By John Montone, 1010 WINS

“Secrets that Sell” and “Designed to Sell” can go straight to hell.

Twenty-one years ago we sold a house that was becoming too small to accommodate our growing family and pile of possessions.

That house was littered with Legos. Barbie dolls and baseball bats were strewn about eating up what floor space wasn’t occupied by remote control cars, an Easy-Bake Oven and a vast population of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

When a realtor called with a prospective buyer, Sweet Mary Montone and I would stuff what fit under the sofa or line up the toys in the playroom — in part to cover the juice, milk, cereal and peanut butter stains on the carpet.

A couple without children and with no desire to produce them ignored the mess and purchased the house.

But that was then.

Thanks to the proliferation of real estate reality shows on cable TV, selling a house has evolved into an elaborate and expensive scam perpetrated upon people by the realtors and their spin-offs.

Stagers, house cleaners and photographers have now joined appraisers, attorneys, mortgage brokers, home inspectors and moving companies fighting for a piece of the seller’s real property pie.

Sweet Mary has accepted this new real estate reality with nary a whimper, while I have cried all the way to my online banking account.

My right hand aches from writing checks. All of our rooms have been painted, tile floors blasted with steam, fixtures that don’t need fixing…fixed anyway.

A team of scrubbers and dusters armed with an industrial strength vacuum cleaner sucked up every last bit of dirt and grime, and life from the house.

For let’s face it, what they were really removing was almost all evidence of our existence.

The stager took care of the rest.

She told us that, “Space equals equity.” That “93 percent,” not 90 or 95, but “93 percent of people cannot conceptualize what a room will look like if it is too full of things.”

There must be a flow through which potential buyers can, I don’t know, flit. No misplaced end table or ottoman may impede their journey.

And like dissenters living under a totalitarian regime, personal photos must be “disappeared.” Those who may some day own the house must not be reminded of those who rudely inhabit it now.

An old seascape painting above our bed has been replaced with a floral wreath. There are fluffy pillows on an aging over-stuffed chair. The big antique mirror over the fireplace, “Gone!“ said the stager. Barstools in the basement, “See ya!” Hanging towels in the bathrooms, “Puh-lease!” And, “No clutter in the closets.”

Excuse me.

What’s that Sweet Mary? Yes, of course, we must power wash the recently painted exterior.

Ah, how much will that cost, honey?

Sure, I know, that’s how they do it on, “Get It Sold.”

John Montone.

Be Well.

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