To the extent that questions burn in the business real estate, one centers on family photos: Should they be hidden until the home finds a buyer?
“Honey, do you think that’s a beach in Vietnam?” a prospective purchaser might ask her partner at an open house.
“Hey, look at how many kids they have!”
“It seems like they had one of those weddings.”
“Eeeww, they’re really into religion, aren’t they?”
Some say photos should be banished to a box in the closet. Others say they make no difference.
I come down somewhere in the middle.
A blog post by Carlsbad, Calif. broker Jeff Dowler occasioned this one. Referring to two of his buyers, he reports that “all liked seeing personal photos because it helped them to feel more personality in the home and an attachment fo the people who lived there lives there.” He adds:
Indeed, in both cases they all gravitated toward the photos upon entering and spent time looking at them and commenting amongst themselves.
For them it was appealing, and not a distraction.
Later they all said that they really liked seeing who lived there, how they lived, and gaining a sense of the personal lives of the residents, rather than being distracted by these photos.
That is a perspective new to me, and I can’t help wondering whether the observation may not be relevant mostly outside of Manhattan.
Allow me to generalize recklessly.
Although it can be argued that homebuyers here are much like each other, I think what separates from many other urban areas is how individualistic we are, maybe eccentric. We are an extraordinarily diverse population, socially and economically, with strongly held values in many case to which others may take offense.
Depending on our aspirations and self-image, the last thing we may want is to identify ourselves with the residents of homes that we consider purchasing.
To the extent that photos communicate images of extravagance (e.g. that 26-foot cabin cruiser), lifestyle choices, mixed heritage and career paths (say, financial services as opposed to social work), I believe any photos that are displayed should be carefully evaluated for the extent that they might turn off certain buyers. Some are fine to show off, others not.
To me, it is not a case of getting rid of or, conversely, permitting all family photos. It is, instead, a matter of discernment.
Tomorrow: Long winding road
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Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022