We want to love our houses. It’s hard to question that.
In The House As Beloved, we looked at how we fall in love with houses and how this reality could not be ignored, either by buyer’s agents or seller’s agents. Both have a specific role to play in protecting their clients from the negative impact of the strong emotional connections we make with our houses. That’s reality.
House as mother, expressed in the concept of home, is not about reality.
It is dealing with the ideal of “mother.” The subtitle to chapter two reads, “The House Loves Us.” Marjorie Garber begins this chapter of Sex And Real Estate by detailing how “home” is like “mother”, with a list:
- It loves you unconditionally
- It will take you “the way you are,” without dress-up or pretense.
- It is comfortable, not challenging or threatening.
- It takes care of your basic needs: food, clothing, shelter.
- It makes you feel safe.
- It contains you.
- It nurtures you.
- It prepares you for the world “outside.”
She is quick to point out that we may read these traits and quickly say “that’s not my mother.” But that is exactly the point. It doesn’t matter what the truth is. In fact, the further from the truth those statements are, the more powerful the fantasy becomes.
House as mother is about what we wish were true. We fantasize that our homes love us as much as we love them. We want it. We need it. To get it, we’ll make it up if we have to. “There’s no place like home.” “Home is where the heart is.” These are statements that speak to the concept of home as one of our universal core values.
“Woman” and “house” are tangible and “mother” and “home” are ideals. The word woman is a physical description, just as the word house is a physical description. The word mother has more power, because it is tied to the abstract concepts of what everything about being a mother entails. The same is true of the word home. Home is also an idealistic concept.
The strong emotional appeal of home seems obvious to me. But I was having a hard time trying to figure out how to properly illustrate the overwhelming connection of home to the concept of mother. I was struggling to find and adequate analogy, until today. Follow me on this one… One of my favorite songs by The Commodores is “Brick House.” You know the song.
“She’s a brick—-house. Mighty mighty, just lettin’ it all hang out. She’s a brick—-house. The lady’s stacked and that’s a fact, ain’t holding nothing back.”
Now, sing it again in your head, only replace the word “house” with “home.” Go ahead…
Yeah. “She’s a brick house” makes me want to run across the dance floor and grab my wife. “She’s a brick home”… well, that’s just wrong. On so many levels. But I think it adequately illustrates the visceral relationship between “home” and “mother.”
It’s a powerful and dysfunctional connection.
It’s a subconscious connection, which makes it an even more powerful connection. It can’t be ignored. It plays a large role in why we fall in love with houses, but it has it’s own wrinkles and twists. And as the real estate agent, understanding how to tap into that connection, or how to help a client pull away from that connection is essential. Garber concludes the chapter with this: “To buy a house is to come home to mother. No wonder the real estate market is complicated.” It’s complicated and dysfunctional.
This dysfunction can easily work its way into a transaction.
“Home sellers who allow emotions and sentimental attachments to overtake them during the sales process run the risk of making hasty, sometimes poor decisions,” Michael Estrin wrote yesterday in, Emotional mistakes homeowners make in the real estate market. “”Sellers need to become emotionally detached very quickly from their homes,” Fiona Dogan, Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty, says. “By its very nature, a real estate transaction is aggressive and confrontational since the seller wants the highest price and the buyer wants the lowest.”
This intense connection to “home” and the perfect ideal of “mother” is what drives that emotion. It’s the job of a realtor to understand how these emotions play out in the course of a real estate transaction.
Buying a home is not about information – the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, or square feet a home possesses. It’s about relationship. It’s about our desire to have a home embrace us, to love us, nurture us, protect us. As the seller’s agent, how do you integrate this powerful concept of “home” into your selling strategies? As the buyer’s agent or a seller’s agent, how do you keep it from being a distraction?
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