Tag Archives: Home Staging

Feeling a little lost looking for the right estate agent? All you need is a trip to Venice and a good coffee!

Selling your home can be an emotional and tiring slog, perhaps even onerous at times. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There is such a thing as an enjoyable selling experience, and all you have to do is choose the right estate agent. Read our guide to sell your home and keep your sanity too!

Let’s take a break from house talk, and enjoy a walk through the streets of Venice; after a little sightseeing, you pause at an independent coffee house to enjoy the views of the square. You enjoy the Italian barista’s stories, and they introduce you to the coffee bean farmers sat opposite. They listen as you describe your ideal coffee, and ask about your favourite foods and wines.

The barista leaves you momentarily to enjoy the surroundings, before treating you to your own customised coffee blend. It’s brewed and roasted to your exact liking. The personalised dusting that lays on top is impressively artful, and their efforts are appreciated. They smile as you taste, because they know they’ve got it just right, and watching people enjoy their coffee brings them happiness too. Their experience means that they get every note just right, and the warm crema topping spoils your taste buds.

You make your way back to the airport, but before you board the plane, you fancy one last Italian coffee. There’s plenty of choice, but none particularly catch your eye. So Cafe Nero will do. The cafe offers convenient and cheap refreshments, and the noisy bustle inside is a nice nod to the popularity of the chain. The waitress smiles, and waits for you to place your order. The menu offers a reasonable yet generic selection, but with a growing queue behind, you quickly default to your usual latte.

Personalisation goes as far as a flavoured syrup, before a button is pressed and the end liquid passes through the machine. The ‘to-go-cup’ is promptly popped on the end counter, and in a sea of cardboard blue, you ask the waitress to point out which is yours. Efficient, polite service, but unforgettable all the same. And the coffee? It’s good. You peel off the plastic lid to see a templated bean dusting. It’s trying to be the independent barista, but it’s just not. You don’t finish the cup, but it’s served its purpose. You board the plane, and head back to the UK.

So, on your trip to Italy, you enjoyed two Italian coffees. Each quenched your thirst, but only one made an everlasting impression. And only one experience gave you a story that you’ll share with your friends.

Choosing the right estate agent is exactly the same. Some agents have perfected the art of convenience and speed. Their service is almost templated, and for homes that fall into a particular mould, it can work. Take new builds for example. Developments are plentiful and scattered throughout the UK, and the homes are marketed at the Joneses. Prices generally fall in the lower brackets, and there isn’t too much variant in house styles.

These homes are functional and affordable, but they aren’t unique; so selling these home with a templated marketing service makes sense. But when you see a home with true personality and character, the convenient ‘one-shoe-fits-all’ approach just doesn’t, well, fit. That’s because when a home really is unique, it needs unique marketing too.

If that means that your home calls for a bespoke brochure, or you need the helping hands of a home stylist, your estate agent should have a team of professionals to hand. When they sit down to pen a marketing strategy with you, it should feel unique. Because if every effort is made to approach buyers differently, and to show them all the wonderful features of your home, people will want to step inside to experience it themselves.

So, perhaps you don’t need that trip to Venice after all. Because you may just find a team that can give you a unique experience back home. Make sure you choose the team that will indulge you with an extra special coffee, though.

Happy selling!

Sam

a fireplace with a tea pot on top Where’s the fire

Do you have a real fire?  At this time of year, you may not want to spend the time or effort lighting it for viewings. Not to mention the mess….. Try this instead:  clean out the grate, then fill it with chunky church candles. Light them for viewings, and hey presto: instant lifestyle, warmth and atmosphere.  No mess.

Simples.

If you’d like my help to sell your home more effectively, please answer a few short questions here and if I think I can help you, I’ll be in touch.

a fireplace with a tea pot on top Where’s the fire

What to read next7 Reasons You Need Professional Photography to Sell Your House

What to do next: Sign up to my Selling Secrets https://www.home-truths.co.uk/selling-secrets

flower and statue on top of the table Lego doesn’t sell houses

flower and statue on top of the table Lego doesn’t sell houses

If you’re selling your home and have children, have you considered their impact on your home viewings? As much as you love your little ones, there are a few things you need to consider when selling up.

