The Piano

An odd thing happened in my real estate business this summer. Orphaned Pianos.  Everywhere.  Every home.  It seemed that every home I listed had a traditional piano to sell. To donate. To give away. To … please someone take it.  At one point I had five homes listed with homeowners desperately trying to re-home their treasured instruments. One was a gorgeous Grand Piano meticulously maintained by a Grand Master pianist.  She ended up giving it to the Buyer of the home because she couldn’t find anyone to pay for it and no donation site wanted it.


The other commonality about these homeowners is that they were all shocked to find out a not-so-secret secret: very few people, schools, or institutions want traditional pianos.  Like entertainment centers and China cabinets these once treasured and saved-for pieces of furniture are gathering more dust than treadmills with fewer takers at home sale time.


The why is simple: like so many things in our lives the technology that makes up digital keyboards has become much more advanced and produces a sound that is often almost indistinguishable from acoustic (traditional) pianos. In many cases, you will have to listen to a digital piano several times before you will be able to detect any differences in the sound between the digital piano and acoustic piano. Digital pianos are smaller, take up less space in a home, and are easier to transport.


Digital keyboards can be found cheap.  While the sound may not be the best, it’s perfect for parents who want to start with a minimal investment road-testing their child’s commitment to practice and lessons.  By the time the child’s proficiency grows and commitment is proven, the child’s comfort level is on a keyboard, not necessarily piano keys.


True pianists adore their aesthetics and the way that they look in their homes and appreciate the significance of keeping the traditional construction of pianos alive. But, just as the boxy televisions and wedding China that went into the hands of our kids landed on the shelves at Goodwill, so the pianos are finding little audience or space in the homes of any but hard-core loves of Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, or Rachmaninov.


What can a piano-owner do?  Start early.  Call your local piano store.  Many have websites with buy-back options.  Don’t expect big dollars.  Be thrilled to get free pick-up as even the piano stores have become very picky about what they will put on their showroom floors.  Call schools, universities, and nursing homes but IF they want the piano be prepared to be asked to pay the cost of moving the instrument to them. Selling your home?  Ask the Buyer if they want it.  Sometimes the home it’s in is the best home for it.


House Call is a blog written by Kathy Chiero, Licensed Realtor and Team Leader of The Kathy Chiero Group of Keller Williams Greater Columbus.  Find Kathy and her team at