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I came across an article yesterday as featured in The Local, a Fort-Greene edition of the New York Times.  The Americans are so much better than us Brits at understanding just how Home Staging, Property Styling, Property Marketing – call it what you will, gets results when you have a property to sell.

A good many years ago now, my parents upped sticks and moved to the US with me and my sister  (quite another story).  However, in buying and selling property over there we came across ‘Property Stylists’ who worked alongside Real Estate Agents, they even worked from the same office to offer a complete marketing package.  Apart from an exceptional few, we’ve still not quite achieved the same over here.

None the less ‘we’ perservere and battle on with the idea of awareness and bringing a complete package of property marketing combined with staging and styling to the masses!

It isn’t rocket science and, although property sellers in New York tend to think mainly in terms of apartments, the article is still relevant to all who have a house to sell in a difficult market. You can read the full article by Geri Charles here but these are the highlighted tips:

With the importance of staging in mind, here are three tips on staging your home to sell it:

1) It’s not about you, it’s about the buyer.

What you may consider tasteful may not be to the buyer’s taste. The fact of the matter is, interior décor is subjective. The living room painted chocolate brown with one big red stripe in the middle may be a proud do-it-yourself moment for you, but it may give the buyer flashbacks to a slasher scene with Freddie Krueger. Your best bet is to keep it simple with neutral plain colors.

2) It’s all about a room’s “star” feature.

Maximize your home’s best features by accentuating them. Draw more attention to a fireplace, for example, by mounting a wrought iron sculpture right above it. You can also minimize the room’s least appealing feature, like a window directly facing into a neighbor’s bathroom, by using a stained glass window decal to block the view.

3) Less is more.

Get rid of all clutter. I repeat, get rid of ALL clutter. Although you may be proud of your 30-year record collection, or photographs taken at last year’s 10-year family reunion, those items take up space. The less you have on display, the more the potential buyers can envision themselves living there.

If you need advice on styling, selling or buying property and would like to discuss working with me … my main website can be found at www.propertystylingcompany.co.uk. Contact can be made through this wordpress site, by email or by calling 07789 488446.
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Suppose you’ve spent the last 6 months or even 2 years searching for your new home.  Suppose you employed the services of a Property Stylist and Property Finder to not only get your current home sold quickly but also to find your dream property.  And, suppose everything turned out well; your old home sold for maximum market value and your new home ticked all the boxes on your wish list.

Finally, after weeks of eager anticipation and clutter clearing, you move in.

It’s a joyous occasion right? The property is exactly what you wanted.  There’s enough room for the kids, grown-ups, visiting relatives, book club group, you have your own study, orangery, hot tub ….. fill in the blank!  So why doesn’t it feel like home?

Image from August Edition of Livingetc

Unless you are one of the lucky few, for whom money isn’t too much of an object, moving into a new home will inevitably bring compromise.  When you viewed the property, (particularly if it was being marketed by switched on vendors who’d buffed and styled their house to appeal to the masses 😉 ) you envisioned yourselves living the dream.  It had bags of potential for you and yours. The rooms looked gorgeous, the master bedroom was huge, the living room was perfect for entertaining, the kitchen – well ok, that could do with a refit (looked lovely with all their ornaments, oils and shiny pans) but the bathrooms were sleek, white and oh so clean…

Picture from housetohome network

The stark truth is that when you move into a new house, your furniture won’t look the same as the previous owners did or have the same ‘wow-factor’ as the carefully styled Show-Home you viewed.  If, like the majority of us, you plonk your stuff in the same spot as the last occupants, use the rooms in the same way as you were shown by the sellers or simply, after all the costs of moving home, don’t have enough cash to embark on remodelling, then the reality is it probably won’t feel like home for a long time… if ever!

SO WHAT’S THE SECRET?

The number one tip is – Don’t panic!

Consider the reasons why you believed it would make your perfect home.  Does it have the space you always longed for, an en-suite bathroom or perhaps off road parking?

Make an objective list of things you’d really like to improve.  Start with your biggest bug bear and then revisit the budget!

