Clowns, Latex Body Suits – How to Market (or Not) A Home on MLS

Clowns, Latex Body Suits – How to Market (or Not) A Home on MLS

Clowns, Latex Body Suits – How to Market (or Not) A Home on MLS

“I think of myself as an intelligent, sensitive human being with the soul of a clown which always forces me to blow it at the most important moments.” –  Jim Morrison



With creepy clown sightings reported in the local news, I wondered if people are as terrified of clowns as they are of seeing strangers posing in latex body suits.  I must confess that I find a grown adult in a bright pink skintight onesie showing off the stainless steel stove in a house listing a tad disturbing.  The question then presents itself.  Is this a timely marketing decision or something that possibly detracts from the home in the eyes of home buyers?  What are your thoughts?  Would you be OK with this photo being used to sell your home online?  This photo is actually of a home listed for sale in Nanaimo currently on MLS!

Given that most of us realize that the people behind the clown masks are either very immature young adults or teenagers, we can almost excuse the behavior and chalk it up to “the developing teenage  brain”.  It is interesting to me that the term “teenager” was not even recognized as a word until 1941.  It seems that our society is caught between desiring ever-lasting youth and aspiring to the success of adulthood.


Parents are now dressing to look more like their children – from “Ed Hardy” t-shirts, gangster-inspired low-rise pants or the must-have fashion accessory, the backwards baseball cap.  I still recall that dressing in a crisp suit with hat and dress coat was a sign that you looked like an “adult”.  Back when I was only 16, I still  remember dressing up in my finest (and only) suit, and walking into the liquor store to acquire some alcohol for my friends.  Really, back in that generation, what teenager would wear the obvious indicator of “middle age”?


The mindset of an adult has also changed over the past decades.  When children are young, they are very narcissistic and focused on immediate self-gratification.  Just take a 7 year old boy into a toy store and he will plead and beg for the shiny new toy that he has seen on TV.  Fast forward to the 37 year old adult whose yard looks like an oversized toy box – with boat, RV, or quads that are paid by way of credit card or on a line of credit.  We all know of someone in this very situation today.


It does not seem that it truly is “hip to be square” anymore.  We fear failure, and yet are too emotionally immature to learn any life lessons from our mistakes.  Teachers no longer fail students who cannot read or write.  Trophies are awarded to contestants for participation, not performance.  As a society, we no longer embrace the ideal summed up by e.e. cummings: “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”


Self-esteem often results from taking action, not remaining stagnant.  It is difficult to have healthy self-esteem without doing something productive.  As adults, we need to be accountable for our decisions.  Buying a home that you can barely afford may be a sign of “teenage angst” rather than purchasing a solid home that is less money than you are approved to buy.  As Bono once said “screw up the mainstream” (although his wording was much more graphic) was a movement.  It may have started with lofty ideals, but has ended up being a caricature of itself.  Today, Bono is now considered mainstream, and his message is lost.  Going against the lessons of restraint taught to us by our own parents who endured war and the Great Depression has led to a very dangerous and dark side of our culture that tells us that if we just buy that new bedroom set (that we don’t have the money for), or the sleek European vehicle (that we have to finance over 10 years), we will feel fulfilled and people will want to be our friend.


Teenagers now have part-time jobs with money that they no longer have to share with the family household.  Generations ago, young adults would be expected to share in the household responsibilities and any income earned would be put towards the welfare of the entire family.  TV sets in the bedrooms, gaming and music devices and $300 ripped jeans are what teenagers are spending their money on today.  It is not that much different from what parents are spending their own money on for THEMSELVES.


Teenagers no longer are expected to “save for a rainy day” or put money aside for their college education.  Much like many parents, they hope for a brighter future and live in the moment of today.

When adults decide to purchase a home, it can be a result of societal pressure (all of their friends are homeowners), wanting to show independence, desiring an investment that will appreciate in value or an entire different set of reasons.  When you ask a teenager why they would want to buy a home, they often don’t see the benefit of homeownership and are often content to envision themselves living in their parent’s basement on a long-term basis.


In the 1960’s and 1970’s home ownership represented the very pinnacle of adulthood.  You became a “provider” for your family when you purchased a home which often times a family would live in for decades.  Today, the average family buys or sells a home every 5 years, and this reflects the ebb and flow of real estate.  No longer do home owners say, “When I was young, we had only one bathroom so this is great”, and instead ask themselves ”Why don’t we have a house with 4 bathrooms for each family member to call their own?”


Today, a mortgage is something that needs to be carefully scrutinized.  Watching “Sponge Bob” for financial advice or playing “Mortal Combat” to show how smart you are does not work in real estate.  It takes time, commitment and energy to the process and is often the largest investment an individual or family will ever make.  Take the time to sit with a mortgage specialist (or two) and review your options.  Know the difference between a variable rate mortgage and a fixed rate.  Know your credit score.  Know your financial situation and develop a financial plan for your future.  Make the commitment to live within or below your current means.  This way, if the unexpected happens (which it often will), you have a bit of a cushion.  Make the commitment to keep your debt as low as possible.  Make a commitment to not use your credit cards as “cash advances” to finance a lifestyle that you cannot afford.  Put your energy into “walking the walk” with your children about saving.  Show them by example that putting even a little bit aside each paycheque is akin to a child saving a portion of their allowance in their piggy bank.


Simply put, we can all fondly recall our misspent youth and teenage years “proving” that our generation would make history.  However, envisioning a financial future through a teenage lens is not only dangerous, but ineffective.  Research has shown that the teenage brain is not fully developed and is prone to “impulse behavior”.  Enjoy the ability to connect with your children, but think like your parents when it comes to your financial portfolio.  As well, I don’t recommend anyone wearing a spandex body suit OR jumping out at strangers in a clown costume – especially if you are an adult.


Best Regards,
Brian McCullough, Myles McCullough & Kiel Lukaniuk

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