Can Dobby the House Elf Sell Your Home?

Dobby the House Elf Sylvia and I were on a small South Austin property tour yesterday with about 10 other Realtors. In one of the homes there was a prime example of the sort of thing that ought to be put away when trying to sell your home. As we entered the home, and looked into the study off the main entrance, there greeting us was a 3ft tall elfin looking creature, very life-like in appearance, staring at us all.

“Is that Gollum?”, one of the other agents said. “No”, I said, “that’s Dobby the House Elf, from Harry Potter”. “Eeewww”, said one of the women, “that’s creepy”. Others laughed and kept admiring/staring in wonderment at the figure. “It looks so real“.

So, there we all were. Instead of walking through the home admiring it’s features and collecting mental images of the finer points of the home, we were gawking at Dobby, who stood prominently displayed, with obvious pride, in a focal point of the home.

Will Dobby sell this house? No. He’s a distraction. In fact, as I type, I can’t remember the floorplan of that home or anything special about it, but I do remember Dobby, and exactly where he stood. I can’t tell you the carpet color, whether there was a fireplace, whether the kitchen had granite counters, or much else about the house. But I do remember Dobby.

I’m not much different than the average buyer. Sure, if I was specifically previewing the home for a client, or showing it to a buyer, I would have better recollection. But on a property tour, going through 10 or so homes, the details of this particular home are fuzzy – but I do remember Dobby.

When selling your home, you want people to remember the home, not the stuff inside it. Put away those things you cherish and like to show off, and those things which may be cute or funny (like the talking bass I met in a Circle C home), and make it easy for the features of the home to stand out and be remembered.

Nobody cares about your trophies (or those of your child) or your mounted deer heads and fish, or the great portraits and family photos hanging on the wall, or the cute signs in the bathrooms, etc. Those things serve to distract buyers and agents and make your home less of a candidate home than it might otherwise be.

Later, when Mr. and Mrs. buyer are trying to remember and sort out the homes they saw that day, and decide which ones they are still interested in, you want yours to be the one about which they remark “oh, was that the one with the nice kitchen cabinets?”, or “oh yeah!, that was the one with really nice Master bath”. You don’t want them to be saying “what about that one with Dobby the House Elf…? … did it have a fireplace..?… I don’t remember the kitchen …”

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