Attracting Home Buyers with Psychology – Does it Really Work?

The concept of professional home staging isn’t a new one. In fact, it became a popular marketing tool among the real estate communities on the west coast over 30 years ago. In light of the recent housing market decline, homeowners are struggling to find creative ways to sell their home. Many real estate agents and homeowners are calling upon the services of “home stagers” to professionally prepare the house for sale. What exactly is home staging? While there are many different “tag lines,” from various sources within the industry, it can be summed up as, “using what the homeowner already has to prepare and “position” the home to appeal to the masses. A marketing tool used to facilitate a quick and profitable sale.”

With the dozens of new programs on HGTV, the home selling and buying population are taking notice of this thing called “staging.” So the question remains: Does it work? What does psychology have to do with it? The answer is yes, it does work, and psychology is a key element in preparing the home for the market. Let’s first look at the definition of “psychology.” The Webster’s dictionary definition is: “the science of the mind or of mental states and processes.” How does this apply to buying or selling a home, you ask?

It’s quite simple actually! A professional home stager will generally have the home seller pack away personal photos and momentos, remove clutter such as knick-knacks, countertop appliances, and other items that reflect THEIR lifestyle and the way THEIR family lives in the home. The stager will start with a clean slate so to speak. Through furniture placement, lighting, updated accessories and artwork, and a psychological allure referred to as “emotional connection points,” a mental process is put into play. By creating “vignettes,” or brief scenes of what life could look like, how a person might use a space, a buyer, for example, will “mentally move in” to the home. It is psychological persuasion. Here is a mental exercise to prove this point. Relax and close your eyes, imagine in your mind’s eye, a long and stressful day at work. You get home, fill the spa-tub in the Master Bath with hot water and clouds of fragrant bubbles.

You climb in for a relaxing soak, sipping a glass of wine as you watch the dancing reflections of the candle-lit room… OK, you can snap out of it now! The point is that, by using psychology…the “science of the mind,” a home stager is able to draw a prospective buyer in and help them to imagine living there themselves. By “staging” the Master Bath with fluffy towels, beautiful candles surrounding the tub, and a serving tray with a wine glass, a buyer will “emotionally connect” to this space. This is just one example, but there are many emotional connections that can be strategically implemented throughout the home.

While there are still some “non-believers” in home staging, it has been proven to be a very valuable marketing tool. It isn’t simply painting the walls and packing away extra “stuff.” In order to be successful there is that critical element of the human psyche that must be addressed.

Stage Your Home for "Yourself"

Many people have a horizon for when they’ll be selling their homes. It could be a year, two years, or five years. The family is growing and they need larger quarters… the kids are grown and they want to downsize… the home is too large as they get older… Florida is alluring… or whatever the reason. When the time comes to put the home on the market, they go all out painting, updating and replacing.

Why put all that money, time, and effort into the home for a new owner? Instead, put that money, time, and effort into a home you’ll enjoy for however long you stay there. When I’ve staged homes for clients who are getting ready to put their homes on the market, I’ve heard so many say, “I wish I had done that sooner so I could have enjoyed it.” Don’t be one of those people.

Take a Good Look at Your Kitchen

An overhaul to your kitchen can be very costly, but there are a few small changes that will make a major difference.

• The least expensive thing to do is give your kitchen a new coat of paint in a color that works with the color of your counters and cabinets.

• Replacing cabinets can be expensive. If your cabinets are out of date or in need of re-doing, think about painting them and changing the knobs, handles, and hinges. That alone can make a big difference.

• Countertops can be another costly investment. If yours are worn or in need of replacement, think about going with a laminate instead of investing in granite or other high-end countertops. Laminates have come a long way in recent years; they offer a wide variety of colors and textures.

• Take all the clutter off your refrigerator door. A refrigerator door looks messy when it’s covered with your kid’s school schedules, magnets, photos, calendars, or anything else. Instead put these items in the inside a door, closet, or cabinet.

• Organize the cupboards and pantry. Remove excess stuff-you know the items you haven’t used in years and probably never will.

• Choose an attractive centerpiece for your kitchen table. Use a vase of flowers, a bowl full of fruit, a ceramic or glass piece, or anything else that appeals to your taste.

• Add a plant or two plants to liven up the room.

Now, Take a Look at Your Bathroom

The appeal of a lovely bathroom can remind you of a luxury hotel or soothing spa. You can create a taste of that in your bathroom.

• Any bathroom can be instantly transformed by adding beautiful, soft towels that you display decoratively. You can purchase a wall-wine rack, roll the towels, and place them where the wine bottles would go. Or you can roll a few towels in a basket with fragrant soaps, bath oils, natural loofahs, and candles to create a spa-like atmosphere.

