Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Decluttering, but why?

I had someone recently ask me what is decluttering and why would I bother to do it? Well decluttering is the act of removing the clutter from your home in order to accentuate its positives as opposed to hiding them with clutter. Clutter can include all sorts of personal items such as photographs, trophies, paperwork, toys, kids artwork and anything that is personal enough that could tell a stranger about you and your family. As I look around my own home, I would have to remove numerous photographs, I would remove clutter such as the paperwork that is piled on my desk, the memorabilia on the walls in the study, the many books lining my bookshelves, my perfume and jewellery etc etc, you get the picture.

In staging, as in styling and decorating LESS IS MORE! Too much clutter in a home can give off the wrong impression for a possible purchaser. These people are not interested in your personal items and seeing your life in pictures, they want to be able to picture their life in this house. They want to be able to see the benefits that it brings and how perfect it is for their family. 

The process of decluttering is not only done to accentuate the positives but I also recommend it for safety and security reasons. Complete strangers should not be able to see photos of your family and all of your personal and sometimes expensive belongings, which is why I would pack away my jewellery.

A perfect example of when decluttering works well would be a bookcase or storage visible within the home. If the storage or bookcase is full, the only items the buyer sees is all of the books and the items packed in there, as a general rule, storage should be staged as being half full, that way the buyer will see the storage provided and not the items in it. In a bookcase I would suggest that half/most of the books and items packed in the bookcase be taken out and replaced with a few small decorative items and a few books stacked up, but make them your best books! A vase with flowers, a small decorative bowl or a candle would also look very effective in a bookcase. These decorative pieces draw attention to the storage provided in the property and not to the items. The last thing a buyer wants is a house with no storage.

The best advice I can give anyone wanting to declutter their home, aside from giving me a call for some advice, put yourself in a purchasers shoes, it is likely that if you are selling your home you have been walking through open houses looking to purchase a property yourself, think about some of the things you have seen and the things that created memories for you, whether they be good or bad. Then for your home do the same, walk through your home inspecting at your belongings and look at what they will see and what will leave a good impression and a bad impression.  Now throw away anything that will give that bad impression and accentuate what gives off the good impression.

When I declutter a home it is brutal but it is worth it. I go through each room in the home one by one and can either offer advice of the type of things to remove, or I can hold your hand through the process and help pack the boxes or store away the belonings no longer needed.  It is a difficult process because the owner may have to say goodbye to some of those precious items, but think of it as not saying goodbye, saying see you later when you unpack them in your new home. You are just getting started on packing up your home early.  It can take a few hours but at the completion of the declutter process your home can look perfect, just like a display home, appealing to its target market. It can help give a property the wow factor, if a possible buyer leaves your home with the 'wow' memory, they will not forget your property quickly and will most likely come back for another look and possibly even put in the great offer you have been waiting for.

If you can create that fantastic first impression in your home then you will sell your house quicker and you will make even more profit.

Monday, October 24, 2011

You get what you pay for

Recently I had the chance to travel to Europe where I was able to compare property styling/staging in hotel rooms on each end of the scale. Several hotel rooms are of a similar size or offer the same form of accommodation, for example, queen bed, bathroom and kitchenette, however whether those fixtures are of the same quality and in a good location will dramatically effect the cost of the accommodation and what people will pay to stay there. So as the saying get what you pay for!

The first place I travelled to on my recent trip to Europe was France. I stayed in a three star hotel about ten minutes out of the centre of Paris. The hotel was a five minute walk from a train station that proved to be fantastic to get around, and in prime location of several restaurants and even a shopping centre. Good location so most likely to be a good place to stay. We only paid around 60 euro's a night, so I was not expecting perfection but still something nice. I was hopeful, until we stepped out of the lift onto the 6th floor heading to our room. The corridor was dimly lit, had cream cement walls with big bulky bright yellow doors lining each side. Not the best start, but then we opened the door to our room, the effectiveness of the saying you get what you pay for sprang to mind instantly.

It was the smallest hotel room I had ever been in, it was lucky enough to house a double bed resting on a bright blue metal frame with generic bright multicoloured linen. We had two pillows only, a 19 inch television that was raised in the corner, probably because there was no room to put it anywhere else. Under the television was a small corner shelf that matched the small shelf sitting on the other side of the bed acting as a bedside table. So aside from the obviously miniscule funiture provided in this room, there was barely enough room to lay the suitcase on the floor. There was however an ensuite, which as you can imagine I was very happy about. This consisted of a basin, small toilet and a shower with doors that did not close properly. As far as accessories and decorations go, well.....there was none, there was not even a telephone, a bath mat or even spare pillows provided. Not a hotel I would choose to stay in again.

After the few days spent in Paris travels then went onto Geneva, Switzerland. The hotel chosen was on the other end of the scale, paying over 200 euro a night. The hotel seemed to be a much bigger hotel than our previous accommodation which I was hoping would be reflective on the size of the rooms. The foyer was much better presented and even when we stepped out of the lift onto our floor the feeling was much more prestigious. Beautifully wall papered walls lined with oak wooden doors gave me a much better feeling about this hotel. We stepped into out room and felt instant pleasure, not only did the hotel provide a queen sized bed with tables on each side but it also had a large desk/dining table with 2 chairs, a cushioned window seat, kitchenette and fully functional large bathroom with a bath and a separate toilet. The room was fantastic, you could even section off the bedroom from the rest of the suite.  All the furniture matched, the accessories and cushions matched the curtains and linen and even the benchtop in the kitchen and the bathroom matched. The quality of the fittings was spectacular and worth spending that little bit more on the room to give you that extra luxury.

