“Hi there,” I sigh over the phone.
“Hi,” the Mentalist replies waiting to hear what’s up.
“The people aren’t coming to visit because the house is too far from Keerbergen,” I complain disgruntled. “This is poopie.”
“Why?” the Mentalist asks again for good measure.
“They think it’s too far,” I repeat their rational reason, but am secretly wondering if there was anything else which dissuaded them.
“Ok,” the Mentalist resolves. “It’s their loss.”
“Yeah,” I attempt to convince myself.
“Have you written a new description yet?” the Mentalist wants to know how much I am procrastinating on this item.
“Noooo,” I inform his that I am indeed putting it off and putting it off some more for later.
“Why not?” the Mentalist demands to know.
“Because the current one is good,” I justify.
“It sucks,” the Mentalist retorts with the brutal honest truth.
“I would like to make it exclusive though,” I ponder. “Ok writer’s block.”
“Did you do the exercise I suggested?” the Mentalist gives me clues how to get started on writing a better description.
“Only in my room upstairs,” I admit. “I decluttered and have moved Willem’s baby bed out.”
“I see,” the Mentalist replies annoyed, because he can see from where he is that my failure to act in fact means that the universe will act for me, and I might not like the outcome. “Well your price is dropping daily.”
“Depressing,” I agree and I sigh again in the tone of somebody who is giving up too early.
“People often do things to hurt themselves,” the Mentalist cautions me. “You are not interested in making a profit on your house but continue to ask a high price and over value it based on laziness. Well done keep going. Price will be 380.000 by December.”
“No effing way,” I exclaim and am already feeling all revved up again. “And I am not lazy. I am continuously doing stuff.”
“I hope you can afford two houses then,” the Mentalist points out what the consequences will be if I fail to spur to action soon.
“I can’t,” I wail at the prospect of paying off two mortgages. “It is not overvalued. It is definitely worth its money.”
“No Fiona be honest,” the Mentalist urges me. “You are just playing, you are not serious. You refuse to look at your house through the eyes of the buyer. You refuse to make fundamental changes to improve the overall buyer’s concept. And the list goes on because you are lazy. You have no plan of action to sell your house at all. If I was your agent I would tell you this and either force you to change it or drop your price radically.”
“Okay okay,” I say in a tone meaning him to calm it. “I am seriously not lazy. So change the description.”
“The house is worth nothing,” the Mentalist tells me sternly. “It’s the land that has value. The house’s value is what the bank thinks it would cost to rebuild it if it burnt down.”
“I need a good example to look at,” I tell him what would help me to write a better description.
“Go into each room and tell me what you feel when you are in there,” the Mentalist repeats his earlier advice.
“What now?” I ask in amazement. “I am waiting for a client to call. Will do it immediately after. Like feel what? Give an example.”
“Set a goal,” the Mentalist continues unnerved by the impending client call. “Move your bed downstairs or to the other side of the house. Move single beds upstairs and make them into couches. Make your bedroom into a work room, come play room. Remove the idea of dangerous stairs. Plan this out so each day the au-pair prepares the move. Let’s say a bedroom that has a view of the garden. A well-appointed bedroom for a princess with a view of the garden. Birds chirping outside and flowers galore. Colour in the summer to take your breath away. Warm and cozy with space for cupboards, a desk and space to dress in comfort. Warm in the winter and cool in the summer. What could you do with each room if you were to buy this house yourself. Be harsh and forget what you did on a small budget. Spend mental money on your house. Knock down walls, build new ones. Repaint and change the flow if you think it would work.”
“Okay but just inside the house, not out?” I want to make sure I fully understand what he wants me to do. “Okay so I enter the house through the front door. There is a small crack in the glass from when Wim slammed the door. It will have to be replaced. The hall way is intriguing. To the right the sleeping quarters and to the left the living quarters.”
“Get serious or drop your price,” the Mentalist snaps at me, his patience starting to wear very thin.
“This isn’t serious?” I am baffled that he snapped at me. After all I was seriously trying to do what he asked me to. “The hall is intriguing.”
“No,” the Mentalist sighs annoyed. “You are stating the obvious.”
