Have you ever flicked through those premier property pages and imagined yourself living the high life in the houses photographed in front of you? What would you say if you knew people could look at your home and think the same thing? Here’s how to get your property appearing on the glossy pages and not languishing in the back of a filing cabinet when the time comes to put your property on the market.
With property prices resuming on the ever upward trend, buyers’ expectations are also on the increase. They are contemplating a commitment to paying off sums of money inconceivable in their parents’ lifetime and your property has to convince them that they’re happy to do it: you’re in the business of selling a dream.
So dragging the hoover around and putting on a pot of coffee won’t do anymore, you have to sell them your lifestyle. Deep down we all know that real people don’t live in permanently immaculate homes (well not without the help of a team of invisible servants, anyway) and that we don’t always dine off the trendiest china or indeed eat the finest of foods, but buyers want to believe it and many vendors are turning to professional stylists for advice on how best to convince them.
Suzanne Aldridge of DesRes London, is on a mission to educate the property selling public in marketing their homes and tapping into the fantasy. ‘I’ve heard vendors say that they don’t want to pretend and change the way they live for the estate agent’s camera, that they believe in a homely, lived in look or that prospective buyers will be able to see through the mess. My question to them is would they go for a job interview of a first date wearing their tracksuit bottoms and a grubby t-shirt? No? But that’s a homely, lived in look too, won’t their personality shine through?’ It seems that pretending is exactly what the buyers want and they are willing accomplices in the illusion’.
Suzanne Aldridge continues ‘when people move, it’s usually up the property ladder. A new home, a new life – a chance to reinvent themselves, they don’t want to be reminded of the clutter of everyday life that they are escaping from, they look for the make-believe world that the new property represents. So a clean, uncluttered room translates into an easy, uncomplicated life. Light airy rooms give them space to grow and breathe. They aspire to that trendy china, the modern accessories, those expensive toiletries on the bathroom shelf; it’s all a part of the person they’ll become’. And the vendors have to live the dream for the viewings.
What Suzanne Aldridge suggests is that as soon as you think of putting your property on the market you should think styling. In fact, do it before you ring up the estate agent. ‘It’s important to get the photos on the property details right from the outset. Some agent photographers just click away at what’s in front of them without paying heed to the wheelie bin beside the front door or the stack of newspapers next to the sofa. The rooms look dim because no one has thought to tell the vendors to put the lights on or remove heavy net curtains from the windows. These types of photos will do nothing to entice the buyer to book a viewing. Another telltale sign that may ward off the prospective buyer is when only the exterior shots of the property appear on the details. It screams that there’s nothing inside worth taking a photograph of – again not worth making that appointment. Most vendors aren’t aware that if they don’t like the photos on their property’s particulars they can insist that the agent re-takes the photographs – this is written within their contract – but so few people exercise this right.
‘A few enlightened agents do give tips on how to make the property more appealing,’ concedes Suzanne, ‘but many don’t go far enough for fear of offending the client and losing the instruction. So if a property is proving difficult to sell they suggest lowering the price.
‘I help people to make the necessary changes to realise the potential in their homes. It might seem perverse to pay for my advice and the recommendations I make in my report, but by the time the clients have made the decision to contact me they’ve learnt the hard way. They’ve been months on the market, lost their dream home and the agent is pressurising them to drop another £5k on the asking price. If they’d taken steps to prepare before they’d instructed the estate agent, they’d have had better photos, a higher number of viewings, more offers and ultimately more money – doing nothing may well turn out to be a false economy.
Suzanne Aldridge concludes: ‘Ultimately I’d like home staging to be the norm and a service that estate agents routinely offer but until that day it’s up to the canny vendor to be proactive and beat the competition to it.’
Suzanne Aldridge works in the whole of London for DesResLondon.
She is delighted to consult on any property staging issues.
Tel 07775 872142