Works of Art

Real Estate Agent with RLAH Real Estate AB95346

Four times, I've been interviewed by artists who wanted to sell their homes, and I was reminded of these experiences at a house I looked at today.

The first was a well known area painter who had paintings all over the walls, and they were not hanging there.  There were murals all over the place.  My big mistake was suggesting that we summon Mr. Carroll, my favorite painter, to hit the place with a few cans of Benjamin Moore - a nice neutral tone!  I got shown the door.  This seller was convinced that the murals would make the house sell for a bunch more money than I thought it would fetch.  Maybe it did.  They were pretty cool murals.

Next time, I was much more diplomatic and got the listing.  It was a big old funky "as is" house and the buyers made a point of telling the sweet elderly gentleman artist who lived there how much they loved the mural in the dining room.  Then they summoned the guy with Benjamin Moore and lost the mural.

The third and fourth times, most of the art work was hanging on the walls, and a lot of it was pretty fabulous.  Both of these artists sold a lot of their work.  Still, I'm convinced that these houses took longer than usual to sell because of the quantity of stuff on the walls - and the sculptures in each room of one of the homes.  It was all pretty amazing stuff that people paid lots of money to own, but it distracted buyers who came to see the place.

When artists list their homes, it's harder for them to go through the de-personalization process than it is for most of us.  And it's harder for agents, at least this agent, to get the message across that the artist in residence can't overdo it.  Some of the stuff (or if it's a little odd, most of it) needs to go into storage.

One of the fun parts about having artists as clients, is that I've wound up with some amazing stuff on my living room walls!  





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Real Estate Sales and Marketing
Stage It Forward...
patricia kennedy
washignton dc real estate
selling artists homes

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Gary Woltal
Keller Williams Realty - Flower Mound, TX
Assoc. Broker Realtor SFR Dallas Ft. Worth

Pat, I imagine this is a very tough situation to de-personalize, because, well they are artists. Maybe a Stager person could tell them and leave you out of it??

Sep 23, 2008 04:04 PM #1
Sharon Young
Ivy League Mortgage Philadelphia, Pa - Southampton, PA

Pat ...See, I always knew it would be an asset to be non creative and boring. I could probably sell my house faster. ;-)

Sep 23, 2008 04:05 PM #2
Mana Tulberg
805 County Real Estate - Camarillo, CA
Real Estate Agent - Camarillo CA

Pat, We had two artist in town who tried to sell their homes in their current "artistic fashion". Both homes sat on the market for a year. Both homes had a lot of visitors, but they were all curious to see the art not the homes.

Sep 23, 2008 04:15 PM #3
Jennifer Fivelsdal
JFIVE Home Realty LLC | 845-758-6842|162 Deer Run Rd Red Hook NY 12571 - Rhinebeck, NY
Mid Hudson Valley real estate connection

Pat - I know what you mean.  Artist always have a hard time getting some of the stuff out of the way and this does distract a potential buyer.

Sep 23, 2008 04:27 PM #4
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Gary, I've often let stagers be the heavies!  Somehow, I think these guys would have had a tough time with stagers.

Sharon, Ah!  For pottery barn and framed botanicals!

Mana, that doesn't surprise me.

And Jennifer, yeah, I didn't even mention the cluttered studios!

Sep 23, 2008 04:32 PM #5
Tony & Darcy Cannon
Aubrey and Associates Realty - Layton, UT
The C Team

Pat, I can imagine that this is a difficult thing for an artist, especially with the murals.  I know that being as diplomatic as possible, like you did is the way to approach it.  It is tough enough at times to convince the non artisan population that they need to take down as much of their stuff as possible.  It must be much more so with artists.

Sep 23, 2008 05:12 PM #6
Michelle Roland
Phil's Locksmith - Sacramento, CA

I'm on the other end of this one, and working w/ an artist buyer. Do you find that these clients "artists" even think differently, and run their conversations in  LARGE circles. It can be frustrating but I think I can follow along. This one is going to be tough to get them to make a decision at all, just wanting to view everything, and take a long time too as if they were in a new art gallery each home we go to. I'll wish us both luck.

Sep 23, 2008 05:27 PM #7
Carol Culkin
Reece & Nichols - Leawood, KS
Overland Park

Pat - i can imagine this is difficult. Then again, what seller doesn't take things personally when we suggest that they re-do what they've created?

