Posts Tagged ‘Home Staging’

posted by on Working with Sellers

I don’t know about you, but I’m very much enjoying this debate on whether or not we listing agents can positively affect the market value of our listings. I believe we can. And frankly, I’m stunned at the amount of opposition to that notion.

Now, a disclaimer – I don’t work in a distressed market, so I shall defer to those who do that they know more about selling homes in that environment. Fair enough. If you work mostly REO’s and short sales, you are excused from this discussion. Although… well, I’ll get to that in a sec.

For the rest of us… those of who work primarily retail markets…

If your seller gave you $2,000 and asked you to spend it for him with the goal of getting the highest price in the shortest amount of time… what would you spend it on? Obviously every home and situation is different, but give me a list of priorities you’d address.

For example, would you…

  • Take out a full-color ad in the neighborhood newspaper? and/or
  • Bring in a stager? and/or
  • Bring in a handyman? and/or
  • Replace/refinish flooring?
  • Paint?
  • Hold a catered broker open house? and/or
  • Board the dogs?  and/or
  • Landscape? and/or
  • Have the house professionally cleaned? and/or…..

I have a very clear list in my head of what I’d tackle first, next and after that, depending on what the home needs, but I’d like to hear yours. But here’s the big question… DO YOU THINK IT WOULD MAKE A DIFFERENCE in the market value and ultimate sellability of the home? Or would your seller be throwing his money away?

Your thoughts are very much appreciated!

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 p.s. As alluded to above, perhaps this is not relevant to a distressed market… but maybe it is. What if banks gave their listing agents $2k to spend on improving the property… do you think it would help move these properties faster… for more… or at all?

posted by on Working with Sellers

…and fun was had by all in this week’s debate over pricing versus condition versus pricing AND condition. Did you miss it? It’s good stuff – check it out at: Any Idiot Can Give Their House Away

living roomIn the 150+ comments, the question was raised – “So, how do you convince a seller to put some effort into getting his or her house ready for market?” I’d made the claim that at least 90% of my sellers hire my stager and my handyman and almost all spend at least $1000 (of their own money!) prior to going on the market.

Am I just lucky to have intelligent and motivated sellers? Maybe. But I’ll give myself more credit than that, although I have to say that every single seller prospect I’ve spoken with in the last 18 months has brought up the topic of “What do I need to do to the house to get top dollar?” They bring it up first! I spoke with a potential seller just yesterday who doesn’t want to sell til next spring, but wants to get started now on home improvement projects! Maybe I am lucky – is this NOT typical of sellers in other markets?

That said, here are a few ways to help a seller see the light, and then do something about it.

First, go in with the assumption that the seller wants to know what it’s going to take to get top dollar. Don’t pussy-foot around the topic, although it’s best if you’re polite about it, of course! Like I said, ALL my sellers ask me first, so maybe there’s some vibe I send out that inspires them to do so, I don’t know. But I will say that if a seller didn’t seem interested in preparing his home for market, I probably wouldn’t be interested in listing his home. I don’t say that to be snotty or arrogant – it’s just a fact. I don’t want a listing I’m not proud of.

handyBy far the best way to get your sellers to clean up, fix-up and decorate-up is to help them do it. No, you don’t have to do it yourself, although I’ve certainly rolled up my sleeves once or twice or a dozen times. By “help” I mean that you have the human resources on call to Get the Jobs Done. Contractors you know and trust… who know, trust and love you. How anyone sells real estate without a good handyman, stager and cleaning person on board is a mystery to me. When you can walk into a seller’s home and confidently say “Yes, that needs to be fixed – we’ll put it on the Bob-List,” or “Yep, let’s get Bob over here to give us an estimate on that,” or “No big deal, Bob can fix that,” you’re golden. Not only are you the hero, but you’ll also get yourself a sellable listing.