Noise and clamour. If there are people over viewing your home, the last thing they want is to be interrupted by screaming children. Yes, children make noise, but it will dampen a home viewing and could leave viewers feeling negative. Ideally get the children babysat during viewing times, or have your partner take them out.

Toys and clutter. No one likes to see clutter during a home viewing. Your home might be lovely and tidy in the majority of the space, but with piles of toys elsewhere mid-use, and Lego pieces lying around to get caught under shoes, it can make a space look smaller.

Lifestyle. We’ve talked about it before; buyers are buying into a home’s lifestyle. If your viewers are a couple with children, they might appreciate a child centred home. People without however, can sometimes lack the imagination needed to see past the Batman duvet and picture their private study. Try to make any children’s spaces as tidy and neat as possible, and put the toys in a wardrobe to have a clear floor.

Pink. Magnolia sells, deep pink walls don’t. Explain to your little ones that you’ll paint their new bedroom pink/with Superman wallpaper in the new house, but for now the walls need to be painted for the new buyers. Your house well sell quicker.

If you’d like my help to sell your home more effectively, please answer a few short questions here and if I think I can help you, I’ll be in touch

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As home stagers, we are often accused of staging the personality out of  a house.  In the 1980s when home staging first came to the UK from our friends across the water, the trend was for neutral floors, neutral walls and generally neutral taste throughout.  Bland and boring was definitely the order of the day, though when you think about the décor in those days – peach bathroom suites and flowery borders everywhere – perhaps it’s understandable!

However, home staging has moved on.  It’s far more sophisticated these days, and having a home with personality definitely doesn’t have to mean it’s ‘unsellable’.

Here are my top DOs and DON’Ts for home staging in the 21st Century:

DON’T just paint every wall Magnolia – choose a sophisticated colour palette with different but complementary shades for each room.

DO clear away anything you wouldn’t see in a show home: toys, pet paraphernalia, laundry, coats and shoes, all need to be put away out of sight.

DON’T have carpet in your bathroom – the 21st Century buyer won’t be impressed!

Bathroom--Victorian-House-

DO replace any carpet in high traffic areas that is over 10 years old, or 5 years if you have pets and children.

DON’T choose patterned carpets – this is one area where boring is best!

Pastel-floral-hallway

DO shop for modern accessories like lamps, vases and ornaments from a well-known brand like Next or John Lewis, to ensure quality and good taste.

DON’T keep your collection of teapots, fluffy toys or scarily realistic dolls on display.  Time to pack them away for your (hopefully) forthcoming move.

Pale-Green-and-Cream-Dining-Room

DO set the dining room and kitchen tables using dining sets, good glasses, flowers and mats.

DON’T be afraid to use colour, but stick to an overall colour palette for the whole house, with different shades and accents in each area.

DO be careful with strong colours and prints: they can be a bit overwhelming.  Best to keep them to small items like cushions, rugs or throws.

DON’T forget the bathroom when you stage – fill it full of special toiletries and hide away the Pantene, the Colgate and the half-worn soap

DO visit your local show homes for more ideas for staging in the 21st Century, and browse through Pinterest, which is a fabulous free source of inspiration.  You can even create your own boards to keep your ideas together in one place.

If you’d like my help to sell your home more effectively, please answer a few short questions here and if I think I can help you, I’ll be in touch.

When you’re ready to sell your home, you want your listing to be on Rightmove fast. But without great photography, you’re unlikely to have many people take a closer look. So how do we make sure that the shots are tempting? Let’s head to the lounge and check that it’s ready for the photographer to arrive. Because the secret to great house photography isn’t the photography itself. It’s the home styling and preparations before the photographer arrives! Follow these simple home styling tips, and your lounge will be picture perfect from every angle.

Take a step back

Perhaps you’ve lived in your home for so long, you don’t pause to appreciate the lovely oak fireplace anymore. Or maybe you’re so ready to move, you overlook the chipped paintwork on the skirting boards. Either way, seeing the same room every day brings a sense of familiarity and comfort. And, sometimes, we can all become a little too comfy with our surroundings. That’s when we start to overlook the details that may be the key to selling your home.

