The Growing Importance and Necessity of Home Staging and Presentation Consulting Services
Without question, real estate brokerage has been for me a most enjoyable and rewarding career since I entered the business full time in 1993. This is my second career, having worked in the financial accounting, consulting and strategic planning fields in the first ten years after graduate school. Over the past 24 years, I have witnessed numerous changes in this industry – many of these have had a significant impact on the way we function - some have been game-changing. However, the fundamental core purpose of this business has remained a constant – bringing home buyers and sellers together and successfully shepherding those parties through the purchase and sale of the “place” they each call “HOME” It’s the enjoyment I get from helping consumers work through this process – a process that for many consumers represents the single biggest financial transaction/investment they will make in their lives – coupled with the fact that the selection of a property can have a profound impact (good or bad) on the financial, social and personal lifestyle that a buyer will experience in their years of home ownership. Each transaction carries with it its unique qualities – after all, aside from the actual exchange of property, each buyer and seller brings with them a unique set of wants, needs and personalities to their transaction – making no two transaction totally alike. Those special nuances bring me such enjoyment- it’s hard to get bored with the work. Mind you, there are days when I long for the opportunity to shut my cell phone off (without guilt or worry) and leave it someplace out of my reach.
These 24 years have brought advancements in both technology and the way we communicate and share information - transforming the way we connect with each other – cell phone, email, teleconferencing, Internet marketing, social media, virtual offices, aerial photography and so on. Still, with all of those changes, our core business is a personal business – people interacting with people – the unique aspects of each buyer, seller, property and real estate professional create a dynamic that ensures that to get the best result out of this property selection and exchange process, it must remain a person to person based business. Changes in technology help our efficiencies but cannot replace the human touch and connection.
The development of the Internet and Online Marketing has forever changed the way we market property. When I started in 1993, Internet marketing was not in play. Property information was shared amongst Realtors® and with consumers through the use of the printed MLS books and fax machines. These books were produced and distributed to Realtors® on a bi-weekly basis by our local board owned MLS – we would gather every other Thursday morning at our Realtor® Board hall and review the books and discuss the changes to each and every listing. The time lapse between the printing and distribution of the books essentially rendered them outdated the moment they were distributed. We thought it was a very efficient way to handle this dissemination of information but looking back, with the online technology we enjoy today, it was cumbersome and inefficient by comparison to say the least! In addition, the books in those days were available only to Realtors®. Consumers who wanted to learn about which listings were available needed to obtain that information directly from a Realtor® - Realtors® were the gatekeepers of the information and our books were what was on the other side of that “gate”. Today, the Internet has changed the information platform. Sites such as Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com aggregate MLS listings across the country and upload those listings to their Internet portals which consumers can access directly – 24/7. Complete with photos, technical information, market and pricing history and community information, these online listing displays brought information directly to consumers, empowering them to research listings at their leisure before reaching out to a Realtor®.
No longer is the consumer’s “First Impression” the moment when they arrive at the front door – rather it can happen in the middle of the night in front of a computer terminal. As a result, our online marketing efforts have to make a positive lasting impression to the consumers long before that consumers actually steps foot on that property. The quality of photography is much more important than ever. Good quality and realistic photography can generate interest and engage the consumer to make a call to see the property in person; poor quality photos can end the discussion before it even starts. High resolution cameras, professional photographers, special lighting, photo editing software, etc. are becoming commonplace among successful listing Realtors®. However, even the best photography cannot make up for a subject that is, shall we say – “less than photogenic”! Where a need exists, an opportunity is launched! Home Staging and Presentation Consulting have become a major tool in developing a successful home marketing campaign. Fundamentally, the camera doesn’t lie. It captures what it sees and unless edited before displaying the photo, you see what the camera saw. Home Staging is the process to dress up a piece of property so that the qualities you are trying to project to the public are illustrated in the best possible way. Decluttering, renovation, painting, cleaning, lighting, etc. are just some of the steps to consider amending at a property before the furnishings and décor are selected and arranged – only then is the property ready for the eye of the camera … and the consumer. Consider these steps to be akin to the hair styling, make up, clothing selection and posing each of us anguish over when we try to look our best in front of the camera. The Art of Home Staging and Presentation Consulting have become “big business” in our industry and an essential tool for any successful listing Realtor®.
