Are you using (or watching) a lot of Facebook Lives? I love to do them and watch them.
Last year I was interviewed by realtors Orlando Frade and Matthew Korman of Douglas Elliman. I hope you will take a listen – I give a lot of advice for sellers in this little Facebook Live video. Click the link below!
I’m writing this post for home sellers who are about to put their homes on the market…and for sellers who have been unsuccessful at getting their homes sold. If you know what buyers want and what makes their hearts beat faster – you have a really good shot at having a successful sale.
Great Location: If you’ve watched any HGTV home selling shows, one of the main considerations always seems to be LOCATION. If your home is in a prime area, you’ve already satisfied one of the main reasons for a buyer to buy. But what if your home isn’t in an ideal location – what do you do? It’s then up to you to really pump up the other main reasons I am listing below for a buyer to fall in love with your home! In addition, you may need to communicate your home’s value in other ways. You’ll need to bolster any unique features of your home (large yard, great fireplace) and perhaps other potential uses your home may have (mother-daughter or two family with the right permits; separate home office, etc). Also consider great schools and close to transportation as benefits as well.
I have staged several properties that were in less-than-desirable areas – that sold very quickly not only because the staging and the photography looked great, but also because of other attributes the homes had that were brought out in the marketing materials and online descriptions.
Best Value for the Price: This is so important. Over-pricing a home only extends the time your home will be on the market. Price it correctly from the start – and you’ll be a happy home seller moving on to your next adventure very quickly.
Backyard staging is as important as curb appeal…especially in the warmer months
Fantastic Curb Appeal: A home buyer makes up his/her mind on a buying decision very quickly (8 seconds), so make sure that first impression is a great one. Beautifully cared for lawns, mulched flower beds, a stunning front door painted in an attractive color – these are things you have total control over (with a little elbow grease or a great landscaper!) and they will get you closer to the closing table. A beautiful, well-cared for exterior gives the buyer the impression that the interior will also be well-maintained.
Airy and spacious, this home in Dix HIlls, NY sold very quickly
An Interior that is Spacious, Airy and Light-Filled: If a potential home buyer enters a home and immediately feels a sense of serenity, warmth and comfort – most likely that feeling will really register and stay with them. A home that is not cluttered, has neutral, light colored wall paint and there’s light streaming through the windows – that’s what buyers are after. People buy with their hearts and if you feed them what they want – they’ll eat out of your hand.
I had a client this year that was complaining about having to paint some of his rooms a lighter color and he didn’t want to remove (or even paint) some dated paneling. He said it stressed him out just to think about painting or removing the paneling. I said to him “So – what do you think potential buyers will feel when they think about all the work that has to be done if they buy your home? If you feel stress…so do your buyers!” Avoid this – do the work that you know buyers will want. Get out the paint brush!
The Wow Factors: Zillow Digs did a study last year designating certain words in a listing description that helped sell a home faster. Homes that had subway tile, barn doors, shaker cabinets, farmhouse sinks and quartz countertops all sold considerably faster than homes that lacked these items. You may have one of these features – and that’s great. But, don’t despair thinking you have to spend a lot of money installing one of these “Wow Factors” if you don’t have any! Other assets in your home can be Wow Factors – if you know enough to call attention to them.
Having beautiful light fixtures adds a wow factor! This home we staged in Dix Hills NY used to have a small builder’s light in the dining room before. Big difference!
I did a staging consultation the other day for a realtor whose client’s home needed a lot of help. As I was passing through the living room, the first thing that struck me was how badly arranged the furniture was. The living room was large – but there was only 1 sofa and 1 upholstered chair…and no coffee or end tables. There were a few other tables in the room (and one of the them was set up blocking the entrance to the dining room). Crazy? As we were going in to the kitchen, the realtor said to me “Doesn’t she have a great fireplace?” I said “What fireplace?” The furniture was not arranged around the focal point of the living room – the fireplace…so I didn’t even notice it. If I didn’t notice it – neither will potential buyers. A great fireplace and mantel is a Wow Factor and you need to play this up if you have one.
After: If you have a fireplace – make it a showpiece. Adding stacked stone made all the difference. This home we staged in Mineola NY sold quickly.
What are other Wow Factors? Beautiful, gleaming wood floors throughout the home. If you have hardwood floors covered up with wall-to-wall carpet – you’re hiding a potential star of your home. Built-ins are another feature that home buyers want. The client I was talking about above with the fireplace I missed – her home had several built-in bookcases but they were cluttered with little knickknacks and hadn’t been cleaned or painted in a while. These special features are things that buyers will love, so make sure they are standouts…and not hidden assets.
