Photo by Park Slope Lens
If you're selling real estate in Park Slope and want to get into a contract by the end of the year, now's the time to really step up your game and make it happen. Take advantage of the last few weeks of summer by holding weekly open houses until you get an offer. With any luck, you can close on the sale by Thanksgiving. Since I've bought and sold real estate in Brooklyn (a couple of times, actually), I've put together some handy hints for making certain that your open house is a spectacular success.
Do not hang around your own open house. Let your real estate agent do what you're paying them to do, because if people know you live there, they're going to be uncomfortable. When my spouse and I purchased our place, the seller's entire family was there at each and every open house and showing. And every time we went there, they were feeding their baby in the dining room. And the baby was always wearing mittens, even though it was August. It was distracting, to say the least. Why was their baby wearing mittens in August? Why was it always eating? We couldn't appreciate the fact that there was a fireplace, or the gorgeous hardwood floors, because we kept speculating about what the deal was with their ravenous lobster baby. Had they just cleared out of the place, we might have made our decision to buy the place much more quickly.
2. TAKE YOUR PETS WITH YOU
Take your dog to the dog run. Take your cats to the vet. If you've got a bird..um...tie a string to its leg and go for a walk in the park. The aquarium can stay, but make sure it's clean and not so enormous that people feel like they're either at a dentist's office or seafood restaurant. I once went to an open house -- and I swear to Sweet Zombie Jesus I'm not making this up -- the people had a ferret running around loose. What the fuck is wrong with people that they can't find someplace to put their pet weasel during a real estate showing? Move your pets out, people. And while you're at it, clean that cat box, because it's disgusting.
3. CLEAN UP YOUR SHIT, AND PAINT YOUR FUCKING WALLS A REASONABLE, NEUTRAL COLOR
If I've learned anything from watching 10 hours of HGTV every weekend for the past 15 years, it's that people who are shopping for real estate are stupid in a way that makes it impossible for them to understand that they'll have the opportunity to re-decorate any place that they purchase. Get rid of your disturbing display of Precious Moments figurines, and recycle your damned newspapers. Clear off your kitchen counters. Spend a couple of hours re-painting any room that might present a challenge for someone who doesn't share your love of fuchsia.
4. DO NOT BAKE COOKIES
That's stupid. What are you trying to show a prospective buyer -- that the oven works? I know, everyone says, "Oh, when you have an open house, you should bake cookies, so that it will have a nice homey smell." You know what I want to smell? Cleanliness. I want the house to smell like Pine-Sol and Lemon Pledge. Also, bleach. Plus, you're gonna need to clear out during the open house (see other tip, supra) so you don't want to leave before the cookies are done, accidentally burning them, which means your real estate agent will have to open all the windows and turn off the smoke detector, and Linda Evans will push Joan Collins into the pool and everything will just get all crazy and shit.
5. DO NOT LEAVE ANY SNACKS OUT
If you put out food, people might eat it, and then they'll get crumbs all over your floor, and the next people who show up will think that you're a slob. Also, snacks encourage the wrong kind of people to stay. You don't want someone to drop by just for the free food. Also, people who stand around your place eating food are going to make other people uncomfortable. People want to see the place, but if there's some whistledick eating pretzels in your kitchen, they're going to whip through that area and miss all of the fabulous features that they should be noticing.
6. STASH ALL OF YOUR SEX TOYS AND GAY PORN DVDS IN THE CLOSETS
You want people to notice how big your closets are, but you don't want them going through all your stuff. Make the closet look as big as possible by taking all of your old clothes to Goodwill, but then be sure to put boxes labeled "gay porn" in front of the closet so that prospective buyers will become uncomfortable, close the door quickly, and move along, leaving your personal items undisturbed.
7. TAKE ACTION TO DEAL WITH ANYONE IN YOUR BUILDING WHO MIGHT BE "PROBLEMATIC"
When we sold our condo, we had this one guy in our building -- let's call him "Steve" -- and he thought it would be really fun to stop by our open house and see how things were going. Well, Steve is one of those ass-wipes who always stands around yammering about shit that's going on in the building. He's super creepy, weird and gross. So, Steve shows up at our open house and starts talking about how some of the other units on our floor had leaks, but the building was finally going to get those repaired just as soon as they finished suing the sponsors of the condo conversion, because they didn't want to have to jack up the assessments for everybody. There may be a "Steve" in your building, too, and if there is, you need to take decisive action to ensure that he does not show up at your open house to tell your real estate agent and all of the prospective buyers exactly what's fucked up about the building. The easiest and most fun way to get rid of a "Steve" is to beat him senseless with a rusty pipe just before your open house begins. Since that's unlawful, however, we can't advocate that. We'll leave it to you to find an appropriate solution, but trust me when I tell you you need to deal with it, because that shit is dire, FiPSters. D-I-R-E
Now. Get out there and sell your place, everybody!