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Jewish World Review April 5, 2001 / 12 Nissan, 5761

Mike Harden

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Consumer Reports


Take my husband --- please


http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- IT IS rare that I am presented with the opportunity to play a role in public-service journalism, to truly make a difference by delivering vital information essential to the good of the community at large.

A columnist must never shrink from the challenge of dealing with daunting and thorny issues if confronting them head-on will help his readers.

That is why, this morning, I am writing about husband selling.

The conspiracy of whispers, the half-truths and rumors surrounding this hot new trend ill serves women who deserve sound and reliable advice if they are to make a prudent and wise decision.

As you may be aware, the groundswell of interest in husband selling began two weeks ago following a news story out of Vietnam about a woman who - weary of her faithless husband's ongoing affair - decided to sell him to his mistress.

The deal (I am not making this up) was cinched for $516 U.S.

"But that was Vietnam," you dismiss. "It is not that simple in the U.S."

True.

In most jurisdictions you will need a vendor's license.

You will also be required to pay state sales tax.

Compared to the cost of divorce litigation, however, those two expenses are relatively insignificant.

Focus on the positives. If you have been looking to unload a bothersome husband, you could not have picked a better time. Moderating temperatures virtually assure that you should be able to complete the entire transaction outside, eliminating the problem of dealing with half-hearted browsers tracking dirt in on the carpet.

You will need a lawn chair, a few sheets of poster board and a felt-tip marker. A pair of soccer shin guards might be a wise investment (some buyers like to kick the goods while looking).

Every good retailer knows that product placement is a key element of sales.

If your husband has a "good side," position the lawn chair in such a way that it is turned toward the curb. If your home faces east, remember that the sun can be either boon or bane. If its intensity only accentuates wrinkles, jowliness, say, or varicose veins, it could cut into your selling price. To eliminate this problem, once you have placed your husband, climb in the car and drive by the house. View the product as might an impulse buyer who just happens to be in the neighborhood. If reality is too harsh, try placing him under a shade tree.

Keep the goods looking presentable. If you are trying to sell over a three-day weekend, you might want to go out each morning with an electric razor and a few breath mints.

"How much am I obliged to tell the potential buyer?" you ask.

The answer is simple: Absolutely nothing that will not help facilitate a sale.

If his overall health is a plus and he has had a recent physical, you may want to consider displaying the EKG, cholesterol results - even dental records. Do it tastefully. Ostentation might suggest desperation. No matter how appealing the ultrasound imagery of his prostate, it should never be blown up to poster-size. Simply place the pertinent medical information on his lap, inside a sealable leftover bag in case it rains while you are distracted inside.

Pricing is always a delicate issue. Pad the asking price so you leave room to haggle. If you are willing to take $1000 for your husband, as is, tag him at $1250 and come down. Buyers are less likely to ask tough questions if they know they are not paying full price. Withold discussion of extras (clothing, the La-Z-boy, his beer can collection) until you have reached a comfortable price on the main item. Don't give away anything you can sell.

Be prepared for tough questions. Unless you want to end up in small claims court, you shouldn't lie outright. That said, a bit of imagination and cleverness can go a long way.

If asked, "Does he snore?" respond, "I'm sorry I couldn't hear you." After two or three such exchanges, it will dawn on the potential buyer that you wouldn't know anyway.

Be firm with difficult customers. If they broach issues such as warranty, maintenance protection or return for defects, make it clear you are selling "as is."

Telling the children occasionally presents a certain amount of awkwardness. If you are fortunate, they might neither notice nor think to ask until Father's Day approaches. Try this: "He's in Indianapolis." Persistent children may ask a second or third time before they are grown and out on their own. Hold your ground. "He's in Indianapolis." Practice it.

Finally, don't forget that, on major purchases, many states have laws that require a three-day cooling off period.

Be smart. Few things are more disheartening than to glimpse a scowling buyer pulling into your driveway, her trunk lid tied down, two days after the sale (and while you are having a candlelight dinner with Roberto, the cable guy).

You might want to keep your drapes drawn.

Unplug the telephone. You can live without it for 72 hours.

If all else fails, they say Indianapolis is nice this time of year.



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