“Then what is the hall?” I ask in despair. “The geometric shape is modern.”
“Ok intriguing,” the Mentalist concedes so we can move on. “Why?”
“Can you not have an emotion?” the Mentalist barks at me. “Don’t you know how to feel?”
“I can see stair cases on both sides,” I sputter. He has put his finger on the sore spot. Feelings and emotions are not something I can come up with on demand. “I feel at home. Light. Cold. Happy to be in from the rain.”
“Drop the price to 400.000,” the Mentalist retorts. “You will get visitors.”
“No effing way,” I am really trying to keep it together. I want to be able to do what he is instructing me and feeling miserable to be such a failure at feeling and writing. “We paid 500k for this house and that is what it is worth.”
“Why not?” the Mentalist booms back at me. “Is the house the same as your overdraft at the bank? Is it a line of credit? Or is it a house?”
“It is a house,” I reply getting more upset by the minute. “Sell at a loss? Seriously?”
“No that is what you paid,” the Mentalist points out the facts. “The previous owners signed so fast the ink got burnt as they laughed all the way to the bank.”
“I’d rather rent it out then,” I argue showing I still have other options.
“What’s wrong with you?” the Mentalist is angry now.
“Yes right,” I fight back. “What?”
“Don’t you understand the house is worth what a buyer will pay?” the Mentalist is adamant to get his point across. Much to my frustration because I can’t understand what is going wrong. Why the house isn’t selling when it is such a wonderful place to be. What should I be doing different? I just don’t comprehend.
“Look the bridge credit will cost us something like 600 euros per month,” I do the math out loud. “I do. Why are you being so negative?”
“Then make the house worth 540.000,” the Mentalist replies calmly and much to my surprise.
“I am not selling at 400k,” I say emphatically. “Yes we should put it up to 540k.”
“I am trying to shock you out of your egotistical and lazy attitude,” the Mentalist replies realizing that I was upset. “How do you sell your services to clients? Why do they pay you what they do?”
“I am good at what I do,” I reply as if this is evident and written all over me.
“Are you worth more?” the Mentalist wants to know.
“My reputation precedes me,” I am proud to say. “Yes I am worth more.”
“So how do you communicate that to your clients?” the Mentalist gets me thinking now.
“By delivering value and exceeding expectations,” I try as an answer.
“No,” the Mentalist sensed my hesitation.
“By giving them a great experience,” I try a different approach.
“By positioning yourself as an expert worth more,” the Mentalist spells it out for me. “A fantastic solution to their problem.”
“Yes that’s me,” I agree.
“So is your house but you want to show it as a cheap house for some reason,” the Mentalist explains his frustration at my incomprehension. “You resist just because you are lazy.”
“Am not,” I argue.
“People have no imagination,” the Mentalist explains why it is important I put in the extra effort. “They will take their current lifestyle and put it into your house. If it fits they buy, if not they go. So make your house for the average up and coming middle class family with 10 plus years old kids.”
“Ok,” now this I understand.
“Why are you moving house?” the Mentalist wants to hear me say it again.
“To be closer to the school,” I tell him.
“And,” the Mentalist encourages me to tell him the other reason which got me moving.
“And the pool plus toddler, but that I don’t mention,” I admit this is a detail I never reveal to visitors interested in the house.
“So the house is not safe for you either,” the Mentalist recaps.
“No,” I admit reluctantly.
“Create a house that is safe for teenagers for God’s sake,” the Mentalist is reaching the limits of his patience again. “IDIOT.”
“It is safe for idiots and teenagers,” I retort in a very short and calm voice which indicates that my limit and tolerance has been reached also.
“Don’t mind my little outbursts,” the Mentalist reassures me he isn’t angry with me, just my lack of motivation. “We have been talking about your house for over a month now and you have still done nothing. Wim can’t help you, he is sick and as clueless as you.”
“I have done,” I insist.
“Indeed,” the Mentalist acknowledges. “Now you are cooking. So redesign it for idiots and teenagers. No you have not.”
“I have decluttered upstairs and moved the baby bed out,” I insist my efforts be recognized.
“You are lazy,” the Mentalist riles me.
