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Saturday, June 19, 2021
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I once sat down at a dining room table in a home full of things. Across the table from me was a hoarder—a real life hoarder. We sat in silence at first and then a faint smile crossed her lips as if saying to me “I know exactly what you’re thinking,” and then she offered the following words: “When my husband died I lost the will to throw anything out. I thought I could freeze time. That was ten years ago.”

I thought to myself what a sad story this was and how I might be able to help this person. I also began thinking how impossible it would be to sell a home that had one room filled to the ceiling with glass jars and another with pens.

After consulting some resources within this woman’s community about how to get her help, it was time to have my client understand that the only person who could buy the house in its current condition would be a builder who would surely knock the place down. I explained that too many of my customers would walk into this home and not be able to see what needed to be seen. There was a large dining room attached to a generous sized living room which created a really nice entertainment space for a family willing to clean the place up. But how could anyone envision it if the whole space was filled (and I mean literally filled) with books and papers.

This woman was no slouch and an amazing conversation ensued regarding people’s ability to visualize things that are either no longer in front of them or that they have never seen and need to imagine. We discussed how some buyers could walk into a room filled with “stuff” and could cut right through it and see the room for what it might become and others who could not possibly envision it.

Ultimately the house did sell to an architect who saw the potential and transformed the home into something really special but recounting this story resonates strongly with me from the other end of the spectrum.

A brand new home, typically new construction, with no furniture, is a truly blank slate. For some, it translates into a visual game in which they can turn the room into anything they like and for others, it’s like staring at a blank wall—a tabula rasa. They see nothing.

While once discussing the marketing plan for one of our higher end homes an agent from my office commented that while the home was bare, spacious and full of light it had no story to tell. The rooms just connected to other rooms and would be too difficult for many buyers to see how they themselves would live in this space. That, ultimately, is what my job is: to help a buyer picture themselves living in a particular home, to tell their story. A staging company was consulted and when all was said and done the home had its tale to tell.

All of us have one type of connection or another to our homes. To some, a home is a collection of two-by-fours and sheetrock and for others there is a connection that elevates the house from brick and mortar, transforming it into a repository spanning decades of memories with family and loved ones. Perhaps that makes me a librarian of sorts, helping each of my customers find a story that’s right for them.


Nechama Polak is the broker of record and Owner of V and N Group LLC located at 1401 Palisade Ave, Teaneck. [email protected] 201 826 8809.

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