Grand Gables has been providing Home Staging and Presentation Consulting services for many years – even before the phrase was coined. We have advised numerous clients across a wide range of property values and types – strategizing with these homeowners to present their homes in the best possible way for the camera and ultimately for the buyer. For some, the scope can be as simple as suggestions on decluttering or furniture placement and for others, it can run the gamut from suggested renovations based on a cost/benefit evaluation for return on sale to helping with the selection and coordination of remodeling contractors, guidance and sourcing of furniture and home décor enhancements (purchase or rent) and laying out a design plan and time schedule that brings it all together with that “wow factor”. We all want our listings to stand out as a value in the marketplace – best that they stand out against the competition in a good way. For many properties, the time we invest into home staging and preparation can be a significant component of the overall time spent on bringing about a successful sale. If done well, it’s time well invested. Invariably, home staging and preparation consulting, regardless of the scope, have consistently been winning propositions for the property owner.
Our Home Staging and Presentation Consulting Services have been sought after by past clients who rely upon our advice and design aesthetic to help them transform the home they purchased into the home they want to live in.
Going forward, we will chronicle some of our most memorable projects. It will give you a sense of our experience and success in the area of Home Staging and Home Preparation Consulting.
As a prelude …. At this time, we are currently advising on four properties that we plan to bring to market in the first few months of 2018. We will share with you some of our suggestions regarding these properties as we get closer:
- A home built in the 1920s with good bones and nice lines but it has an outdated kitchen, baths, finishes, colors, etc. We are advising on a substantial renovation of this property so it can come to market with a design aesthetic and floor plan flow targeted for today’s buyer. This is a flip project. This property will be unoccupied when we bring it to market and we plan to stage the main floor of this home when renovations are complete.
- A home built in the 1980s that has a dated décor. This home also requires some renovations that are beyond cosmetic but the majority of the enhancements here are heavy cosmetics – refinishing and installation of wood floors, color selection and repainting of interior space, selection of fixtures and tiling for a complete renovation of the master bedroom and a refreshing of the family bathroom, replacement carpet selection. This is not a flip but rather a family property the owner is preparing for sale. This property will be unoccupied when we bring it to market and we plan to stage the main floor of this home when renovations are complete.
- A home built in the 1940s that needs a significant renovation IF the structure is to be retained but, given the location of the property and the planned listing price, the offering will provide an opportunity for someone to potentially tear down the existing home and rebuild a new one. For this property, we are advising on decluttering, cleaning and some minor cosmetic renovations to enable the buyer to see beyond the dated condition and envision its possibilities.
- A home built in the 1960s and significantly expanded in the early years of this Millennium. We are advising on some renovations (some of which involve floor plan challenges that resulted from the earlier expansion). This home will be occupied when we bring it to market. We plan to work with the owners to stage the interior using their furnishings.
About the Author: For more than twenty years, David S. Drinkwater has been setting a quality standard for how real estate should be marketed and sold in the coastal communities of the South Shore - the "Gold Coast" region between Boston and Cape Cod. Consistently one of the region’s Top Producing Realtors®, David has earned numerous sales and recognition awards over the years. In his local community of Scituate, David has dominated sales in all price ranges since the start of this Millennium - based on MLS transactions measured as of August 5, 2015, David has closed more sales (both units & dollar volume) than any other agent – in all price ranges. Combined, his dollar volume is 66 percent higher than that of the next closest agent. The October 2004 issue of Boston Magazine named David as the Top Power Broker South of Boston for dollar volume sold in 2003. For an expanded resume on David, click here.