Sep 23, 2008 06:17 PM #8
Ken Montville
RE/MAX United Real Estate - College Park, MD
The MD Suburbs of DC

De-personalization doesn't only include to "art" it extends to all those great photos of you and your family at various activities, the grandchildren, great grandchildren, Uncle Ernie, the trip to Mozambique, all the artifacts you picked up on your trip to Italy, your shot glass collection, train set, and on and on and on.

It's very difficult to impress upon people who have lived in a house for a period of time and have made it their home that they have to strip all their personality out of it so a potential buyer can insert their personality into it.

But, speaking of murals, I once visited a house from a couple who were "original owners" of a house about 50 years old. Well, 50 years ago they had some murals painted on the wall.  They still loved them and thought that the murals would sell the house.  Au Contraire! The murals would kill the sale even if the "my neighbors made a gazillion dollars during the frenzy and I want that, too" didn't.

Sep 23, 2008 11:16 PM #9
Brian Block
RE/MAX Allegiance, Managing Broker/Branch Vice President - McLean, VA
Northern Virginia & D.C. Real Estate

Pat, were there murals on the ceiling too, a la Michaelangelo? 


Sep 24, 2008 12:15 AM #10
Kelly Sibilsky
Licensed Through Referral Connection, LTD. - Lake Zurich, IL

At least the house will be remembered by the buyers as "that house with the murals". Ha ha.

To most of us, our stuff is just "stuff" but to an artist, their stuff is "who they are". It's like cutting off a leg to get rid of it. And to think that sidewalk chalk artists know that the next rain or even street cleaner will eliminate their artwork. I don't know how they do it.

Sep 24, 2008 03:50 AM #11
Barbara S. Duncan
RE/MAX Advantage - Searcy, AR
GRI, e-PRO, Executive Broker, Searcy AR

I guess I'd better not sell because I collect art.  Original art.  And I'd have a hard time taking it off the walls.  Good post.

Sep 24, 2008 12:27 PM #12
Susan Peters
Dove Realty Inc. - Seattle, WA
The Better it Looks the Better it Sells

Hi Pat,

For these folks selling their home is truly like selling their children. It's almost impossible for them to detach and you're right, it does take longer to sell that kind of property.

                               You do your best but you can't win 'em all.

Sep 24, 2008 03:20 PM #13
Thesa Chambers
Fred Real Estate Group - Bend, OR
Principal Broker - Licensed in Oregon

I can't even imagine - how cool some of this would be to see - it would be a touchy issue -

Sep 24, 2008 04:01 PM #14
Jeanean Gendron
The Address Realty - Redding, CA
Specializing in Selling Unique Properties

Patricia...Oh've hit a sore spot with me. I've got a current listings that has 10' ceilings and is goregous.....he's an artist and we have art throughout the house. I personally love it....but when my agents went through the house.....that's exactly what they told get rid of the art. It's not going to happen, however.....he just won't do it. and frankly I would want something on the walls. It is so tastefully done.....I tend to love unique houses and that's not such a good business decision....coaching may help....I've got another potential listings that is very Martha Stewart like.....which is very unusual in Redding. I love it, but here we go again! I've got to quit being a challenge junkie! Great post. I'm going to remain positive about this house though.....I was going to put the dedicated website in here....but though better of it. I may send it to you via email and see what you think.....frustrated in Redding!

Sep 24, 2008 11:12 PM #15
Rebecca Anne Cole
PNC Mortgage - Timonium, MD

I guess it would be difficult to tell someone their talents had to be removed from their own walls.  I can't think of a way that it would not be taken personally.

Sep 26, 2008 06:45 AM #16
Don Rogers
Keller Williams Realty Chesterfield - O'Fallon, MO
Realtor, Broker, CDPE, GRI, OnullFallon MO & St Charles County MO homes

Pat, I have never had this opportunity arise and I'm not too sure how I would handle it.  At times it is very difficult to get non-artist types to de-personalize.

Sep 27, 2008 02:07 AM #17
Cathy Lee
CL Design Services Home Staging - Danville, CA

Great post and comments.  I had a consultation once with a nice couple in a lovely home.  He was an artist-nude oil portraits.  He was not willing to store them or stop working in the loft/studio so I did not accept the staging.  It was tough to say no thank you. 

Sep 27, 2008 03:07 AM #18
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Patricia Kennedy

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