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There’s a huge difference between a ‘Staged home’, a ‘Show-home like home’ and a (developer’s) show-home but that’s another blog!

Subtle use of really good property styling is a property marketing dream.  It helps a potential buyer to visualise your property as their new home and it helps you to clinch a faster sale.  Bad styling gets a property noticed by the viewer …but only for its use of unreal and theatrical staging.

Here are my pet hates/top tips on how NOT to stage a house for sale:

1. Don’t formally set the kitchen or dining table; limit use of candles, china and glass wear – unless you live in a museum.

2. Never put a tray with champagne flutes or teapot/cups on the bed; even if it is at a jaunty angle – unless it is a show-home.

3. Keep towels in the bathroom; don’t stack them on the end of the bed – unless you’re selling a holiday home or B&B.

4. Always light the fire in a big hearth; for photos – unless it’s the height of summer also light for viewings.

5. Dress the master bed with cushions properly – don’t ‘scatter’ them about – EVER!


In part 2 I will give you some more tips of ‘How NOT to stage’ .. and maybe even some examples of  exactly ‘What to do!’

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Assuming you are a motivated seller, actually want to sell your property fast and not just ‘test the market’… perhaps now is the time to take a long hard look at the ‘detail.’

A staggering 93%* of property buyers search the internet first, before they even contact an estate agent.

Which means that your home has to stand out from the crowd, from day one.

It appears only a few homeowners thoroughly check their online property details, preferring to leave ‘that side of thing to the agents’.  Most never think of looking at their property to see whether their ‘advert’ could be improved.

Once you’ve noticed your home showing up on Rightmove or Zoopla what do you do, sit back and wait for a sale?

When presented with a client’s ‘problem’ property, one of the first things I do is study the online information to see what it does or, in many cases doesn’t reveal.

Imagine you’re searching for a new home to buy, what would you like to see?  In my case the kitchen, living space and the master bedroom are top of my list.

So just how effective is your property marketing?

Take 5 minutes out of your busy day, sit down with a cup of tea and really look objectively at the way your house has been presented… to the world!

Did you even notice it amongst the 1000’s of similar properties for sale on the property portals?


Hiding something?

More importantly, would you want to view it?

Full frontal!

Any property can benefit from a good declutter and bit of tweaking here and there (I should know!) but if your online and printed information is less than perfect, your smart, clutter free hallway may remain forever unseen!

*Statistics from HMT Report, Property Academy (October 2010) )

How about giving your Estate Agent a helping hand?

Perhaps, they need help to sell your home faster!

Perhaps, you think, they should have sold your home by now, been inundated with offers for you to choose from …. Or, at the very least, shown around a viewer!

I agree, if you’ve a property to sell, if your home is on the market and let’s face it, most of us enlist the help of an Estate Agent when selling; they need to do their job.  They must market your home, advertise it, promote it, show your property, attract a buyer, get you a good price, sell your home, liaise with solicitors, stay on top of the transaction, calm any nerves, and (this is very important) keep you informed!

So, what if you’re struggling to sell, what if you aren’t getting any viewings, is it all down to your agent or could some of the responsibility lie with you too?!

Assuming your home’s currently on the market and you are having problems attracting a buyer – take action now.  If you have to or want to sell quickly and for the best market price, you need to be geared up to promote your home too.

Stop quibbling about dropping the price (in fact… don’t rush to drop the price) focus on the marketing message you (and your home) are sending out. Use these simple ideas that to help you sell your home faster;

Read your property details.  Thoroughly read them, in print and online. Are they describing your property accurately? Is there a floor plan, clear room sizes, has anything been missed off or described incorrectly? Does the thumbnail photo of your home online stand out amongst the crowd?

Study the photos.  Have your agents captured the best rooms, the best aspect? Do the photos highlight your home; are they too dark, too light? You know your home better than your agent; if you don’t feel the photos are representative don’t be afraid to say so.

Keep it seasonal.  If your property has been on the market a while and winter has turned into summer, make sure your photos reflect that.  Refresh and renew as necessary.

Is the price realistic?  Did you go with the agent who gave you the highest (but not necessarily the most sensible) valuation? Or, perhaps you were adamant your home went on the market for ££££’s more than your neighbours because you have a conservatory, and next door hasn’t.  Most property will sell if it’s correctly priced.

How is your property presented?  Would you view your own home? Does the outside make you want to come in or drive by; are the rooms cluttered, have you washed up, is the toilet seat down?!  Many small improvements will cost little but add (high) value.

