July 24, 2009

Feng Shui Expert, at your service

My friend Gayle has been trying to sell her house for almost one year. We're all a little perplexed why it's not moving: it's less than 50 years old (a rarity in these parts), is fancy (the master bathroom has a bathtub!), is in a great school district, doesn't back up to nightclub or freeway off ramp (always a concern in Philadelphia), and is priced right. To add to our confusion, over the past couple of months, several homes in Gayle's neighborhood have been put on the market, many priced higher and with far fewer features. One house that backed up to the food court at the mall just sold last week.

After pressing her realtor for some insight as to why her house isn't selling, Gayle received the bad news that her house has, as several prospective buyers put it, "bad feng shui."

Immediately after hanging up with her realtor, Gayle called me, looking for advice. Although I am one of the smartest people on earth, I was forced to admit that I was not exactly sure what bad feng shui was, though I suspected that it had something to do with the gigantic picture of Jesus hanging in Gayle's foyer.

After consulting the Internet and an out of print book at the public library, I suggested that we replace the picture of Christ with a picture of Gayle holding a giant cardboard check made out for 23 million dollars.

"But I didn't win the lottery," she said, confused. I told her that according to Lupe Soto, an Antelope Valley, CA realtor who appears to have plagiarized an article by Kathryn Weber, all houses have histories and that the fortunes---good or bad--of the previous owners have the potential to be passed down to the new owners.

"That strikes me as slightly dishonest," she said.

While I did not succeed in getting Gayle to let me hang a doctored photo on her wall, I did talk her into moving the picture of Christ to a less conspicuous place in the family room, where He wouldn't disrupt the equilibrium of the elements.

"What if we display some wedding photographs here?" I suggested, pointing to the bare entryway wall. "Marriage is a sign of prosperity," I added.

Gayle got married last year and now lives in San Francisco with her husband (thus the house sale). "All my wedding pictures are in California," she lamented.

I took the kids to get some lunch and brought back some color pictures I downloaded from an online bridal magazine.

"Wa la!" I said, cutting out the pictures and shoving them into gilded frames.

I was very pleased with my creativity and quick thinking. Gayle--not so much.

"I don't know how I feel about this," she said. "I'm going to have to think about it for a few days."

In the end, Gayle decided not to pass off a stranger's wedding pictures as her own. Just having the pictures in the house, though (they were shoved into the kitchen knife drawer), must have done something to alter the house's feng shui because the next afternoon, Gayle got an offer. Granted, it was $100,000 lower than her asking price, but still, it was an offer.

I'm thinking about quitting this blog and becoming a feng shui realtor. I'm that talented.

31 comments

Taylor Clan said...

I'm thinking I need to quit this blogging thing myself. I am swallowed in the black hole of voyeurism and exhibitionism.

Sorry. My issues, my crap. Didn't mean to hijack your blog but you make me laugh and I can't. stop. reading.

Feng Shui Faux Pas: Tribal spears pointed at the front door. Didn't know about Jesus' picture. Good to know.

kerrie said...

You are funny.

The Slaughter 5 said...

You're probably right about the picture of Jesus. I'm sure all of the visitors aren't of the same religious beliefs as us, and therefore may feel weird seing Jesus looking at them as they enter. Here in UT, we like when houses that are for sale have pictures of Christ because then we know that we have something in common with the seller and therefore, the feng shui is good! :) Anyway, probably some neutral art would be better than personal photos.

Carrie Stuart said...

This is just what I needed today! Our house just closed today (after a 10 month ordeal, during which we had to initiate our overseas move, anyway) and we lost a ton of money...and I didn't want to have to sell it in the first place...so it's been a sad day for me (although I'm extremely grateful it sold and we got out from under that mortgage). Anyway, I needed a great, real-estate-themed laugh...and you did not disappoint. Thanks!

Now that I think of it, maybe that's why we didn't get an offer until we left and took our Jesus pics with us? Thanks for the tip!

JoanneV59 said...

A bird's nest in the front porch got my friend all the offers she could ever hope for. When the mother bird flew by a prospective buyer and into the nest, the house increased INSTANTLY in value! I tell ya, this Feng Shui consulting gig you're thinking about doing may make you and your clients some bucks! (But you have to live in a town like I do where pizza joints are being replaced by noodle houses. Good thing I like noodles!)

Chic Mama said...

Hello, enjoying your posts.
Thank you, you've made me think about my house which I'm trying to sell. I've always been a bit skeptical about buying a house which has bad fortune around it which doesn't bode well for my house. I'm sure it genuinely puts some people off.
I'm pleased your friend's house has now sold.

avdh said...

That is a *great* career option! We could use your help with our house... And I just have to say that my new favorite exasperated thing to say to my children is: "If you don't stop ..., I'm going to stick a fork in my eye." Thank you for so much good belly laughing!

ElizabethE said...

