Aaron Stanton has been working out of his home office for the past 23 years. The location of that home office has changed a few times, but Stanton’s basic need for a personal space to work from has remained the same.
“I sell industrial materials for a variety of vendors, so I spend some of my time on the road and the rest of my time working from home,” Stanton says. “And each time I moved, I made sure to upgrade my home office. I spend a lot of time there, so I want to make sure it’s something I like.”
When Stanton decided to sell his house in San Diego, he knew he could use his home office — “the office of my dreams,” he says — as a selling point for like-minded individuals.
“Working from home, especially if you do it for years, requires a strong sense of focus and perseverance,” Stanton says. “If you have a great home office, it helps you stay focused. It becomes a key part of your career.”
The 47-year-old father of two says he targeted salespeople when he listed and marketed his home, which he did without the help of a real estate agent. “I spread the word with colleagues, I posted about my home office on some social media groups, and I mentioned it to several of the companies I have as clients, just because most of them had their own sales reps who worked from home,” he says. “You just hit your own circles of personal and professional contacts and hope something sticks.”
Stanton’s most recent office (at the home in San Diego) featured expansive windows, bamboo flooring and an 18-foot ceiling. “The ceiling was key,” Stanton says. “I never felt like I was closed in. I always felt like I was in an open space.”
That feeling, Stanton says, was much different from those in previous home offices. “I’ve sat at a kitchen table, an old door propped up on two file cabinets, a desk I bought at a garage sale and the typical Ikea desk,” Stanton says. “The rooms ranged from an enclosed screen porch to a cramped attic to the end of a hallway.”
Still, Stanton knew that his task was always the same, no matter the setting: sell. “If you’re in sales, you work the phones and your email constantly,” he says. “If you don’t, you’re not working. There’s no stagnation in sales, no dead time. You always have to be looking for the next lead or trying to close the latest deal.”
Because of that constant need for movement, Stanton made sure he kept his home office in a perpetual state of “controlled panic” when he had showings scheduled for potential buyers. “It would drive my wife crazy because she said the rest of the house was so clean and the office was a mess — but it wasn’t,” Stanton says. “I had lots of dates and notes on my whiteboard, lots of papers on my desk, lots of Post-it notes stuck to my phone.”
Stanton, who moved to Northern California to help care for his parents, says his strategy paid off, although in a way he hadn’t intended. “I did get a few inquiries from some colleagues and peers, but to be honest, the house was priced a bit beyond them,” he says. “The irony was that I eventually sold it to a real estate agent who was checking out the place for a client but ended up loving that office. She said she needed a better place to work every day, and that when she saw my office, she knew she’d found it.”
Read more: 6 Step Guide to Showing Your Home