Why stage in seller’s market?
Question I often hear: Would you explain how staging typically works? Seems like an expensive proposition for the seller if the buyer doesn’t purchase the furniture and accessories…
Your house stops being “your” house the moment you decide to sell it. It becomes a merchandise item. Ruthless as it seems, like every other, it requires good marketing if you want to sell it fast (reaching the right buyer’s attention) and for a premium price.
Sometimes you decide you will sell it the moment you buy it. And sometimes that’s where home staging starts…
Standard definition of home staging says it’s the process of preparation the house for sale that may involve painting, organizing, furniture placement, decorating, small fixes, you name it. Some people even include newly bought furniture in the sale. Seems like an unnecessary sweat? Well, read on…
The most important part is that staging is a marketing tool and should be carefully and professionally planned and executed if you expect pro results. Bearing in mind the most important – the buyer.
“Ok, you say, but we have sellers market. I don’t have to worry about selling it and I know I will get the best price.” Well, seller’s market (Low inventory, Big demand) doesn’t mean you don’t have to market it. There’s simply no guarantee it sells. If that was the case, realtors would have an easy life, right?:) Why do you need to stage and promote your listing in seller’s market then?
Marketing principles do apply same way as with any other product (The below is loosely based on the book “Marketing Management” by Philip Kotler). So let’s look at marketing mix – the most important marketing concept – Price, Product, Place and Promotion.
You have to stop thinking about your house or apartment as a number in the sea of houses, same as every other. Houses are different too. There can be a condo, a semi-detached, a bungalow, etc. So your house is not in one group anymore. It’s in a smaller and different group than the one across the street. And every group has a different demand, so the prices might be affected differently. That requires the knowledge of each product and what will work in it.
One of the factors impacting the price sensitivity, meaning how acute are buyers to price changes, is quality to price ratio. If perceived quality is very good, buyers can afford to offer more money.
This brings us to the deeper understanding of what home staging actually is – shaping certain perception (not false, by no means). In other words, highlighting the qualities of the property, that would appeal to the right buyer. Or defining the quality of the house they see.
And by the way, not to generic masses, but to the targeted one buyer – whether it’s the family, single, or retired couple (the list can go on).
Realtors do that by creating engaging copy in MLS® listing. Home stagers create a story inside the physical house. So when you walk in, you have pleasant experience and emotions. But before you even walk in, it has to grab your attention and create a desire…
AIDA = Attraction, Interest, Desire, Action
Attraction – What is the benefit to the customer? What will surprise him/her? The photo that is different among hundreds of others will grab his attention and call for showings. This is the most powerful tool you have! Read more on proper real estate photography here.
Interest – Concrete benefits usually bring interest. If you amaze with property’s beautiful deck and its unique features, it will be highly interesting for a targeted buyer that has this on his priority list. You achieve this with right staging props.
Desire – Short listing time pressure potential buyers to make decision quickly. And let’s not forget about call to action!
The other factor is accessibility. When I entered my recent project to destage, I saw 30 cards left by realtors and looked at places they came from. All over GTA (Greater Toronto Area)! The realtor’s sign on the front yard would not be enough to grab their attention. Everything happens online now.
The more people see it, the more offers you eventually get from committed emotional buyers at premium price. Even though you know, there’s lot’s of people looking for a new house on MLS®!
“Costs”: 1500-3000 per house. Results: Vacant 4 bedroom home you see here that we staged sold in 5 days, 50k over asking.
I’ve put cost in quote, cause I think there’s a big misconception. Every good realtor or property investor will emphasize that this is not a cost, but investment.
I like to look at Scandi brokers’ websites – the more prominent ones hire home stagers/property stylists to do the job (that’s why we have so many cute pins). That’s still to come in America!
Staging takes 2 days to install, but it needs advance notice to design, visit the property, buy and assemble furniture. Then 1 day for destaging. What’s included in the price:
- furniture rental
- bathroom & kitchen accessories
- decoration, props, pillows
- plants & flowers
- labour (ordering, delivering, moving, heavy lifting, assembling, placing,…sigh!)
- photo shoot day touch-ups
- shopping service
In design concept of the project you see, we wanted to bring in as much coziness, openness and happy associations as possible. Since this was a 4 bedroom house in an area with good elementary schools, the target group was families with kids. House didn’t get lots of natural light, but with proper plants, flowers and accessories we were able to introduce some tropical vibe!
The grey on the walls seemed a bit too dark initially, so we decided not to fight it but highlight moody feeling, so it appealed to visitors as cozy, warm, family home. Especially since this was still cold February! We used a mix of modern and iconic furniture, like Thonet chair in the office or Eames rocking chair, Scandi inspired accessories and posters. We dashed it up with vintage pieces, like the dresser in the living room, to make it look natural and laid-back.
You have to think about staging as part of marketing. Just like good ad in tv – to produce it you need to invest. But you need that hook – good photos to get the showings. And showings to get multiple offers!
Even in seller’s market buyers are looking for PERFECT home. These days they shop online. And if it doesn’t look good online, chances are most won’t see it in person.
Property Styling: Ola Mochol, PGF Staging Studio
Vintage props: Idea 2 Rent
Photography: Mark Pasalic, www.myvisuallistings.com