• Clear off the counters. That includes toothbrushes, the jar of cotton balls, the roll of paper towels, and everything else that clutters the counter. (Instead of having everything on the counter, go to a store such as the Container Store where you’ll find all sorts of caddies, shelves, holders, and de-clutter items.) Get an attractive soap dish or use liquid soap with a dispenser for the bathroom counter.

• If your tub is old and worn and the tiles in your shower are no longer attractive, you can call a company such as Bath Fitter to install a new tub and wall right over the old one. Bath Fitter claims to do the installation in just one day.

• Mirrors often de-silver after years in the bathroom. Replace them, perhaps with mirrors with a lovely frame.

• Replace the faucets, knobs or door pulls, and towel racks for an updated look.

• Include a vase with flowers, pussy willows, or leaves. Either pick them from your garden or get silk ones.

In and Around the House

Take a look around your home to see what else you may be able to update or redo:

• If your wooden floors are worn or dirty from all the years of walking on them, it’s time to have them sanded and coated with polyurethane.

• If your carpets are stained or no longer look clean, it may be time to have them professionally cleaned or replaced.

• If your wallpaper is peeling (and that generally starts at the seams), it’s time to remove the paper and re-paper or paint?

• If your walls are full of fingerprints from the kids or the paint isn’t looking fresh and clean, it’s time to repaint.

Look Outside

• If shingles on your roof are coming lose, it’s time to have the roof looked at and perhaps redone.

• If your driveway has excessive cracks, it may be time for a topcoat or more.

• If you have shutters, make sure the paint is fresh and the shutters they’re attached firmly to the house.

• If your shingles or anything on the outside creates an eyesore, take corrective action.

Mastering the Open Floor Plan That Home Buyers Demand

Today’s home buyers don’t just desire an open floor plan. They demand it! But creating the ultimate open floor plan isn’t just about taking a sledge hammer to walls (hello HGTV!) it’s about thoughtful and creative design from the ground up. Here are a few easy ways to develop open floor plans that have pizzazz.

Definitely Define Spaces:

Carving out “functional spaces” gives buyers an idea as to how the open floor plan will flow and cater to their daily lives. Items such as area rugs and statement lighting help define spaces and add interest. By using an area rug in the great room and a gorgeous chandelier above the dining area, spaces are controlled and not confined.

Continuity is King:

Fundamental design elements such as flooring and recessed lighting should maintain a consistent feel in the open space. It may sound obvious, but this creates an aesthetically pleasing and seamless flow that home buyers desire. Make sure that furniture, accessories and art all complement each other. Even check the color palette among spaces to make sure there is a strong relationship in color choices and styling.

Stunning Standout Features:

In each “zone” of the open living space, make sure there is a design feature that really makes a statement. A beautiful, stone fireplace wall in the living area or statement pendants above the kitchen island gives personality to each of the spaces.

Keep Site Lines Secure:

Keep an open floor plan just that – open! Make sure to leave the space uncluttered and don’t obstruct site lines with unnecessarily large accessories or furniture pieces. Buyers want to envision themselves cooking, eating and entertaining all in the same open, airy space. Something such as a tall bookshelf or bulky sectional could be more of an eye sore that a striking statement.

Take a Space to Soaring Heights:

If the home can accommodate, it may be beneficial to add architectural drama. An open floor plan can feel even brighter and fresher with remarkable ceiling height and details. Vaulted ceilings or dramatic wood trim or beams may be the strong selling feature that stand out for a potential buyer.

Indoor Outdoor Relationship:

Don’t let the open floor plan stop at the back door! Create a seamless flow from the fresh, airy indoors to the outdoors with a continuation of flooring materials throughout both spaces as well as impressive, large glass doors and windows.

Have fun with a few (or all) of these creative design ideas that are sure to help a property’s open floor plan stand out!

6 Do-It-Yourself Keys To Stage Your Home

There are many discussions about the best way, to market and sell a house, to its greatest potential, and to assure, it, is displayed, in the best possible, light! However, there must be a balance, so the homeowner, avoids wasting money, yet enhances the way, his house, shows! While some larger, more expensive houses, may, benefit from, and should hire a quality, professional, home – stager, the cost of doing so, makes it counter – indicated, in several other circumstances. With that in mind, and with the hope of achieving, the best of both worlds, this article will briefly examine, and review, 6 do – it – yourself, relatively inexpensive ways, to stage, your home.

1. Clean; reduce clutter: Perhaps the single, best step, and component of showing your house, to its potential, is to pay keen attention, to maintaining its overall cleanliness, inside, and outside! Excessive clutter is often, not merely distracting, and shows a house, in a less than optimum light, but creates, a negative, first impression!

