Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Potential

While I was a model student, my husband Ed was quite the opposite. While I excitedly anticipated report card time, Ed was apathetic. He claims he wasn't even smart enough to dread it. (When he was in seminary, he was finally diagnosed with a form of dyslexia; too bad his teachers didn't know about it, because that explains a lot.)

Anyway, Ed kept enough of his report cards to entertain me and the kids. His teachers would write comments on each report card, and one comment appeared consistently: Eddie is not working up to his potential. We laugh about it now, but I imagine comments like that can work two ways - they can give you hope that you can do better, or they can discourage you from ever trying, knowing that you will never quite get there. Unfortunately, little Eddie ended up with the latter attitude.

I keep hoping someone will see the potential in this house. It's an old house, not without flaw by any means, and there is not a perfectly straight patch of floor in the whole place. But it has stood the test of time and, as someone once said, it has "good bones." Some people will come in here and say it needs too much work. Others see the potential.

I wish, for instance, we had been able to refinish the old wood parquet floors. I imagine they would have looked brilliant! But alas, we are not experienced floor refinishers, and there are some tasks we just can't tackle. (After all, Ed finally hung those kitchen cabinet doors - what more can we expect?) So there are two possible attitudes: "Oh, those floors need to be refinished. What a burden! What work! What money!" or.... "Oh, those floors should be refinished. Can you imagine their beauty when we do that? They don't make floors like that anymore!"

How do you sell a house's potential? How can we convince prospective buyers that we have improved the house since we bought it, and now it's time for someone else to leave their mark? I have this recurring vision that if each owner of the house makes improvements, this Grand Old Victorian Lady will one day reach her potential.

This time of year is a hard season to sell a house in Maine, even though it is officially the most productive house-selling season. The temperatures are still cold, the ground is still frozen (until it thaws, hence Mud Season). The trees which in summer block sometimes unappealing views of neighboring houses are now bare. With no green grass, everything is brown. The daffodils and other flowers that Ed has planted in the last few years are still dormant.

Autumn brings color and beauty to our part of the world, and in the dead of winter, we have a smooth blanket of snow covering all the yard. Summer is filled with soft breezes, mild temps, and endless blossoms. But now....sheesh!

I want someone to come for a showing who can look at the yard and see it with "summer" eyes. Someone who can see the potential for landscaping and gardens, and a yard and porch just made for hammocks and lawn chairs. I want someone to fall in love with the house as we did, someone who senses its history and presence, who understands that old houses have character and charm, and that these things make up for the extra time, money, and energy needed to care for them. I want them to understand that we are ready to pass on to them a most precious possession, full of memories and life and love. And I want them most of all to see its potential, and unlike little Eddie, realize that they have the power to bring "potential" into existence.

2 comments:

Malakela said...

Hi Northern Sister-friend,
MY old report cards seem to have a lot of x's in the box beside: Talks and annoys others... unkind.
When we lived in our other house we had a picture on the wall of shots of our house brand new when we moved in, later landscaped and later remodeled. People seem to gravatate to it - it showed the whole ten years we were there in a nutshell. Pictures of then and now seem to lead to ideas for tomorrow. That or a small photo album of your house over the years might be a plus for you.
Winter here is bare trees but no snow - at least you have the beauty of that, no?
Miss Meg

Anonymous said...

Hi Ensley's Girl,

You asked how do you sell the potential of your house?

It sounds like a fine old house with a lot of character. With older houses that don't have the floors done and need a little work here and there, can be sold quite easily.

First when you advertise you should use very descriptive and emotionally packed words in the ad. Pay more for the ad and really describe your home in detail.

Secondly when you take people through the house DON'T SELL. This is a mistake that many For Sale By Owners Make. Let people walk through and explore. Just be quiet and walk behind (but not too close). Answer their questions but don't try and solve every "problem" they see. If they say "looks like the floors are pretty rough" just look at them and nod your head.

I have taken many people through houses and all I heard was complaints (so it seemed) but I just kept quiet and let them sort through it and many ended up buying.

Remember it is a numbers game as well. It may take awhile so don't be descouraged if the first person through doesn't sit down at your kitchen table and write a check.

There is a lot of really good advice in my new book that could benefit you if you are wanting to sell on your own to make the most money possible.

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