Being a Listing Agent I have honed many skills that allow my sellers to make the best first impressions, create buyer enthusiasm and ultimately, wring more from their sales to max out their bottom lines. Staging properties is not something that needs to be done at great expense to a seller. Little touches here and there are usually all that is needed. Most times, using the items the seller has in their home works. Every so often, I substitute in something from my own inventory.
In the case of the kitchen above, the seller had left barstools, the dining table (no chairs) and the table runner and a very nice polish pottery bowl. This area was tight. Fluffing the table included turning over the runner to the reverse side which was a lot less busy with only one pattern vs. three patterns, setting the table, adding a taller centerpiece and some chairs. Then came figuring out what to do with the barstools. The ones present didn’t really do anything but call attention to the big dining table and interrupt the flow of the island.
Adding these saddle style, lower height black bar stools left a clean line of the granite counters and left more space visually in the dining area. And with the living room being completely empty, I did make use of the bar stools elsewhere to set up an area of focus. You can see the full video tour of the property by clicking this link. There are examples of light staging in the owner’s bedroom and bathroom. Items were edited from the home that were useful, but dated it. Lamps, rugs, etc.
This home had been on the market as a For Sale By Owner on Zillow at the same list price and had a few open houses with many buyers through. However, it lacked offers when I took over. After the staging, professional photos and a few days on the market, the seller had four offers.
The devil truly is in the details when a home hits the market. Professional marketing agents like me get that and do everything we can to help our listings make the absolute best first impression.
Not too long ago, I was in a car with a very good friend of mine. The music playing on her car stereo was hard core metal. It sounded so pissed off and angry to me that I wanted to beg her to turn it off. She remarked that if I listened to the lyrics, I would find them insightful and contemplative. Being a communications major I knew I had to get past the non-verbal first, which was that loud, over-powered, fast paced music to have a chance of hearing the lyrics. And the way the artist was spitting out his words, it was not likely I would even understand them. The artists comtemplative and insightful thoughts were going to be lost to anyone who didn’t like this kind of music. It did not have wide appeal.
If you did not already know, most communication we encounter is non-verbal, even in a verbal message through conversation, music and so forth. How a person holds themselves, the words they chose to use, the pace of their conversation, the confidence in their voice and so much more all make up over ninety percent of what the recipient of our messages takes in. When the non-verbal conflicts with the verbal, the recipient can find themselves suspicious of the verbal. So how does this translate to selling a home?
Even in the strongly favored seller’s market that Bristow and Gainesville have been experiencing, non-verbal messages can overpower the message a seller really aims to make to buyers. Perhaps a seller has a very large floor plan with plenty of space. That message is not going to get through to buyers if the space is so cluttered with furnishing that buyers can’t actually take in the feeling of spaciousness. Maybe the home is targeted to luxury home buyers because it fits the mold of a refined home. It is not going to resonate with those buyers if the paint colors inside change from room to room and are reminiscent of trends that went by the way side and the carpet is stained. The disconnect between the intended message and what is actually happening are not going to lift buyer enthusiasm, but leave buyers hesitant to act. Or if they do act, they won’t act with the same gusto in the offer price they would if the intended message mirrored the non-verbal message a seller’s home is sending..
Listing preparation is where a seller’s intended message is edited to come through loud and clear. And when it comes to selling a home, the only way to achieve that is by de-cluterring, removing personal items, having fresh neutral paint throughout (preferrably professional painted with clean lines,) new carpet and rearranging furnishings to showcase the floor plan. Vacant homes will also do best with some light staging to help buyers visualize the space.
Of course, how to market to buyers is where a professional listing agent comes in. My job is make sure the non-verbal message of your home matches what you want your message to be. If it doesn’t, it will show in your offers. You don’t need to be a mind reader. Hire an agent well versed in the local market. This isn’t going to be your one or two deal a year agent. This is going to be a top producing agent with their finger on the pulse of the market. In Bristow and Gainesville, that is me. Get in touch for a no obligation market analysis that gives you an idea of your bottom line and how to best to increase it. If you don’t, you might as well be the deep thinker that wrote a song akin to poetry that will never be widely heard due to the overpowering music.
