Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Don't Try This at Home: "Barely Any Sunlight"

A company calling itself "Precise Real Estate" earns its name* by providing the following description of an 1,163 square-foot, four-bedroom condo listed in Brighton for $967,000:
Great value! Currently rented for $3600/month! Tons of space, 4 big bedrooms, 1 bathroom, no parking, nice swimming pool, first floor unit with barely any sunlight, great large kitchen fits a table, great closet space, amazing location!
In case the description wasn't honest enough, the realtor thoughtfully provided photos that do not show rooms staged to help buyers imagine themselves living in pristine, monochromatic, hotel-like comfort as is customary around here. You've seen it a thousand times: gray walls and gray, black, and/or white furniture, rugs, art, and accessories. Tiny pops of color are permitted in throw pillows and plants.

No, this broker had a revolutionary idea: he decided to show how your new, almost-million-dollar pad will look like after you are all settled in. It's a brilliant idea, and I think it would help sell houses if it's executed correctly. Staging is intended to help people easily imagine themselves living in the property but I think it often fails by making condos and houses too minimalist and magazine-perfect and devoid of domestic comfort and charm. I never feel comfortable in bland, perfect rooms, at least.

But I wonder if Mr. Lopez went too far in the other direction.

I could be wrong. My friends (and you know who you are, both of you) tend not to invite let me into their homes, so I don't really know how people live who are not me (and are not selling their properties). Perhaps you all live like Mr. Lopez imagines you do. He seems to have a pretty clear picture of his Ideal Home Buyer for this condo, anyhow.

For example, he's assuming you are in the habit of never making your bed and leaving your clothes on the floor and tangled in your sheets. This is the lead photograph for the listing, which appeared yesterday; I hope it makes you feel either covetous or like you've finally found your next home, since that what lead listing photos are supposed to do:

All photos: Precise Realty 

Please look closely (soft-focus room photography is another startling innovation by Mr. Lopez) and tell me if you agree that there could be a sleeping or unconscious person in that bed.

Or a corpse: I just finished reading The Waters of Eternal Youth, Donna Leon's the 25th novel in her Venetian police detective series, featuring Commissario Guido Brunetti. So I'm still spotting bodies everywhere, particularly in messy apartments, where Guido found one quite by accident, on page 182. I can't believe I've read every one of these lightweight novels; sometimes Guido doesn't solve the crime, often the perps go free. The Italian criminal justice system is a joke. But I keep reading them for their descriptions of Venice in all weather, the meals his Henry James–obsessed wife Paola serves up (Venetians often go home for a multi-course lunch during the workday), and the creative outfits worn by his boss's secretary, Signorina Elettra.

But I digress. Let's get back to your stunning property, shall we?

The eat-in kitchen:

How nice that you recycle. That's always good to see, yet it's rarely in real-estate listings. Stagers should provide brimming recycling bins in kitchens along with the requisite bowls of fresh fruit and tasteful clusters of Pellegrino bottles that always adorn otherwise-bare granite counters.

Here's another bedroom:

Here Mr. Lopez forgot and did the usual staging trick of draping a coordinating throw alluringly across the bed. Seen it a million times. Cliché! Piling stuff on top of it helps somewhat. I hope those black boxes littering the bed and floor are not the ubiquitous plastic rat traps we see in yards and alleys around town. But they look very much like them....

If you were going to accuse me of mistaking a student apartment for your own, be informed that the ancient television refutes your claim. No one in their 20s would have a clue about what that thing is, so this can only be an adult apartment.

Is that a bloodstain high up in the corner, or a misplaced sock? Let me know.

The living room:

I see you made some attempt at neatening things up in here. Why? At first glance, I thought that was a black cat sleeping on the tablecloth you threw over that chair. Alas, I think it is a sweater. Your cats must be hiding from the photographer. 

I commend you on your taste in vintage television sets, however. (What is that thorny thing on top of it, though?) 

I also like your taste in Pepperidge Farm cookies. I hope those are Milanos, my favorite.  But you should try the Crispy Cookies with Belgian chocolate from Trader Joe's. They made me a convert.

Thank you for sharing your home with me. I hope you make a quick cash sale from a foreign investor who plans to send all eight of his children to Boston universities a decade or so from now. I'll look forward to meeting him at the open house and having them drag race their Bentleys down Beacon Street in 2026.

* Precise Realty agent Dennis Lopez agent should earn Boston's 2016 RE Truth-in-Advertising Award, but I think the real-estate business stopped bestowing this once-coveted award somewhere around 1787, having found no qualified candidates for several decades. Of course there haven't been more than one or two since then.


  1. RAOFLMBO.. yes, well if that is what they had to work with, that was what they were going to photograph. it isn't like they are going to clean up someone's place - they simply do not get paid enough money for that.

  2. at least he gets points for honesty :)

  3. Why do I have the feeling, the Realtor told the homeowner to be prepared for the photographer and they didn't care enough to at least clean up, so one can assume that the sellers are difficult to work with, if they won't even work with their own Realtor.

  4. Ah yes, renters that don't want to have to look for a different place. Why clean it up for the real estate agent and owners who want to sell it out from under them? Might have been better to show the outside...or maybe it's worse.

  5. Wow! I do think a corpse is in that bed, which BTW seems to get plenty of sun. But, the people living there are the renters, which could be why they sabotaged the photo shoot. Paying $3600 a month for such splendor, they have to work 2 jobs and therefore can't tidy up or buy new TVs and can only afford to eat cookies. Those black boxes do like like rat traps though. Maybe a metaphor for the whole place?

  6. ah, even more reasons why I am no longer a realtor!

  7. I think I saw a cat's paw sticking out between the slats of the foot-board in the second bedroom shot.


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