What if I Painted my Kitchen Yellow?

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Trudy and Herb Hemple, long before they retired,  had a large four bedroom house on a cul-de-sac, tastefully decorated, complete with a two car garage, a fenced back yard and a porch swing. They listed their house with a Realtor and were anxious about selling it as soon as possible. You see, they had their eye on a small house closer to their grown children.

Trudy was eager to please. She always had the house as neat as a pin and ready to show. Herb, on the other hand, was a retired purchasing agent from Ohio and knew more about the real estate business that most agents around. Just ask him.

Sell the house pleaseHerb wanted to price his house higher than the one down the street (that also wasn’t selling) because he has five orange trees in his back yard and a new driveway.

After about two months on the market with only a few showings, Trudy, in her helpful manner, suggested that Herb paint the kitchen yellow. “What if I painted my kitchen yellow?” she asked me.  That would surely help sell the house.

What Trudy was blissfully unaware of was that the market was slow, her house was overpriced, and there was virtually no potential buyers viewing her house.

Ever since this incident, I have used the expression, “That’s just Painting the Kitchen Yellow” when referring to a “band aid fix” to a problem that is more systemic. Most of the folk that work with me have heard me use the expression in frustration. What I mean is, sure, paint it yellow: You will then have a house with a yellow kitchen that is not selling. We have not addressed the full book of challenges in this market. What I should say is, let’s sit down and analyze the entire situation and address everything that we can address. Let’s not just put a band aid on the problem, let’s take a holistic approach to selling the house.

In selling a home today everything has to be “right”. Price is too often blamed as a culprit and suggested as a quick fix for what may be a host of other problems. But just like a yellow kitchen, if there are no buyers coming through the house to whom you can justify the price – price lowering does you no good.

As you start to think about putting your house on the market, start fixing all those little things that you let go by: the small dry rot patch on the eave; the rusty hinge on the gate, the caulking around the tub. I think it was the president of the old Peoples Express airline that said, “A dirty pull down dray implies poor engine maintenance.” Likewise small problems in you home that are left unattended imply that there are bigger problems that buyers can’t see. They will walk to the next home for sale and leave yours.

There are books written about how to sell your house and prepare it for showings, and I am not going to cover all the issues here. But it is up to you to make sure the physical presentation is flawless.

The agent, in turn, should memorize and know all the features about the house like the back of his hand. He needs to cover them smoothly and know when to present them. People don’t buy houses. They buy the memory they can build sitting in that porch swing, the man may the dream of fishing from his own dock, or the wife looks forward to sitting for hours with her husband looking at the view, or working in the privacy of the garden, or he is imagining the parties at the wet bar. The physical features must enhance this emotional sell and not distract the buyer from his emotional buy. If the bar sink doesn’t work; “poof” his dream turns into a plumbing nightmare. If the garden is full of weeds; “poof”, now she is dreaming of sweating in the sun.

By the way, if the kitchen is polka dots and paisley, paint it yellow. Yellow sells well.

 

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