Life Advice



Annie's Mailbox: Curious

Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar on

Dear Annie: The time has come for my husband and me to downsize. It has been 10 years since we've sold a home, and something seems to have become very popular: "staging."

I have been married 50 years and in that time have sold seven homes. Four of them sold to the first people who saw them, so I feel I have some insight into how to present your home for sale: Fresh paint where needed; an attractive yard and entry; clean windows, floors and rugs; heating and cooling units in good condition; and a minimum of person items (photos, mementos, etc.). But today, that doesn't seem to be enough.

I am told by realtors and magazine and newspaper articles that I must "stage." I have to get rid of anything, including furniture and paintings, that the stager deems offensive. I should set the table as though I am about to serve dinner (but not be cooking), put out champagne and glasses by the bed (we are too old to even have anyone want to imagine where that might lead), and basically set it like a model home. We are told that this is what people expect.

Can this be true? What happens if the house doesn't sell for a year? I'll have to dust the dishes on the preset table for my imaginary guests and invest in a lot of champagne if I have to do this every time there is a showing. I'm all for new fluffy towels, but so many of the other suggestions seem frivolous. I pity someone with small children if this is what it takes to sell a house now. -- Curious

Dear Curious: People who make their livings setting up homes for sale will of course try to convince you that you need to do this, but it's all a matter of degree. A house that looks like a model home is naturally going to create a more positive impression than one that looks unkempt or poorly maintained. But most buyers expect a house to be in good shape structurally and include the elements they want. They'd rather see that the toilets flush properly than have champagne by the bedside. This is why buyers should hire a reliable inspector before finalizing the sale. An attractive presentation is lovely, but it's all gravy. Those who buy a home based primarily on a nice table setting deserve what they get.

Dear Annie: Please add to your comments to "R.M. in PA," regarding pedestrians keeping to the right on sidewalks, escalators, concourses, etc.


When walking on the side of any streets without sidewalks, one should walk facing traffic. This gives the pedestrian the ability to see a car passing too closely or driving erratically, and be able to move off the roadway to safety.

I am amazed by the number of people I see walking on the roadway in the same direction as traffic. -- A.

Dear A.: Several readers pointed out that staying to the right on sidewalks, concourses and escalators makes sense. But where there are no sidewalks, pedestrians should face traffic for safety reasons, and that might be on the left.


Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of This Classic Annie's Mailbox column was originally published in 2015. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at




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