I often find myself discussing my television tribulations whenever I go to visit my parents who have cable. This time is especially interesting with my Mom’s love of Home and Garden Television.
We been watching nothing but home improvement shows, specific to the selling and staging of a house. Staging consists of making your house the everyman’s house, taking down everything out of a house that defines personality and buying things that would make your house “relatable.” And while I can see the sales technique in this, I felt that this was something so fake, something that ran into the territory of –
“This is flagrant capitalist consumerism,” I burst out, “These shows make you think that your individual desires are not enough. That you have to keep buying and buying to make your house this weird consumerist individualism.”
My Mom looked over at me wearily, “This… is just TV.”
After I mumbled that I understood that it was “infotainment”, I felt a bit communist. I felt that I should put my money where my mouth is; I should live on a commune and harvest potatoes and furtively keep some to make non-state sponsored alcohol. But I kept thinking, it can’t all just be about spending, can it?
I felt a less villainous after watching a show where a man, caught in the traction of getting his house in Montreal up to par with the Jones, becomes consumed with the renovations for over two years. His internet business had suffered because he had started spending more time doing renovations than taking care of his work. His wife had left him to live with her mother before giving birth to their first child. She refused to be shown on the show.
He initially paid 140,000 and spent another 120,000 in renovations. The house was not complete. Open sewer lines and unfinished stairs were only the beginning. The show was looking to sell the house and he was looking to sell “at any cost”; AKA for him, at least 300,000.
The nugget of this show for me was when they gave an open house to realtors and just a few buyers (filmed the middle of winter blizzard and in the days before Christmas). They had little hope of it selling in it’s unfinished, and by Gods, unstaged state.
As if by fate, or fine editing, a man came to the open house randomly, asked one of the agents to watch his kids sleeping in the car, and then quickly perused the house. The selling point for him was that the lot had three garages. He would take the house as is, for 264,000. He bought an Unfinished House for a quarter of a million dollars!
So the seller lost money, but got out of the quagmire of this faux investment and was now able to focus on his new family. This buyer had exactly what he wanted in his three garages. I had this little theory of perhaps a buyer is half part karmic, half part house, and not quite all the consumerism that the channel suggests. With any luck, maybe I’m not entirely wrong.