Getting ready to show my house, I remember a tip about disassociating yourself from your home when you're selling it. You think of it as just a house – a product to be sold like a box of cereal in the grocery store.
OK, so what cereal do I want to be? I look around. It's got warmth, it's got character and nice colors. I'm thinking Honey Bunches of Oats – a house that's gonna be good for you, but is really sweet, too.
I'm excited to get the first call from the showing service. An agent would like to show my house. I'm actually flattered. I flit around turning on lights and jazz music, fluffing pillows and straightening beds. I feel like a designer in a show house.
The buyers love the house. But they don't make an offer. Oh well, we'll probably sell it next time. After one week of showings I feel rejected. Doesn't anybody like Honey Bunches of Oats?
Weeks go by and still no bites. All these people looking for cereal and yet nobody seems very hungry. Are there too many brands? Maybe I need to add sweetener. We lower the price.
Weeks turn into months and still no offers. Maybe it's my cereal. Maybe it's gotten stale. We downsize the furniture. We paint and plant flowers. We wash windows, shine fixtures and cut back shrubs.
But nothing satisfies these picky eaters. They want one more bedroom. Or a two-car garage. They want fewer stairs, a straighter driveway and stainless steel. They are happy to make suggestions:
“Why don't you redo your kitchen and put in granite? Or put in a nice circular driveway?” they chirp.
Because it's Honey Bunches of Oats! Not Honey Bunches of Oats with Almonds, or with Bananas or with Strawberries. And it says so right on the box, er, MLS sheet. Buy the cereal and add all the fruit you want, but from me you're only gonna get the Oats.
The months drag on and showings are anything but flattering. Trying to live with two kids in an immaculate, perfectly staged house is excruciating. There's nothing to do, nothing to play with. And because I'm sick of running around before every showing, I leave the lights and jazz on all the time. It's like living in Pottery Barn.
After a year, two agents and more than 100 showings, we decide maybe it's time to give up. People just aren't eating cereal right now. And I'm sick of making beds and showing the house at dinnertime and nap time and any time that is hugely inconvenient.
But suddenly, up the aisle comes a young girl in her 20s. From her slender shape I'm thinking Special K, maybe Kashi. But she's coming right toward us. She's looking right at us! She grabs Honey Bunches of Oats, skims the nutrition facts, and hands it to her fiancé.
He looks at the price. He shakes the box. And he's pleased it comes with a prize (our washer/dryer). They walk to the cashier, and just like that, Honey Bunches of Oats is officially off the shelf.
Now for the fun part – moving on to a new cereal. Stay tuned…
Tracy Curtis: firstname.lastname@example.org
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