(This is an excerpt from the new book, “It’s Your Move, Inside Secrets to Buying and Selling a Home”):
I was recently at my local real estate association to buy a new open house sign. This is the place where real estate professionals go to purchase contracts, signs, books, and…small statutes…of St. Joseph. Hmmm. Well, as long as I can remember, a handful of agents have buried these little statues in the backyards to help their listings sell. You can actually do a google search to learn more, but apparently, this originated in the Catholic persuasion, and is said to make listings sell faster. According to my on line research, St. Joseph, hubby of Mary, needs to be buried upside down for this to work.
Please understand, I am NOT making fun of the people who believe in this, because who am I to question anyone’s faith? Heck, I believe faith has a whole lot more to do with our fortune and luck in real estate than most of us realize. With that said, I wanted to put this chapter near the front of the book because it applies to both sellers and buyers, both who are presumably going to be doing their own form of packing and unpacking.
The St. Joseph’s statue to help a house sell has been around for as long as I can recall, but perhaps not as long as a practice that comes from Asia. Maybe you’ve heard about something called “Feng Shui?” If you have, maybe you think it’s kind of silly. Feng Shui is the ancient Asian art of placement. While like with anything else, people can get carried away, I assure you that in the Asian culture, the practice is a serious one.
It may interest you to know that even here in the United States, virtually all of our huge convention centers utilize some of the primary principles of Feng Shui. And as an agent, I have worked with buyers over the years that have adhered to the practices and principle of it well beyond my own studying and understanding. Truth be told, I’ve used a few Feng Shui tips here and there over the years to help sell listings that were simply not moving. So why include anything about Feng Shui in a book about selling and buying real estate?
Because it can help you.
Now don’t worry, I’m only going to be very basic, but you have to admit one thing: your environment affects your mood. Would you agree with that? And doesn’t your mood affect your attitude and actions? Yes again! Thus, if that is the only benefit that comes from this chapter, then it’s well worth the read. Buyers can find the information here useful for setting up their new home and keeping it tidy, and sellers can achieve benefits that will absolutely help them sell their home faster. Win, win.
If you’re only take away is this next sentence, I’ll be happy and so will you: Clutter in your environment is clutter in your mind. In our society, we tend to be collectors of things. No problem in that, as long as you enjoy and admire your things, but overall, our materialistic natures have many of us living in the center of chaos. I think many sellers discover this as they begin to clean out overstuffed drawers and closets and lord help us all, those garages! And of course buyers can experience this too, depending of course, on how long they’ve been in their current home and how much space they have had to collect things.
As I noted at the start of the book, the stress in moving can be overwhelming, whether you’re buying or selling a home. And that doesn’t include the potential stress associated with the actual transaction. We don’t realize how many things we’ve stuffed away over the years. And, if we’re selling a home, we are clueless to how much we’ll have to pack up, give or throw away, or put in the “maybe” pile. If you’ve ever had a family member pass away or go into an assisted living facility, then you know just what I mean.
When my two cousins and I moved our grandmother into assisted living, it took weeks upon weeks to sort, box, and disperse of all the things a little old lady who’s 94 years old could collect. It can be mind boggling for me to clean my closet, let alone an entire house of nick knacks and years of storage.
In the terrific NYT Best Selling book, The Art of Tidying Up (see resource section), we’re told that one way to eliminate clutter from our lives is to thank it and then let it go. Freeing space frees your mind. It creates more vibrant energy in your environment. Haven’t you ever cleaned a room out and then every time you entered it notice (and appreciated!) how great it looked? How great it felt? So if you do nothing more than begin to lose the things that are weighing you down, you will be miles ahead of those hoarders who say they’re saving because “you never know.” You never know what, is the question.
My husband watches a show called “American Pickers.” It’s about two guys who travel the country looking for good “picks” for their boy-toy store. Their adventures tend to take them to remote, rural locations where old men own acres of land, often with multiple buildings, that are stuffed to the brim with…junk. Okay, not really junk to them, but junk to me.
I saw an episode the other night, and the this older guy said he was interested in selling some of his “collectibles” to the guys. Well, he didn’t want to part with anything, as illustrated by his ridiculous pricing. Now don’t get me wrong. I understand there’s a market for an old metal gas station sign. It just that when your hobby turns into five buildings so stuffed with your collectibles that you haven’t been able to walk through it since the Nixon Administration, maybe there’s a problem.
