Tag Archives: photography

Flower vase with on top of the table Home staging

Home staging, or as it’s sometimes known, house dressing, has been with us now for over a decade.  Originating in the States, the formidable Anne Maurice brought the concept over in 1998 with her Channel 5 programme ‘House Doctor’ and whilst the British public was slow to catch on at first, now the Home Stager Network boasts a wide membership of active home stagers, and over 250,000 unique visitors per year to its website.

So what exactly IS home staging, and when does it become refurbishment, or renovation?

Firstly, the objective of home staging isn’t to improve the house itself: the fixtures and fittings; kitchens; bathrooms will all stay the same, even if they are dated – replacing them is not within the remit of a home stager.  Instead, think of it as ‘dressing’ a home for sale.  Imagine your home is about to be the subject of a four page spread in Country Life, or 25 Beautiful Homes; what would you do to prepare each room so it looks its very best for the photographer?  Perhaps you would move furniture around to accentuate a feature, or have a grubby wall repainted; it’s really about looking at your house with a critical and objective eye.

If you’ve lived in your home for more than a decade or two, you may find that you can’t be objective; you’re just too close to it.  Or perhaps you don’t have the time, or the necessary skills, to bring the best out of every room.  In which case, commissioning a home stager could be a very worthwhile investment.

What will it cost?

There are two costs to consider when using a home stager: the cost of her time, and also the accessories and items she suggests you buy in order to dress your home effectively.  As a general rule of thumb, the initial assessment visit plus a short report will set you back up to around £300.  Time is usually charged at between £30 and £50 per hour, and this includes a shopping trip, if you feel it necessary.  Alternatively, she can provide you with a shopping list, to your agreed budget, with suggested shops and items to buy.  I usually recommend my clients invest at least £500, and sometimes up to £1000, though rarely more than this.

What will I need to buy?

The good news is, home staging items are things you can take with you!  Therefore it’s important that you like them, wherever possible, whilst at the same time they add value to your home.  Home staging accessories often include new bedding, cushions, rugs, artwork, bathroom accessories, and any little knickknacks that help to complete the look.

How can I find a home stager in my area?

A good place to look is the Home Stager Network, or ask your local estate agent as they can usually recommend someone.

A really good home stager can add tens of thousands of pounds to the value of your home; a value that will be reflected not only in your photography, but also in the improved confidence of your estate agent that he can sell your house for the price you want.

living room with sofa set When should i start worrying about my house sale

It’s a good question. Do you start worrying after a few weeks of marketing without an offer on your house? Or should you be patient and stick with your agent and price for six months or more?

At HomeTruths, we see so many sellers who have been on the market for over a year; our record so far is a couple who had been trying to sell consistently for six years!  It’s true that the longer your property is on the market, the less desirable it is to a buyer, and the less confidence your agent will have that he can achieve any figure close to your asking price.  It’s therefore really important that your strategy in the first 6-8 weeks is as well thought out, planned and confident.

Here are my 5 golden rules for making sure you don’t get to worrying stage:

  1. Choose the right agent based on marketing skills, enthusiasm and a high fee – he’ll earn it;
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  2. Once you’ve decided on your asking price, stick to it.  So long as it’s well-researched and realistic, of course. Make sure it’s a nice round figure, and don’t drop it – be confident;
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  3. Have the best photography and brochure you possibly can.  Be pedantic, beg and bully until you get the best.  Your house MUST stand out in a pile of also-rans;
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  4. Commission a home stager to give your house a once-over. Even if you and your friends think it’s immaculate, you need independent, professional advice at this crucial time.
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  5. Communication, communication, communication! Call your agent every week.  Obtain written feedback from viewings, ask for your Rightmove Property Performance report each week and monitor the activity generated.

Follow my 5 golden rules, and you should sell within 8 – 12 weeks.

