Tag Archives: sale strategy

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

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

What to read next: What to do when you just aren’t getting any viewings at all

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

beautiful Sofa set Home staging

Housebuyers are a fickle lot – often deciding the biggest purchase of their lives within moments of getting through the front door.

And more often than not it is the trivial that sends them scurrying away – instead of concentrating on numbers of bedrooms or structural stability they are put off by pictures, plants and pouffes.

Despite the fact personal effects tend to leave the home with the seller, our own sense of taste can easily make or break a sale.

But if we love our home we often cannot see how offputting our children’s artwork or cat’s scratching post can be to a potential buyer.

 

This is where home staging comes in. First made famous in the UK at the turn of the century by Channel 5’s House Doctor, Anne Maurice, the concept has caught on and not only can sell your home quickly but can even add thousands of pounds to the price.

Today the Home Stager Network can put sellers in touch with a professional quickly and easily – and it boasts more than 250,000 unique visitors a year.

The trick is not to undertake major alterations but to make the best of what you have – albeit maybe with a few accessories or tweaks to make your home seem more appealing for the majority.

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 is really about looking at your house with a critical and objective eye.

For those of us too close to our homes – or just short of time or a creative eye – spending some money on a home stager can see the investment returned multiple times.

A typical home stager may cost £300 for a first visit and recommendations with time charged by the hour after that. This could include shopping for you or just making a shopping list that you take to Ikea. It is rare someone should have to spend more than £1,000 on a successful homestaging and often much less.

And if you choose the shopping well – those beautiful new cushions, rugs, lamps ad pictures that look so good in your old house, well, they get to go with you to your new one.

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 – Selling Your House – Your 20 Minute Weekly Workout!

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

Know your buyer

Who will buy your house?

Most sellers, when asked this question, will respond with something to the effect that their house holds mass appeal. I think this point of view could cost you an early sale. Have you heard the saying “specialise or die”?  Marketers will tell you that if you don’t specialise, and find your own niche, you won’t attract your target buyer strongly enough to beat off the competition.

In order to make certain your house acts like a magnet to attract your most likely buyer, you need to first identify them, then find out as much as you can about them.

Identify

Ask your agent who he considers to be your most likely buyer, and why. Then look at your viewers: what kind of age group are they in, and what ‘life chapter’ are they currently at? Are they ’upsizing’ or ‘downsizing’? Couple or family?

Motivation

Are they looking for a quieter life at a slower pace, or do they want to move somewhere urban and cosmopolitan? What would they expect to pay and what are they able to pay?

Aspiration

What are they looking for? Do they want great restaurants nearby and a train station within walking distance? Or is it and Aga and space for chickens that they’re searching for?

Match their needs. Your buyers are trying to spot clues that your house is what they’ve been looking for, so make sure they find them: the urbanites may well be pleased to see a bottle of champagne, a state-of-the-art coffee machine and some chic coffee table books.  Those buyers wanting an idyllic rural life will be hoping to see an Aga cookbook, a handpicked posy or a homemade loaf of bread.

Remember – know your buyer – win the sale.

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.

Know your buyer

Have you heard of guerrilla marketing? The term was coined and defined by Jay Conrad Levinson in his book Guerrilla Marketing and was invented as an unconventional system of promoting something, that relies on time, energy and imagination rather than a big marketing budget. Typically, guerrilla marketing campaigns are unexpected and unconventional, and consumers are targeted in unexpected ways and places.

There’s a lot that estate agents could learn about guerrilla marketing techniques, and how to apply them to selling houses.  In this still-tough market, sellers need all the help they can get.  But don’t leave it to your agent; there’s plenty that you can do to give yourself the best possible chance to attract interest and beat the competition.  Here’s twelve guerrilla marketing tips to get you started:

1. If you have an unusual feature, design or story about your house, try to generate free PR by getting onto local radio or in the press.

2. Offer a financial referral incentive to all on your email contact list, and ask them all to pass it on. Make it a really worthwhile reward – several thousands of pounds – to make sure they get excited about it.

3. Leave your brochure between the pages of some of your used magazines, and then take them to doctors’ and dentists’ surgeries for their waiting rooms.

4. Attach a lidded, waterproof brochure box to your for sale sign so people can help themselves to your brochures when they are driving or walking past.

5. Your largest employers in the area will probably have noticeboards where you can pin a brochure, or at least an index card..

6. Put your asking price on your for sale board. This particularly works well on a busy road, or on the rear fence of a house that backs on to a playing field or park.

