Increasingly popular when confronted by a poorly pereforming property sales market that needs a more dramatic approach than simple de-cluttering, is the process known as 'home-staging.' Though far more established in the US real estate market, than in Europe, it is fast becoming the best model in dramatically aiding the vendors power to sell without having to spend vast amounts of money on re-decorating, fitting new kitchens and bathrooms, or simply adding a few decorative scrolls or stencils. Here the main inspiration is to simply move the visitor's eyes away from the flaws of your home and focus interest on it's more attractive and potential eye-catching features.
This relatively new 'industry' though largely un-regulated; it is more than a simple blend of common sense with an artistic flair. It often takes a third person's eye to show how so much can be done with just a few minor changes. It is surprising just how many vendors still continue to show neither an understanding nor appreciation of just how effective a few simple actions can radically help to sell a property and bring the appearance into the 21st century and to attract your buyers expectations; just look at some of the illustrations on the right. As this approach grows in popularity there are now specialist firms offering not only a consultancy service but even supply complete 'home staging' packages to rent all or part of their portfolio of fixtures and fittings and help elaborate a property.
It is often overlooked, that psychological studies have shown that an empty property remains on the market twice as long as one that has been furnished. However minimal, a furnished property helps the buyer to see what can be done with the space. Second it has been shown that the classic buyer will decide the appeal of a property within the first 8 seconds of stepping inside; and to this it is important not to forget the 'curb appeal' of the property too. A buyer will take as much first impression information from the external outlook of the house before entering – and once inside both the agents chat and the vendors enhancements can greatly assist to promote a sale.
Creating a property that looks appealing can be complicated if only because you will need to make time and be creative; and not all of us have this ability if we are distance selling our second home or too busy with our jobs. Despite thinking that you and your personal taste and style are the best, there is a huge variation from a house that looks pleasant to live in and one that is satisfying to move in to. Your visitors may see your property as seemingly homely and lived-in, but this alone may not encourage them to live in it themselves. Your buyer needs to be able to see themselves and their family living in the property too, and you alone, with all your emotions, may not be able to produce the best and most appropriate impression.
Nevertheless before you reach and call in the experts; here are a few simple tips and clues to help you start the road to 'home staging' and sell your property sooner rather than later…
De-clutter and depersonalise – look at your property as an impersonal object; and get rid of the dust collectors, the piles of books and magazines, and use the time to begin to pack away those things you will take, or to take things you no longer need to the charity shop. Remembering that less is more! The best way of making a property impersonal is to remove family photos, religious ornaments, posters, certificates, awards and other similar souvenirs; and to replace with non-descript images or pictures in simple frames.
Landscaping rooms – here the emphasis is on space and creating openness and comfort; one of the main principles of the home staging bible. Make rooms as spacious as possible, move furniture around in that space, and if necessary begin to store any excess pieces away. There is nothing worse than moving through a property where a door knocks a piece of ill-placed furniture when entering a room, or you and your buyer are forced to squeeze between tightly furnished passage ways, a toy abundant bedroom, or so forth. Begin storing the non-essential items away ready for your move; and remember to complete the landscape by opening blinds and curtains to fill natural light into the rooms during the day, or alternatively illuminate with subtle lamps and candles in the evenings. Not forgetting to remove any tired rugs, stray tea clothes and bath towels!
Fresh appeal – does not just mean clean, tidy and a scented candle. All too often vendors of any nationality will too quickly forget (or ignore) a few basic presentation principles when they are selling a property. When selling a car you never think not to clean and wax it, paint the rust spots over and even varnish the tyres; so why when selling a house do owners too often neglect to tidy, to clean - if only to make the house more presentable for the agency photographer. A property is either an expensive necessity or a momentary luxury purchase and yet this particular commodity is all too often neglected in the way it is presented. So, please vendors, simply remind yourself how all those houses you looked at when you were buying seemed untidy, cluttered, dirty, and just go around your home now and count the cobwebs, the smeared tiles and walls. Check, correct and then (re)present your property for sale at its very best.
Masking – or dressing is the subtle art of hiding or shifting attention from an object or space in order to make it appear more attractive, spacious, and pleasant. A few inexpensive treatments include up-lighters to the ceiling to give the illusion of greater height, or bed covers and throws to add a little "boutique hotel chic" style, neutral coloured cushions scattered around sofas and beds, clear clutter (and smokers - your ashtrays) from tables, use wide ribbons or invest in decorative curtain tie-backs, a few drops of perfumed bleach in sinks and drains prior to a visit, and even (the mythical) freshly brewed coffee, teh TV switched on (to show reception and help mask external noise), even removing animal feed trays – all this can significantly contribute to mask a vendors presence and make your house hunter welcome.
Treatments – not only refers to the walls and floors but includes soft furnishings and the use of fabrics. Most consultants I have spoken with agree that wall treatments and floorings are most appealing when offered in neutral colors and use understated patterns. Paint colours work best in a neutral form to encourage the illusion of space and also reinforce openness. However this may not always be the case, predominantly in the luxury home market, where using bold colour statements and daring finishes can often be deemed far more fashionable and attractive. Therefore before you decide to decorate your property to sell it, take the time to consider your market and the customer you are aiming to attract.
Accessorising – is not only cushions and pictures, frames and decorative objects it is also about the use of glass, mirrors and water too. One of the most popular methods used by consultants is the choice and use of mirrors – in fact the bigger the better. To make the most of the effect too then place it close to a corner, or even better position mirrors opposite each other; and again this will enhance the room and make it far more spacious. Other considerations include fresh cut flowers dressed in simple but large clear water filled crystal vases, dining tables prepared and dressed for guests (even if they are not due) can make your visitor feel at home – as well as giving an impression of size and comfort.
Exterior facing – is the method used to promote 'curb appeal' and to make your visitor really want to see the inside of your property. Improving a home's exterior appeal really needs to be considered together with any interior improvements; and can cost you just a few more Euros to give a lasting impresssion. Dressing the outside with potted plants typical of the region, geraniums, and basket hangers can really help to make an appealing "cared for" treatment; not to mention that they will shift the eye away from any paint blisters, cracked window frames or other unsightly blemishes.
Know your buyer – in the sense that you have already an idea to whom you are intending to sell your property to; another foreign re-locator, a local, someone of your own nationality, a family, retired, etc. Believe it or not this alone will strongly influence how you present yourself and your property to any visiting buyer; if still unsure then you may find a home staging consultants advice more than helpful.
Home staging consultants can assist with an independent appraisal, offer un-biased help and advice to make your property more appealing to potential buyers, especially in areas where there is much similar choices on offer. They can help to ensure that your property is, and remains, as presentable as is possible when the buyers come to view. Your Home Staging consultant will ideally be locally based, have established links with local suppliers, have a knowledge of the property market available in the area, and also be aware of what people are looking for today; and where you the vendor might not.
A good consultant will offer an initial objective opinion regarding the state and style of your property. This is especially useful if you have lived in your property for some length of time, it is too easy to become attached to a property; and therefore be critical of the space yourself. The consultant will not be so attached but will have one simple aim; to make YOUR property that much easier to sell. While using a consultants help may not guarantee a sale, it can be that one opportunity that gives you the edge; especially in today’s competative and volatile market.
Local professional suppliers offering a home staging service include:
In the Lecrin area
The Finished Touch
Contact: Patsy and David Robinson in Murchas
Tel: + 34 677 612 373
In Salobrena, Almuñécar & La Herradura
Shane Williams Interiors
Contact: Shane Williams
Tel: + 34 958 827 270 / + 34 666 267 201
And for External facing & Gardens
Contact: Nola Lyttle