Staging Tips

Closets: Clothes, Shoes, and...Ultimate Turnoffs?

What is wrong with the closet to the left? All in all it seems functional; there is enough room to walk around, plenty of storage...

 

Now let's imagine this is your first time looking at this house from the buyer's side. What do you see now? Either one of two reactions will occur. Either the potential buyer will stand in awe at how much "stuff" you own and happily think of how easily their items will fit. But most likely they will think that this closet is not large enough for all their "stuff."

 

Let's think about it. They just viewed the closet after viewing the bedroom, which was viewed after seeing the hallway and probably a bathroom... Even if they didn't stop to check out the garage, laundry area, kitchen before the bedrooms (unlikely), they still saw the main entry-way and probably a family or living room before this cluttered closet. If you are at all close to normal human beings in your furnishings, even without meeting you (the seller), the buyer will connect with you and read you as an average homeowner.

 

The unfortunate thing is that subconsciously, they will believe that your closet-item amount is similar to their own. In other words, this clutter, allbeit an average amount makes the closet seem sub-average in the eyes of the buyer. Even if they do not possess enough clothes and other items to fill that space, someday they will. Studies show that if people have closet space to fill, they are not afraid to buy more items.

So what can you do?

 

The first option to consider is to install closet storage solutions like the picture on the right.  If you can afford to put in a customizable system, that tells buyers that they can adjust the closet to fit their need.

 

Second, take half of your clothes out and store them away. When showing a closet, they should never be more than half-full. If you are choosing to stay in your home while it is on the market, do not be afraid to box a few items away and put them into the garage, shed, or let a friend keep them for you during your escrow. Even if you need to rent a storage unit for the duration of the escrow at $50/month, that is a great investment when you see the tradeoff as finding a solid buyer for your home.

 

Third, invest is some good lighting for your closet, especially if it is a walk-in. Dark closets leave a negative feel in your potential buyer.

You Got a Showing! Now What?

Hurray! There is a potential buyer for your property! And they will be there at 10:00 AM tomorrow morning. Now what?

 

Most times, it is not advisable to stick around for the viewing, simply because its hard for a buyer to feel comfortable inspecting the property with the seller hovering around. It can create an awkward start to the professional relationship, should they choose to make an offer.

 

Let's remember that the buyer most likely has his/her own furnishings. Which means that if your bulky couch fits along a particular wall, so will their couch.

 

However, the first, and probably most important step when you know you have a potential buyer is to DE-CLUTTER! It is hard for a buyer to imagine where their items will fit when they cannot see past yours.

 

Second, if you have time, do a quick clean of the place. Use glass cleaner on the windows, vacuum the carpets and clean the kitchen and bathrooms. Do not leave dirty dishes sitting out or food on the counters. Even bread and salt and pepper shakers add to the cluttered look. Unless they are artistic pieces that add to the ambiance of the kitchen, put them away. Likewise with the bathrooms. With the hundreds of bathroom items that one person can possess. Designate a drawer that you can quickly store your items into and leave the vanity as clear as possible.

 

Third, check the curb appeal. Are the weeds or grass overgrown? Do the trees or bushes need pruning? Are there pet droppings in the yard? If you have time, get that taken care of. Even if you need to bring in a gardener or your next door neighbor's son. However, if you only have time to handle one area of the home, interior trumps exterior. Generally, buyers will grant more lenience with the outside of the home rather than the inside.

Fourth, as you are cleaning the windows, make sure that any blinds and curtains are free of dust. Before the potential buyers examine your property, make sure you open all your window furnishings. If it is a nice day, open the windows themselves. Let as much natural light into the home as possible. Light makes homes look larger and cleaner. Look at the picture. Who wouldn't want that as a home office?

 

Then take a step back and look at the house as if you are seeing it for a first time. What else can you do? What personal items are too personal to leave out? Certainly you should be careful about leaving mail and items of value out. Guns, fine paintings, and antiques should also be removed prior to showing the property. Apart from that, take a look at your home and trust your instincts.

 

BUT! MANY TIMES YOU ARE NOT GIVEN A FULL DAY'S NOTICE!

