We never noticed how unsellable our house was until we went to sell it.
It never bothered us that the door between the dining room and the kitchen never shut properly, because we always left it open. But it bothered Larry the Realtor plenty.
"Oh, that's bad," he said. "If we can't get a simple thing like that right, buyers will wonder, 'what's wrong with the roof?'"
Larry had no problem pointing out that we may never sell the house at any price.
"Your closets would look so much bigger if your clothes weren't in them," he told us. "Buyers want big closets. Huge closets. But you have to let them imagine their clothes in your closets; they don't want to see your stuff. If you insist on keeping clothes in here, at least get some from this decade. Who would wear this stuff? It looks like the Clampetts live here. And I mean before they struck oil."
Larry did not tell us where his other clients put their clothes, but he did mention the names of a few upscale shops where we should buy new ones.
Next, he told us the kitchen cabinets would look much bigger if they were empty. Yes, they certainly would. And our stomachs would look much smaller. I guess we should rent a storage locker and put all our pots and pans in it. And all our food. That would make our kitchen look enormous.
"This is going to be a problem," said Larry as he walked into the living room.
"Let me guess," I said. "It would look much bigger if we didn't live in it."
"You took the words right out of my mouth!" he said. "Nothing makes a living room look worse than people. Think about it: You buy a fancy sofa, you pick just the right color for the walls and just the right fabric for the curtains, and then what happens? You walk in -- but you haven't bothered to coordinate your outfit with the furniture. You haven't thought about how you clash with the art on the wall. Best if you just stayed out of here altogether."
The bedroom: better if we slept in our new storage unit until the closing. The bathroom: better if we used the one in whatever restaurant we were at, now that our kitchen is off-limits. Speaking of the bathroom, Larry told us to make sure there were no personal products in there; nobody wants to see our deodorant and mouthwash out on a counter, or a wet washcloth hanging in the shower.
"You have a choice. You can either sell this place, or live in it," he said. "You can't do both." He also added that we should have big bouquets of cut flowers in every room, and paint the dining room peach.
"Everyone looks better against peach. And remove all your mirrors, unless they're the kind that make you look thinner. Very few people feel good about seeing themselves in a mirror."
Larry had a thousand other suggestions on how to "stage" our house, most of which I think he got from TV. It turns out that Sue and I had been watching all the wrong TV shows: We should have been watching all the ones about staging and selling a house.
But he's the expert, so we took his advice and made all the changes we could.
One day last week, we decided to take a drive and get out of the storage shed for a few hours. We stopped by the now half-empty house to change the cut flowers. Sue looked at the spacious kitchen cabinets, the big empty closets and the clutter-free bathrooms.
"Why are we moving? This place is perfect."