Staging and decluttering is now common practice when selling a home. But some homeowners and real estate agents are adding another step: Cleaning out a home's "negative energy" with the help of "elemental space clearing" practitioners.
Last April, clients of agent Nancie McLeod were forced by circumstances to put their Scarborough home up for sale. Initially, it drew little interest. Then they decided to recruit a stager and "house coach," Anja Lavigne, to transform the space.
"We started talked about staging years ago, about neutralizing the space … so now it's about energetically neutralizing it," Ms. Lavigne said.
"Cleansing the home before it goes on the market can really benefit the seller, the home and the buyer."
Elemental space-clearing practitioners say they use rituals and tools from various cultures to release residual energy from traumatic events, such as a divorce, death or domestic violence. In the case of the Scarborough house, Ms. Lavigne says she cleared the family's emotional attachment to it with essential oils, pendulums and mantras.
"It was right after the [new provincial mortgage] regulations came in last April, so we were literally a week late [on the market] because everything across the city was selling in multiple offers and the day before offer night. Then everything suddenly sat in this particular neighborhood," Ms. McLeod said.
"After that clearing, there were three calls for showings."
Homeowners are also more open to repositioning or adding furnishings to encourage "positive energy flow," a principle of the ancient Chinese belief of feng shui.
"Feng shui plays a huge part in staging a house and people don't really understand that," Ms. Lavigne said.
"If you talk about the entrance area, if you've got your recycling there and a million shoes, it's a blockage for the feng shui and creating obstacles for what you're doing."
Toronto agent Belinda Lelli has so many buyers bring in feng shui experts that she requests feng shui certification for some properties. She did so with one Richmond Hill townhouse that sold for $1.18-million in early March.
"It's additional strategy to sell a home, especially in a buyer's market," Ms. Lelli said.
"I always do inspections, floor plans, virtual tours, YouTube videos and advertise internationally, but when someone says, 'Let's get the proverbial cherry on the sundae,' this is the proverbial cherry. It will not take away from the listing, but boost it."
In another instance years ago, Ms. Lelli represented the seller of an old Allenby home that contained urea-formaldehyde foam insulation (UFFI) – a turn-off for some buyers. After the First Nations homeowners burned sacred herbs in a smudging ceremony, the home received multiple bids.
"The smudging rituals provided comfort and added confidence to the sellers in light of the tremendous challenge of selling a home with UFFI," said Ms. Lelli, who recalls the winning buyer visited with a feng shui consultant.
"This example is illustrative that cleansing, smudging, blessing a home and feng shui are based on the governing principle of creating a positive environment to assist in the selling of a home," Ms. Lelli said.