A few months ago, I was watching a horror movie on my laptop. (I think it was Paranormal Activity II). Several scary scenes within that movie take place in the kitchen. The audience gets a prolonged look at the set as the music swells and the suspense builds.
I wasn’t noticing the suspense. I kept staring at the kitchen design.
“I like that they’ve chosen outswing exterior doors leading towards the patio,” I said, hitting the “pause” button to study it more closely. “That helps with the household traffic flow.”
My boyfriend rolled his eyes. “This is supposed to be the scary part.”
“It is.” I pointed to the screen. “See those grout lines?”
Normal people see hardwood floors; people like you and I see oak, maple or bamboo; Normal people see a bathroom floor; we see 12×12 or 4×6 or 18×18 measurements. Normal people see a hallway; we see 36 inches.
If you look at a lot of houses, you begin to develop a trained eye. And that’s great. But that means you also spot the flaws. You see what’s outdated. You see what no longer works. You see what could have been done better.
When you’re looking at your own investment homes, you might be most critical-minded of all. Every little flaw leaps out at you.
And sometimes you speak those things aloud. At showings. Oops.
That’s not a good habit. If you’ve trained your eye to notice details, you also need to train your mouth to filter out some of those thoughts … especially when you’re doing showings. Otherwise, you might end up calling attention to details that don’t need to be highlighted.
I make this mistake constantly. I’ll be doing a showing with a potential new tenant, and they’ll poke their head into the bathroom. And I’ll instantly feel nearly-apologetic for the fact that the tub surround is plastic, rather than tile, and it’s kinda an ugly older plastic with a faded almond tint, and we’d really like to replace it, but we think we can squeeze another few years out of it, but in the meantime I feel guilty about it …
So I’ll blurt out something ridiculous like, “Hey, the tub surround may be plastic, but check out the awesome new sink faucet!” And the tenants will look at me like I’m crazy. Fair enough.
My Recent Mistake
I did this a few weeks ago. I was showing a house to a potential new tenant, and we walked out onto a deck that’s badly, badly overdue for some staining/sealing. The first words out of my mouth weren’t sales-y words like “This is a great place to eat dinner!” or “This is a quiet place to read!” but rather, “We plan on staining this deck next weekend.”
That caused the potential tenant to notice the old and damaged wood — a detail they had probably overlooked. Open mouth, insert foot.
The moral of the story is simple: Don’t call unnecessary attention to your flaws. Just solve the issues quietly. And if you’re not done fixing them yet, don’t say anything unless asked.
These so-called flaws are probably a thousand times bigger in your own mind than they are in someone elses’ mind, anyway. Most tenants aren’t worried about whether or not the cabinet hinges match the handles. They’re thinking about where to put their bookshelves and stereos and beds.
So take a breath. Relax. You might spot the flaws. But your prospects will see the results of the work you’ve done. And that’s a beautiful thing.