Tag Archives: property staging

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.

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.

White sofa and center table with whote flowers Obstacles to selling

White sofa and center table with whote flowers Obstacles to selling

If everything on the inside of your home is picture-perfect, it is very easy to think that your home will sell quickly. But what if there are external drawbacks that may deter a sale? The interior of your home aside, external factors are often forgotten about because they aren’t part of ‘the home’, but there are some your buyers may be thinking about. One of the best ways to see through your rose-tinted spectacles is to think like a buyer, and see what might be challenging to them…

Surrounding properties – If similar properties are for sale in your area, it is very important to keep an eye on what is going on with these homes. If a buyer is already sold on the area, they’ll be looking at those on Rightmove, too. How does your door compare to your neighbour’s door? If yours is chipped and aged, and the neighbour’s door has just had a B&Q refresh, they’ll be getting the first visit. Keeping up appearances is essential when the competition is so close.

Pricing – While your price may have been perfect when it was put on the market, what if the market has changed? If your house was put on a year ago and hasn’t shifted, prices could have changed. Any of your neighbour’s properties that are newly listed could be much cheaper than yours, making you look oddly expensive. Compare your price with your neighbour’s similar properties, and talk to your agent about altering the price to reflect market changes.

Hurdles – A buyer may fall in love with your home and be ready to sign on the dotted line, but a massive barrier could stand in their way. As an example, what if your home isn’t going to be ready to move in to on the date that they are requesting? In these instances, be prepared to negotiate. Suggest local temporary housing and storage options to them, which can make an otherwise impossible move highly achievable. Especially useful if your buyers are moving a great distance.

Neighbourhood – Local facilities are often very important to buyers. If your neighbourhood is quite similar to another in your town, buyers might draw a comparison between the two. Why not do the research for them? Look for amenities that buyers will be looking for such as good schools, playgrounds, restaurants and sports grounds. List the locality of these local benefits on your property listing. Why not put together a few brochures about these places too, and leave them in your home for people to look at?

Thinking like a buyer can really help you to be ready for anything when you’re selling your home. Having the right mindset and being flexible and open with your approach, can make your goal of moving more achievable.

Happy moving!

Sam

Flower vase Putting your home on the market

You’ve decided to move home; how exciting! Selling quickly and efficiently will save you time and in the long run, help you sell your house for more.

Getting your ducks in a row before you try to sell is an important part of the selling process. That’s why, having helped thousands of homeowners to sell and move on since 2004, I’ve compiled the top five things you need to do before you put your home on the market:

1. Get into the right frame of mind for selling – decide when you’d like to move by, and start making plans. If you have too much furniture for your new home, plan how you will reduce it. If you have lots of clutter, it’s time to tackle it. Sort out your garage and your attic, ready for your move. You’ll feel more mentally prepared for what’s ahead by taking small steps now.

2. Tempt your viewers across the doorstep – stand at the kerb and make sure your buyers will see your house in its best possible light. Is your gate straight and clean? Your paintwork and windows looking good? Your garden neat and tidy? We know that on average, ten potential buyers will drive past your home for every one who books a viewing, so stack the odds in your favour, and give your buyers a reason to view.

3. Get your home ready for photography and viewings – neutral colours and plain bedding photograph much better than colourful patterns, and will make your home seem more contemporary to a buyer. If you’re not sure what needs changing, take some photos of each room with your phone, and study them with a critical eye. What stands out, and what distracts the eye? Keeping spaces clear and uncluttered will help a buyer imagine themselves living there, and avoid being turned down just because your colour scheme isn’t to someone else’s liking.

