I remember the conversation well, even though the conversation took place nearly two decades ago, very early on in my home staging career.
It was a tiny little house. You walked right into the tiny little living room, could see the tiny little kitchen from the front door, then walked down a tiny little hallway to three tiny little bedrooms. Very typical for this tiny little neighborhood. But what they had going for them that similar homes in the area didn’t have, was a finished family room on the lower-level…tiny, but finished…and a large, semi-finished, three-season sunroom out back.
When we first met, I was given carte-blanche and clear instructions. “Do whatever you think best,” is what they told me. They had already made a contingent offer on their dream home and were totally on-board. Or so they claimed. And even though I explained what I envisioned and told them exactly what I planned to do, the reality of what that truly meant turned out to be more than they had anticipated.
After spending less than a day on site, the place looked twice the size and a few decades younger! Admittedly, I was quite proud of myself. It was stunning! All that was left were the finishing touches to take it to that next level. Their Realtor asked me to return later in the week for advice on fresh paint colors…the pink kitchen walls really had to go…and any additional updates I felt were necessary, and I wholeheartedly agreed! But the following day, I was confronted with a completely different story.
The same agent who had been so ecstatic by the transformations the afternoon before was now in panic mode! His clients were very upset, he informed me. They threatened to cancel their contract. They threated to report him to the Minnesota Board of Realtors. They even threatened to sue! And according to him, they had given me a very unflattering nickname which I won’t repeat here, but still stings when I think about it to this very day. I was devastated, but ready to face the music and talk to the angry owners. The same owners who had originally given me carte-blanche, remember?
The morning I arrived, I was greeted by a very nervous looking Realtor and two very angry homeowners with their arms crossed, giving me the stink eye. I stayed upbeat, walked in and explained, once again, why I did what I did and how important it was to stage the home from the buyer’s point of view, not their own. And I didn’t waiver.
“You do realize we still need to live here, right?”, was their response. I replied with the same mantra I still live by. “Yes, I do realize that. But the goal is to get your home sold quickly for the best possible price. It’s not about you, it’s about the potential buyers, how they see your house, and whether or not what they see makes them want to invest.”
I continued on the tour, talked them out of spending $5K to re-finish their hardwood floors, which were in great condition and really just needed a good cleaning. I advised them instead to take that money they were planning to spend on the floors and invest in fresh, neutral paint throughout and encouraged them to finish the sunroom with new flooring, a ceiling fan, and a few plants. To their credit, they obliged and ended up going above and beyond!
At their first open house the following weekend, they ended up in a bidding war and the house sold for slightly more than $10K over asking price! They were thrilled, the Realtor was thrilled, and they sent me a lovely bouquet of flowers to thank me. (Along with my staging fee, of course.)
While this story took place years ago, long before home staging was the industry it’s turned into today, the end goal remains the same. It’s not about you and how you see your home. You live there! You’re biased! Just remember, it’s all about how potential buyers see your home. That’s what’s going to sell it. And what was true back then is still true today in 2020;
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE BUYER. IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT THE BUYER!
When preparing your home to sell, you need 20/20 vision to ensure you’re showing potential buyers exactly what they want to see. Stage your home from the buyer’s point of view, and you’ll go far. That’s how you sell a house!