Avoid doing things twice.  Don’t spend money replacing missing kitchen cupboard doors if you are planning to rip out the entire kitchen in a few months.  Hold fire on replacing the ugly patterned carpet. Take time to work out what flooring/finishes will suit your lifestyle.

Consult a professional.  Having an outsider give an objective view of how you can maximise your property’s potential will save you time and money!  Most Interior Designers will work on projects for a fixed fee, some can offer a virtual service on a room by room basis.  Whether you need advice on finding the right wall colour, help with sourcing furniture or plan to carry out a full refurbishment, find an Interior Designer you like to help define your dream home ideas.

Change the use of your rooms.  Could your dining room be used as a family/teenage room?  Could the spare room become your office?  Do you need a downstairs shower for sporty kids ?

Move the furniture.  Just because the previous owners had their sofa facing the window doesn’t mean you have to!  Play around with the space you’ve inherited and find out where your favourite chair looks the best.

Treat yourself to a deep clean!  Even if the house looks clean, have the place professionally cleaned from top to bottom, including the carpets – especially if you don’t like them but have to live with them for a while! Cleansing a space always makes it feel better.

Set up a dream home bank account.  Home improvements always cost more than you think and invariably people get carried away.  Saving for property changes and creating a separate account means that you can see exactly what you have to spend and can plan accordingly.

Finally, claim ownership with a fresh coat of paint!  This is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to make your new house, feel like your new home!

Peter Fallico’s bedroom as shown in StyleatHome.com

If you need advice on styling, selling or buying property and would like to discuss working with me … my main website can be found at www.propertystylingcompany.co.uk. Contact can be made through this wordpress site, by email or by calling 07789 488446.


(An article by Mark – Estate Agent Dad)

Personally I find estate agency enjoyable, frustrating, illuminating, thought provoking, depressing, exciting and just about every emotion in between, but and it’s a big BUT, never dull!

If there was any such thing as an average day, it would start with a review of the previous day and a discussion of the appointments for the day ahead, well actually it would start with a cup of tea as I get in earlier than my colleagues, I would then follow the morning meeting with viewing feedback, either that which was obtained at the appointment or by phoning the previous days viewers and then calling the vendors with, preferably, constructive feedback. After this I will prepare for my days market appraisals, commonly known as ‘Valuations’ this will take approximately half to three quarters of an hour per property, which is why it can be a little frustrating when people cancel 10 minutes before hand. Finally collect up keys and details and about 10.15 head out the door. I normally head back into the office at about 3pm to do paperwork, return calls etc. Then about 4.30 back out on end of day appointments.

I thoroughly enjoy being on appointments, I like to find out about people, why they are moving, their story, obviously you get people who don’t open up, but generally a bit of charm and cheek will get me a smile and a story, this is the great part, getting tea and cake at peoples homes is very, very nice, getting offers is great, tying up sales is brilliant, then…well then it is time for the more frustrating parts.

Sales progression, poor surveys, factory conveyancers, fall throughs, all of these are the frustrating parts of the job, the need to find time for it, rather not do it but needs must part of the job, the back office bit which leads to the part for which we get paid…exchange of contracts.

Exchange, happy days, sad days, coming to the end of relationships with both buyer and vendor (or at least a hiatus until next time) all there is left to do is hand over keys and get paid.

Oh and the headline, I wear M&S machine washable suits as I go to property with lots of pets and kids, visit  building sites, unloved property, probates and repossessions. I have been sick on, sat on by cats, dogs and kids, had porches fall off houses, got locked in and locked out, climbed in and out of windows and over fences.

Finally I drive a Nissan Micra, but that is a whole different story!

By Mark – @EstateAgentDad a Secret Estate Agent – follow him on Twitter daily!

Suit – by Michael Cooper (Flickr) [CC-BY-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Car – By Liftarn (Own work) [GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

If you need advice on styling, selling or buying property and would like to discuss working with me … my main website can be found at www.propertystylingcompany.co.uk. Contact can be made through this wordpress site, by email or by calling 07789 488446.