So how do we see the lounge through fresh eyes? We start with a little nostalgia. Let’s go back to the first viewing of your home. What did you feel the first time you walked into your lounge? Perhaps the gently lit window seat, or rustic exposed beams, made you smile. Maybe it simply felt spacious, and you knew it would be the perfect space to entertain guests on a weekend afternoon. But, with time, our home adapts to our family. Maybe your brood is now a few children heavier, and the lounge that once felt spacious and adult, is now cramped with toys.

This is when rooms can start to lose their identity. And to make the room appealing to other families, it’s important to remember the function, or purpose, of each room. So what is the lounge? It’s the communal spot that brings everyone together, and to enjoy each others company. It should feel big enough to gather friends and family comfortably, yet cosy and inviting too. So how do we strike the balance?

We take a look at the ‘things’ inside the room. Because, as time passes, we find ourselves with more and more ‘things.’ Perhaps you brought a new three-piece suit last year, but you just couldn’t bear to part with your favourite old armchair. So it sits in the lounge next to the new suite. Then there’s the coffee table; it might be a little too big for your current place, but you know it’ll fit just right in your next home.

Don’t worry, you’re not on your own. We all do this. But when someone is flicking through your homes pictures on Rightmove, you won’t be on hand to explain why the bookcase is in the lounge. Potential families will simply assume that there isn’t enough space in the office. And a home that looks small isn’t appealing. Too much furniture is suffocating, so creating a spacious-looking lounge is key.

Shuffle some furniture

It’s not quite moving day, but if you follow these steps, you’ll be a little closer to scheduling the removal men.

So, has your furniture sat in the same position for the past few years? If the answer is yes, maybe it’s time for a little shuffling. With time, we position our furniture so that it’s convenient for our everyday living. And that makes sense. But in doing so, it’s easy to cover up, hide and block the homes natural features too. Repositioning furniture can help you rediscover special qualities, and making sure that they’re in frame when the photographer arrives is key.

Flick through a few Homeware magazines for room layout inspiration, because a little sofa shuffling can help breathe some life back into a space. On that note, if you are thinking of indulging in a new suite for your new home, consider replacing the old one now instead. A contemporary set can transform a tired room, and it’ll instantly make the lounge look loved and inviting.

Consider putting big items of furniture, or anything that detracts from the room’s natural features, in storage too. Moving furniture can create space, frame features, and create a more sociable environment.

If your family has grown by a baby or two since you bought your home, you might find that it’s now not quite fit for purpose. That’s why you’re moving. But. And it’s a big but. Potential buyers don’t want to feel that the living space is cramped. They want it to feel spacious and roomy; it needs to look like a family hub, and a perfect space for entertaining too. So any toys, animal beds, or make-shift furniture should be hidden out of shot.

A final five-minute spruce

By following these home styling tips, you’ve done the hard work. But before the photographer arrives, spend a few minutes dressing the room. Neatly fold throws, and plump up the cushions. Open blinds, and turn on any low-level lamps too. Because the lighter the room, the better your photos will show off your home.

Happy selling!

Sam

It was a sweltering hot day in June and I was showing a young couple round a very sweet little flat in Kendal, Cumbria.   I was a rookie – only been in the job two weeks working for Barratts and this was a part exchange property I was showing.  The flat was owned by a young professional lady who was buying one of our new properties and we needed to sell her flat to make the figures stack up.   She’d furnished it beautifully, very contemporary (though it was the 1980s, I should point out, so chintz and apricot was definitely the look of the moment!) and the viewing was going really well.  The young couple clearly really liked it and asked if they could look around again, and I waited in the kitchen.  They returned, making the right kind of noises, and I thought it was in the bag.  Then she opened the integrated fridge, and it all went wrong.  It was horrible.  The food, if you can call it that, was all mouldy and furry, and the smell was terrible.  Not only that, but the fridge clearly hadn’t been cleaned for many months, if not longer, and there were bits of decomposing foodstuffs and nasty stains all over it.  For a moment we all stared at it.  Then she shut the door, and looked at her boyfriend.  He shrugged helplessly.  The lady then opened the cooker, to be met by a very similar sight, and finally the microwave.  Horrible.