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.

living room with sofa set When should i start worrying about my house sale

What to read next: Your Rightmove Property Performance Report

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

bedroom 5 of My Blog Posts You Need to Read

Whilst it’s very tempting to leave responsibility for your property sale to your estate agent, there are in fact some steps you can take yourself, to improve the interest in your property – in other words, to get more viewings! Here are my 5 changes you can make for a quicker sale and a great post to read for each one:

1. Change your presentation  –  take a look at your competitors’ properties – are they better presented than you are? If you really don’t know whether it’s up to scratch, and are not sure what you need to even if it isn’t, then you need a home stager. Have a look at this post which explains what home staging is, and how it can help you to sell your home.

2. Change your photography  – if you don’t have terrific images of your home, you just won’t get any viewings.  Great photography is all about preparation – get your home ready and dress it for the photographer, and the finished images will be magazine-quality. Read this post to discover the secrets of fabulous property photography.

3. Change your written description  – the words you use to describe your home could be the difference between a buyer wanting to view your property, and dismissing it. Use powerful, target-focused words to show a buyer that your home has what they are looking for. This post explains in greater detail what you need to do to captivate a buyer with the right words.

4. Change your Rightmove advert  – your Rightmove advert is your window to your buyers.  Get it wrong, and you simply won’t get viewings. Get it right, and you’ll generate a steady stream of viewers that will ultimately result in an offer. This post explains exactly how to optimise your Rightmove advert to get the maximum interest from buyers.

5. Change your estate agent  – if all else fails, it may be time to change your agent. With the best will in the world, spending weeks and even months without viewings, is as demoralising for your agent as it is for you. If your agent has lost confidence in his ability to sell your property, moving the instruction to a new, motivated agent with plenty of energy might be the answer to renewing your property marketing. This post  will take you through the key questions to ask your current agent, so you can decide whether or not to stick with them, or move on.

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.

bedroom 5 of My Blog Posts You Need to Read

What to read next:
7 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

Fire place NLP_ what is it

NLP, or Neuro-Linguistic Programming can be described as a ‘behavioural technology’.  According to Mind Training Systems in Surrey, an NLP Master Practitioner Training Centre, this simply means that it is a “set of guiding principles, attitudes, and techniques about real-life behaviour”.  So what on earth does NLP have to do with selling houses?

I had a meeting this week with the two founders of Mind Training Systems, Catherine Jackson and Colin Mackay, and was particularly struck by something they told me about how our brains filter out information when faced with the enormous amount they receive.  Catherine told me, “Our brains are bombarded, via our five senses, with around 2 million bits of information per second; but our conscious mind can only process around 134 bits of these per second.”  I checked this on my calculator, which tells me that’s only 0.000067% – the rest is simply filtered out, and part of NLP’s technique involves choosing which 134 bits to persuade your brain to focus on.

With me so far?

I got to thinking about how buyers often search for a property; perhaps on their laptop, in the evening. So they may well be watching tv, having a drink, talking to their partner or family, checking their phone and email; then there’s Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to keep track of, as well as perhaps keeping an eye on eBay in case they’re buying or selling something.  And that’s without their surroundings: the sofa they’re sitting on, the fire, the lighting, and whether their puppy is behaving themselves (this last one is me, actually).  That’s a lot of information to take in!  When estate agents design online adverts for properties, you could be forgiven for thinking that they are assuming the buyer to focus their attention solely on the advert, to pick up any specific words, see beyond poor photography and do any research work themselves.  This is clearly not the case.  If that advert doesn’t grab the attention of the buyer immediately, then they will be focussing their 134 bits of information elsewhere; perhaps on someone else’s property.

Here are three quick ways to ensure your online property advert really stands out and shouts “look at me” to the poor, information overloaded buyer:

 1.  Photo – this has to be big, bold and beautiful!  Don’t forget too that it might be found on a phone, so make sure the house can be seen clearly, even at thumbnail size.  A view across a field may leave your home only a few millimetres across, and require a magnifying glass to look at it!

2.  Headline – make it punchy!  So many of them read something like “An imposing family home in a sought-after setting….” Yawn….. I tried this one recently: “Is this the prettiest thatched cottage in the Cotswolds?” and the click-through rate soared!

3.  Floorplan – buyers love looking at floorplans.  Some research indicates that properties with floorplans receive up to 60% more clicks.  (Source: Rightmove)

Our brains are powerful machines, and with a little direction, can be gently guided down the right path; follow my three tips and hopefully it will be your path!

