If you’ve been following my real estate adventures here, you know that we’re selling our apartment.
Selling means having open houses, which means leaving your home for an hour and a half on a Sunday afternoon while groups of strangers troop through and touch your stuff.
But before they come, how do you make sure your place is both marketed for buyers and stranger-proofed for jerks?
Here are 7 essential steps to get ready for an open house.
1) Spend an eye-popping amount of money on fresh flowers.
And, work the florist’s last nerve while you decide which ones will provide the best “pop of color.”
2) Shop for things your broker told you to get, like a halogen lamp for the corner.
To complete this step, have this kind of conversation with your spouse or life partner:
“What does she mean by a halogen lamp?”
“I guess a lamp with a halogen bulb. Don’t you know what a halogen lamp is?”
“No. Do you?”
“I just don’t want to spend money on something we don’t like.”
“So let’s get something we like.”
“It’s too last minute. That’s gonna be a lot of money.”
“So why don’t we get something cheap? Like that one there?”
“Really? That one?”
“Well I don’t know! I’m not good at lights.”
“Ya think? Do whatever you want to do. I told you I didn’t want to go to Soho on a Saturday. These people are all a bunch of assholes. What happened to this city?”
We didn’t find a halogen lamp.
3) Clean in places you’ve never cleaned.
I don’t mean on your body. I’m proud to say there’s no spot on my body I’ve never cleaned. Wish I could say the same for our kitchen. Steven had to clean it “down there.” As in, under the fridge (every bit as dirty as you’d think) and in the low cabinet where I hoard plastic grocery bags (Way dirtier than you’d think. Who knew balled up plastic could create so much filth?).
4) Remove things that are too specific or personalized.
You need a blank slate so people can picture themselves living there. So you put away items like family photos, or, in our case, a painting by our artist friend that says, “HELLO MY NAME IS: Steven Eckler, bitch”.
5) Hide breakables, get enraged at peoples’ hypothetical clumsiness.
We have a set of 11 ceramic figurines we had to stash away. No, not the kind of figurines your grandma collects, like frogs and ballet dancers and little boys peeing. Ours are way cooler.
As Steven stowed them one by one in t-shirt and underwear drawers, we kvetched about how reckless people are with their massive, swinging shoulder bags. We know, because I’ve come close to breaking stuff at open houses with my own massive, swinging shoulder bag.
6) Hide valuables, get enraged at peoples’ hypothetical thievery.
I won’t tell you where I put my good jewelry, because what if we have another open house, and you’re one of those hypothetical thieves? In which case, I feel sorry for you. You come from a place of scarcity. Start thinking abundantly and you won’t steal anymore!
I also won’t tell you where we put Troll. We have a little troll doll that we were going to leave out so people would feel his beady eyes on them. But then I remembered that troll dolls are a hot item on ebay and easy to pocket. So Troll went bye-bye.
We have other things with eyes, like a rubber ducky with a disturbing Conan O’Brien head and a Japanese toy we call “Bloody Bear”, which we placed strategically around the apartment to send a message: We’re watching you.
When I’m browsing in someone’s apartment, it always occurs to me that there’s a hidden camera. But other folks aren’t as paranoid as I am, which is: very. I think there are hidden cameras everywhere I go, especially restaurant bathrooms. I try to reveal as little flesh as possible, and to do everything with an extra touch of elegance, when I’m peeing in a restaurant bathroom.
7) Make things look nice, get enraged at peoples’ nosiness.
Why not “hypothetical” nosiness? Because it’s a hard fact. People are nosy, and they cross boundaries for kicks. Especially at an open house, where they enjoy anonymity. Anonymity is an intoxicating, inhibition-lowering drug. It’s like crack for busybodies.
Case in point: I found the top to the dental floss popped open, and one of the bed pillows turned over.
Sometimes you gotta floss. But what reason does someone have to flip over a pillow?
I’ll tell you: Either because they wanted to know the make of the pillow sham (Martha Stewart Bedding Collection, Macy’s) or because they wanted to make the statement, “I WUZ HERE.” Flipping a pillow over is an easier and quicker way to do this than graffiti-tagging the wall or leaving a turd in the center of the bed.
To prepare for nosiness:
Straighten up and plant chic items in the places where prospective buyers (and fake prospective buyers) have a right to look, which is any place that comes with the apartment. Closets, kitchen cupboards and drawers, the fridge, and medicine cabinets are all sanctioned snooping places.
I took all Rite-Aid generic-brand products (depressing) out of the bathroom; clipped the cheap Zara price tag from a blouse in my closet; and stocked the fridge with a bunch of Murray’s cheeses, to support the idea that our neighborhood is a “foodie’s paradise.” Also, to eat.
Then, on to the places people have no business looking. Dressers, file cabinets, anything you take with you when you move. In those, we left overly personal little surprises. An obscene card to Steven from his staff…a tangle of not-so-new undies…a stuffed beaver doll I bought at my all-girls alma mater, whose mascot is The Beaver… the kind of stuff that lets people know they’ve taken a wrong turn when they have the audacity to break the Snooping Code.
So did it work? Did buyers fall in love with our apartment? Did nosy jerks get the rude shocks they deserved?
Only the Conan duck knows.
How would you prep your home for a herd of people you don’t know? Do you believe in a Snooping Code? Do you steal floss? (If so, this is a safe place to share. Just stay away from our open house.) Have you ever considered buying a teddybear cam? Do you know you’re being watched in restaurant bathrooms? Tell me in the comments.