2. Examine decor; freshen – up; accentuate the positive: It’s unwise to spend, excessively, on new furniture and/ or furnishings, but it makes sense, to look objectively, and examine, simple ways, to improve the decor. Perhaps you might decide, to freshen the way it presents, by covering older, warn, sofas and chairs, with pleasant – looking, slip – covers! How might you accentuate certain areas, either by how you relocate furniture, lights, etc, or with lighting, accent – paints, etc?

3. Paint – Touch – up, and freshen: It’s often too costly to repaint one’s entire house, but it may make, a ton of difference, when you touch – up areas, which are most visible, while freshening, and refreshing, the overall look of the home!

4. Set scenes: Create little scenes, which provide a warmer, personal, friendly feeling! Using vases, in key locations, with colorful flowers, etc, fruit bowls, setting the table, with attractive place – settings, etc, often create an emotional, attraction, for potential buyers!

5. Lighting: You want to make certain, there is sufficient light, to show off, the most desirable features of the home! Certain areas might benefit from mood – lighting, while others are improved, by being certain, there are good quality bulbs, and the lighting is neither too bright, nor too dull. Use bulbs which create the best impression, in various locations, around the house!

6. Curb appeal: Power – wash sidewalks, foundation, walls and roofing, etc. Inspect windows, and clean them, thoroughly. Remove any accumulation of debris and/ or grime, from areas such as window – sills! What impression will potential buyers have, from the appearance of your front door? Remember, curb appeal is often, a key difference, between, enticing people, to look, in a favorable light, versus turning, them, off!

These 6 basic, simple, do – it – yourself, keys, often, make a significant difference, in achieving the best possible results! Will you be willing to work, with your real estate agent, as a team, and make the best impression?

Ten Dos and Don’ts to Help Sell Your Home for Top Dollar

A lot of sellers don’t put enough emphasis on fixing up their homes when they put them on the market. Even sellers with recently renovated homes need to do this work. There is stiff competition and every detail is important to help you sell fast and for top dollar.

So if you want to sell your house, take ten minutes to read this list. Then start packing!

1 DO de-clutter and de-personalize the space! It’s simple advice but this is the most difficult step for sellers. Say good-bye to the home and then erase the memories from the space by putting away personal items. The more prospective buyers can visualize their own belongings in the space, the better.

2 DO create a welcoming entrance that feels great to walk into. Make this space clean, well lit, and up-to-date. First impressions are critical.

3 DO invest in low cost, sweat equity. Repaint the walls a neutral light color, update light fixtures, faucets, doorknobs, and backsplashes. If you don’t have time, hiring someone to get these things completed is money well spent. If you don’t have the talent, hire an interior designer or home stager to consult for a couple of hours. Small cosmetic improvements add up.

4 DON’T do any major renovations on your home if you don’t have the time, money, or energy. Jobs like re-doing the flooring, kitchen, or bathrooms are large and stressful, particularly if you are living in your house during the work. Think rejuvenation not renovation.

5 DO invest in fixing up your outdoor patio or sitting area if you are selling during the warm months. Potential buyers love the added value of an outdoor eating or sitting space. Repaint the deck and create a comfortable space with outdoor furniture. An umbrella and barbecue will be great selling points.

6 DON’T invest in a swimming pool, hot tub, or fishpond. You won’t make your money back. You may even alienate many prospects who are put off by the maintenance involved and the potential hazard for small kids.

7 DO give your kitchen or bathroom a surface makeover. These two rooms are the most important in any home. There is no need to change your entire set up. New faucets, knobs, backsplash, moulding, sink, and paint are all easy and inexpensive updates. Remember to keep it neutral.

8 DON’T forget about the landscaping and outdoor appeal. This is the very first thing buyers will see. If they are turned off, you’ll have to work even harder on the inside. So why not give it some care? Paint your front door, give it a new handle, fix cracks in the walkway, paint the mailbox or get a new one. Fix or get new house numbers. Make it charming by trimming all your trees, bushes, grass, and by adding flowers.

9 DO Be eco-conscious when moving. Donate home fixtures that are in working order to Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore and bring your debris to the eco-center. Consider re-facing or repainting kitchen and bath cabinetry rather than replacing them. The more you can reuse and repurpose, the better. The goal here is to spend as little as possible for the biggest impact.

10 DON’T leave any animal marks around the house. Scratched doors, a kitty litter box, messy eating bowls, hairy blankets, and chewed up toys need to go. Not everyone is an animal lover and they might dismiss the home altogether if they are allergic.