 

If you have shorter notice and do not have time to address all these issues, do not panic. First, address the clutter. Do what you can. Next, address the kitchen, bathroom, and anything else you have time for. But only address them on an "as needed" basis. Ideally, it would be better to keep the house presentable on an on-going basis in case you cannot make it home before the showing. Just keep in mind that the potential buyer knows that he or she has given you short notice and they will understand, especially because the house is owner-occupied.

 

If you own pets, it is advisable to have a friend or neighbor who can take them from the property for the showing, if you cannot. Although most people love pets, their presence on the property can create a negative feeling in the minds of the buyer. After all, even though they are our pets and we love them, they are still animals and can carry disease and dirt into the home. Ideally it is best to remove any indication of having a pet on the property. This would include finding a place for the litter box or food and water bowls until after the showing.

 

For more information about staging your home to sell, read the next article.

Branding Your Home to Sell

When we use the word "Branding" many people will identify that as a business term. And they are right. Ideally we will look at branding as how people identify with a product or service offered by a company. And marketers will do anything to get you to buy their product.

 

Wow! Wouldn't it be great to create such a connection with the potential buyer of your property? Well now you can!

 

(Cue: cheesy infomercial soundtrack)

 

Well, maybe we are making fun a little. But when you break it down, why can't you create an emotional connection with the person looking to purchase a home? After all, they are probably looking at several homes, not just yours. At the end of the day, which one will they decide to purchase? Why not your home?

 

So what exactly is branding and how do we create it? Think about your favorite characters on television. How do the writers get you to emotionally connect with them? Well they give the characters a set of likeable traits that make you want to know more about them. The character's back-story and the way he/she copes with adversity creates emotional connection. How can we achieve that with a home?

 

The first step is to take a look at like homes in the area. When you put your home on the market, your agent (hopefully us) will give you a market analysis of your property. But where does that number come from? It comes from us looking at the other homes on the market, those that are currently listed and those that sold in the recent past and we average them out. Then we look at how large your home is, what upgrades were installed, how does it relate to the other homes in its proximity to shopping, schools, churches, and other important places.

 

Ask you agent to view the other properties on the market to see how your home compares. Remember that if a buyer comes to see your house, they will probably go to see the other homes in the area as well. So what can you do to give yourself an edge above the other home? How can you brand your home to appeal to different people?

 

One concern is to stage the property properly. Clutter is a negative thing for potential buyers (Read "You Got a Showing! Now What" above). But not every personal item needs to be removed. Suppose you have a silver frame on your end table with a picture of your wedding day. Or maybe you have a portrait of your family above your fireplace. Of maybe one of the bedrooms features various painted hand-prints, each with its own date showing the child's growth. Obviously you are sending the message that a happy family lives there and has lived there for quite a while. This home has housed many family memories. Now, this can be a great branding opportunity to some and somewhat neutral to others. Consider that a newly married couple will already have an emotional connection to the house because those things are there. However, to a single, partying, college student, those items will not be a big selling point, but will not leave him/her with a negative reaction.

 

Or suppose your house is close by to a large college or university. Perhaps it would be better to brand part of the house towards that demographic. Perhaps having a garage with a poker table and dartboard and neon lights will create that connection.

 

The point is that even though the items are personal and will not go with the house, it creates an idea of "think of the possibilities" in the minds of the potential buyers.

 

Of course, good branding goes hand in hand with good marketing. Someone once said that, "If branding is your voice, marketing is your megaphone." In other words, marketing is the avenue from which your brand is heard.

 

At the Zazueta Team we make every effort to get your house out to as many people as possible. We utilize the talents of a college-trained graphic designer to create flyers, video tours, interactive tours, floor plans, and more. After that, the property is marketed on social media sites, Craigslist, Trulia, Zillow, Realtor.com and more!

 

So think of three characteristics. And then try to think of ways to convey that in the home with furnishings and paint colors. There are many small ways to create that emotional connection with the potential buyer that will not break the budget. If you need help with ideas, just ask us!

Questions?

The Zazueta Team

8363 E. Florentine Rd.

Prescott Valley, AZ 86314

 

Office: (928) 237-3768

Janet: (928) 458-0695

Fax: (928) 717-2478

 

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