I like how you made a label for "Feng Shui Realtor". You know, for all the other posts you do about this topic.

{Kiki} said...

Go For It! I see extra income potential and think of all the lives you can change for the better in the process. Good call on the Jesus portrait too. Take care.
-Kiki

Sims Family said...

This was one of my favorite posts ever! I love the picture with the check. So classic. I will remember that if I move.

TheQueen@TerrorsInTiaras said...

Nice job. If only I had thought of the fake wedding pictures to cover up the reality that is my early 90's era puffy hair and puffy sleeves wedding photos. I never thought of a bridal magazine. There's got to be some sleek bride in there that resembles me enough to be mounted on my wall.

Elizabeth said...

All home sellers need someone like you - a different and honest perspective about their treasured dwelling. You can be a paid CONSULTANT to Realtors, since the Realtor may not want to be *that* honest lest she/he lose the client. I am sure you can make $80-100/hr doing this.
Always wondered if the lame plastic tower/slide helped sell our house last year to the family with the new baby. We bought our new house because of the yard - odd around-the-world-tour decor inside was not the reason.

Too Many Hats said...

LOL - remind me to call you when we put our house on the market ;)

Foursons said...

I just wrote a post recently about some buyers who wouldn't buy my house because I have 3 crosses displayed in it in 3 different rooms. Who knew?

Sarah said...

I think your friend should follow your advise. It's not dishonest to simply display photos of other people in your home. It's like advertising or dressing a room for a magazine shoot. But if she were really concerned, maybe she could scan in her wedding photos and leave the copies in the house that's for sale. And I'd take the Jesus portrait out entirely. If it's so special to her that she wants to keep it hanging she should do it in the house that she actually lives in. Religious icons distract people and you want potential buyers to be focused.

Brooke said...

Not all of us in Utah like pictures of Jesus/Christ in them, personally I find them terribly distracting. I'm glad your happy with your god of choice, but not everyone will be.

vakadesign said...

Maybe a picture of Satan to balance out the Jesus? Just an idea =)

Being Catholic, I think maybe only having ONE picture of Jesus is the issue. One picture is kind of insulting, and you need to have a clear view of Jesus or his Mom from every angle in the house. Go big or go home, like my family.

The average Philadelphia home needs AT LEAST one Jesus per room, several crucifixes throughout the house (with palms from Palm Sunday stuck behind them), and 5-6 Maries.

Problemo solved.

Missy said...

Noooo!! Don't quit blogging. Just do the feng shui realty on the side!

Katie said...

THAT is funny!!!!

Anonymous said...

"Voila." Not "Wa-la." Good grief.

Sinclair said...

As always, I love your posts. I especially love that you outed a plagiarizer. Off topic of this post, but we are plagued by wasps, and had a swarm in our dining room the other night. I immediately thought of you and your rodent problem. Thought I would share. http://naturewithme.blogspot.com/2009/07/when-beneficial-insects-attack.html

http://naturewithme.blogspot.com/2009/07/thursday-thoughts.html

Happy feng shui studies! Remember, dead plants are bad. They block flow. Strategically placed mirrors are good. Help reflect and deflect bad energy, or something...

Mary Ellen said...

Don't quit blogging. You are far too funny. Maybe you could become a "Feng Shui Consultant" for a side job... Perhaps I'll put stranger's wedding photos in my drawer when we put our house on the market next week. Just for good measure...

purpleave said...

This is wonderful, bottom line religion is good, unless you get an atheist potential buyer.

CountessLaurie said...

I think it is hysterically ingenious of you to fake wedding pics! Awesome!

mamajil said...

Hmmm!!!
Lol!!!Maybe I need to work on my Feng Shui as well since I have a few homes on the market that aren't moving...and I thought it was the ecomomy..silly me! :)

Kamity said...

I love reading the comments, too. I'm trying to decide whether I would go with the "get a picture of Satan to balance stuff out" or "you shouldn't have just ONE Jesus picture."

Personally, I'm all for putting up a bunch of random pictures of people I'm not related to around the house. We once left in the stock photos in our photo frames because we had nothing else to put in them. A-ha-ha.

Lindy said...

Does everyone have a friend named Gayle?

Kara said...

Hilarious!

April said...

At first I thought I was reading Oprah's blog. You know...your friend GAYLE.

Mach Momma said...

Having studied Feng Shui. I's all about balance of the elements. I doubt Jesus had much to do with it. Try "Move Your Stuff and Change Your Life (or something like that). That's a easy version. You are so cool non the less!

marybt said...

Oh wow. You are awesome!

I prefer to greet guests with a large blown up picture of Uncle Earl - before his "operation", of course.

Jack Black came to my college once. It was situated in the Ozarks. On his way, he passed a humongous billboard that said "JESUS" and nothing else. Now I love Jesus, but I'm not sure that's the proper way to greet a Jewish man to your state. lol.