You have to admire a city that makes a living out of creating fantasy. I’m referring to Los Angeles – home to movie stars, Rodeo Drive, Universal Studios and a whole lot of hype.
There’s a new thrill for those who cruise through show homes to look for decorating tips or fresh digs. Dig this headline: “L.A. realtor uses actors to sell new homes, family dog not included.”
One development features a model house with a “faux” family where perspective buyers open the door to find a barefoot man in his 30s who shouts “Hello!” from the kitchen and offers juice to the shoppers’ children.
His friendly faux wife hands out cookies hot from the oven. On the counter is a birthday cake with candles and on the mantle are birthday cards.
Let’s get the kids in on this production: two adolescents invite shoppers to see their professionally decorated rooms.
These paid actors are hired to show how life could be for you and yours. Simply add a real family to this Betty Crocker mix.
My friend, a realtor for decades, has seen and heard it all and she learned early about the protocol for holding open houses.
First, you show up with your Open House sandwich board. If you’re smart, you arrive ahead of time to make sure the homeowners have shoveled the walk and emptied the dirty diaper pail. Sometimes you get stuck doing these doo-ties.
“This is intimate stuff,” the agent said. “It’s impossible to enter a home and not feel personal, especially when someone is sitting on the couch wrapped in a towel after their shower and the family dog is relieving itself against your car tire.”
Next came the tough love: “Take a hike, people,” she’d yell. “Buyers will be knocking on your door any moment now.” That gave her two advertised hours to do her job and find a keen buyer.
That’s the open house in theory. In reality, her day might take another turn.
One of those wrong turns was when she held her first open house. She described the adorable homeowners, a couple in their early 100s who were anxious to downsize.
But my agent friend soon realized they weren’t going anywhere. They planted their large arthritic selves in the small living room and waited. They were going to “help” her make a sale.
They created zero L.A. ambience, unless buyers wanted to picture themselves as elderly and slow moving. Sensible shoes a prerequisite.
After a quick tour of the house, one man with an accent started to pull on his boots to leave.
“Can I answer any more questions for you?” my agent friend asked.
“No thanks, I’m looking for a home with a separate dining room.”
“Where he comes from they eat on dirt floors,” called out Mr. Helpful Homeowner, “and now he wants a dining room?”
Much like that full diaper pail, her new-agent smell was turning sour.
As for L.A., the best offshoot from this show home innovation is that emerging actors can land temporary jobs and stretch their skills.
And this gives “dinner theatre” an entirely new spin. Sure, the audiences are smaller and there’s a whole lot of scene repetition around the kitchen table, but it’s a gig.
And . . . action!
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