7. Have some small postcards printed with your property details and contact information; wherever you go, make sure you have some with you and can leave them in appropriate places.

8. Calculate the price per square foot of your house, and compare it to your competition; if it is favourable, print a table showing how you rank and make it available to buyers.

9. If you have a family house, make sure any children are well catered for, and encourage them to play on swings, slides, trampolines etc, leaving their parents free to look around in peace.  Pester power can work a treat!

10. Follow the developers’ lead, and place some signs around the house detailing appliances and any other features, such as pull-down loft ladders and garage door remote switches. Men in particular, love any gadgets, and it gives them permission to try them out.

11. Ask your friends and neighbours to write some nice testimonials about the house, the neighbours and the village or town. Leave these printed out on the table for them to take with them. Include any interesting local stories and famous or celebrity residents.

12. Facebook sites are really easy to create – make one to showcase your house complete with local information, photographs, details about local stories and famous neighbours etc. Share the link with your email list, and add it to any marketing.

The message here is, don’t leave it all to your estate agent – there’s so much you can do. At the very least, you’ll feel that you have taken back some control of the marketing of your property – and at best, you might just find yourself 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 next: Is your marketing strategy working?

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 to put your home on the market, and why timing is so important.

Often, when we decide to sell our property, we simply engage an estate agent and then ask them to market it immediately.  However, putting your house on the market at the wrong time of year for your particular buyers may mean that your property launch is more of a dribble. You need early and strong interest from buyers who want to move, and that takes a little planning. Newsflash –  certain times of the year are better for selling particular properties than others.

The key is to know your buyer and plan according to their timescale, not yours. Different types of buyers like to move at different times of the year, according to their own needs. It’s not healthy for your eventual sale price, or for your emotional wellbeing, to have a property languishing on the market for months, so the better you can plan your launch, the more likelihood there is that your property will sell quickly.

Who buys when?

Young couples and singles: First time buyers often begin their first home search very early in the year. Perhaps they have spent one Christmas too many at home with their relatives, and realised it’s time to move out. Their search often starts in earnest in January and February, and their purchases at the lower end of the market – apartments and terraced homes – then supports the second and third time buyer market – semi-detached and detached homes. This, in turn, supports the larger properties, and so the cycle goes on. One thing to remember about young couples and singles, is that they tend to look at lots of different properties, and as they are not in a hurry, their search can go on for months, and even years. So be patient with them, and let them take their time to make up their minds.

Families: Family buyers tend to buy at three distinct times of year: autumn, spring and early summer. Do you recognise the significance of these times? They are school term times. Buyers with children don’t usually like to house hunt during the holidays. First, they have better things to do, perhaps going on holiday, and second, it’s a whole lot more stressful viewing a home when you have a bored and whiny child to contend with. Mums and Dads tend to wait until the children are in school, so they can view the house in peace.

Downsizers: Older couples and singles usually prefer to look at homes during the warmer months, so bungalows and retirement homes will often languish on the market over the winter time. The elderly don’t want to venture out to look at homes in the rain and snow, and nor do they want to move house in the winter time. For them, summer is the ideal time to sell, and to buy, and this type of buyer tends to look at fewer properties, and make their minds up more quickly.

If you know who is most likely to buy your home, you can plan your launch to market more effectively.  Remember that the less time your home is on the market, the closer to your asking price you are statistically likely to get, so plan for a quick sale!

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: When will my home sell? 

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

Are you wrestling with the decision of exactly what the marketing price of your house should be? Worried you’ll make a mistake, and concerned about the consequences?

Selecting just the right asking price for your house can be a challenging task.; one that should be made easier by the advice of your estate agent, but often that’s not the case. After all, if you’ve interviewed three or more estate agents to give you an up to date market appraisal, you may have found yourself in possession of three different asking price recommendations.

We’ve been advising homeowners on pricing strategy for well over a decade now, and in that time, we’ve tried and tested some simple guidelines to help you select the best asking price for you to go to market with.

Rightmove’s search bandings

If you choose a strategically optimised asking price, it will make sure your house is found in a Rightmove search:
uk

When you use the drop-down search in Rightmove, you’ll see the price ranges become further apart as the prices go higher. So for searches below £300,000, the bands jump in £10,000 rises, whereas between £1,000,000 and £2,000,000, the price bands are in £250,000 increments.

If you select an asking price that’s just below a Rightmove price band, say £599,999, your property will only show in a search up to £600,000, but not including it.  This is what we call the ‘Rightmove Zero Pricing Strategy’.  By pricing your property at £600,000 exactly, it will appear in searches that both start and end at £600,000.  Simply put, pricing your property at the exact same price as a Rightmove property search band, your house will show in more searches; potentially up to double the number of searches you’d get found in, with a non-optimised price.

