Tag Archives: sanctuary

The Gift of Staging


Staging is magical. It’s “theater” that evokes a buyer’s emotional response and thereby enhances a seller’s bottom line.

It makes it easier for buyers to envision themselves living in a home. It psychically de-personalizes the property and displays furnishings in context. It makes a house more inviting in every way.

But there’s another unexpected and little-discussed benefit: By creating an idealized version of a home, staging makes it easier for sellers to LET GO.

An owner’s initial reaction to viewing their staged home inevitably goes something like this: “Wow. I wish we’d done this while we were living here.”

That “shouldawouldacoulda” cringe is normal. Yet nobody ever actually lives that way. Ergo one of my real estate mantras: “The way you live in a house and the way you sell it are two entirely different things.”

A cruder twist on that bit of wisdom is: “If your home looks like it’s staged, you probably should examine the sacrifices you’re making in the name of keeping up appearances.”

Life is messy. Shit happens. Stuff accumulates. There’s a healthy difference between ideal and reality, and it’s evident in your home. After all, THE HOUSE is the dream metaphor for THE SELF.

So, with staging, there is a pivotal moment that presents a homeowner with a wonderful opportunity for closure and progression.

Consider the story of my lovely client Jane (not her real name). Preparing her house for sale required four stressful months of cleaning out and organizing 40 years’ worth of belongings. Another month was needed for cosmetic fixes and staging. I spent 10 days marketing the house before we considered offers. We closed seven days later.

Prior to de-staging, Jane visited her longtime home. Alone. She sat in the living room. She let the serene and clean feeling of the staged house wash over her. She walked through the rooms and looked out the windows. It was as if she were seeing some of those views for the first time.

There were brief waves of regret – the shouldawouldacoulda. There were flashes of memories – both happy and sad. There was appreciation for the years of service the house had given.

This was followed by a curious contentment and detachment. Jane assimilated the staged version of the house as the one she’ll remember in years ahead. Then, without resisting, she let go of her longtime home.

“The staging,” she explained, “was a gift for me.”

Cynthia Cummins is a Top Producer and Partner at McGuire. For info on SF real estate visit http://CynthiaCummins.com. This article was re-posted at McGuire.com.

Homewords: All You Have



“Be grateful for the home you have, knowing that at this moment, all you have is all you need.” Sarah Ban Breathnach

Home and “Possibilities”


Here is a lovely poem — with a wispy and wistful real estate connection — which appeared on Writer’s Almanac recently.


Possibilities by Linda Pastan


Today I drove past a house

we almost bought and heard

through the open window music


made by some other family.

We don’t make music ourselves, in fact

we define our differences


by what we listen to.

And what we mean by family

has changed since then


as we grew larger then smaller again

in ways we knew would happen

and yet didn’t expect.


Each choice is a winnowing,

and sometimes at night I hear

all the possibilities creak open


and shut like screendoors

in the wind,

making an almost musical



to what I know

of love and history.

Homewords: Beauty for Sale


“Endeavoring to purchase something we think beautiful may in fact be the most unimaginative way of dealing with the longing it excites in us, just as trying to sleep with someone may be the bluntest response to a feeling of love.”

― Alain de Botton, The Architecture of Happiness

Heart and Home: An Empty Nest


When I first visited their home, they were both there.

I could tell she was self-conscious and a tad overwhelmed by all the stuff they’d accumulated over 25 years. She kept blushing and nodding to me as we walked from room to room. Here were the books he’d brought home when he retired from teaching. Here were the masks, drums and textiles from their African travels. Here were the baskets of yarn, the half-finished scarves, the knitting needles sprouting like spring onions.

He proudly pointed out the mantelpiece he’d installed himself, the stained-glass windows he’d built, the now-tall tree they’d planted 25 years ago.

“There used to be a wall there.”

“We added that skylight.”

“When Jamie was little he lived in this closet for years. Here’s a little patch of orange paint left! He still loves orange. And black. Giants colors.”

He wasn’t ready to sell and she assented. I, naturally, supported their decision: When the time is right it’s right; not sooner.

Three years later I returned, but he wasn’t there. It had been sudden – a blessing and a shock. For years she’d yearned to sell the house but now it was painful to let go. Everything evoked a memory. Shoes, tools, garden gloves. Skis, bicycle, golf clubs.

Together, she and I made a plan. We hired a stager, a painter. Inspections were done. Repairs were made. Storage was arranged. Yard sales were held. Movers were called.

I steadied and encouraged her as she sorted through the treasures and detritus of a lifetime. I witnessed her grief. I offered compassion and gentle yet professional advice.

In the end, the house no longer felt like home to her. Yet it felt good, she said: Renewed, inviting, shining, beautiful. The effort of preparing for sale had made the sadness easier. And the result was gratifying. She had created a new version of her home – one a new family could inhabit.

Memories were embedded in the foundation, the floors and the walls. But she could let go now. She could use the money to travel back to Africa, to spend time with her grandchildren. She was free to find new places to live and love.

Cynthia Cummins is a Top Producer and Partner at McGuire. For info on SF real estate visit http://CynthiaCummins.com.