Needless to say, this couple did not put in an offer.  She just couldn’t come to terms with the owner’s slovenly habits and you just knew that no matter how much she scrubbed, the memory of what she had seen would linger like a very bad smell.  You see, it had tainted her view of the flat, and of the owner, and she just couldn’t separate the two issues.

You may think that what’s inside your fridge is irrelevant when you’re selling your home, but if you have an integrated fridge/freezer, as many of us do these days, I’m afraid it is going to play its part in helping or hindering you to sell.  I’m not suggesting you fill your fridge with champagne and caviar, but you could make sure it is spotlessly clean, and fill it with some nice fresh fruit and veg.  I promise you, it will make more difference than you or your viewers will know, because it is happening sub-consciously.  We don’t make rational, logical decisions when we are buying a house: we choose a new home that “just feels right”, and one of the hundreds and even thousands of clues that we pick up on a viewing, is whether the owner’s lifestyle is something to aspire to, or eschew.

If your home is on the market, go check your fridge.  And if it doesn’t look like an advert for Indesit, go to work.  Your viewers will notice, I promise.

If you’d like my help to sell your home more effectively, please answer a few short questions here and if I think I can help you, I’ll be in touch.

beautiful kitchen with kitchen table and flower vase Photography tips for selling your home PART TWO_ STYLING YOUR KITCHEN (1)

The prospect of a photographer taking pictures of your home isn’t always the most pleasant thought. You want your home to appear homely and inviting, but not too lived in. And you want it to look clean and neutral, but definitely not clinical. Sounds complicated, but our home staging rule is simple: declutter, de-personalise and dress. And since it’s the hub of the home, let’s apply our method to the kitchen. Because, here’s a secret: it’s not the photography itself that’ll catch people’s eye; it’s the preparation before the photographer arrives.

De-clutter

Let’s start by decluttering. Sounds taxing, but it doesn’t have to be. Simply make sure that all worktops are clear, chopping boards are put away, and tea towels are tucked out of sight. The same applies to bins. Yes, every kitchen has bins. But there’s no avoiding that even the most tasteful bin, is a rubbish container in disguise. And anything that can be associated with dirt and grime is not a welcome distraction.

In fact, anything that can be removed, probably should be removed. Because the kitchen should look as spacious as possible. So if your microwave lives on the worktop, consider giving it a temporary new home. Appliances on show make the kitchen look cramped, and a lack of space is unappealing to any family.

De-personalise

Preparing your home for a photographer can feel a little intrusive. Your home is filled with your family’s memories, and the personalised touches are special to the people inside. But since it’s an unavoidable formality when selling your home, it’s best to take it as an opportunity, not a chore.

Because if you’re selling your home, you’re ready to move forward. That means a new home, and a fresh start. When styling your kitchen, neatly pack away anything that’s too personal, and store it ready to unpack in your new home. You’ll feel more comfortable without the photographer catching your children’s portraits in the background, and a blank canvas will help potential buyers envision their family in the space.

The same rule applies for fridge magnets and personalised name hangings. In fact, anything that is sentimental is best out of shot. Yes, the kitchen is a family space, but it’s best to pack any rogue toys into storage. Because, whilst an endless trail of toys is the reality of our homes, no one is ever really impressed by reality.

Home styling is about romanticising reality. It’s about creating an ideal that is unachievable every day. Take pets for example. Most families have a furry friend or two, and yet no one really likes to see their food bowls and litter trays. So animal lovers or not, potential buyers will thank you for hiding the cat mat out of shot when the photographer arrives.

Dress

Now that the kitchen is a fresh blank canvas, let’s have some fun. Dressing a home to appeal to another family can be tricky; you know what appeals you to you, but making your home desirable to another family is a whole other ball game. A flick through a few home magazines is a great source of inspiration. But a few finishing touches might be all you need to catch people’s eye.

