How I have got to this (not that grand) age without having to sell my house before I am not sure. Probably because like most life decisions I was too shit scared, until it was absolutely, irrefutably, backs to the walls, and then some, necessary. Only to discover the thought was way way way worse than the deed, and in most occasions I was a whole lot better at coping/handling/dealing with whatever the monumental milestone came my way than I ever could have imagined.
So once we had made an offer on a house we liked, I realised there was no way out, that saleboard had to go up outside my own house. (Yes I know I was supposed to sell my house first but I refer you to the first paragraph as way of explanation).
This was it. There was no backing out now, I was on the 10 metre diving board of property selling looking down into the pool of house preparation and the stairs to said board were off limits. There was only one way down. I had to leap in. I had to get the house, garden and garage in order; do a deep clean and a massive de-clutter. I hadn’t watched the steely voiced Californian Realtor Ann Maurice, the self styled house doctor on Channel 5 all those times without knowing if you “wanna sell your house” you need to clean and clear surfaces, to stage your home in a presentation style to appeal the maximum amount of viewers (ie take down any thing personal including all the family photos and that football trophy you won for best attitude 30 years ago). The house needs to smell of bleach and other cleaning products not coffee and baking bread which are apparently old hat and make person think you are hiding something. Plus have a mirror and a rug in the hallway to add light and lead the eye into the house invitingly. (Yes I was one of the show’s most loyal viewers). I am sure there was something about having some green in rooms too, if there were plants in rooms that gave off appealing vibes too but I might now be confusing her with Malcolm Gladwell or the Freakanomics boys.
I managed the mirror and a new rug in the hall. She must know something that Ann Maurice because it is now N’s favourite room!
And so further to the golden advice of The House Doctor, I impart to you the top tips I have picked up over the past few weeks since I have been staring out the window at a saleboard that no one can see because it is stuck behind a tree.
1. It is the closest I have come to dating 20 odd years. You hope to catch someone’s eye. You then wait hopefully by phone for it ring. You then spend a day scrubbing up and titivating and shoving any thing undesirable out of sight. You laugh at a stranger’s jokes hoping to make them feel good, whilst making small talk and stating the obvious. You then hang around waiting for another phone call. All to be judged and for the most part found wanting. It makes me madly insecure and as self conscious as a teenager during the first throws of puberty.
2. When someone leaves your house, no matter who much they have oohed and cooed over your home, if they say with their back to you “I’ll call the Estate Agent tomorrow with some feedback” don’t put the champagne on ice. There ain’t going to be an offer, they ain’t even going to phone the estate agent.
3. That parts of the house that have always functioned without a murmur or a hiccup will start to malfunction half an hour for a viewing.
4. That children can smear microscopic particles of toothpaste over the entire surface area of the bathroom sink 10 minutes before a viewing.
5. That once you start cleaning and de-cluttering it starts to take over and it gets very hard to stop. That I believe Lady Macbeth’s “out damm spot” was really directed at marks on white walls. After a while you can’t tell if the dirt is real or imaginary. Is it smear or a shadow? I can see this way leads to psychosis, especially when combined with the prolonged inhalation of with heavy duty cleaning product (and very possibly some Gin).
6. That those new magic erasers of Flash are good but they crumble away to nothing very very quickly, making MORE MESS.
7. That is possible to having viewings, pack for holidays, unpack for holidays, get holiday washing dried and away in the pouring rain and still keep your sanity. Just.
8. That if you really really really want to sell your house that glossing a door at 6 in the morning is no sweat, in fact you can get two done.
9. That clearing out the garage can be very cathartic and the joy of finding something your grandmother gave you on your wedding day, that you thought lost forever makes up for all the grumpy viewings.
10. That I can come over frighteningly Daily Mail about other people’s bins not being put away on time if I have a viewing.
According to a recent survey done by a leading Estate Agent people take just 33 minutes to make up their minds to buy a property. They take more time to choose a car or a sofa. So all I need is the right 33 minutes with the right person. Easy. Just don’t get me started on stamp duty…….