“And Nelmarie has done the weeds out front,” I defend all our ongoing plans.
“So what?” the Mentalist throws back at me. “Is your bed still there? Yes it is and it should not be there.”
“And we did little stones and lots of garden work out back,” I tell him of all the hours we have spent making this place look neat and tidy. “My bed has no place to go. It’s a big thing moving that bed into the dirty attic.”
“Ok,” the Mentalist decides resignated. “I don’t want to talk about this anymore.”
“I will have to sleep on that matrass afterwards,” I really don’t want him to abandon me on this project. “Poop.”
“Change the biggest bedroom on the other side of the house into your bedroom,” the Mentalist repeats again and he is heading into dangerous territory. I am fed up with this discussion too. “Upstairs has no privacy. Move the single beds upstairs. It’s so simple. No rocket science degree needed.”
“I am not moving beds upstairs,” I spit out and right here and now, for just this moment, I am not one bit bothered if the Mentalist abandons me. I have had it.
“Only you like to be an exhibitionist,” the Mentalist finally spits out what is wrong with my upstairs bedroom in the beautiful loft.
“End of story,” I insist wide-eyed.
“Then drop your price below 500.000,” the Mentalist concludes that I can’t have my cake and eat it.
“I will do my best to move my bed into the dirty attic,” I concede doing my best to avoid an argument. “Not dropping my price.”
“Ok it’s your house,” the Mentalist won’t drop the subject so easily. “Sell it, don’t sell it. It’s your thing not mine. I am sure the three weeds and a bit if decluttering will make all the difference.”
“The energy flows where the attention goes,” I tell him the logic I picked up from my course last year with Deepak Chopra. “So yes decluttering and gardening is good. It is pointless moving stuff if bloody nobody comes to check out the house.”
“True,” the Mentalist agrees for once that I have a point, and that our argument is senseless. “BAD description and BAD photos will do that. Keep going, you are doing great. I hope for your sake an idiot comes along with too much money or an oversized ego and buys it at your asking price.”
“Yes,” I answer shortly for I am offended. “Right.”
“Yes I am right,” the Mentalist snaps back. “If I was wrong it would be working and offers pouring in.”
“True,” I admit still sulking deeply.
“I sold overpriced houses in South America in three days of listing them,” the Mentalist boasts. “Before I started everyone told me it takes six months before your first sale. It took me one week. I never lied about the condition. I told the story of the house and added a great future for the house so that the new owner’s imagination was captured.”
“That’s great but did you do that in writing?” I ask him.
“In Belgium the average is 3-6 months,” the Mentalist points out modestly.
“See I tried what you said and got no further than the hall before you barked at me,” I rest my case here. “So you can do it for a good price? Pity we’re stuck with that stupid immo agent for another 2 months.”
“What do you mean in writing?” the Mentalist wants to know. “I was there for nine months. I sold ten houses and had a great holiday. My sister refused to pay me. She and her boyfriend robbed me out of 67.000 euros.”
“That’s a lot of money,” I whisper. “I mean was your story written or is it what you told the people? I can sell quite good if I can get people to come.”
“It’s written in arguments between us,” the Mentalist is stuck on his family feud now. “My sister and I that is.”
“Yes I bet,” I reply not surprised. I mean the man can hold a mean argument when he wants to. “How much comfort did that airco give you?”
“Great thank you,” the Mentalist is surprised at my question. “I am still fatter than because of it.”
“So it is worth more than the 200 euro I paid for it?” I attempt a little strategy here, but to no avail. The Mentalist has already realized I am up to something and his senses are alert to find out what I am maneuvering.
“No,” the Mentalist wants to keep me short on this subject.
“A good investment,” I insist to try this out.
“Yes,” the Mentalist admits.
“Was your comfort worth more?” I ask him and before he has time to answer: “I think it was.”
“Yes it was and is still,” the Mentalist agrees. “Thanks to you I didn’t melt.”
“Okay so how much is your consultancy without barking to sell this house quick and at a profit?” I am quite clear now in my strategic demand.
“Will you do what I tell you?” the Mentalist probes.
