Buyers seek ‘homes,’ not houses: Top reasons for staging a home for sale

This week, Megan Gates — a writer for Douglas Elliman Real Estate —  is our guest contributor. Established in 1911, Douglas Elliman has grown to become the nation’s fourth-largest real estate company. It has a current network of over 65 offices in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island (including the Hamptons and North Fork), Westchester and Putnam Counties, as well as South Florida.

By Megan Gates, Special to The Houstory Hearth

When you are preparing to list your home for sale, there are many details to be seen to and home staging should be at the top of your list. Home staging allows you to highlight the best features of the home while downplaying the weaknesses. First impressions are everything and, with the majority of homebuyers now beginning their home search online, prepping a home to look best both for a showing, and in it’s online gallery is more important than ever.

home buying, home staging, real estate

Home buying is part emotional and part logical. (Photo: Douglas Elliman Brooklyn Real Estate)

Staging aids potential homebuyers in being able visualize themselves in the space more than an empty house will. Here are a few reasons; including some tips on how to stage a property to help it reach it’s market potential and turnover a sale quickly.

It’s Difficult to Visualize the Placement of the Furniture

Many homes remain on the market for months because homebuyers cannot visualize how they can place their furniture in the home. Most buyers cannot distinguish between a 14 x 12 foot room and a 12 x 10 foot room. The first room is 40 percent larger, but most buyers look at the rooms as the same. With furniture, buyers can visualize the difference. Buyers can also view the potential of the room if furniture is included in the home.

An important tip to remember is to not place too much furniture in a space. Look around the property and think of function of a room—if there are other pieces that don’t help define a space, store them away and allow your room to look uncluttered. Hiring a home stager can provide ideas and help sellers view the potential of the space.

People Are Looking For Homes and Not Houses

Home buying is part emotional and part logical. Most people focus on the emotional side of buying a home. The emotional side of buying a home includes the homebuyers becoming attached to the aesthetic aspects of the home and visualizing themselves living in the home. It is more difficult to visualize living in a home for 20 to 30 years without furniture.

Part of the emotional attachment to a home can include connecting with the home’s history and helping buyers see themselves as part of that history. Highlighting a home’s unique house history by including information about past owners or noting interesting events that have taken place in the home or staging a home with historically significant furniture can help buyers make that connection.

When homebuyers tour a staged home, they can automatically visualize themselves in the home. When a seller removes all of their personal pieces, like family photos and taste-specific artwork, it will provide a buyer with a neutral and appealing look. This service is invaluable because an emotional buyer will purchase a home faster than a buyer who focuses on the logical aspects of the home buying process.

Buyers Focus on Negative Details and Not the Home When It’s Empty

When a room is empty, prospective homebuyers focus on everything, but the overall appeal of the home. For instance, prospective homebuyers may judge a house on its paint colors, may ask whether the carpet can be replaced, or why the molding is not finished.

Noticeable flaws could prevent a buyer from making an offer. If the buyer does make an offer, he or she may ask for price concessions for the flaws in the home. With some easy and simple updates to a home, these flaws can be fixed or will not be as noticeable if the room is staged. Not only will this help the home sell quicker, it will also sell for a higher price.

Home Stagers are Beneficial

Home stagers require a small investment compared to the amount of money recouped from the home selling process. The service is growing in popularity because most home sellers recoup 200 percent from the home sale and also reduces the time on the market by almost one-half.  Home sellers should consider the services of home stagers because of the significant benefits of the service.

Whether selling a sprawling farmhouse in the Midwest or listing a penthouse apartment in New York City, home staging can benefit any seller. With some small reorganization steps, a huge reward can be reaped when a property is sold for top dollar.

Megan Gates is an active creative writer for Douglas Elliman, writing on topics including home improvement and the latest architecture, design and home buying. Follow her on twitter @MEGatesDesign.

Real estate expert: Recording, sharing love of your home can help sell it

We recently came across an article, written by real estate expert Tara-Nicholle Nelson, that we thought really tied into concepts we believe in: legacy and love of home. In her piece written last month, she talks about the importance of sharing the stories that make a house a home, and how that can positively impact the home-selling process. In the past few months, we’ve seen a few articles that touch on the value of knowing a home’s history, such as this one (“Researching your home’s past could pay off” — Chicago Tribune, Feb. 3, 2012).

house history, legacy, home history, real estate

A love letter, Tara-Nicholle Nelson explains, expresses the love the seller’s family has had for the home, and explains the facts and events underlying that sentiment.

“As someone who has been inside probably thousands of homes with buyers over the years, I’ve always thought there was one super-simple, vastly underrated marketing technique for homes that are having a hard time standing out from the rest of the market: the seller love letter. A seller love letter is a note, personally written or typed up by the home’s seller. Among other things, it expresses the love the seller’s family has had for the home, and explains the facts and events underlying that sentiment,” she wrote.

She continued: “If the power of staging lies in depersonalizing the property so buyers can picture their own family living out their own lives in the home, the power of a seller love letter is that it leaves buyers with a warm feeling that the home has a positive energy and history, which is especially desirable on today’s distressed property-riddled market.”

To read the full article, please visit her Web site at http://www.rethinkrealestate.com/http:/www.rethinkrealestate.com/6-elements-of-a-compelling-home-seller-love-letter/#

Tara-Nicholle Nelson is author of “The Savvy Woman’s Homebuying Handbook” and “Trillion Dollar Women: Use Your Power to Make Buying and Remodeling Decisions.” Tara is also the Consumer Ambassador and Educator for real estate listings search site Trulia.com. Ask her a real estate question online or visit her website, www.rethinkrealestate.com.

We’d love to know your thoughts! Let us know — do you think knowing a home’s story can add value?

If you have knowledge in a topic our readers may be interested in — such as historical preservation, home genealogy or homes in general — and are interested in writing a guest column for us, please let us know! Contact us at info@homehistorybook.com.

Trying to sell your house? Home staging may be crucial

In this economy, homeowners need all the help they can get to sell their properties. One way to help accomplish the task: home staging, according to a recent piece in the Washington Post.

Bring emotion back to the selling process by helping people see what the home could be used for -- with a little imagination. A Home History Book™ archival journal can help do just that. Preserve your stories now, share them later.

Basic staging “brings some emotion back to the (selling) process, which helps bump the price up,” said Washington, D.C. broker Bill Sawyer of William Sawyer & Co. Realtors in the article.

Essentially, it’s helping potential buyers to use their imaginations as to what a home could look like with a little effort. So, the next time you have a holiday party, or landscape the backyard, make sure to document it so you can show it off later. It may just pay off.