Tag Archives: staging

heart ornament beside window

heart ornament beside window

I often get asked the question, “Should I use more than one estate agent to sell my house?” Once upon a time, this strategy made perfect sense.  After all, before properties were advertised on the internet, how else could you make sure that buyers across different geographical areas would see your home, if you didn’t use two, three or more agents to market it?

But then came the property portals, and everything changed.  Almost all buyers (93% at last count) look online to find their home, often browsing a couple of portals, then simply call the relevant agent to book a viewing on a home they like.

What’s the point in being listed twice like this?

So is there any point these days in instructing more than one agent? The short answer is ‘no’.  If a buyer spies your home listed several times online, at best it’s annoying, and at worst it’s misleading, because if the agents involved have used different photographs and descriptions to advertise the property, a buyer could be forgiven for thinking that the adverts belong to different houses.

And doesn’t this look like a different property? It’s not!

When a buyer enters a search criterion on one of the property portals like Rightmove, properties appear in a list, in descending price order, ie with the more expensive houses showing first.  Any properties that are marketed at exactly the same price will appear in a random order, to be fair and not favour any particular agent. However, one agent I know gets around this rule by adding a pound to his prices, so that his properties will show first, and therefore you’ll see property prices like £300,001 from him!

Another factor to bear in mind, is how does it look to a buyer if you as the seller have instructed several agents? Desperate perhaps? In need of an urgent sale?  This could have the effect of generating some very low offers from those buyers looking for a bargain, whilst genuine buyers may stay away completely, fearful of being stuck with a property that they themselves can’t sell when the time comes.

Finally, there’s the question of cost.  If you instruct more than one agent, depending on the type of agency agreement you have, you’ll either pay the standard agency fee, but only to one of the agents; sometimes called ‘winner takes all’. Or else you’ll pay a higher fee, and it’ll be split between the two agents, typically 2/3:1/3 or else 50/50. The average uplift for a joint agency agreement is around 25%, meaning that if the average fee in your area is 1.5%, you will be paying 2% – 2.25% for a joint agreement.  This could be an extra £2250 on a £300,000 house – not an inconsiderable amount, particularly if it doesn’t actually net you any higher a sale price.

So my advice is to pick one agent, show them your loyalty and let them do their job. Don’t agree to a long contract, and if after say, 3 months, you’re not getting the interest in your home you had hoped for, drop your price, or find another agent and improve your marketing. Or all three….

Happy selling!

Sam

beautiful sala set with dog Why your pet might be stopping you sell!

beautiful sala set with dog Why your pet might be stopping you sell!

If you have a dog or cat, or any other pet, they are probably a very important member of your family. (My lovely collie, Georgie, kind of rules our house…. )  However, even though it’s sometimes difficult for pet lovers to imagine, there is in fact a large proportion of the population that just doesn’t like animals in the house.  In fact, if they see any evidence of pets at all in the photos, they just won’t even book a viewing!

So what do you do with Rover and Moggy (or Georgie) when you have a viewing arranged?

You need to make sure you don’t alienate your viewers and put them off your home from the moment they step through the door, so get rid of all traces of your pets if you can.  If your agent accompanies viewers, then take the dog out for a walk; if you conduct the viewings yourself, and the weather allows it, let your dog have a sleep in the car, or leave it with a neighbour.

Also, don’t forget to hide all pet paraphernalia: litter trays, pet food, dog beds, cat toys, etc.  Close the cat flap, and ask a friend to look after the budgie and the tortoise.. and the snake…..

But you protest “I want to sell my home to a pet lover just like me!” I hear you, and even sympathise, but we’re talking about selling your home here for the most money possible!  Don’t limit your market, instead if you appeal to everyone, you have the best possible chance of a successful sale.  If you only want to sell to someone who has rabbits, rats and an iguana, you may be waiting a while….

Give your buyers the chance to fall in love with your house and your beloved pets will soon have a new home to move to.

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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The agent calls, a viewer will be there within the hour.  What can you do to ensure they see your house in the best possible light?  Here’s my ten top tips to make your house shine in a hurry!