Beautiful new cabinetry, stainless steel appliances and marble countertops are buyer magnets. This home we staged in Dix Hills fit the bill and sold quickly
An Updated Home in Great Condition: When a home is clean and well-cared for and there are no deferred maintenance issues, a buyer will feel confident about making an offer. This is the biggest financial transaction in someone’s life – so, the more confident the buyer feels the better. If a home seller has taken care of any potential problems, the home inspection probably won’t uncover things that could forfeit a smooth sales transaction.
When it comes to what updates you should do, take time to visit your competition in the area. If most homes in your price range have updated kitchens, you should think about doing some upgrades. Do you have to do a full renovation? No – but perhaps painting your older (but great condition) cabinets a lighter color and installing new hardware will give your kitchen a like-new look.
So, take care of any problems in your home. Fix the leaky faucet, upgrade what needs to be upgraded. Your buyers will appreciate it. If you’re not sure of any issues, it’s a great idea to have a pre-inspection done, just to be on the safe side.
Adding lifestyle touches, like this portable bar in a living room we staged, helps give buyers a vision of how their lives will be if they buy your home
Beautiful Home Staging Captures a Buyer’s Heart: Of course, this is one of the main reasons why a buyer will buy! When a home is staged it’s designed to sell – not to be forgotten. We are not talking about decorating…we are talking about being strategic. A professional stager like myself will zero in on what the target buyer in your area is looking for. Making your home memorable and appealing to that market is job #1. We use art, color and lifestyle touches to attract a buyer’s eye to the key features and assets of your home – to make sure that the buyer notices and remembers them. We help maximize the spaciousness and we bring out the intrinsic beauty of each room to create the perfect package.
Lifestyle touches: We staged this little vignette in a kitchen in Mineola NY
Staging, coupled with professional photography, can attract far more buyers to the home in those crucial first weeks that it’s on the market. More traffic = greater possibility of offers. There’s a reason why staged homes sell over 73% faster than non-staged homes.
Add to that a great realtor who is a savvy marketer and you have the formula for a very fast and profitable home sale.
Happy selling! If you need some advice and help on how to get your home staged and sold, give me a call at 631 793-1315.
I can’t tell you how many times I have recommended painting and updating fireplace mantels in homes when a client is selling. Especially red brick fireplaces – when I mention it should be painted or updated, I get this “We think you are crazy Linda” look on my clients’ faces.
A vacant investor property that I staged (above) had the ugliest red brick fireplace – and someone (the investor or the investor’s painter) had the ridiculous idea of painting it even redder – making it worse!
It’s a little tough to tell in this pic – but the painter had painted over the red brick – and it wasn’t even a good job. Painting it white or off white would have been better! Adding the bluestone to it made it even more ridiculous and keeping the ugly brassy doors kept it looking too 70s.
Here’s an after shot, in the same angle. once the fireplace was redone and the furniture and accessories were placed in the room.
Adding the furniture, artwork and accessories really helped – but what an eyesore this fireplace would have been without adding the stacked stone!
NEWSFLASH – this home sold in a month! Plus – it had several other less than wonderful attributes…
- It was a little over-priced for the area
- There was a concrete backyard…no grass
- It wasn’t in the desirable school district (which was a block or two from it!)
- Neighbors have two yappy dogs which they let out way too often
Plus…a few other little things that I could enumerate. If they had left the fireplace “as is,” heaven knows how long it would have taken to sell! A fireplace mantel is the focal point of most living rooms and great rooms – you have to make sure it’s given its due by making it a special feature.
Before the investor relented and changed the brick to stacked stone – I had suggested a less expensive alternative – painting.
Here’s a before and after of my blog friend, Leslie Stocker’s, red brick fireplace…
What a huge difference!! By painting both the brick and the wooden mantel shelf – she updated her fireplace in a day. This is huge – not only for homeowners…but for home sellers on a budget. Notice she painted the brassy/gold parts of the fireplace door black, which updates it further. This needs to be done with heatproof paint. In my project, the door was spray painted with heatproof paint as well.
Another easy way to update your fireplace (when you don’t have a mantel!) is to just use a mantel shelf – and accessories.
This was another home staging project that I did over the summer – where the home seller had completely ignored having a fireplace at all. There was just a firebox in the wall – that’s it. So, I re-arranged her furniture, added a mantel shelf, art, accessories, an area rug, pillows etc – and now her living room looks like a wonderful place to sit down, relax and enjoy a cozy evening by the fire. You can see some before and afters and read more about that project here.
Home buyers are looking for their dream homes – you have to paint a picture for them. A fireplace is part of that dream for many prospective buyers, so if you have one…play it up…make it memorable. It will help you sell your house (even if you have some less desirable attributes!!
