying a home, then some day you'll be selling your home. 

2. The devil is in the details - buyers don't buy work.