1. Grab a washing basket, and go through each room removing any bits and pieces that don’t belong there: paperwork, laundry, dirty dishes, shoes – anything that’s cluttering up the space.  Pop the basket in your car, out of sight;

2. Swap the towels in the bathroom for freshly laundered ones.  Even better is to have new white fluffy towels that you keep especially for viewings;

3. Make up the master bed with laundered or new bedding.  Again, if you can keep some new bedding to throw on for viewings, it will always look at its best.  One tip is to put your usual duvet cover and pillow cases over the top of your special ones, and whip them off for viewings – ta da!

4. Open a window in each room to let some fresh air into the house – only a fraction if it’s cold!

5. Make sure the heating is on, and light any fires you have in the house.  If you don’t have time, fill the grate with church candles and light them for a cosy glow.  This also works in the summertime when it’s too hot to have a fire lit;

6. Unless it’s an extremely bright day, have your lamps lit upstairs, and a mixture of overhead and low level lights lit downstairs;

7. Create the right atmosphere with low and relaxing music, to encourage your viewers to linger over their viewing;

8. Make sure your home smells as good as it looks: spray beds with a tiny spray of perfume, pop a tumble drier sheet in the bottom of all your bins, and put a vanilla pod in the oven on a low heat for a subtle, homely scent.  If you don’t have one, try some drops of vanilla or lemon juice in a bowl of water and put that in the oven.

9. Raid your garden for some greenery and colour, and arrange in vases.  Even in winter, you can usually find some sprigs of foliage to add some life and interest to your home.

10. Finally – give yourself a mini-makeover!  Make sure your outfit is smart, your shoes are clean (never slippers!) and you are well-groomed and looking professional.  Your image should reflect that of your home – neat, well-kept and stylish.

Keep these 10 quick staging tips taped on the inside of a kitchen cupboard, so you can implement them quickly, and make sure your family is well-trained so they can leap into action when required!

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 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.

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.

book on top of the table and Fireplace beside Do it your way!

book on top of the table and Fireplace beside Do it your way!

When clients come to HomeTruths because they can’t sell their house, the first place I look for clues as to why this is happening, is their marketing. Now, anyone who has been reading my blog for any length of time at all, knows that property marketing is ‘my thing’ so I usually have lots to say about it! But what can a seller do when none of their local estate agents offer the kind of quality marketing I tell them is absolutely vital in selling their home for the maximum price possible? “Do it your way” I tell them. Let me explain.

There are four key components to a property’s marketing: photography, description, brochure, online advert.

Very few estate agents get all these absolutely spot on, so why not fill in the missing pieces yourself? Let’s look at these components one at a time:

  • Photography – source a good local photographer, asking to see his work. If he’s worked for local estate agents before, don’t use him! You’re only going to end up with more of the same. What you’re looking for, is an innovative and creative photographer, who can really bring the best out of your home, and cares enough to switch on lights, and move your sofa in order to get the best shots.

Expect to pay: around £300

  • Description – you need a copywriter for this. Start off by writing a couple of pages about your home; everything you love about it, and all the features that you think will make a buyer love it too. This will give the copywriter a head start, and something to work with.

Expect to pay: around £150

  • Brochure – a great brochure designer will come up with a creative layout and even a memorable logo. Printing costs depend on the size and number of pages and what paper your brochure is printed on. Most unique homes need at least 6-8 pages in their brochure, to show off all the key selling features of their property.

Expect to pay: around £500

  • Online advert – this is where your photography and description can help your advert to really stand out above the competition. Make sure your brochure is uploaded and both this and your floorplan shown as a link on all the property portals. Give it all to your agent and they will do the rest.

Expect to pay: nothing! 

By allocating around £1,000 to your property marketing, you can create an amazing campaign, that will knock the socks off all the other properties for sale, Whilst it is admittedly a large up-front cost, relatively speaking, I would suggest you negotiate with your agent to make allowances for this in the commission you would be paying. A commission discount of 0.25% on most properties would allow you to recoup your investment, and you’d be doing a much better job than your agent would in selling your house.

Doing it your way is all about taking control of your own property sale; after all, it means more to you than anyone else, so put your passion and enthusiasm into creating a fabulous marketing campaign that will help your buyer to fall in love with your home, just as you once did.