4. Do your homework – now it’s time to determine the potential selling price of your home, before you ask an estate agent to give you their opinion. That way, you will know if they are just trying to win your business with an over-inflated valuation, or even undervalue your home and perhaps cost you money. Of course, your research may not be infallible, but it will give you a good basis in fact from which to discuss a pricing strategy with your chosen estate agent.
To research your homes’ value, look at three factors:

a. Houses for sale but not yet sold – if they have not sold after more than three months on the market, they may be overpriced, so keep an eye on any slow movers. Where to look: https://www.rightmove.co.uk/

b. Houses sold in the last year – houses that have actually sold can give you a much clearer indication of what is possible for your own sale. Bear in mind though that mitigating factors aren’t listed along with the sold price online; houses could transact at more or less than their actual worth, for any number of personal or commercial reasons. Where to look: https://www.rightmove.co.uk/house-prices.html

c. Your floor area – a spreadsheet of square footage and prices of comparable homes to yours can offer up valuable information about what your home is worth, per square foot (or square metre if you prefer).
Where to look: in the floorplans of houses for sale on Rightmove

5. Choose the right estate agent to help you move – an estate agent who is truly on your side is the final piece in the jigsaw. With the right agent by your side through your home-selling journey, it will feel easier, less stressful and smoother. Make sure you choose an agent you like, trust and feel comfortable with. Imagine making a difficult decision over your house sale: would you feel supported by them? Will you trust their guidance? Just picking an agent because you have seen their sale boards up, or because they sold a friend’s house isn’t going to help you if the road to your house move becomes a little rocky, so choose carefully.

Getting your frame of mind, your house, your presentation, your price and your estate agent all ready and prepared will help your house sale progress more smoothly and your move more enjoyable. And if you’d like some help in choosing the right estate agent for you, let me know here.

Flower vase Putting your home on the market

What sellers can learn from car designers

Did you know that the sound your car door makes when you close it is almost certainly manufactured?  When we are looking to buy a luxury item, the cues we experience are often subconscious.  In the car showroom, you get into the beautiful car you have your eye on, and close the door behind you.  If you hear a hollow, tinny sound, you may well feel disappointed, and subconsciously feel that the car itself is of a lower quality than you were hoping for.  If, on the other hand, it closes with a reassuringly expensive click, you will feel confident that this reflects the quality of the whole car.

The engineers of the Japanese-designed Acura TSX took this attention to detail to the next level when they designed a unique “bumping door seal” that emits a special sound of “quality” when the door is opened and closed. That’s obsession for you!

So – how can you ensure that your house emits sounds of quality so that buyers will feel they are viewing a luxury home? The details to pay extra special attention to are:

  • Front door – this needs to open and close smoothly, with a nice, bold handle and a satisfying click when it closes.
  • French windows – these too need to open easily, without the need for wrenching handles, and kicking the frame!
  • Taps – buyers often turns taps (and showers) on to check water pressure.  The difference between a cheap DIY store tap or shower control, and a really high quality one, is very obvious, particularly to a buyer of a prestige property.
  • Fitted cupboards – how do your cupboards fasten?  Do they make a discreet and smooth ‘click’ when they close? Or do they jam, needing a good yank to open them? Or worse – are they fitted with cheap magnetic plates that don’t do the job they’re supposed to do, and hold the door closed properly?

A little investment in these key areas will pay dividends when you’re selling your home.  Get these little details right, and subconscious signals of quality though they may be, to a buyer they are tremendously powerful signals that they are buying a premium property.

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 sellers can learn from car designers

What to read next: The Seller’s Trap

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

When a buyer looks at the photographs of your house, particularly online, where the images are often largely devoid of context, they will make certain assumptions about your house that you need to be aware of.  By ensuring that every image tells the right story, you will avoid giving a buyer a reason not to view your home.

No front image of house – this could indicate that the house is not very attractive from the front, or that there is a ‘disamenity’ (a disadvantageous feature in the local environment) close by: this could be a pylon, a bus stop or perhaps an industrial building next door.  Whatever it is, not showing a front photograph will make a buyer expect the worst.