Hiring decisions of sellers never cease to amaze me. Home owners get focused on one thing and one thing only–commission. In the process, they fail to understand what a listing agent actually does for them because they never get around to asking the right questions.
While I have had the opportunity to refocus many sellers on important issues and what they should be asking, I still see some going for agent that will give them “the best deal.” That was my immediate thought driving out of my neighborhood the other day and seeing a For Sale sign of an unknown agent in a neighbor’s yard. Never in a million years would I expect this owner would hire me to do the job, but I happen to know a very prominent team that knows him. I would have expected to see their sign in his yard. Nope. The relatively little known agent was there front and center. I mentioned that agent’s name to a colleague I happened to be on the phone with when I viewing the sign for the first time. “Oh, she’s a property manager. I run into her a lot on rentals.”
Should I be surprised that this home owner was in our neighborhood social media group asking how to order HOA docs? Forget that’s he’s under contract right now and if he had been my client, or any other top notch agent in the market, those docs would have been ordered weeks before he hit the market. They would likely have been in the listing agent’s had to return with the ratified contract. Why? Because buyers are waiving inspections, but still trying to use HOA docs to get out if they have an “informational only” inspection. Now, not only does the seller not know what he needs to provide, evidently his agent isn’t doing it for him. Meanwhile, as the days go by without the HOA docs, his buyer has every right to void.
I would mortified if my client were asking about how to go about his real estate deal online vs. calling me. Nevertheless, there this seller was and the answers from the neighbors were ill informed about what he specifically needed from the HOA, how much they cost, etc. Neighbors are well intentioned, but ill informed on what an HOA resale document package must contain according to the laws of Virginia. My mind kept coming to back to the thought, “His agent should be doing this.”
Who you hire matters. The best for the job are hardly ever the cheapest. They have the experience you need when every detail matters in a fast paced seller’s market. A great agent knows the devil is in the details.
When it comes to HOA resale documents, there are specific documents required and a resale inspection. Violations noted at the resale inspection are mandatory fixes. If you are my client, you will know that going in to a transaction. You will be prepared for the how your sale will go from beginning to end. That’s what a professional does.
If you have been considering the sale of your home, I would love the opportunity to show you how a great real estate agent works and how it benefits you. Get in touch me with and we’ll talk. No high pressure here. If you like what I can offer, great. If not, no harm no foul.
Whenever I take a new listing, the preparation for pictures is critical. First of all, I believe in professional photography for my listings. I tried to keep up with the advancements in technology as long as I could, continuing to take my own listing photos up until 2017, but that is when I left it to the pros. Sure I could go and buy a top of the line camera, but that doesn’t make me a professional photographer. The pros have the expertise to set up the shot correctly and, most importantly, edit it after the fact to look flawless.
You can’t rely on photo editing, however, to clean up your home and make it look great. There needs to be to actual work put in to make sure the home is looking great on photo day and, just as importantly, in keeping with how it looks online when buyers come to see it in person.
Before the photo shoot, I am there either to do light staging in a vacant home, or help you edit your furnishings and decor, to put your home in the best possible light. And on photo day, I arrive early to make sure all the lights are on, ceiling fans are off, trash cans moved out of view, and if needed, move things around to assist the photographer in getting the perfect shot. An example of that is the opening photo. The cord for the light on the night table was just laying against the wall and looking out of place. Thinking quickly, I took a table from another room and put a plant on it to make the cord less obvious.
In the photo of this family room, taken from the breakfast nook, a recliner was moved out of the way to show the openness of the floor plan, and not the sellers well worn furniture.
Getting top dollar for your home is a function of marketing. You can sell in any market, but how your home is marketed by the listing agent is going to determine just how quickly it sells and how much money you can get for it. In our current seller’s market, anyone can sell a home. A professional marketing agent can squeeze every dime you deserve out of it. Choose carefully when choosing the listing agent to market your home. Ask to see past virtual tours and photographs. Go to their website. You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.