What I see most agents doing (if they do anything at all) is to give the seller a list of things that need to be done, smile sweetly and leave them to it. Well, that’s a recipe for failure. Our sellers are busy people and probably don’t know a good handyman, painter, stager or cleaning crew. They’ll open up the yellow pages, make a few calls and throw up their hands in despair. I’d do the same thing; in fact, I have when I was selling an out-of-state property and didn’t know who to call myself. My Realtor didn’t help; I didn’t get the work done… and guess what? The house didn’t sell. Bummer for us both.

Here’s how I handle it.

Seller:Tell me what I need to do to get ready for market.”

Smarty Pants JA:I see a lot of maintenance and repair issues that really should be dealt with before we go on the market. Let’s get Bob over here to give us an estimate. Are you around this Saturday?”

I use the same approach when discussing Staging. Frankly, I suck at decorating and furniture arrangement, but I know bad décor and awkward rooms when I see them. So, I just say “I’m a terrible decorator, but my stager, Geri, is the most wonderful woman you’ll ever meet. Give her a call and set up a time to meet. I think she charges $250 for a 3-hour consultation. I promise you – it’ll be the best $250 you ever spent.” (Here’s a news clip of me & Geri in action on one of my listings)

And I believe that. With all my heart. And that’s another part of the story – YOU must believe that the first impression and condition and décor matter… and you must trust your resources. If you don’t, you’ll never be able to sell the concept. I can “sell” staging all day long because I have a great stager and I know it works. I can whole-heartedly bring Bob into my clients’ lives because I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he’ll make me proud.

If you don’t have a Bob or a Geri, make it among your top priorities to find them. Finding contractor resources is a topic for a different day, but for this day, just know how important it is to your business. I credit Bob and Geri for at least half of my paychecks thru the years. Seriously.

Hope this helps.

posted by on Working with Sellers

The other night, Loreena Yeo and I did a show at the SWS Virtual Studio on the topic of getting listings SOLD quickly. And yes, assuming there is a buyer in existence for a property, it is entirely possible to sell a house in a matter of weeks, not months. In fact, that should be every listing agent’s goal – that their listings sell to the first “real” buyer who comes along… or maybe the second or third on an off-day ;-]

The basic premise of our show was that if you know how to price and prepare a home for market, and if houses are selling in that market, a listing can and should sell quickly. Assuming the seller agrees to your pricing and preparation recommendations, of course (which I’ll write about soon).Relax

During the show, we got a little flack for this message from listeners who wanted to know how Loreena MARKETS her listings to ensure that quick sale. Sort of a “yeah, yeah, yeah, we know pricing and staging are important, but what about the MARKETING?”

Loreena responded with “I don’t do anything special. I just sit back and wait for offers.”

That apparently didn’t sit well with some listeners. They didn’t seem to want to believe that marketing isn’t the deciding factor in the success or failure of an attempted home sale. But I agree with Loreena 100% – as I’ve said many times, Houses Aren’t Pet Rocks – no amount of marketing will inspire a buyer to buy a home he doesn’t want, if there are better houses on every other corner.

Whether or not a listing is going to sell is determined before the sign goes in the yard. Once that sign is in the yard and the “product” hits the market, our systems take over and the market will determine whether or not it approves… and no amount of marketing will change how the market feels about it.

In case I wasn’t clear, I believe that we real estate gods and goddesses earn our money in the pre-listing phase (and then later in the contract-to-closing phase), but not really all that much during the actual “marketing” phase.

But to accept and embrace this philosophy will require a massive paradigm shift in our industry. After all, we’re SALESPEOPLE! We SELL houses! So, obviously, it must be our MARKETING that is the most important factor in the sale, right?! And besides, our sellers aren’t WILLING to do all that work ahead of time (“I asked and they said no way, Ho-Zay“), so the best we can do is price it right and market the heck out of it!

Well, um… I’ll just say this. That attitude is pretty much the norm in our industry, and maybe it’s just me, but I seem to have noticed a little stagnancy in the real estate market lately, like, for the last several years? That houses aren’t exactly screaming off the shelves? You think that maybe, just maybe, the “norm” is WRONG?

And maybe, just maybe… there’s a better way?