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

Fire place NLP_ what is it

What to read next: Be a little different – Guerrilla Marketing Tips to sell your home!

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

Whilst estate agents may extol the virtues of triple aspect rooms, double garages or south-facing gardens, it’s usually the smallest of detail that makes a house irresistibly a home for us. A lovely client of mine told me this week that during the viewing of her current home,  a whole family of tiny goslings came to the kitchen stable door to be fed. She was absolutely charmed, and they decided to buy the house at once. So it may be the way the sunlight streams in through the kitchen window, or the sight of a robin on the garden gate. These little but captivating images are extremely powerful, and can easily tip a wavering viewer into making an offer.

So how can a seller use these details to make their house more appealing to buyers, and give themselves an advantage over the competition?

Photography – instead of the photographer taking lots of wide-angled shots of the main rooms (yawn), encourage him to photograph some evocative details: a roaring log fire, a jug of Pimms on the garden table, horses in a nearby field, a freshly baked cake on the kitchen table.

Add atmosphere to the viewing – use the same approach when it comes to viewings; add atmosphere and a sense of homeliness with clever touches. Try some subtle music playing during the viewing, put some breadcrumbs out for the birds just before they arrive, add a reading corner with a comfy chair, lamp and a good book laid as if only just put down.

Paint a picture – if you conduct your own viewings, describe to your viewers how you use each space. For example, how you love to cook whilst watching the kids play in the garden, how you walk to the nearest pub on a summer’s evening, where you put the Christmas tree. If you can help your viewers to visualise the house as a home, you will give them the best possible chance to imagine themselves living in it.

Try making a list of all the things you love about your home, and plan how you can use these to turn your viewer into a buyer.

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.

What to read nextSales Progression Management – what is it?

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

Beautiful sala set I can’t sell

I had a call today from a client of ours who is considering all his options, and wanted to ask my advice. He is currently building a home in Greece, and having invested heavily, needs to start recouping his investment from his current home. His original plan was to use the funds from the sale of his family home to finish his and his wife’s dream home in Greece. However, 18 months later, and his house is still for sale. So he wanted to know, “Should I rent it out instead?”

There are merits and demerits of renting your home out, and speaking as a landlord myself, (albeit accidental!) here are some points to consider before taking the plunge:

  • Becoming a landlord is not a short-term fix.  You need to commit to it for at least 3 – 5 years in order to fully realise the benefits and avoid losing financially;
  • If yours is a unique home, perhaps period and/or rural, you may find your target market to be very limited: tenants are often looking for convenience and practicality, which your home may not offer.  Therefore the rent you set needs to account for this;
  • As well as convenience, tenants nowadays want all the mod cons: not only will they be looking for a property with contemporary kitchens and bathrooms, you’ll be expected to provide good quality white goods too; dishwasher, washing machine and often a tumble drier are all considered necessities by today’s tenants;
  • Allow at least 10 – 15% for maintenance costs, and also repair and renewal costs for the end of the tenancy.  I write this on the day that I’ve just had to write out a £2000 cheque for a new boiler in one of my properties – ouch!  Most importantly, do not expect to receive your home back at the end of the tenancy in a fit state to try to sell it; you’ll need to invest several thousands of pounds in replacing the carpets, repainting the walls, renewing any worn out fixtures and fittings, and getting the garden looking its best again.

So – lots to bear in mind! Before you reach for the tenancy agreement, think carefully. If you don’t really want to become a professional landlord, and all that it entails, focus on getting your home sold instead. Ultimately, you’ll probably be very glad you did.


What to read next: The Six Secrets of Fabulous Property Photography

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

 

Way back in the olden days, estate agents would offer a double-sided A4 sheet of typed information to market a property, complete with two or three stuck-on photographs measuring 3.5” x 5”.  These were referred to as ‘particulars’ or sometimes ‘details’.

But that was then, and this is now.  If your agent is doing a good marketing job, you should have had created for you a beautiful brochure of anything from 4 – 12 pages long, laminated or extra thick card, packed with professional and beautiful images, skilfully drawn floorplans and text full of emotion that really brings your home to life.