“Will do my best,” I answer knowing my personal boundaries and abilities.
“Not good enough,” the Mentalist shrugs disinterested.
“If it’s a good idea,” I precise. “Nothing with moving beds around.”
“My fee is open to need,” is the Mentalist’s cryptic answer. “Beds are key.”
“I will move my bed to the attic and put the outside sofas up there,” I compromise. “Your fee is open to what?”
“Use your wide angle lens and take four photos of each room,” the Mentalist instructs me. “Send them to me. Don’t do that.”
“What?” I am confused. “Do it? Don’t do it?”
“Don’t put garden furniture upstairs,” the Mentalist completes the sentence.
“Oh okay,” I am relieved.
“Stop being lazy,” the Mentalist repeats again.
“I will get to it,” I promise. “Will probably have to charge the camera battery first.”
“Move your bedroom to the biggest bedroom downstairs,” the Mentalist goes on, and immediately I can sense the blood rushing to my head. He mentioned the damn bed again. “Make it a boudoir.”
“There is no room downstairs,” I utter doing my best to remain composed.
“Make the upstairs a work station and TV room,” the Mentalist repeats what he had said earlier.
“There are 4 bedrooms which are being used,” I point out losing my patience all together.
“Yes there is,” the Mentalist insists there is room to move things around. “Stop being lazy. Think. By whom?”
“Nelmarie, Willem and me, Winston, Lilly,” I sum up the occupants of the 4 bedrooms. “We use the bedrooms on the other side. Not sleeping upstairs anymore. So I can only move that bed into the attic. That’s all I can do with that bed.”
“Why?” the Mentalist asks like a child who just keeps asking why why why are the bananas crooked.
“Because we live and sleep there,” I retort.
“What bed are you sleeping on?” the Mentalist wants to know, trying to picture things in his mind’s eye.
“A three quarter bed downstairs,” I inform him realizing he has no idea how I have furnished my house. “Me and Willem sleep in it.”
“How many single beds do you have?” the Mentalist enquires again.
“If Wim is here we sleep three in a bed,” I inform him. “Two single beds. And they are really not easy to move.”
“One in one bedroom and the other in another bedroom?” the Mentalist is making sure.
“Plus those little bedrooms upstairs won’t fit a big bed,” I inform him before he suggests something of the like. “Yes the two tiny bedrooms upstairs. If you put big beds there it will just look more tiny. It’s a no go.”
“Will they fit a three quarter size bed?” the Mentalist asks again.
“Besides the fact that those beds are hard to take apart,” I sigh deeply as I start answering. “No they don’t. The door won’t open if you put big beds there.”
“Ok. Downstairs,” the Mentalist moves on with his plan. “Which room is the biggest and who is in there?”
“I am in the biggest room on a three quarter double bed with Willem,” I repeat like a parrot. It is so hard trying to explain what my house and interior looks like over the phone. “I have to live here another 2 months you know.”
“That can’t take your bed from upstairs?” the Mentalist asks surprised.
“So say I move my bed from upstairs to down, which will be a tight fit, then what do I do with the double bed from downstairs?” I ask him more to humour him than that I really want to move the bed. “Move one double down and the other double up? How stupid is that?”
“No it’s not stupid,” the Mentalist defends his brilliant idea. “It becomes a spare room and work station. Not a main bedroom. People like to see your big bed in a room with a door. They like to lock the door to fuck.”
“Very strange,” I think as I mull over his last statement. Is that really what people do?
“No,” the Mentalist refutes. “It is a perfect place for a sleep over or a pyjama party or an all night gaming binge. Think teenagers. Spin the bottle and all that stuff. Wait you haven’t had that yet. It’s coming.”
“Oh great,” I sigh as all this is just not very good prospects. “Okay will get moving on this on an evening when I am actually home.”
“Good girl,” the Mentalist gives me a virtual pat on the back. “Good luck. Don’t be lazy. Next we work on the lounge and outside. Then the description.”
“Okay,” I sigh relieved it is finally over. “Camera is loading for the moment.”
“Great,” the Mentalist cheers me on.
If you have a specific question you’d like the Mentalist to answer, please send it to me or just comment on this post.