This is a fabulous article written by Josh Altman, Million Dollar Listing Agent and posted originally on Trulia.
We love this perspective of staging from a successful realtor who knows that it takes investing both time and money to sell a home for what it’s worth in a short period of time. Enjoy!
It feels great to win a listing, no matter what market you work in. But, we all know “winning” is the beginning of where the real work starts.
So what’s next? It’s time to talk with your client about the selling tactics that will really get them to the finish line – and in the time and for the price they want.
One of the hardest part of this of this early sale sit down, whether you’re selling in Beverly Hills or anywhere else, is the staging chat. You know great staging is critical but getting your sellers on board can be a challenge.
After spending a ton of time decorating and personalizing their home, most clients often aren’t too keen on undoing their hard work.
Here are a few of my tips and tricks to help clients see why I know best:
1. Be blunt: Give honest feedback
Remember: every seller thinks they’re the expert on their home, even after hiring you. If you actually want their listing to close quickly, you need to be upfront with your feedback.
That antique doll collection over by the window? While it’s you sellers’ favorite accessory, to most buyers its probably a distraction. Be tactful, but don’t hold back.
Smart sellers will appreciate your insight and hop on board with your plan. Others will only appreciate it down the road after they see their way doesn’t bring in the right offers.
When I get push back, I point to my sold home history and other selling successes to show my clients I know what I’m talking about.
2. Be inspired: Tour before (or while) you talk
I’ve found that one of the best ways to show sellers what their home lacks is to have the staging chat while touring other listings.
Seeing what other homes have to offer not only supports your suggestions, but may inspire some creative ideas.
At the very least, I send my sellers to a few open houses. This helps them see how their home measures up to others and give them an idea of what it’s really going to take to compete in today’s market.
Getting sellers to see their competition helps them understand why staging is so critical to the successful sale of their home.
3. Be complete: Stage from the outside in
Like yours, most of my sellers are real estate media obsessed – addicted to HGTV, Million Dollar Listing, Trulia, or one of the many other shows or sites out there. This is good because it means most aren’t completely oblivious to the fact that selling will take some effort on their part.
The downside is that my clients are used to focusing on the insides of houses. I mean, if you’re watching house hunters the front of the home is on the screen for 10 seconds tops. Even on Trulia you only find one shot of the front of a house most of the time.
But, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: first impressions matter. I start my staging talk outside and work my way in. Don’t let your seller ignore the importance of curb appeal.
I don’t care if your seller’s listing has the biggest master bedroom ever; if the outside paint is peeling you’ll have a tough time getting buyers in the door.
Curb Appeal and First impressions matter!
4. Be clutter-free: Have your clients pre-pack
I hate to say it, but most buyers don’t have an imagination. The more stuff they see, the less they can envision themselves in a home.
The framed children’s artwork may be cute – I had some serious crayon skills in the third grade – but it could be taking away from the formal dining room a buyer-prospect is trying to picture.
Depersonalization, decluttering, changing the aura – I don’t care what you call it, it’s sometimes hard for your sellers to hear it. Like a lot of things in this business, it’s all about how you package it. Need those counters cleared and family photos off the walls? That’s just “pre-packing.”
Serious sellers aren’t just thinking about the sale, so frame the staging process as a way to help them get a leg up on the move ahead and keep personal decorations from getting in the way.
5. Be neutral: Make it a canvas
I should clarify: when it comes to being bland, I’m not talking about personality. But the more neutral your listing’s color scheme, the more ready it is for a potential buyer to come in and make it their own.
A neutral palette allows buyers to admire the space – not so much the ‘stuff’ in the space!
Be sure to think about the paint and fixtures as well. The bright red walls that were perfect for your client’s couches are more likely to be hurdle for the next owner.
To help drive this point home, pull a few photos from listings in 90210 one of the most expensive Zip codes in the U.S., to show how the pros do it when there are millions on the line.
You can also help your sellers get a leg up by sharing Trulia’s 10 Hardcore Staging Tips for Serious Sellers.
6. Be consistent: Stage every listing
I said neutral, but don’t take it too far. If you can avoid it, never show an empty home.
Doing so can make it hard for buyers to see a house as a home, lead to super-boring listing photos, and make most places look smaller than they actually are.
I make sure my clients know that staging is a must if they’re serious about selling.
7. Be generous: Spend cash to make cash
You have to spend money to make money. Convincing clients to spend money on a home they are leaving is usually one of the toughest staging conversations I have.
When my clients object, I remind them of the cash they stand to make and the big boost their listing will get from a little bit of investment.
It doesn’t have to take millions or even thousands of dollars to stage a home well. Help your clients be thrifty without being stingy: it’s an investment that can have a serious return if you help them do it right.
There you have it: the Josh Altman-approved strategies for staging. What other tips or tricks have you learned along the way? I’d love to hear them.
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