This is not a set of ‘particulars’.  On the contrary – it is a brochure.  Synonymous in quality and content with the best hotel brochures, and those of travel companies, luxury gyms, status watches and top marquee cars.  After all, your house is worth many times more than any of those purchases.

A brochure sells quality, lifestyle; it is something to aspire to, to show your friends and family, to stroke (ok, I admit it) and to keep looking at.

Unique homes need unique brochures.

Brochures are generally gathered over the week to browse through at the weekend, in what one estate agent I know calls the ‘Saturday morning shuffle’.  This is a brutal sorting into ‘yes’ and ‘no’ piles – which one would yours land in?

If you are now looking at your ‘brochure’ wondering if it would meet the HomeTruths’ grade, give me a call, and I’ll tell you.  Though if you are unsure, chances are it’s probably destined for a ‘no’ pile…..

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.

 

No viewings for a few weeks?  Plenty of viewings but no one wants to buy? Try these three simple steps and see what happens!

1. Call your agent! Make sure you’re on his mind so that if a potential buyer calls the office, he’ll mention your home first.

2. Take some new photographs of your garden in beautiful autumnal light, so that your images are seasonal and fresh.

3. Treat your beds to some new, contemporary bedding. It will freshen up your bedrooms in an instant.

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.

What to read next: Is there a hidden reason why your house isn’t selling?

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

A gentleman called me recently, and asked me this very question: “How many photos of my house online is too many?”

“How many do you have?” I asked him.

“77” came the reply.

Yes, if you’re wondering, 77 photos is too many.  Around 57 too many, in fact!

There’s a great marketer’s saying that goes, “Sell the sizzle, not the sausage”, and that’s very relevant here.  What it means is, don’t try to show the buyer everything, all at once.  If you have 77 photographs of your home online, coupled with 1000 words of description, why would a buyer need to view your home?  They can decide whether or not your home is of interest to them, from the comfort of their armchair, based on your photography alone.

Keep a little back; tease your buyer and pique their interest.  Here’s a few tips on how to hook their attention, and encourage them to view your home:

  • Don’t post too many photographs: 12 – 20 images is plenty, you really don’t need any more.
  • Try to make a third of your photographs lifestyle images; in other words, stylish pictures of interesting features of your home, close-up. Perhaps a garden table dressed with a bottle of wine and some glasses, a candlelit dining table, or flowers on a hallway table.  These kind of images snag a buyer’s attention and give them the clues they need that your home may be what they are looking for.
  • Keep your copy brief and snappy: use bullet points for your main features, and short, interesting sentences for a brief description.
  • Don’t let your agent use a long description online, as your buyer may well have to scroll down several times before they even reach your brochure link.  Keep the copy to no more than a screen’s depth.

    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.

    What to read next: Your photos need naming!

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

When a potential buyer sees a photograph of your house, they will have an emotional reaction to it, to some degree.  The reaction may be positive or negative; it may be indifference, which will probably cause them to dismiss your house as a possible next home for them.

Clearly, the main image is crucial as your best chance to generate a positive emotional reaction, and one way of doing this is to make sure that your front door can be seen in the main shot.  Let me show you what I mean.

Take this lovely property for a start; it has some great period features – that decorative brickwork for example – and it clearly has an elegant and perfectly fitting front door, if you crane your neck to see it, that is.  What a pity that buyers can’t see it in any of the photos online.

And this old school house, with its pretty windows and attractive roofline, would look so much more inviting if you could see the front door.  If nothing else, I’m curious as to what it would look like.

This Lakeland stone property has been photographed at an angle that shows the front door, giving balance to the image and the best chance of creating a positive emotional response in a buyer.  I would be intrigued by the fact that the door itself appears contemporary in style, tempting me to seek out the rest of the images, to see what it’s like inside.

What a pretty conversion; imagine if the photographer had taken the shot straight on to the garage; the cute porch wouldn’t be visible.  This way, a buyer can see the character of the outside that could give a clue about what lies inside.

So if your house is on the market, check out your online advert to see if your front door is visible; if not, consider asking your agent to change your front shot so that it is and give your buyers the chance to make that emotional connection with your house right from the start.

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