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 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

This week, I received a call from someone who has a beautiful, architect-designed home for sale in Lancashire.  A very unusual home, it’s a cross between a Huf House (do Google it if you haven’t come across them) and an individual ‘Grand Design’.  It’s all dramatic angles, huge atriums, and an abundance of glass, chrome and natural wood.

The photographs of the external are stunning; cleverly, there are dusk shots – images taken in the early evening – with all the internal lights on so that it looks homely and welcoming.  Because, you see, it’s not lived in.  The owner, who lives about an hour away and built this property to sell and top up his pension, has put a few pieces of furniture in the key rooms, to give an indication of how it could be used.  So the master bedroom has a bed in it, and the main living room contains a sofa and armchair, but there’s nothing really to indicate how a buyer might live there.

Now this is usually enough for a male viewer; men like impressive facades with dramatic angles and grand proportions.  They are interested in the bricks and mortar aspect of a house: the number of rooms, the outside space, whether it has a double garage, those kind of things.  Give him some gadgets too – a remote controlled fire, automatic gates, integral media system – and you’ll have him hooked from the first click.

Women are different.  We rely on instinct far more.  We will walk into a house and say ‘no’ before we’ve left the entrance hall, because it doesn’t ‘feel right’.  On the other hand, men can end up totally bemused and bewildered by the strength of our conviction when a home does feel right, despite perhaps having none of the attributes from the original jointly-drawn up ‘tick list’.  A lady owner may well tell you, even when she’s lived in the house for years, how she felt when she first walked in: “I just knew” she will sigh.  And by the way, don’t underestimate the importance of her buying motivation: 80% of buying decisions are made or influenced by a woman.  Ignore her needs at your peril…….

Statistics show that only 5.5% of men pay the full asking price, and only 78% offer 90% or more of the asking price.  Women buyers, on the other hand, are more motivated to secure a house, whatever the price, and 17% of them simply offer the full asking price of the property they want.  An impressive 90% of female buyers offer 90% or more of the asking price, so determined are they not to lose the home they have set their heart on.

So as a buyer, how on earth do you connect emotionally with a lady buyer to make her “just know” as soon as she walks through the door of your house?  As I told the seller of this Grand Design: by making it beautifully homely, and at the same time highly aspirational.    All the little touches that make a house a home need putting in place to seduce her: window dressing, luxurious bedding, sumptuous cushions, a kitchen full of gorgeous cookware, candles and towels in the bathroom, and those shiny floors adorned with warm, textured rugs.

I’ve estimated that to add this feminine appeal in a house that is over 7,000 square feet may well cost him between £20,000 and £30,000, but his property is for sale for £1 million.  A 2-3% investment is a far better route to securing a buyer than the alternative his agent is recommending – to drop the asking price by £50,000.

If you can identify what a woman wants, and give it to her, she’ll not only fall head over heels in love with the house, she’ll also persuade a less emotionally-driven partner that they absolutely, positively must buy your house.

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.

table with coffee mugs and a plate of strawberries Struggling to sell?

We’ve all been there. You know your home is a great catch, you’ve read all the magazines, and you’ve followed all the tips to a T. But it’s still not budging. And to make it worse, Stuart and Lesley’s barn conversion next door was snapped up the first week it hit Rightmove. You’re starting to wonder if you’ll ever see a sold sign hanging out front. So what’s left to do? Instead of following tips to a T, you need to follow them to a P. And that’s three P’s to be precise.

P is for Price

Having the right pricing strategy in place is a great start. Listing for £499,995 seems logical; it looks friendlier sitting just under the big 5, and will position your house as a steal, right? Wrong. Selling a home isn’t easy, but sitting inside as many people’s price brackets as possible is key. The more people that see your home, the more likely it is to sell. A home listed on Rightmove for £500,000 will be included in searches for £500,000-£600,000 as well as £475,000-£500,000. If the same home was priced at £499,995, it would fail to show in the latter bracket. So £5 could be the difference between doubling your potential viewers, and finding the right buyers for your home.