This hotel clearly showed that a better presented room is worth a lot more. Expecially considering the room was about 10 minutes out of the centre of Geneva and the only thing close by was a shopping centre with a few restaurants.

So if on holidays it is safe to say that you would spend that little bit more on a hotel room to get the better quality better presented room, then it would be safe to say that you would do that for your home as well, after all you have to spend all of your time there, not just a few nights.

No matter what property is referred to, whether it be a home, a hotel room, an office, an apartment so on and so forth, if the property is presented well with quality fittings, the more likely a higher price will be paid. You would never pay to visit a day spa if it looked like a toilet block, however if the day spa was presented well and gave off a relaxing atmosphere with quality fittings and great presentation then you would most likely spend that little bit more, get that extra manicure on top of your massage.

Presentation is all about impression. The aim in property styling and home staging is to give that positive first and lasting impression. If a friend walks into your home you want them to feel comfortable and relaxed and most of the time you would love it if they commented on your place saying how great it looked, making spending that extra money worth while. Same goes if you are selling your home, if a possible purchaser walks into your house you want them to leave with a great first impression and a long lasting memory of how great your house looked and how perfect it would look with them in it.

So if you would pay a little bit more for a better hotel room, then you would definately pay a little bit more for the better house, and that house is better because it has been staged for sale.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Home Staging: Facts and Figures

Home Staging.....most people reading this will probably already have a good idea about what Home Staging is, otherwise you would not have found my blog.  But for those who have come across this page unknowingly, prepare to be educated.

Home Staging is the practice of presenting a home for sale.  This means styling it so it appeals to its target market in the hope to obtain more interested buyers. The more interested buyers you have, the more negotiations take place and the higher the price rises.  If the parties are interested from the first viewing of the home online then they do not want to miss such a great house on the open market. Therefore a higher price and a quicker sale. You cannot lose!

Presenting a home can mean many different things. It can mean simply advising a vendor/owner of the best way to style their home with their own furniture and belongings, whether it be rearranging a few pieces of furniture or decluttering, but we will get to that later. It can be as simple as changing the bed linen, to as difficult as the suggestion of new light fittings or painting a wall. Home Staging can also mean furniture rental, whether it be one or two pieces, to furnishing an empty house....a home stagers dream job. I had a client that had just been through a divorce and his wife had taken some of the furniture, he had a few empty rooms in his house that needed furnishing prior to sale. He believed that if he furnished those rooms he would be able to get a better sale price, he was spot on.  Perfect example of only renting a few items of furniture. The vacant house is perfect for us home stagers to do a perfect job. Although some people believe only a few rooms needs to be furnished, I can seriously say those people are wrong! If you viewed a house at an inspection with only the lounge room and one bedroom with furniture in it you would start questioning why and completely forget about the house. The issue would be a major distraction and the house itself a minor one. It would be worth while to style every room in the house so that house looks like a display home. No one would agree on a building plan after seeing an empty display home, so why purchase an empty house. Staging an empty house can be expensive but it is definately worth it. You will see why from the statistics below. Afterall staging a home is an investment in the sale price, not a cost of sale.

So we have been through general presentation advise and furniture rental, another great option in home staging is asking for some help to declutter your home. Decluttering sounds a bit surgical and it basically is. It is going through a home room by room and helping to empty out the things that will not help sell your home. For example, family photos, trophies, toys, kids artwork, pet supplies and all of those personal things that families gather over time. It might sound brutal but what you like, may not be what your purchaser likes. Any possible purchaser should be able to walk into a home at inspection and imagine what their belongings would look like in the home, their family photos and their decorations. They will not be interested in how big your family is and what acheivements you have reached in your life. Some people will find this a difficult task, however just think about it as you starting to pack up your home, and you have started with these most personal items.

As well as staging an empty house, decluttering would have to be one of my favourite jobs, im extremely organised and I get to help other people be the same. And if it could help them get more profit for the sale of their home then that is even better.

Now for those statistics I told you about. Following are the reasons in a nutshell why every person who sells their home should use a Home Stager, preferrably me...
  • Staged houses spend on average 50% less time on the real estate market than any unstaged home.
  • Home staging increases property value on average by 8% above the listing price. Non staged homes only increase an average of 1.6% of the listing price.
  • 82% of vacant homes sell faster when they have been staged.
  • 90% of buyers cannot visualise the potential if a home is empty.
  • 80% of people choose to view a home at inspection based on the photos on the internet.
  • Buyers generally only look at 3 houses a weekend, you need to make your home stand out.
So based on these statistics alone, how could anyone say no to home staging. If you have your home staged, then have the agent do all the marketing you can obtain every advantage of the statistics abovet. Not only will your house be viewed several times on the internet but 80% of those viewers will attend your house, your house will sell in 50% quicker time and for a price approximately 8% higher than the listing price, imagine that if your house were on the market for $500,000, your house would sell for approximtaley $540,000.  If that were you principal place of residence, thats $40,000 tax free money in your pocket. Home staging would cost less than 10% of that amount.

So if you are selling your home and you would like some help, give me a call, below are the services that I can offer you:

Home Staging
Furniture Rental
Property Styling
Rental Property Preparation
Project Management for renovations
Consultations for Property Developers