If you need help in making your fireplace look great, please contact me. I am a decorative artist also and have transformed many ugly features into beautiful designer pieces.
If you are going to sell your home this season, it’s a great idea to make your home look as beautiful, stylish and organized as possible. If you want to sell your home fast and for more profit, here are some top tips from me…
- Look at the competing homes in your area to see how you “stack up.” Are the homes that are selling in your area updated? Granite countertops and new cabinets? All hardwood flooring? Freshly painted? You want to be in line with your competition (but better!)
- Make sure that you have packed away everything that you need to take with you (that doesn’t need to be “displayed” in your current home/listing online). A clutter-free home looks great and sells fast.
- Check to see how “dated” your accessories are: If your home has doilies, bathroom seat covers and matching toilet rugs, vertical blinds, dusty faux florals, mirrored walls, dark paneled rooms etc. – it may be time for some changes and some updated accessories!
- Do you have wood floors hiding under wall-to-wall carpeting? It’s time to show your beautiful floors. Today’s buyers want hardwood flooring.
- Does your home have bold colors in flooring, walls and accessories: It may have been great for you and your family but think about how today’s buyers might think. Not everyone can “move in” with purple walls, teal carpets and floral wallpaper: Today’s buyer needs a neutral palette that can accommodate any kind/color of furnishings. They want to be able to move right in.
- Use color wisely – don’t overwhelm a buyer with it but employ it to bring attention to important characteristics of your home (fireplace mantels, large windows etc). Buyers will remember a home and its assets that way.
- Use a professional photographer for all of your photos. Great online photos will bring more potential buyers to your home. Over 90% of home searches today start online.
- Look at (really study!) the homes in your neighborhood that sold quickly. Did they sell because of price or because of condition? If you don’t know how to do this – ask your realtor or look at a website like redfin.com. You can check to see how long a listing has been on the market, how many price reductions – and who the realtor is. This information is so invaluable to you. Please – do your homework before you list your home!!
Here’s some of my company’s other photos of homes we have staged. Most of these homes sold before or at the Open House – or in less than a month. Please call us to help you. Preparing and staging your home can make a significant difference in the sale of your home (quicker) and the profit (more than your competition!)
Don’t make the mistake of being penny-wise and pound foolish. Every day that your home is not presented well and staged properly could be costing you thousands upon thousands of dollars in lost revenue.
We staged this vacant home in Dix Hills in mid October of this year and it sold before the month was through.
Act 1: The homeseller was relocating and, at first, put the home on the market with his furnishings (very dated and the furniture arrangement left a lot to be desired). It didn’t sell.
What you notice first is the huge bench (and not the space) – and then your eyes would go to the dingy carpet in the living room. (see pics below for the “after” of the entryway).
Here is a before pic of the family room…
And here’s our “after” pic – making two seating areas and utilizing the focal point
Act 2: He then tried to sell it vacant but all that did was call attention to the dingy carpets (and the need to remove them!) and the need to repaint. Even though the homeseller had the carpets cleaned – it didn’t help at all…they were very soiled and worn.
The home looked the worse for wear without any furniture in it. The home had a great layout – and an incredible backyard – but all of those virtues were trumped by the dinginess and the home being vacant. Potential buyers could not “see” how they could live beautifully in this home.
Act 3: We staged it with beautiful furnishings and accessories – and we gave it a new lease on life. We convinced the homeseller that it was in his best interest to remove the dingy carpeting to show the hardwood flooring beneath. That brought more value to the home and gave it a lighter and cleaner appeal. It only took a day – what a difference.
We wanted the homeseller to repaint some of the rooms (the color on the first floor was a very, very pale violet) but that wasn’t in his budget. So – we avoided bringing in any yellow (which would have helped amplify the violet hued walls). When we were finished staging, the walls didn’t scream violet – they appeared more like a pale gray.
A few more pics…
If you have a home (or a listing) on the market that’s vacant, please consider staging it first. According to the National Association of Realtors, it takes twice as long to sell a vacant home. Don’t wait it out (plus a probable price reduction…or 2 or 3!). Stage it before you list it. It will always cost way less than the first price reduction.
Today’s buyers are hypercritical – if they can’t figure out how to place their furnishings because a home is vacant – they will take your home off their list…and make an offer on another.
My thanks to Janet Manno, Associate Broker and Relocation Director of Douglas Elliman for bringing me in to help this home get sold…and to Catherine Lindstadt, Associate Real Estate Broker of Douglas Elliman for doing a great marketing job.
Call me if you would like to learn more about vacant staging, staging consultations…and how to sell your home or listing faster.
PS – Want to see a vacant staging we did in Bohemia NY that sold in 1 Day? Another Douglas Elliman listing. To see the full listing go here