The Reality of the Realty Situation

People find it appalling when I tell them the realtor asked me to leave the house when someone comes to look, but oddly, it doesn’t bother me. As a writer, I understand perfectly.

In the literary world, there is a thing called the “fictive dream.”

heavenFrom a writer’s standpoint, the fictive dream is when the writer forgets the words s/he is writing and instead sees the characters as alive and moving about his/her mind as if in a dream. The more the writer works on the story, sharpening the words and images, the vision becomes “more lucid until reality, by comparison, seems cold, tedious, and dead.”– John Gardner, The Art of Fiction

From a reader’s standpoint, the fictive dream is when the reader is drawn into the story, so much so that the outside world fades from mind, and they are living the story like in a dream.

A skilled writer knows how to pull readers into the story. Unskilled writers often use various tactics that draw attention to themselves, and those self-aggrandizing elements destroy the fictive dream and catapult reader out of the story.

(I know the fictive dream more from a reader’s POV since I was a reader long before I was a writer, and I often let myself be pulled into the story. I know how to write to keep the dream going, but I have never experienced the writer’s fictive dream. Writing for me is more of a slog than a dream — I have to pull the story out of the slushpile I call my mind, one word at a time.)

In the real estate world, there is something called the buyer’s dream (and if there isn’t, there should be). Would-be buyers need to imagine themselves in the house, want to dream of their new life in the house they are looking at. If they can imagine it, they will be more inclined to buy. The presence (or near presence) of the person currently living in the house pulls lookers out of the dream, breaking their connection with the house and the real estate agent. This might not be fatal, of course, but it does make sense that buyers need to bond with both the house and agent, and the presence of anyone else breaks that bond.

So far, only one person came to look at the house when I was here. (The rest of the time, I’ve been gone.) With nothing else to do, I sat on the small wall dividing this property from the next, and basked. Scents of new blossoms drifted to me on quickening air currents, as did the sounds of birds singing in the warm sun.

I don’t often have an excuse to just sit and feel my connection to the world, and lately, I haven’t been creating the excuse.

I’d been dreading this particular phase in my life, having to live pristinely with everything packed out of sight and being at the mercy of lookers and realtors, but it seems as if the reality of the realty situation will have its merits.


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

9 Responses to “The Reality of the Realty Situation”

  1. ROD MARSDEN Says:

    I have been sharpening a particular story for over two years now. I have gone over the first few chapters many times thinking of that moment when a new reader discovers the words. It is like inviting someone into your home. More so when the work is written in the first person. The care comes from wanting to tell a story close to me without there being any confusion on anyone’s part as to what is going on in the story. Clarity is more important to me than being big-headed about writing. I do have a copy of The Art of Fiction. I get it out every once and a while and have a good read through it.

  2. Paula Kaye Says:

    Would it be possible to go ahead and move now? Then you wouldn’t have to be displaced or see the people who were visiting. I understand why the relators want the owners gone. When we were looking for a house I was never comfortable to REALLY look if the owner was there.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Sure I could move now. If I had a place to move to. Still haven’t found a room or apt. Until then, I don’t mind. It’s helping me learn to roll with the punches. Though I hope no one will actually punch me because I couldn’t physically roll.

  3. frederick anderson Says:

    If you have to sit on the wall, be in plain sight with a large placard around your neck saying ‘I am being evicted’. Much as I agree your summation of the fictive dream, I have to remind you that as a buyer, one doesn’t form a bond with an estate agent, one seeks ways to dispose of their bodies without trace…

  4. Kathy Says:

    Having bought and sold 3 houses, well, I have to say I really dislike the selling process. We prefer to not be there when somebody is touring the house. The tricky part is putting the cats in their cages first. So, even better is moving out of the house, which was possible for us because we were relocating to a new state.

    As a home buyer, I so don’t want to see people’s stuff (or the people themselves) or live in somebody else’s house, for that matter, so we’ve always bought new. Not sure we’ll be in the position to do that next time (assuming there is a next time).

    Leaving every time a buy wants to see the house can get old… I remember when we were renting a townhouse and the owner was going to sell it so we had people tromping in and we were there and had to worry about the cats, etc. Not fun! Thankfully, it didn’t last long because we were moving out-of-state.

    As my step dad used to say, “This, too, shall pass.” 🙂

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I don’t really like living where other’s have lived, either, but I’ve never had any other choice. I always clean first thing, though — really deep clean — which makes me feel as if the place is mine.

  5. Coco Ihle Says:

    Pat, I’ve moved many times over the years, but one real estate agent told me that most buyers don’t have much imagination about furniture placement and how to decorate. This surprised me, maybe because this is something I enjoy and am fairly good at. But my agent’s instructions were to get rid of all personal identifiers and to extremely simplify the amount of furniture and decorations. She felt, doing that neutralizes the rooms and makes them look more spacious, which in turn, makes the house easier for the buyer to visualize themsleves in it. I didn’t realize how true this was until I saw some lived-in houses that had too much personal (and otherwise) clutter. That said, I think you’ve done a great job of preparing your house for sale and that it will go quickly.

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