In slow realty market, feng shui draws new fans |

In slow realty market, feng shui draws new fans

Pat Patera


A roller coaster housing market changed the rules of the real estate game, and now Christine Ayres looks to change the rules of staging homes for sale.

The upshot? Sellers say homes are moving faster.

Ayres, a Truckee resident, recently published “Sell Your home with Feng Shui” with co-author Cindy Coverdale, a feng shui practitioner from Incline Village.

The book comes 12 years after Ayres expanded her feng shui consulting business to include real estate transactions. Previously, she says, she worked with people who wanted to be comfortable living in their homes. The new focus is on helping those who want to sell and get out of the house.

Feng shui fans say it works.

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“The market up here is beyond stagnant,” says Kathy Jo Hanson, who wanted to sell a rental house in Truckee. “Only 5 percent of houses in the MLS listing are in escrow and the average sales time is over 180 days.”

But after calling in Ayres and making some changes to activate the chi, or energy, of the space, Hanson says, “The house sold the second day on the market.”

And while a seller, once free of the house, may not care how it works, some real estate agents want to know more.

“As a Realtor, we do whatever we can to enhance the presentation of a property,” says Trinkie Watson, owner of the Tahoe City and Truckee offices of Chase International and a client of Ayres. “There are unseen energies that change the energy in an environment so you feel good. A lot of times we don’t even use the words feng shui; we just say we’re staging your house.”

Ayres is pitching the book nationwide through visits with magazine and newspaper real estate editors. This fall she plans to take a load of books to Las Vegas to stock a booth at the National Association of Realtors conference, which draws 25,000 attendees. Promotional flyers point buyers to her Web site:

Locally, Ayres presents free introductory talks for Reno real estate companies. At one, she says, “I had 25 people attend and sold 24 books.”

Some of the information in “Sell Your Home with Feng Shui” seems like common sense. For instance: lay down a bright carpet to lead people into the room that will make the best first impression.

Ayres advises sellers, too, to spend most of their available time, energy and money on the room where they want to make a good first impression.

But feng shui is really about energy flow. An empty house, she says, can seem dead and stagnant, and she advises bright paint to enliven empty space.

Always important, she says, is arrangement of a table and chairs in a pleasant room to create a vignette; a place for buyers to pause and absorb the impact of the house.

Other aspects of feng shui sound almost magical. How does altering energy flow influence buyer behavior?

“Feng shui tickles the chi,” says Watson. “It gives it a little boost. That’s where the energy comes in.”

Sellers who’ve tried it tend to agree.

After her Reno house had been on market for nearly six months, Pat Lear called on Ayres for help.

“In less than a week, people started coming in,” says Lear. “People don’t realize the subtle energies. Feng shui is based on a wisdom of ages. It’s about ways to make a space more attractive and more agreeable.”

The changes included painting the front door red. And, to help potential buyers move on up to the second floor, Lear placed a colorful runner rug on the stairway.

But there’s no one single action that will sell a house.

Hanson, who used feng shui to sell the rental at Truckee, says the former occupants, who had three teenagers, left behind physical evidence of teen angst. “The house had reminders of anger and unhappiness,” she says. “Every time we walked in we felt depressed. Christine did a cleansing. Afterward, it felt like a place you could walk in and live in.”

Another case of bad chi: Some sellers don’t really want to let go. Potential buyers can sense that, says Ayres.

“People who have lived in a home many years have wonderful memories of family events in the home,” says JoAnn Corriera, an agent with Chase International in Reno . “If that bond is strong, I talk with them about a releasing ritual. It makes them aware of their ties that bind.”

Real estate agent Brandi Benson with Dickson Realty in Truckee, meanwhile, talks of two listings that languished nearly six months before feng shui techniques came into play.

“It felt like a shift in energy,” she says after Ayres had a go at the properties. “One seller was still attached to the house. I would not normally think to ask, ‘Are you ready to let this house go?'”

While sellers may initially view feng shui as hocus pocus, a dash of desperation can shift their chi.

“If a seller really wants to sell the house, they will do the projects,” says Benson. “After six months, these sellers were willing to try something new. Both got offers within 10 days. Not increased foot traffic, but increased interest.

“It’s as if the people meant to buy the house just showed up.”