|The living room at 70 Sumner Road Greenwich CT, newly painted and staged.|
|The family room at 70 Sumner Road. Edited accessories and staged.|
Think of what happens when you attend a play. The audience finds their seats, settle in, and wait for the action to begin. The house lights dim, the stage lights brighten, and the action begins. If all goes without a hitch, the play captures your attention—and it has every chance of successfully casting the spell the author and director intended.
But if one element is jarringly out of place, the whole effort will go up in smoke! If a stagehand accidentally wanders onstage, the illusion is wrecked. Likewise, if a drama’s agonizing death scene is perfectly portrayed—up until the moment when the dying actress' wig begins to slip—the audience will be hard pressed to stay in the moment.
In a different way, the success of Greenwich showings is subject to similar kinds of missteps. The illusion we are after isn’t that of a home that has desirable features and is in great condition—that’s no illusion: it’s real! The illusion part comes when we create the impression that the current owners are not much in residence; that the home—although it may be furnished—presents itself in a neutral kind of way that seems to be awaiting the new owners’ belongings and personal touches.
Showings tend to be most successful if prospective buyers have no trouble envisioning themselves as the comfortable new owners. They may or may not find that the spaces and features will accommodate their family’s needs—that’s not subject to illusion. But showings have the best chance for success if the “stage” is clear of distracting elements. That’s why evidence of pets should be avoided. Strong odors of any kind, likewise (one of my current country listings pops an apple pie in the oven for every showing and I swear it lifts everyone's spirits). Family photos should be removed if at all possible; personal mementos of all kinds stored out of sight, and so forth.
When you appreciate the reasoning behind a showing’s attempted illusion, you can see why savvy realtors advise against decor schemes featuring strong colors. It is also why it’s a good idea for owners to safely vacate the premises with a few minutes to spare. It’s not because the owner is objectionable—it’s that the presence of the owner counteracts the illusion.
The funny thing is that the “illusion” is actually an authentic projection: it’s a mock-up of the reality that will come to pass if the prospect does decide to become the home’s owner.
Part art, part theatre, a little magic. Putting your best foot forward in every way possible is all part of the selling process.