Realtors Share Their Favorite Staged Horror Stories


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The only thing worse than seeing a house poorly staged is being tasked with selling one, as Boston area realtors will tell you.


Photo via Getty Images / AleksandarGeorgiev

We are told that the only thing that really matters when selling homes is location, location, location. But we are also told that there is no second chance for a first impression, which means that it is up to real estate agents to get homes back to pristine condition before putting them up for sale. It’s easier said than done. Almost all real estate agents have a horror story about something they find in a house they are supposed to sell. From a glut of wedding photos to a sex dungeon, anyone selling homes has learned tricky ways to approach sellers about the condition of their home.

And even if a house doesn’t come with, say, the collection of a ghoulish antique medical tool seller, like Fernanda Bourlot, a Boston-based interior designer with Simply Blanco and a real estate agent, once found, a little reshuffle goes a long way, she says.

“I’ve seen things that can be completely remodeled and redone to be 100% different from what they were before,” she says.

This is why many realtors brace themselves for the possibility that every home requires close scrutiny, and perhaps a difficult conversation with a seller or tenant who can be quite proud of their unique taste.

A Cape Cod real estate agent encountered this problem when a friend of his asked him to check out a rental property he was planning to sell. Her friend was hoping for professional advice on what work to do before the house was put on the market. The Yarmouth house was rented to an elderly woman who had lived in the house for a long time and was moving into an assisted living facility.

As the real estate agent discovered, a lot of work was required.

“I went and knocked on the door. She opened the door an inch and I said “Hello, Dick told you I would come” and she said “Oh my God, yes”. And she opened the door, and it was like an episode of the Fuzzy area, because she had thousands of teddy bears stuck to the walls and ceilings and every square inch of the floor, ”recalls the realtor. “There was a small path in which you couldn’t even stand two feet, you had to put one foot in front of the other. They were glued to the mantle and to the walls. It was the scariest… She showed me around and there wasn’t an inch of the kitchen and living room that you could see. There were small, large, clown faces. She was so proud of them. I remember thinking “I can’t insult this lady”. It was by far the most disturbing scene I have ever seen upon entering a house.

The owner of the house ended up sending a team to scratch the bears off the wall. There were so many that they ended up filling a dumpster, although the tenant was able to save some to take them with her to her new home.

And she’s hardly the only resident who has truly personalized her home over the years. A Boston-based real estate agent with Coldwell Banker discovered that people in city apartments have an incredible ability to fill even the smallest of spaces, including a client who was a hoarder.

“It was pretty fun, because if you needed a toothbrush they had it, and if you needed a spotted elephant statue they had it too,” the officer said. immovable. “They had dry cleaning bags, thousands of these, and fifty years of newspapers and these made the paths from room to room… Cans of soda, boxes of cucumbers or something. thing, everything was there. Everything you thought you could get rid of was in there. And that was in Beacon Hill.

And working with a directing company doesn’t always guarantee success.

“Staging companies have staged ripped and torn furniture in condos I sold,” says Katherine Kranenburg, an associate in Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty in Wellesley. “I used this minivan for the condos and the price was right. They are used to going in and out of small spaces. I got to the point where the relationship was built and didn’t have to watch them. I trusted them, everything would be fine.

Unfortunately, that trust was broken with a fateful condo: “When I went upstairs and opened the door, there were tears (arms on the couch). You can’t hide this with a pillow.

And of course, sometimes it’s a homeowner’s questionable interior design choices that realtors have to grapple with in the wake of their budding decorator. A Boston-based real estate agent says he met sellers whose more… personal… hobbies were evident in the design of the home, prompting a touchy conversation with a couple selling their home equipped with their own sex dungeon.

“The house was immaculate, it was beautiful, then you walked down the stairs,” she says. “I was working on a list with an older agent, and we opened the door and she was horrified. There were swings and the walls were padded. They didn’t think it was a problem… it was really hard to get them to take it off, but they did.

And the padded walls are the least of them. Estate agents in the area describe encountering shades of walls ranging from tennis ball green to rooms each painted in a different Crayola color.

“I visited homes that also had wallpaper on the ceiling,” says a Boston-based real estate agent. “Like fully wrapped up with wallpaper all over. When I first started selling real estate, I had one property that was painted entirely black. It was one or two bedrooms in the South End and everything was black with a gold decor. It was a look, but what sellers should understand is that sometimes there is a look, but it’s too specific to taste… it was black ceilings, walls, everything. C “was very flowery. In a way, it was a beautiful space, but it appeals to one in ten people. We had the place painted in a neutral way.

So don’t forget the next time you plan to move: you could save your real estate agent a headache by hiding your puppet collection and painting over your beloved neon pink bathroom. What if you look at a list and are impressed with the quality of the directing? Remember, behind every beautiful piece is a real estate agent who may have had to pull metaphorical teeth (or teddy bears) to get it.


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