P is for Promotion

Which Rightmove pictures catch your eye? The dimly-lit, awkward looking ones, or the professional lifestyle images? The latter not only look special, they look magazine-worthy, and they tell a story that a buyer wants to be a part of. Now take a read of your house description. Is it something along the lines of: ‘The XYZ Estate Agents are proud to offer this realistically priced, and generously proportioned, detached family home,’? Or maybe it’s littered with lovely generic phrases like, ‘features’, ‘briefly comprising’ and ‘duel-aspect.’ These go-to phrases are simply meaningless, and who drops ‘dual-aspect’ into daily conversation anyway? If the copy isn’t interesting, persuasive and meaningful, your home isn’t going to talk to buyers. And since emotions sell a home, the words and images need to give a warm hello, and a lasting impression, if they are to stand out and be remembered.

P is for Presentation

So you’ve priced the home just right, and the photography and copy have caught people’s attention. Now for the viewings. This is where it gets exciting. Home styling, or how we dress our home ready to impress, is the final hurdle. And without a little help, it’s easy to fall here. Draw your viewers’ eyes to your home’s natural beauty, and show how each room could work for another family is key.

So Price, Promotion and Presentation. Follow these three ‘P’s, and you’ll be passing over the keys in no time. A home is more than just bricks and mortar, to both you and potential buyers; it needs to capture their hearts, as well as their heads.

Sam

Beautiful kitchen What’s that smell

While your home might be flawless in your own eyes, there are certain things that can instantly put buyers off. We aren’t talking furniture or dodgy décor (although, try to modernise if possible), but aspects of the house that can turn a nose up in a second. With this in mind, we have put together our tips- six things to look out for, before the buyers descend…

Bad Smells – Even if your home resembles something from Good Housekeeping’s most desirable homes pages, if there’s a whiff in the air, the buyers are going to care. House smells are top of the list when it comes to putting buyers off. Smells range from cigarette smoke and pets, to mould and mildew lingering in the air. Unfortunately, noses become accustomed to certain smells over time, so ask someone who doesn’t live in your home to smell the air. Don’t be offended if you don’t like the answer; they’re helping you out. Get rid of any bed smells so potential buyers come in to a fresh and clean atmosphere, not one that is filled with spray to cover the smells.

Unclean bathrooms – The bathroom is one of the most important rooms that people like to keep clean. A bathroom can make people dislike your home immediately if it isn’t spotless; if the bathroom is grubby and has mildew, they will wonder what other dirt lurks beneath the surface of your property. Extra cleaning is a must if you want to sell your home. Scrub your bathroom to perfection, paint the chipped walls, put in a new rug and fresh towels, and buy a clean shower curtain. Open the windows when buyers are looking around to let in some fresh air.

Damp Rooms – If you have a basement and don’t use it as a functioning room, you may experience some damp issues. Often it is caused by rainwater seeping into the foundations, and doesn’t necessarily mean you have a fault within the grounds. However, buyers won’t see it like this. If they smell damp, they think cost, or a delay in moving in while the damp is removed. Or even worse, recurring damp problems. This is a red light. To remove damp smells, determine where any water from outside is going. The smell could be caused by the drains being clogged, or rain gutters full of leaves. Investigate and resolve, or lose a sale.

Kerb Appeal – Your house needs to look good from the outside. The front needs to be edging on picture-perfect; not only does it paint a good impression of the owners, it puts potential buyers in positive spirits before they have stepped in the door.

The stalker seller – When people come to have a good look around your home, they often prefer to have a good old mosey around without you following them. Yes, it makes sense to be at least a few rooms away in case they have questions, but leave them be while they wander. They need personal space to chat things through with their partner or agent, and if you’re there, they might not feel comfortable. Let them nit-pick at details with you out of the room. If you hear them talking about changing ‘this, that and the other’, this means they like your home and are already considering how to add their stamp.

Lighting – Even if your rooms are tidied to each corner and crevice, if they’re dark and unlit, they can be a turnoff and give the wrong impression of the room. Remove heavy curtains that prevent light getting into your rooms, and turn on lamps that give the room a homely feel. If a room has dark wallpaper or paint, consider giving it a repaint to make it feel fresh; white works wonders.

By making such small simple steps, you will be presenting your potential buyers with a home that will delight them from start to finish. Look at your home before any viewings begin, and see what you can change; it will be worth it when a new family are signing on the dotted line.

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 What’s that smell

What to read next: First impressions

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