The Lovely Lisa and I bought the house of our dreams last week. To be honest, it’s more the house of her dreams than mine, but then my vision of a downtown loft across the street from my office probably wouldn’t have gone over well with the kids. So the focus this week is on selling our current home. By selling of course, I mean staging the heck out of it.
If you’ve ever sold a house, you know all about staging. (If you haven’t, go turn on HGTV.) There are a few key steps:
- Empty your home of just about everything you use on a day-to-day basis. Clutter kills.
- Remove all evidence of a family actually living in the house. This includes the use of an unbelievable little sponge that removes every possible scuff mark from your walls, a can of touch-up paint for the floor trim and a calming mantra that you can whisper quietly to yourself to keep from getting frustrated with family members and real estate agents.
- Landscape. I recommend buying a lot of mulch. It will cover up all of your property’s rough bits. And to be honest, the time I’ve spent on my hands and knees laying the mulch down is the closest thing I’ve had to a rest in six days.
- Buy a bunch of new towels. The fluffier the better.
- Fill a bowl with something green and put it on your dining room table. Apples are the most common choice. We’re going with limes, just to shake things up a bit.
This doesn’t have to be an expensive process. We’ve spent less than $1,500, about half of which went to a painter who worked on our front porch and window trim. We also paid a landscaper $100 to remove two old evergreens from our front yard. The rest has been pretty much DIY. Studies show that staging provides a return on investment in the 300% to 450% range. Even those figures seem conservative to me.
What’s been fascinating to me though is how the whole experience affects day-to-day buying decisions. Lisa and I are usually pretty careful about how we spend money. Not so much right now. Having agreed to invest the better part of a million dollars in our new home, we seem to have lost our capacity to pinch pennies. This is counterintuitive of course. You’d think that a big commitment like the one we’ve made would cause us to be even more loath to spend.
It’s a kind of a new theory of relativity. No single price tag feels significant in comparison to the price of the new house. So no buying decision feels that painful. We know this makes no sense, but it’s a pretty powerful feeling.
I can’t wait to be a tightwad again.