Ask for feedback.  If you are getting viewings, insist on regular feedback and act on it if you can.  Ask your agent for Rightmove statistics, to see how many have looked at your home.  This is a good indicator of how appealing your property is, how well it stands out/gets noticed online.

Accept criticism.  If for example viewers are saying the 3rd bedroom looks small, can you do anything about it; is this the room that’s currently housing 10 years worth of treasures?!

Banish the animals.  Not forever but please remove the food bowls, litter tray, dog bed, cages, smells and the animals for the duration of the viewing.

Let the agent do the viewingswithout you at home!  Leave before the viewers arrive and stay out until they have left.  Don’t turn up with kids and dog in tow crowding into the hallway to catch a glimpse of your possible new purchasers – what the viewers might have decided was a lovely spacious home, will suddenly have become small, cramped and not for them in that very instant!

Be ready – for viewings.  If your agent calls to arrange a viewing do you keep putting them off; have you got people staying, are you holding a dinner party, wanting a lie in, cant be bothered to tidy up? There are times when rearranging a viewing makes sense (if your home really does look like a bomb’s hit it or the cat’s left you a present in the living room) but, if its something you tend to do regularly, potential buyers will simply move on to the next house. Stay prepared, make the beds, take out the trash, clean the bathroom!

Make friends with your agent. I don’t mean you have to invite them to dinner or call them all the time.  However, you chose them, interviewed them (or you should have), trusted them to sell your biggest asset.  Keep in touch, keep things friendly, ask their advice, and push for feedback positive or negative.  Challenge their sales methods, viewing techniques, marketing details etc (sorry EA’s!) if you feel they’re not right.  Let them know they have a motivated seller on their books.

Don’t be afraid to change.  So, if you have done all of the above and you’re still not happy or don’t feel you are getting the right sort of marketing advice for your home, then yes, much of the problem could lie with your current agent.

Perhaps it is time to change …. Or at the very least, lend them a hand 🙂

The first time the new owners of your home are likely to come across your property, is on the internet; via Rightmove, Primelocation, Tepilo or, your Estate Agent’s website.

The second time might be an advert in the Estate Agent’s window or in the local property paper.

The third time? Well probably, when they receive the glossy brochure showing your home for sale in all its splendid glory.

But are your online and printed details good enough to get you a viewing?

Hopefully, this will be one of the things you have been considering since my last blog!

As I’ve said before, selling a house is like selling any product it needs good marketing.  And your property details; photographs, description, floorplan, glossy brochure, should promote your property for sale in much the same way as a luxury hotel might advertise its weekend breaks.  The information needs to be clear, concise, interesting, appealing to its target market, highlight the most attractive features and selling points, whilst evoking a sense of lifestyle.  Ultimately, the advert needs to be impressive, good enough to get them a booking … or in your case, to secure a viewing!

So study your details on-line. 

Are your pictures good enough to stop potential buyers eliminating your property during one sitting at the computer?  How many do you whizz through when searching for a home online – 50? 100?  What makes you stop and click-through the details? price?, image, description?  Think about it.  Searching for a home online gets boring after a while and what stops you will stop your buyers too. 

What could be done to make your property stand out from the crowd? If you have extensive competition in your price range go through the list – is every thumbnail property a picture of the front of the house?  How about asking your agent to change the image to an interior shot or, one of the back garden?

Are your photographs well-lit or does your property look gloomy? Do your rooms look cluttered, tired, messy.  Is your bed made and the toilet seat down?! If you’ve been on the market a while are your photos still in season or do they show snow on the ground in the middle of summer?  Freshen up the photos if necessary.  A good agent should be on top of this but it helps to be a proactive seller…. if you really want to sell.

Go through your property description details.  Hopefully you will have done this from the start but if you notice an inaccuracy don’t leave it, change it!  If yours is a unique property and has a different heating system or particularly unusual feature – perhaps an explanation from you or additional (typewritten) notes could be available at the time of the viewing… (if you’re unable to get them printed on the brochure).

Floorplans are they big enough or too big for your brochure? And do you have room sizes on them?  Frankly they aren’t much good if you haven’t got sizes as they don’t allow an easy comparison to other (similar) properties.  Floorplans show how a property works, allows the buyer to see if a property will work for their family or situation and act as a memory trigger when they have been to view.

If you’re not getting any viewings, don’t (just) blame your agent… be proactive, re-assess your details, re-shoot the photographs and bag yourself a buyer!

