The lushly landscaped front yard
The Tricks of the Trade
When a Realtor Goes to Sell Her Own Home
By Kate Emanuel, as told to Robin Jovanovich
<When did you get into real estate?>
I worked as an assistant to Miriam Dunn at ReMax for two years and got my license in 1997. One of my first deals was with Peggy Johnston at Coldwell Banker, and I thought their marketing materials were terrific, so I interviewed and joined the company in December of 1997. It didn’t make sense to work out of an office in Eastchester if I lived in Rye and wanted to sell real estate here.
What things did you do to spruce up your home and garden before putting your house on the market this month?
Well, we’d been thinking about this for a few years now, so it wasn’t done all at once. The biggest thing when you are looking to downsize is purging. I really wanted to do it in a way that was not just throwing things in the trash — so I donated a carload of kids’ stuff to the Head Start Program in Port Chester, posted many times on the Rye Moms Sales Facebook page, and made a number of trips to the Rye Presbyterian Thrift Shop, the Goodwill bins, and the recycling center in Valhalla.
The biggest thing we did this spring was to move our daughter Jamie into an apartment in Port Chester, so she could take all of her “stuff”, as well as some of ours! Our son Andrew has been at college for the last four years, so his room was easy.
On the inside, we painted as needed (and left most of the artwork put away), had fresh carpet installed in a bedroom and the office, swapped out a light fixture to something trendier, re-grouted the bathrooms in spots, and kept purging along the way.
The bright and spacious family kitchen
Outside, we had the house and deck power-washed and windows washed, and the trees and bushes trimmed. I planted my usual variety of spring flowers.
You said friends and members of your Mah-jongg regulars gave you helpful tips? Did you make any changes you’d like to pass on to sellers?
I think it’s so important to have a team of people you trust who will tell you what you need to hear! I had several agent-friends walk through the house with me (thank-you Judy, Liz, Lisa, Elaine, Tammy) and give me advice about staging and pricing. I realized that even with 23 years of experience in the biz, it’s hard to be objective about your own home.
I thought I was in pretty good shape until my Mah-jongg group came over. My group includes two other realtors and a savvy Rye homeowner. They were quick to tell me that my living room was arranged all wrong, and 1-2-3 we moved everything around, and they were right!
My husband Lloyd happened to be home at the time and told them he’d <always> wanted to arrange the room their way. Who knew?
The Emanuel family (Andrew, Kate, Jamie, and Lloyd) outside their much-loved Sharon Lane home.
Next, the group encouraged me to send the family room couches to Jamie’s apartment, and move the sectional in from the guest room. Again, they were spot-on.
I also changed out lots of lightbulbs, something you may not think about, but they should all give off the same color and amount of light.
How important is a stager in selling a home, especially an older home?
Ideally, a seller should engage both a real estate agent and a stager — you can control how much or how little you want the latter to do. I think they just see things differently (like my Mah-jongg group), and it’s worth it. Lorraine Levinson (former Hix Park seller) helped me with paint colors, lighting, and carpeting, and it made the house look fresh and modern.
A stager had one of my clients paint her kitchen island and a cabinet in the adjoining family room. it was a game-changer and something that neither the homeowner nor I had thought of.
All houses young or old can benefit from staging.
What are the good, the bad, and the unknowns of downsizing?
This is such an exciting time for us, and nothing but positive! We plan to buy a condo in Port Chester and a house in Charleston, South Carolina, and split our time between the two. We are definitely not saying goodbye to Rye. It was a little stressful getting everything done to get the house ready to go on the market, and I’m not looking forward to packing, but I’m pretty sure I have shoveled a driveway for the last time!
Do realtors typically act as their own realtor when selling their home?
I can’t imagine why you would not represent yourself as the seller, unless maybe there is a divorce?
What will you miss most about your home and the Rye community when you move?
Here come the tears… I have lived in Rye for 40 years, raised two children here, and been active in the community. That will never happen again. I was walking our dog on the Playland Boardwalk while another agent was at my house for the public open house on Sunday, and I ran into maybe ten people I stopped and chatted with. I’ve been a Y member for 22 years and will definitely miss Maiju’s Saturday morning Pilates class at Wainwright.
Trying not to think too much about what I’ll miss, because we plan to be back and forth a lot and are hoping for lots of visitors.
Do you plan on staying in real estate after you move?
There is no way I could get up to speed on real estate in South Carolina. What do I know about properties dating back to the Civil War, plantations, hurricanes? Instead, I plan to work part-time for American Airlines at the Charleston airport. The pay isn’t good, but the flight benefits are terrific and when you punch out, you are done for the day.
That said, I love so much about being a Rye realtor. It’s incredibly rewarding to help people realize their dreams. I have worked with many clients who have become friends, and friends who have become clients and there is nothing better than that.
The bright and spacious family kitchen