If you’ve ever visited a Show-Home you’ll have noticed how much effort the designers go to when planning and decorating the Master bedroom.  Ok, I agree, not many of us tend to inhabit bedrooms that are as glamorous or indeed as ‘over the top’ in style and decor as a Show-Home.  And, I’m not suggesting that your bedroom has to be styled to the n’th degree.  However, when you are preparing your home for sale, the Master bedroom requires a little extra thought and preparation.  Show-Home designers are employed to create an interior that persuades us to buy; to provide an aspirational interior that will ‘sell’ the property to us and the Master bedroom is a key factor in the process.

Show-Home bedroom by Jacqui Smith of HomeSmiths

Conducting a successful viewing, turning viewers into buyers, simply means getting the viewer to (positively) imagine themselves occupying your space.

Bedrooms, particularly Master bedrooms, are private, intimate rooms, that most of us don’t even show our visiting friends or family … unless of course we have just cleaned, redecorated, styled and generally have something to show off!  Our inbuilt sense of reserve, prevents us from wandering into a friend’s bedroom the way we would any of the more public rooms of their home.  And, if we do find ourselves invited into this most personal of spaces, we mainly tend to hover in the doorway, slightly ill at ease and not wanting to intrude.

‘Who’s hiding under the covers?’

Getting your viewer to connect with your property and see your home as their’s, requires the viewer to feel at ease, relaxed and definitely not as though they are intruding.  An uncomfortable, whistle stop tour of the principle rooms in your home is unlikely to secure an offer anytime soon.

I have lost count of the number of bedrooms I have viewed.  Some of them have been fabulously presented for sale, others looked as though the owner had literally just jumped out of his/her steaming pit!

‘Phew just got out of bed before the agent arrived – mind the chamber-pot!’

So how can you encourage your potential buyer to linger and appreciate all your property has to offer?

Remember that the Master bedroom is the room that the buyer (the one responsible for paying the hefty mortage or squandering their life savings) will inhabit themselves.  To them, maybe it’ll be more than just a bedroom.  Perhaps it’ll be a retreat from the job they love to hate.  Or a sanctuary from a busy family life.  This will be your buyer’s personal space… make them fall in love with it.

‘A little too de-personalised!’

Even if currently, your bedroom is home to the ever present ironing pile or regularly becomes a clutttered dumping ground, when your property is for sale its worth spending a little extra time and effort preparing the Master bedroom.

Above all … keep it clean!  Take that how you will but essentially a tidy, super clean, fresh smelling, de-personalised (although not too sterile) bedroom is the best.

  • No dirty piles of knickers in the corner of the bedroom.
  • No overflowing linen baskets or clothes drying on the radiator.

‘Wardrobe too full?’

  • No obviously yellow sweaty-head stained pillows.
  • No crumpled, steaming, smelly bedlinen.  Don’t leave the bed as though you’ve just got up.
  • No family picture galleries, eerily watching your viewers every move.
  • No rubbish in the waste-bins.
  • No animals (real or stuffed!) on the bed or dog baskets in the room.
  • No ‘lads’ mags, except well hidden and under the bed!
  • No half eaten bits of toast, or mugs of cold tea on the bedside cabinets.
  • No car-boot sale corner (you know, the collection of stuff you are always promising to get rid of).

It’s realitively easy to create the allure of a Show-Home bedroom.  Air the room before viewings.  Iron the bedlinen. De-personalise by limiting the amount of family photos, clear away hairbrushes and make up.  Keep your clothes and shoes out of sight and your bedside tables free of tablets, receipts and other paraphernalia.

Home Staging project – The Property Styling Company

 If you do nothing else…. at least change the sheets and make the bed!

Credits:

www.homesmiths.co.uk – photo of show-home bedroom

www.michaelpalmer.com – photos of home-staging project

If you need advice on styling, selling or buying property and would like to discuss working with me … my main website can be found at www.propertystylingcompany.co.uk. Contact can be made through this wordpress site, by email or by calling 07789 488446.

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