Home Design Purgatory – Part I

When a client sees a home that has been on the market for 100+ days in Charlotte they immediately think that something is wrong with the house, the seller’s expectations or both. Why would a perfectly good house, in a highly-sought-after neighborhood be sitting on the market for that long and especially if the price per square foot is on par or maybe even below that of its neighbors?

 Buyers will always say “there HAS to be something wrong with it.”

Well, not necessarily.

Have you ever walked into a home and everything looked nice, but it just didn’t feel like much? Sometimes this sentiment comes across when someone says “I mean, it’s a nice house. It checks all of our boxes, it’s just not OUR house.”

Welcome to what I like to call, Home Design Purgatory. This is when a house was designed to meet everyone’s expectations and in doing so meets no ones. It takes a trained eye to see a home like this, it was once called a home “with potential” where people dream about ripping up shag carpeting to find hardwood floors, but now it seems to be new-ish builds.

It looks like faux subway tile backsplashes (yes, it’s a thing), and formica counter tops accented by builder-grade light fixtures and faucets. This is not a bad house. Not. At. ALL. There’s a very good chance that the previous owner focused on taking care of the mechanicals of this house instead of spending their time designing and upgrading the little show-y pieces around their home. However, a buyer doesn’t see the perfectly maintained furnace when they walk through, they see fixtures and accents. If it doesn’t feel like home, they move on. This means more days on market and more missed opportunities to sell. Hence, my term of “design purgatory,” there’s no telling how long this home might sit on the market or how much you may need to drop the price to appease a potential buyer.

So, what do you do? The first step of any problem is admitting that there is one. If you’re the seller of this home that can be a hard pill to swallow. First, keep in mind that this doesn’t mean something is wrong with you or your house. Maybe you have really great furniture that stole the show when guests arrived. Creating a warm and inviting space is what we’re after and maybe you did that solely with furniture, art and décor.

If you’re still living in the house ask your Realtor® about a staging consultation. The home stager will come into your home and move the items you have and maybe add a few design touches that you wouldn’t have picked for yourself. They may reconfigure your seating within rooms to show off the features that a buyer is looking for, for example, creating a conversation area around a large picture window instead of around a TV. While the layout chosen by the staging consultant might not be your ideal everyday living arrangement, it can greatly help with appeal to a potential buyer, and for you it will strictly be temporary.

A staging consultant will also take out some personal items like family photos and trinkets to make it easier for buyers to see a cozy home that they want to live in, and not make their time touring the house feel like they’re imposing on you by coming in. The removal of family photos can also be for your own families’ safety. There may be hundreds of strangers looking at listing photos of your home, they don’t need to know the ages and names of your children. So be safe and not sorry.

If you’ve already moved out of the house and the home is being shown empty, as your Realtor® if it would be advantageous to have the home either partially or fully staged. The temporary addition of furniture and décor not only allows a buyer to feel more comfortable in a space but it can also detract from any small cosmetic issues the home may have. I’ve seen very minor details be what stands between a buyer making and not making an offer, so try to downplay the little things like scuff marks on a wall. If there’s nothing in the home, buyers will focus on things like that because there’s nothing else to look at, but add some seating and a few throw blankets and a scuff becomes a much less impactful issue. Try to keep a level head about the whole situation. If the ultimate goal is to sell the home (and it should be if you’re listing it) then take a look at the home around you as best you can from an outsider’s perspective. And listen to the advice of your Realtor®, if they suggest making small cosmetic changes then listen to them, they are there to support you and your best interests.

It’s a journey not a destination

For the entirety of the time I’ve lived in my own first home I’ve been making steps towards making it FEEL like home. It’s a slow process, and it can be frustrating but it can also be rewarding and very, very healing.

I moved to Charlotte with only a few boxes of clothing, my dog and a yoga mat. I love to talk about this as a light-hearted experience, but honestly, it was anything but. I had lost my job a few months prior, my marriage had abruptly ended, and I was dealing with crippling depression and feelings of worthlessness.

Fast-forward six months and I was signing paperwork to buy a tiny little condo and I was overwhelmed and scared out of my mind. I felt like I had no business thinking that I could take care of a home, even if it was just a condo. I didn’t even own a drill, much less knew how to use one. I felt so screwed (no pun intended).

I spent my first night sitting on the floor crying.

Over the time that I’ve lived here the condo projects have begun to reflect my life at-large and the pressure of moving on. For a long time I didn’t believe that I was going to stay in Charlotte, so my house reflected that. It took me years to put anything on the walls and then when I finally did, I felt a little better. Not only did it feel like I belonged there, but I felt like I had successfully learned something about how to hang picture frames (thanks YouTube!)

Since then I’ve found a passion for interior design and have developed a drive to learn about renovations and repairs, and to further create using the space around me. I’m definitely not a designer, and my goals are simple: to create safe and welcoming space for myself and others, and to learn whatever I can along the way.

Housing Supply, Housing Demand and “The Corona”

The biggest unknown in any economic model is how we the consumers will act, and this rings true for Charlotte real estate as well. I had someone tell me that the “bottom fell out” of our real estate market and I had to take a step back to regroup before responding.

