Everyone has heard the expression “Work smarter – not harder.” But what does that mean to today’s home seller when markets are so competative and sellers can be so picky?
Most people know that when selling their house, they have to do some prep work to get the job done right. No doubt you have heard about:
- Curb Appeal
If by chance, you need more information on these subjects, read:
However no matter how clean and de-cluttered your house is, any buyer touring through your home will, in part, judge your house based on your stuff.
But my stuff is leaving with me when I move!
I didn’t say it was fair…I just pointed out that this is part of the reality of modern real estate.
So what is a home seller to do to get that elusive edge?
Think S.M.A.R.T. - not hard!
A lot of people have the misconception that staging means putting away or re-arranging their stuff. It is a lot more involved than that. It is about creating dream spaces. If a professional stager is not in your budget, there are things that you can do to help you get the most money for your sale.
The idea is simple: it is creating a fantasy space out of your living space to seduce the buyer.
On a good day, the majority of master bedrooms in houses on the market will have the bed made, clothes picked up, and bed dusted and vacuumed.
It may be new, it may be nice, but it just doesn't create the right atmospere.
Take a look at the room on the right. The walls are frigid and the bedding doesn't match it or contrast it. The industrial TV bracket would be more at home in a gym and there is even a bathroom scale under the window! Ugh! That sad tree blocks what is possibly a beautiful view. The rugs are laid out as though they are marking off a crime scene! All in all, this space has great potential, but the decor is a certain "miss."
What sellers fail to understand is that home buyers have become very sophisticated. Probably the best option is to keep rooms neutral and to follow modern design trends. When in doubt, look at magazines or check out trendy hotels to get ideas for bedrooms.
Buyers tour houses looking for the right one. They are familiar with the top design magazines and have a vision in mind. They are looking to buy their dream. They follow HGTV, too and understand “potential”, but in reality, they aren’t looking for potential. These days Move In Ready is a key concept. Whether or not they are consciously aware of it, buyers are looking for something out of Better Homes and Gardens, or Architectural Digest:
Buyers want the instant gratification of buying their DREAM!
Your ultimate goal when selling is to make the buyer NEED to have your house. For this to happen, what you show them has to be better than what they already have. When you seduce your buyer with a sumptuously appointed master suite, psychologically they are going to want YOUR lifestyle.
What is your lifestyle? It doesn’t matter! What matters is what you project. What’s on your kitchen counter top? The usual coffee mugs and utensils, or Champagne and crystal flutes for that upcoming celebration. Even if your display is artfully arranged, think about the image you are projecting.
This? or That!
On a subconscious level, the buyer will want your house more if they believe you are successful and happy in it! They want and NEED that, too!
Find a way to project success and happiness in every room.
Nothing is as appealing as getting something that someone else already has. It’s an ugly truth, but it is Human Nature. The proverbial “Keeping up with the Jones” philosophy is alive and well in today's society. Especially if it is about a warm, loving environment.
When buyers find your home to be more attractive than their own – for whatever advantage you can show them - they will want it more. You need to wow them in every room.
There’s an old saying that nothing is as sad and lonely as a table for one. Do you keep your chairs at the breakfast bar all lined up like soldiers? Why not angle pairs of chairs towards each other (bistro style) and place a small bouquet of flowers between! It creates the perception that this space is a warm, welcoming environment. Find ways to do this throughout the house.
In some cases, the difference may be very subtle. Look at these two bathrooms.
Both are modern, neutral, clean and de-cluttered. One has crisp white towels while the other has two spa robes hanging. Subconsciously the robes evoke a feeling of relaxation, luxury and togetherness. It is enough of a difference to draw people into the fantasy of romance relaxation and togetherness. Now that’s attractive!
When your buyers walk into a room, you want them to have a strong (and hopefully positive) reaction! Make the purpose of each space clear and for each have a strong focal point. For the bedrooms, kitchen and baths the function is usually fairly obvious. However, for each of these, find the best feature and play it up so that the buyers will not only notice it first, but will have a strong reaction to it.
These two seating arrangements are fairly similar in placement. In the top photo with the large artwork, the focus is clear. It is large, colorful and powerful. Chances are, a person will love it or hate it! The reaction will be strong and visceral.
In the bottom room, the eye tends to wander from piece to piece to piece. It is somewhat unremarkable. Is the window the focal point? The patterned sofa? The table? It is harder to find because there is a “sameness” throughout the room, perhaps evoking less of a reaction.
This homogeneous type of decor will leave your buyer unimpressed. That will make your house "forgetable."
If they react to it, they will more likely remember it and discuss it after the visit. This will keep your house top of mind.
How is this achieved? Prepare a handout with some photos from the BEST point of view, of course! In this way your buyers will remember the greatest features your house has to offer. If you are using a realtor, make sure that the very best photos are part of the listing. If you do any updates to your décor, make sure the new photos are added – taking the place of less attractive ones.
How to Do It
Change from Average to Awesome
Wherever possible, change out your average stuff and replace it with something tasteful, neutral and luxurious.
Before you shop, look through magazines and online for rooms with furniture/architecture similar to your own, then try and match the accessories and soft goods from the photos.
Find the Highest Purpose
For every room, try and find the highest purpose. Is the kitchen where you “make food” or is it where you entertain guests and share good experiences with family and friends? Reflect this in what you choose to show during visits.
Focus on Attraction
Create focal points that draw attention and that will be memorable and thought provoking. You want buyers to remember your house and to think about it and talk about it long after they have left your house.
Look to see what attracts your attention first in a magazine photo. It may be a fantastic architectural feature like a fireplace or a stunning view.
Find a way to make your house’s great features even more memorable. If your room is relatively featureless, don’t worry! Add an accent - something oversized, in a contrasting color to the general decor, or an unexpected item in the room.
These two red chairs immediately draw the eye to this area. They are visually striking items of conversation in themselves, but they also serve to make sure people will notice the amazing windows and garden outside!
Elicit Reactions and Keep them Talking
Showing your house to strangers is challenging. Your ultimate goal is to get them to NEED your place and the best way is to create a setting that evokes a strong reaction and keeps the buyers talking about your place long after their visit. When you’ve showed them something that they use as a standard for visiting other houses, chances are you have made the sale!
It’s an Investment in Your House Sale
It can be hard to justify the expense of new home décor when you are selling your house. But remember – the great part about this is that you will be able to take this new stuff with you to your new home. It’s not like renovating where you have to leave your investment behind!
Look for options that fit the criteria: tasteful, neutral and luxurious but don’t necessarily cost a lot of money.
Check out thrift stores – you may be surprised about quality, price and the labels on some of these items! I bought 6 Donna Karan bath towels (with tags!) for about $25. I guess the previous owner didn’t care for that shade of taupe after all! ;)
Ask friends or family to lend you some of their fabulous pieces or offer to do an exchange for a couple of months. They may welcome a change in their décor, too!
If you have come to the realization that it is time to move right now to have a better life, but your house isn’t ready for market, we can help.
If you are juggling too many responsibilities to sell your house yourself this fall, then there are people who specialize in the sale of properties "as is" - usually within a week to resolve the situation quickly.
Contact us for details.
Next time we will look at a fall checklist. Yikes! Fall is coming soon!
So thanks for reading my post. I'm so glad you're here!
And I really look forward to getting into more great stuff in future posts -- so that you can
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