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The Difference Between Cluttered and Dirty

Posted by tomgrisak on December 4, 2017
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Here’s one of my old war stories.  Things that happened in my career that taught me a good lesson.

Maybe ten years ago I had a listing appointment on a nice home in Fairview.  As I was walking through I noticed the seller had a lot of “stuff” on shelves, counters, desks, bookcases, mantles, etc.  I was so busy looking at family pictures, mementos on shelves, artifacts, etc I was distracted from the home itself.  If that was happening to me, I knew it would be a problem with potential buyers.

In addition, there were some oversized interior plants which not only shrunk the rooms, they also restricted the walking areas.  Although it can be risky, I will always bring those things up on the initial listing appointment.  Even if it costs me a listing, it’s something the seller needs to know.

Many agents will keep quiet about what they see for fear of upsetting the sellers and losing the listing.  That’s not only being dishonest, it’s also short sighted.  When negative feedback starts rolling in from buyer agents, the seller’s going to wonder why the agent hadn’t brought those things to their attention in the first place.

I try to be careful with my wording when I’m making suggestions, but even so, we’re talking about people’s homes and feelings can sometimes get hurt.  That’s exactly what happened this time.

After the walk-through, I sat down with the sellers and pointed out all the great assets of their home.  Then I mentioned some of the objections I thought might come up.  I also told them we have excellent stagers who can help them and we’ll even pay for their services.

As it turns out, I didn’t get the listing.  When that happens I always call the sellers and ask if there was anything I’d said or done that prompted them to not work with us.  If I made a mistake, I always want to know so I don’t repeat it.

Mr. Seller told me I had offended his wife when I called her home “dirty”.  I was stumped.  I literally had no idea what he was talking about.  Then I remembered I’d  said there was quite a bit of clutter.

I apologized and explained there’s a difference between dirty and cluttered, but the damage had been done.   I thanked him for taking the time to tell me and told him I would be more careful with the use of that word in the future.  These days I still use the word “clutter” but I always followup with an emphatic “that does not mean dirty”.

By the way, this home went through several agents over a two year period and never sold.  It wasn’t because of the clutter either.  I’ll share that story with you at a later date and it’s a good one to remember when you’re pricing your home to sell.

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