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Feng shui can play a part in home sale

Albuquerque Journal, December 26, 2010
By Jane Mahoney

Ancient Chinese art of arranging surroundings in harmony, balance with nature may affect a buyer’s perceptions

House hunting or trying to sell your home? Buyers and sellers tuned in to the basics of feng shui, (pronounced fung shway), an ancient Chinese system for arranging one’s surroundings in harmony and balance with the natural world, might have better success and be happier and more prosperous in the long run.

Based on the belief that your surroundings have a powerful effect on what you attract into your life — be it love, wealth, stress, creativity, wisdom or good health (or their opposites) — the practice of feng shui is the art of arranging the objects and furnishings (or preferably an entire floor plan if you are designing a new home) to keep the good chi, or energy, flowing throughout your residential environment.

“You know that comfortable feeling you sometimes get when you walk in someone’s house? asks Rheanni Lightwater, a feng shui specialist and house clearer (someone who can get the negative energy out of a house) whose office is at Soul Resources in Albuquerque. “Most people know within two minutes whether they could live there or not.”

A harmonious chart that corresponds to nine areas of life ranging from relationships to creativity to knowledge is known as the bagua, a guide that, if followed, can positively impact your life, says Carol Olmstead, a Santa Fe author of Feng Shui Quick Guide for Home and Office, named the best “how to” book by the New Mexico Book Award. Overlay the bagua on a floor plan, she recommends, to verify that all life areas are represented as you determine where to place certain rooms or objects that might represent fire, earth, metal, water and wood.

And yes, there are experts such as Lightwater and Olmstead who can visit your home and offer advice, or even advise over the telephone by looking at photographs.

The goal of this 5,000-year-old system is to unblock the flow of positive energy, says Olmstead. The result is a comfort zone achieved by placing certain objects, colors and images in the right locations so the balanced life force flows gently and continuously throughout your environment.

The good news, says Lightwater, is that there are some simple feng shui “fixes” that can make most any home more harmonious for its occupants. Such a soothing house can be a generator for your life goals, she added.

Things that might block good chi are common feng shui “no-no’s” such as a mirror in the foyer (it bounces the chi back outside at the visitor; try hanging a soothing painting instead), a hose stretched across a sidewalk, a desk positioned so its occupant has his back to the door (he can be caught off-guard), a bed arrangement in which the sleeper’s feet are facing the bedroom door, or sharp-edged furniture jutting into a room.

Simple remedies can be furniture rearrangement so that blunt edges are cushioned or softened, covering a sharpedged table with a tablecloth, placing a metal wind chime to the right of the front door (as you face the house), turning around the desk in the home office to face a different direction, or the use of a screen or room divider to keep the chi inside the house instead of flowing straight back outside if the front and back doors are in alignment. A calming painting of water can fulfill the water element — no fountain or pool needed. A candle placement might represent fire.

Other tips offered by the experts include keeping house plants with rounded rather than spiky leaves, not placing an adult’s bed against a wall, and distancing the stairwell so it doesn’t face the front door.

While some Realtors may scoff, Peter Parnegg, CEO and co-owner of Coldwell Banker Legacy, is a firm believer, going so far as to have his 7-year-old Corrales home designed with the help of a feng shui specialist who came out to the site to advise on its precise orientation before construction even began. The floor plan reflects the nine areas of the bagua. For example the master bedroom is positioned in the loving relationship area; the wealth area is the dining room or home office; the family component is the kitchen.

“I don’t push feng shui onto my Realtors,” said Parnegg, “but I do tell them it’s not unusual to find a purchaser who is sensitive to this. I’ve seen houses that have been on the market for six months, and then get feng-shuied and sell within a week. One house we had a devilish time selling had been on the market for six months when the feng shui person said to get rid of the yucca plant that was sending the wrong energy and to rearrange the numbers slightly in the price listing. It then sold in seven days.”

Joseph and Cherie Austin, of Bernalillo, built their strawbale-and-steel home using the bagua guide as a road map of sorts, with golds and rich reds in the kitchen and a yellow entryway with fresh flowers in the health and prosperity area. Each room has a clear purpose. Using feng shui principles to stage your house

Carol Olmstead, who lives in Santa Fe and is the author of “Feng Shui Quick Guide,” offers easy-tofollow feng shui basics that go beyond “staging” a home for sale.

“No house is perfect, but buyers can look for a home with the least issues,” she said.

Mark the spot -- Place the “For Sale” sign to the right of the house (when facing the home) because prospective buyers automatically look that direction in approaching a home.

Clear the way -- Clear away dead plants, vines, and leaves that block the main pathway so buyers have an unobstructed route to the front door.

Greet buyers -- Beautify the entrance and greet buyers at a welcoming threshold by placing two healthy plants or flowers in attractive dark blue planters on both sides of the front door.

Clean and refresh -- Clean, perhaps repaint, the front door; add a new doormat, and make sure doorbell works.

Make a good impression -- Display Realtors’ cards and flyers upright in a rack to the right of the front door.

Go clutter-free -- Declutter the whole house, paying special attention to the kitchen, closets and garage to show buyers there is room for their possessions.

Help buyers visualize -- De-personalize the home by removing family photographs and personalized items. A buyer needs to visualize his own things in the home. Deck the walls: Artwork should be colorful, friendly and positive. Remove dark, sad or lonely artwork.

Improve the view -- Clean the windows. Dust the door and door frames.

Get ready to go -- Show your willingness and ability to move by packing up five of your most treasured items.

Photos for this article provided by Lauren Sato, Barker Realty, Santa Fe

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