Should be easy to find an estate agent shouldn’t it, after all there are a dozen on the high street; they are in the property paper and they are always putting flyers through your door telling you they have a buyer for your home… just call this number for a free valuation.  So yes, it is easy to find an estate agent, but, the right one for you, that may be a different matter.

I have heard it all, from the potential vendors point of view, ‘‘you all do the same thing, so long as you put it on Rightmove I will be ok’’. ‘‘I chose them because I found one through them’’.  ‘‘I bought from them, so just as easy to sell through them’’ – Don’t get me wrong these are all valid reasons.  However, I believe people should put a little more effort in before they even invite the ‘valuer’ through their door, after all this is probably your biggest asset.

Not all agents are the same, just as not all clients are the same; it is potentially a very stressful experience selling your home.  You need to trust and have faith in your agent so; may I suggest some ground work? Don’t just pick three at random, put the groundwork in then invite round three agents from the firms that seem to most closely match your needs.

  1. Mystery Shop. Register with all the agents as a buyer, by phone or in person. How are you treated, were you made welcome, did you feel comfortable with the person, did they take your details? Were they knowledgeable? Did they ask if you would like to make a viewing? What are the details like, floorplans, lots of colour pictures? Or, are the details single sided toilet paper, were you bombarded with attempts to get appointments to see the mortgage advisor, book a valuation? Basically, did you feel you were treated as a person or as a target? How you are treated is how your potential buyers will be treated, don’t forget we buy from people we like!
  2. Email in requesting details. Do you get a response? If you do, how long did it   take?
  3. Check the websites and press.  Do you like their ads, good pictures, wording? Try and choose an agent who appears to mainly deal in properties like yours, no point putting a £150,000 property with an agent who mainly deals in manor houses, and vice versa. If you choose a matching agent they are more likely to have existing clients on their books looking for a home like yours.
  4. Talk to people, ask about their experiences.  Would they use an agent again, did they feel they communicated, whilst you are at it ask about solicitors, you pay them a lot to you know.

Now invite your chosen three round…

  1. If they ask you for your thoughts on value before giving their own, say you invited them round for their opinion, it is ok to discuss it after they have committed.
  2. Have they brought comparables and evidence, are they relevant to your home? Or, have they just dragged out a big sales file telling you all about their great services and how fabulous they are? It is ok to be proud of your firm and yourself (I am) but I would rather see genuine thank you letters than a pre-printed mission statement.
  3. Do you feel comfortable with the person, are they knowledgeable, do they ask about you, your reasons for moving, do they listen or is it one big sales pitch! When they leave are you relaxed and more informed or are you just glad to see the back of them?
  4. Ask about their terms and conditions, including fee, fixed or percentage, agency period, dis-instruction period, how much for an epc. People always seem to worry about the fee, then sign up to a 20 week contract; this can be a much more costly mistake.
  5. Meet with all three agents before making a decision, don’t forget if they persuade you to sign up on the day you have a 7 day cooling off period (check their T’s & C’s) Make your decision after weighing up all the pro’s and con’s, sometimes the most expensive agent is the one for you, and sometimes the cheapest one may be, or even the one in-between, but, if you have done your homework hopefully you have found one to trust and that is far more important!

There is far more I could say about the actual valuation/appraisal itself, but, I will save that for another day.

Estate Agent Dad

Huge thanks to Mark for taking the time to write this article and share his knowledge and insight.  You can follow him daily on Twitter @EstateAgentDad

(images from idea go’s & jscreationzs /freedigitalphotos.net)

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.

One of the most beautiful houses in Bath is up for sale through Savills and receiving a huge amount of local publicity.  Set in 9 acres of secluded grounds, Widcombe Manor is an historic albeit ‘mini’ stately home.

Perfectly intact Georgian architectural features, with elegant, well proportioned rooms, the property also boasts, a wine cellar, croquet lawn, tennis court, infintity pool, pavillion, summerhouse, 2 storey cottage and incredible views.

It only has 6 bedrooms; although three of these are suites on the 1st floor, with the remaining bedrooms and bathrooms on the 2nd; ideal for those who require space for living/entertaining but would like to preserve something of a ‘family atmosphere’.

The downside for me? …… Well aside from the in “excess of £10million” price tag, the property details (now removed from the property portals) are very lacklustre and the photos unfortunately don’t appear to showcase the interior spaciousness and charm.  Then again I don’t suppose those with + £10m to spend will be searching for properties on Rightmove along with the rest of us!

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