So, where to start? Take a step back, and look at your de-cluttered, de-personalised kitchen. How does it look? Hopefully the words ‘spacious’ and ‘open’ spring to mind. But the de-personalisation might have made the space a little cold now too. So, now we personalise again. Seems illogical, but there’s a theory to the madness. This time, we personalise with potential buyers in mind. It’s not true personalisation, but staging is, well, staged. And it’ll help other families to picture their family living inside.

The next time you’re mooching around John Lewis, or browsing The Little White Company’s website, take a look at their homeware and accessories. It’ll give you inspiration for your new home, and anything you pick up can be taken with you once your home sells.

For larger textiles, such as curtains and blinds, opt for neutral, subtle tones, and steer clear of any bold, loud patterns. Cushions and throws can add a touch of colour to your kitchen chairs or sofas, but again, pick out the calmer colours. Fresh textiles are a quick way to add warmth and homeliness, but we want to keep a calming environment too. Anything with too much personality, or that jumps out, should be left on the shelf. These finishing touches shouldn’t be a feature, and they shouldn’t detract from the kitchen itself. They should simply compliment the room, and make it cosy.

Kitchen tables can be a feature though, and if dressed to impress, they can help bring a room to life. So if you’re tableware is a little tired or outdated, it’s the perfect excuse to indulge in a new set. Table mats that complement the decor add a nice touch too. Laying a contemporary runner down the center, and placing a delicate trail of candles, completes the elegant finishing.

Happy selling!

Sam

Living room with couch. What to do when you just aren’t getting any viewings at all

Living room with couch. What to do when you just aren’t getting any viewings at all

I spoke to a gentleman this week who has had his house on the market for three years.  And in that time, he has only had three viewings.  Really. He sounded utterly despondent, and no wonder!

So what can you do when you just aren’t getting any viewings at all? Here’s my action list to help you to address the problems, and improve your situation – cut out and keep it!

Presentation – ask a friend to walk round your house with you, and write down all those little jobs you’ve been meaning to get round to doing.  Ask her to point out any area that is particularly personal, like name plaques on doors or a photo gallery.  De-clutter, de-personalise and add shine through dressing and accessories.

Photography – get in a pro! If neither you nor your agent can afford it, then read my Six Secrets to Fabulous Property Photography and get the best shots you possibly can – including some lifestyle images – to make your house look like a magazine shoot.

Description – brainstorm with your family and come up with the best descriptive words to describe your home. Use emotion and feeling to really get across the essence of your home.

Rightmove ad – keep the text in your summary advert short and sweet.  Write a snappy headline of no more than a line, to encourage clicks. Pick the best ‘lifestyle’ image that represents your home and ask your agent to use it as the main shot on your advert.

Estate Agent – is your agent fully on board? If not, get another! Newer agents are often hungry, with something to prove.  Offer them a great commission to incentivise them to sell your house quickly; this is not the time to scrimp on fee!

Prepared? – have a plan that you stick up on the inside of a kitchen cupboard so that as soon as a viewing is booked, the whole family can spring into action.  Whether it’s moving the cars off the driveway, taking the dog out for a walk, or having freshly laundered bedding ready to pop over the top of the beds, having a plan will make sure you have a professional approach to your viewings when they do happen, which they will!

If you aren’t getting viewings, perhaps it’s time to call in an expert – me!

If you’d like my help to sell your home more effectively, please answer a few short questions here and if I think I can help you, I’ll be in touch.

When looking at homes for sale online, the first picture people usually see is a front-facing shot. And there’s a good reason for that. The ‘front-aspect’, or ‘face’, is the familiar view that greets us each time we arrive home. So having an inviting, warm appearance is key. But after a cold winter of hibernation, our front gardens suddenly begin to look a little wild. It’s difficult to know where to begin, and it’s hard to know what really appeals to other families. So we’re here to lend some hands. Just follow these three easy steps, and you’ll have a picture perfect frontage in no time!

Pick the perfect season

This one is a little tricky, but if you’re looking to sell this Spring, you’re in luck. It’s no secret that in this season, everything begins to blossom; the daylight is fresh and inviting, and the Sun casts a gentle hue on natural woods and brick. Gardens look loved, and capturing beautiful shots is a breeze.