The psychology of pricing houses

Estate agents often like to use a price with all the nines, because they believe it’s a psychological price point. But this is an outdated viewpoint, that doesn’t work in today’s digital world.  Let’s face it, a price with all the nines like £999,999 is a cheap ploy – an ‘Asda’ price.  Your buyers aren’t daft, so don’t treat them as if they are.  Give them some respect with a ‘John Lewis’ price.

After all, as my Dad would have said, “Look after the pennies, and the pounds will take care of themselves”.

* * * * *

I work with independent estate agents all over the UK, and can probably recommend one in your area. Just tell me a few details about your home here, and if I think I could help you, I’ll be in touch.

When you first sign up with your estate agent, if they are doing a good job, you feel special.  After all, they really wanted to be instructed to sell your house, perhaps against stiff competition, and so they almost certainly tried hard to impress you, and in all dealings to be courteous and professional.

However, when you receive an offer on your house, it invariably seems as though the agent’s allegiance has switched to the buyer. How can this be?  You’re the one paying their commission!  Something subtle has happened here, so let me try to explain.

Firstly, when the agent wants your business, ie the instruction to sell your house, he will charm and coax you until you sign on the dotted line.  He’s won your business and he’s happy.

His next task is to find a buyer for your home, so now he’s winning business of a different kind.  It’s the turn of your buyers to feel special and seduced, and his aim will be to keep them on track and so that they make an offer.  When they eventually do make an offer, the agent’s focus is still on them, and not on you –his client –  whilst he cajoles and persuades the buyer to raise their offer to a point at which you accept it.  If there remains a gap between the two figures, he may well put some pressure on you to lower your expectations in line with your buyer’s offer.

In the US, this doesn’t happen, because each party has their own agent, ie a buying agent and a selling agent.  These two agents negotiate between themselves, at their client’s instruction, so you never get the problem that we experience in the UK – that of an estate agent’s conflict of interest. At HomeTruths we believe that at such a crucial moment in their house sale, the seller needs impartial, honest advice, and that’s where we come in.  Because we’re working for the seller, and only the seller.

A client of ours in Norfolk recently achieved £20,000 more than he expected simply because we gave him confidence in his asking price, so against huge pressure from his agent, (not selected by us, I hasten to add) he held out for the full asking price, and got it.  Had he taken his agent’s advice, it would actually have cost him £50,000!

If your home is under offer, and you’re not sure you’re getting best advice from your agent, why not give me a call?  Pick up the phone now – just think, five minutes on the phone could save you tens of thousands of pounds.

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

When your home has been on the market for a while, it’s easy to become disheartened and disillusioned.  “What’s wrong with our house?” you may ask yourself.  At first, I’m sure that every viewer got the star treatment – you would changed the bedding, banish the dog and buy fresh flowers for each and every viewing, now it all seems like too much effort for what you’re sure will be another timewaster.

However, it’s not all about doing what you can to make your house look as appealing as possible, though obviously this is important; you also need the right mindset.

Think of something difficult you have tried to do: perhaps you’ve given up smoking, lost weight or passed an exam.  Maybe you tried several times before you actually achieved your goal.  If you look back on your previous attempts, why did they fail when achievement was clearly in your grasp?

It’s all to do with mindset; any dietician will tell you that you have to be in the right mindset to lose weight, otherwise you’ll keep failing.  Those friends I know who have successfully given up smoking after many years of ‘trying’ tell me that eventually they just set their mind on their goal, and that made all the difference.

But when you’re selling your home, it’s not in your control whether your viewers actually offer or not, right?  Wrong!  Of course, you can’t force them to make an offer, but you can make sure that you are totally focused on your goal of selling.

When you are focused, you will call your agent more often, research the competition, keep your home looking beautiful, make suggestions to improve your marketing campaign; and all this because your mindset is that of a seller.  When you give up, you lose the fight.

To help you get into the seller’s mindset, make a list of all the reasons you want to move.  Write them in two columns:  one list for your motivations to move out, and the other for all the reasons you want to move to the place or home you have chosen.  Keep this list taped to the inside of a kitchen cupboard you use every day.  Read it often, and use it to motivate you to get out the vacuum cleaner one more time for a viewing; or polish the bathroom taps, or clean the front door.

Stay focused, stay motivated, and the buyer will come.  All because of your mindset.

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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: How to get into your buyer’s mindset

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