What market indicators were they looking at? Well, it turns out that they were looking at the economic indicator that reigns supreme above all others… their own gut feeling. No one feels comfy making large decisions in the midst of a global pandemic and yes, based on the Charlotte Region Weekly Market Activity Report from our local Realtor® association there have been some slowdowns. However, these slowdowns aren’t necessarily what you might think.

Pre-Corona Armageddon 2020 there was no disputing that the Charlotte real estate market is highly sought-after. There are tons of people moving here for all different reasons each and every day, and we have a booming economy and our job market is top-notch for people in professional industries. There’s so much opportunity here that we have to bring in job applicants from other cities and states because prior to the pandemic we had extremely low unemployment numbers for those working in traditional desk jobs. (No, the same cannot be said for those working in trades, customer service and labor positions, but the affordable housing crisis is a blog post for another day.)

Our biggest issue within Charlotte’s real estate market is and has been a supply problem. We have tons of qualified people and not enough housing to ensure that even the majority of buyers can find a suitable home. This in-turn drives up the prices for the homes that are available and creates the chaos and bidding wars we’ve seen for the last few years.

The changes that have been felt in our market are honestly, more of the same old story: too many buyers and not enough houses. Based on the Weekly Market Activity data the market is slowing down from the perspective of less homes are being listed for sale. So, in an already jammed up market people who would sell are afraid to sell. However, those that do venture into listing are being rewarded by receiving a higher percentage of their listing price at closing and their home being on the market an average of 38 days, that’s 19.1% LESS time than last year when the average days on market was 47 days.

If you’re looking to sell just remember: To the victor goes the spoils.  Get out there and get listed. If you’re a buyer waiting for the true “bottom” to fall out, it appears that you’ll be waiting a little longer than what a globally-debilitating economic crisis can offer up to impact our Charlotte slice of heaven.

Thank U. Next.

If there’s one thing that I’ve learned over the last few years, it’s that everyone has their own opinion of what’s “best” for you. This has become glaringly apparent in both my personal life and my professional life as I left a marriage I was alone in, I moved to a city that wasn’t “home” and I left a steady career I was miserable in to follow my passion for entrepreneurship and real estate.

I thank God every day for the second chances I’ve been given and the strength he’s given me to trust in him and myself.

Most-recently I’ve hit a stumbling block in my business: people who’ve known me think that this career isn’t living up to my potential. It’s a hard pill to swallow when you learn that someone you’ve cared deeply about feels this way and that they won’t be supporting you in your career, after all, it must just be a faze anyway, right?

Actually, no. And I’m sorry that your definition of success is so narrow.

I became a Realtor to utilize my strengths in understanding law, finance and economics to be of service to those around me. I support my clients through difficult personal transformations and represent their interests in a logical, compelling and legal way to get them their best possible outcome. I use my strengths in negotiating and understanding of legal and ethical pitfalls of this industry to navigate families through the homeownership process all while caring for my clients’ interests as I would my own family’s.

Many of the people who started out as my clients have become what I consider to be my “Charlotte tribe” and “Charlotte family.” My clients have returned my care, loyalty and support to me in ways that I simply can’t explain in writing. They are the people who get to experience me in my every day life (the good, the bad, the ugly and the unexplainably hilarious).

I love meeting new people and allowing them the space to be themselves. I love getting to know these new people and new families, and I love letting them get to know me. The REAL me. The audacious, quick-witted, take-no-crap from anyone, nerd, that loves a good dog meme, non-political and intelligently lead debate, glass of bourbon and explosive laughter.

It saddens me that there are family and friends that don’t want me to be successful because they believe that my life is “beneath” what it should be. Because happiness and helping others while enjoying my co-workers, friends and everyday life without a six-figure salaried 9-to-5 job is somehow failing. Thank you for your concern and please know that your opinion has been heard. I just don’t care what you think my life “should” be.

I work hard and I’m surrounded by amazing people. I’ve lived through some craziness and I’m better because of it. I’m happier, healthier and more confident in myself than I’ve ever been. I’m sorry you’ve chosen not to support me, but I’m not sorry that I’m still standing and living in my own authenticity.

 

 

 

 

 

the “sweet” life

I am so incredibly blessed to walk this journey in real estate, and through it I have met some of the most amazing people in my life. People from all different backgrounds and walks of life, and there are a cherished few that I can pick up the phone and laugh with.

Sometimes all you need on a stressful morning is a “Good morning Sunshine!” and one of my clients continues to teach me that, and lift up any kind of a day I’m having. Real estate is more than a transaction, it is a connection of people working together no-matter their side, their background or anything else that may differentiate us. We all need a safe space, whether that be a physical place to call home or a conversation with someone you can’t stop laughing with. I love the clients that I laugh out loud with and make my coworkers wonder what shenanigans we’re discussing at 10am on a Wednesday morning. These connections are worth more than any listing, any sale, any commission check.

I thank this business for giving me the people I’m surrounded by and for allowing me to use my love of real estate, accounting, and understanding law to help others. When it earns me a paycheck too, then it’s just that much sweeter.