A spot of preening

Take a walk down your front garden, and stand facing your home. Position yourself so that the whole house and garden is in view. Take a picture, and head back inside. Have a look at the shot, and note down anything that detracts your attention from the house. Are the curtains drawn? Or perhaps it’s time for the window cleaner to take a visit? (We all know the feeling!) Sending the picture to friends and family is helpful too; it’ll help you see through objective eyes, and they’ll be able to spot the things you may overlook.

Take bins for example. Most are kept in a convenient spot to the front or side of a home. It works for everyday living, but it’s not the first thing a potential buyer wants to see. Moving them to a more discreet location is a quick job, but it will go a long way to smartening up the frontage. Have a quick sweep of the drive too, and hide away any rogue bikes or watering cans.

Now to tackle the grass

But don’t worry if you’re not the green-fingered type, a quick mow the lawn is all you need to make the garden presentable. Try to take cars off the drive, and park them elsewhere ahead of the photographers’ arrival too; it’ll make the frontage look more spacious, and give people an unobstructed view of the home.

Reinvigorate with colour

The subtle tones of Spring are a delight. A splattering of flower pots adds a delicate touch, and sweeping back any unruly stones or gravel is a worthwhile work-out too. And double-check that any overhanging trees are trimmed back just enough to see the house front. On that note, if the front door looks a little unloved after the winter season, consider freshening it up with a repaint. If you have a picket-fence on show, perhaps give it a lick of paint too. And whilst you sigh as you open the paint pot, know that the couple of hours you spend with a paint-brush in hand will make all the difference to a potential buyer.

And, to finish, popping a few hanging baskets either side of a polished front door is all you need to complete a picture-perfect frontage.

The final touches

So, your home looks magazine-worthy, and you’re ready to schedule the photographer. But what time is best to take the shots? Well, it depends on your location and what aspect your houses faces, so it’s best to double-check with your photographer. Some may advise a mid-morning shoot, others favour a mid-afternoon glow. Most would suggest avoiding midday, as this is the time that shadows appear the darkest overhead. They may suggest returning in the evening to take some twilight shots, though.

There are no real rules when it comes to photography, but for daylight shots, an abundance of light and clear skies is helpful. If it’s raining, try to reschedule, but it’s not a deal breaker if it’s overcast. As long as your home looks welcoming, it’ll catch the eye of potential buyers.

Happy selling!

Playing music to put someone in the mood for buying isn’t new.  Retailers use it, hotels and even hairdressers employ background music to influence our behaviour. It can be quite literal: fast music makes us move quicker, and slower tunes help us relax, and browse.  Music can be a very powerful sales tool.

Music can also help us to make an emotional connection.  You only have to catch a few bars of a song you haven’t heard in years and you are instantly transported back to a place and time when it was embedded into your memory.

How do we use music to sell our home to a viewer? 

Firstly, make sure the music fits not just your home, but the person viewing it.  If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know how important it is to understand your buyer.  If you can determine the most likely person to buy your home, you’ll know the best type of music to play.

Keeping the music choices relatively neutral, but fitting, here are some of my suggestions:

  • First-time buyers – Ed Sheeran, Bruno Mars
  • 30-45 year old upsizers – David Gray, Adele, James Blunt
  • 45-60 year old downsizers – Michael Buble, Luther Vandross
  • Retirees – Tony Bennett, Perry Como, Nina Simone

Secondly, make sure the music itself is down-tempo, and played at a discreet and relaxing volume.  You’re trying to put your viewer at ease, not force them to shout!

Next, choose the music to suit the season.  Some songs are naturally more sunny, while some feel cosier for wintry evenings.

Lastly, plan ahead and make sure it doesn’t run out during the viewing.  A CD is usually around an hour long, so put it on repeat, or use an iPod to play it through, perhaps creating a longer playlist.

Music can be your best friend when you’re selling your house. Use it to set the mood, connect with your viewer, and create the perfect browsing atmosphere for your home, and you might just have an offer before the fat lady sings.

If you’d like my help to sell your home more effectively, please answer a few short questions here and if I think I can help you, I’ll be in touch.