And seriously, what is the fun of collecting things if you cannot enjoy them? It’s one thing to collect vintage wine glasses, but an entirely different matter when the glasses have been relegated to boxes that now fill an entire shed, and you never see them. There is a fine line in collecting things for enjoyment versus obsession and hoarding. Bringing this back to real estate (that was what we were talking about, right?). I once went to look at a woman’s house to possibly list it. It was beyond out of control hoarding. She must have had 20 years’ worth of daily newspapers filling a room. I’m not kidding. Needless to say, that house wasn’t getting listed anytime soon, and in fact, I do believe her kids were planning on having it condemned. That’s how bad collecting things can get.
While most of us don’t share a full on hoarding habit, we do tend to hold on to things that no longer serve us. I do believe that’s an important part of Feng Shui. Your environment should be light and airy, not heavy with clutter. While we all know the possessions we own and display say a lot about us, they also say a lot about how we feel about ourselves. I always say, “cluttered desk, cluttered mind.” And even though I often am guilty of real estate files spread out all over the place, I feel 100% lighter when I clear the space and file the folders all neat and tidy.
One Feng Shui tip I’ll share, because I know we all like the idea of abundance in our lives, is about your money corner. According to Feng Shui principles, your “money corner” should be kept spotlessly picked up and clean. Rumor has it the color purple and/or a healthy plant in that area is helpful too. So where is the money corner at? If you are standing at your front door, entering your home, your money corner would be the farthest left hand corner of the interior of the house.
You can also apply this principle to your office and desk. Of course, if you were looking at your entire property from an aerial perspective, you would go as far left as the property line. Now, I’ll give you an example of how this worked for one of my sellers, and you can take it or leave it.
The house had been on the market for months. I marketed the heck out of it (this was before all the internet marketing we now have available). I held it open every weekend, ran ads, and sent postcards to the neighbors. It just was not getting offers. Plenty of traffic, beautiful homes, but no offers. Finally I decided to try some Feng Shui on it. One issue I noticed right away was that in the money corner of this particular house was a bathroom, and the toilet happened to be in that exact location. Clearly a Feng Shui expert was not consulted upon the building of this seller’s home.
Call it superstitious if you will, but the fact remains that after I added a plant, put a purple toilet cover on, and did a couple of other things, we had TWO full price offers. I’m talking about within 24 hours, folks. The sellers wanted to know what I had done. I was honestly too embarrassed to tell them. Besides, how could a purple toilet seat cover sell a house? Who knows? I’m just sharing what happened, so you can draw your own conclusions. As far as I’m concerned, if a listing isn’t selling, I’m willing to do whatever it takes to get my sellers in escrow. And I’m not opposed to using techniques that has been around for centuries in one of the oldest civilizations around.
What follows are some suggestions (even if you’re not buying or selling home, they can be useful):
—As you begin to pack up your belongs to move, ask yourself which things should go to your new home, and which ones sound find another home.
—If you haven’t worn it in a year, give it to charity. If it doesn’t make you feel amazing, give it to charity.
—Start with cleaning of “junk drawers.” These are small steps that can prepare you.
—Make it a point to discard or donate something from every space of your home; drawers, closets, cubby holes, garages, desks, and cabinets.
—Remember medicine chests, vanities, and under the kitchen and the bathroom sink.
I highly recommend the book on tidying up (mentioned above), but I believe the single simple premise to be that if an item doesn’t bring you joy, discard it. It doesn’t get any easier to understand than that. How many gifts from well-meaning friends or family members have you held on to?
I know someone who painted a large picture of a sail boat for her sister. The sister didn’t like it. Yet in spite of the fact that it didn’t go with her decor, did not make her feel good, and was not something she even wanted, she allowed that painting to hang on the wall of her living room for 26 years!! You read that correctly; she spent 26 years looking at something, living with something that did not uplift her. Please do not make the mistake of thinking that your emotions aren’t important to your environment; they truly are.
Wherever you live, your home is your sacred space. Keep the flow of energy light and positive and you yourself, will feel light and positive. And if you are selling a house, this will translate into finding a buyer faster. If you are buying a new home, pay attention to the way you feel as you walk through every room. And for all of us, tidying up our living spaces is a wonderful way to open yourself up for greater things.
Happy tidying up and organizing your own space for increased energy and success!
If you’d like to read this whole book, you can get it here: http://amzn.to/2rRsXDY
If you’re in the Sacramento Area and thinking of buying or selling a home, order your book here: www.ItsYourMoveSac.com