Only the back of the house shown – it’s true, of course, that many houses have a more appealing back view than front.  However, it is really important to show the front of the house nevertheless, even if it isn’t used as the leading (main) image.  Buyers often do ‘drive-bys’, in other words, they will drive past the house, without booking a viewing, in order to check out the position and location of the house.  Some research indicates that there are up to 15 drive-bys for each viewing booked, so if you have 4 viewings in a month, chances are you could have had up to 60 drive-bys!  In order to identify the house, a buyer needs to be able to recognise it from its front photo, which they won’t be able to do from a rear view image.

No kitchen shot – the kitchen is probably second only in importance to the outside and garden of a house, and when buyers – particularly lady buyers – are searching for a property online, they will look for a photo of the kitchen.  If they don’t find one, they will assume – usually correctly – that the kitchen is not worth photographing.   Immediately, this could raise a concern that there is a lot of work to do in the house.  Don’t raise an unnecessary ‘red flag’ for a buyer; better that you make sure a kitchen photograph is included, no matter how dated your kitchen may be, as it won’t be as bad as that of the buyer’s imagination.

Artist’s impression – this is often used by developers to show what a new home will look like once it is built, and could mean that the house in question is little more than a building site at the moment.  Most buyers, unless in a particularly buoyant market, would prefer to see a tangible building, so it’s important to get a photograph of some description onto the online advert as soon as possible.

Pets in the photographs –I was looking at properties with my husband yesterday, when I clicked on an image of a living room, showing a huge golden retriever lying on the carpet.  Now I’m a dog lover, but my husband most definitely is not.  Immediately I could see him thinking that at the very least, all the carpets would need replacing, and who knows what state the lawn would be in? Safer to keep pets out of your photographs – you can’t offend a pet lover if you do, but you can alienate the non pet lovers if you don’t.

All photographs tell a story to some degree; make sure that the only story a buyer can infer from your images is one which they want to be part of.

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.

There’s nothing worse than viewing a cold home at this time of year.  Unloved living rooms, draughty corners and freezing bathrooms all mean that we just can’t wait to get out of there.  Not a good way to see the best in a house!

Buyers need to feel warm and welcomed.  Comfort is about temperature and safety, and visual delight is just a bonus.  Walking into a well-heated hallway, with a welcoming lamp and a smiling host will make anyone feel “at home” – and that’s exactly what we as sellers need our buyers to feel!

It’s not always easy, especially if you’re living in a house that’s too big, and perhaps therefore only using part of it; or maybe it’s empty, as you’ve had to move out.  Certainly empty houses are often very difficult to sell, and statistics show that they can achieve up to 30% less than furnished homes.

So – what can we do to make sure that our property feels like a home?  Here’s 7 steps to take to make your buyers want to move in:

  • Heat – keep it warm and cosy throughout your house.  The hallway is the most important area to keep at a welcoming temperature, but it’s also vital to keep bedrooms – even unused ones – well heated.
  • Fires – if you have a real fire, light it!  There’s nothing more welcoming than a lovely roaring log fire on a cold evening.  Your buyers will love it, and in turn, fall in love with your house.
  • Refreshments – if you’re going to be present, serve hot drinks and cookies or cakes; if you’re not there, leave out a really nice tea tray for your agent to serve them with.  You would do it for a special guest, so treat your buyers to the same!
  • Light – add atmosphere by making sure you light all the lamps you have in the house, and overhead ones wherever you need to – provided it’s not too harsh a light.  I’m usually in favour of lamps in the bedrooms and living rooms, and overhead lights in all the other rooms.
  • Soft furnishings – make sure your home has plenty of soft, textured materials.  Velvet cushions, fluffy rugs and luxurious throws all help to add an overall feeling of luxury and warmth.  In the bathrooms, add texture with big towels and modern rugs – make sure these are newly bought for viewings though – threadbare mats or worn out towels won’t do!
  • Colour –  take a cue from your view and make sure your home reflects the lovely seasonal colours right now.  Golds, reds, purples and burnt oranges are very cosy and flatter most homes.  Pick some accent colours and buy accessories that you can take with you, and which don’t overwhelm your existing décor.

Remember the keywords here – warm and welcome – and your winter viewers could move in by spring!

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.