It is Friday evening in a quiet office. Most of my fellow real estate agents had gone home for the day eager to get a head start on the weekend. “You getting ready for an open house?” one of them asks, coat on, briefcase in hand. I knew what he really meant was, what are you still doing tapping on those keys, it’s quitting time. “Nah, just closing up a file. Darsy closed escrow today.”
“Wow, that was fast, I guess beers are on you this weekend!” He said only half jokingly. “No can do.” I replied “I was invited to a baby shower.”
I am always honored to be invited to client’s family functions. I’ve been to plenty of weddings, graduations, birthday parties, backyard BBQ’s. I can’t seem to recall a baby shower, so this might be a first. What I do know is that I treat my clients like my family, so it is extra special when they include me in theirs.
“Hey how much did you get for that home?” the agent continued. “Over asking… $680,000.” I answered. “Hmmm, going to a baby shower huh?” He muttered as he headed out.
The story is usually the same. A lot of agents can’t wrap their head around the concept. To them it is a numbers game. How many homes did you sell? How many leads did you get this month? Did any convert? How many calls did you crank out? To them real estate is all about leads and conversions. It is cold, dirty, and impersonal. It’s not about the relationships. I just can’t operate that way. It is not how I am wired. Where they see leads, I see families. Where they see houses and units, I see homes.
I met Darsel & Alfonse last year. They had a couple of rental properties to sell and they were referred by Darsel’s brother who I had worked with a few years prior. We successfully helped them sell their rental properties and then I was asked to help her newlywed daughter and son-in-law buy their first home. They are the ones that are expecting.
This year it was time to sell 8312 Darsy. Darsel had owned Darsy for over 30 years. She raised her family there and even though it was well maintained, it was time for a face lift to extract the maximum value from the market. She was all too familiar with how to execute on the game plan - the prescription that this particular diagnosis resulted in. “We will call Bob (their contractor) and you can walk him through the plan.” There is something else I told them. “Based on this homes’ price point I would like to bring in my interior designer to make some recommendations and give us a quote on staging the home, before we finalize the plan.” “What-ever you think, we trust you, that sounds like a good idea.” They answered.
It was a response that I appreciate hearing from home sellers because immediately it indicates two things to me. 1) they have bought in to the process and 2) we were already thinking on the same wave length.
Both of which are crucial ingredients to a successful and profitable home sale.
While I often have several ideas and an opinion on the best course of action, I like to bring in my team of experts to help locate and unlock hidden value in the home and to reach our target buyer.
In other words, I do my research. That is the critical first step.
Have you ever been to a model home and wondered why they spend so much time and money on decorating the homes? After all you are buying the walls and rooms, not the furniture. Wouldn’t it be easier to just save that money and show off the upgrades that are for sale rather than furniture you can’t even buy? Home builders study the science of staged homes. It is one of the reasons that they set up their sales office inside the model, and why they funnel you back through the sales office after you have had a chance to daydream walking through the homes.
Yet this is where a lot of real estate agents get it wrong.
Builders understand that the most important story being told in each home sale is not the listing agent or even the home seller or the property being sold. The most important story is the one that the buyer tells him or herself about what it would feel like to own THIS home.
When a buyer walks in and can envision themselves living in the home, they start to write their own story in their mind “this is our home”. They see themselves in the space not some home lived in by another family. They start to make mental notes on where they would put their furniture, how they would entertain in the kitchen. They envision that life in this house would be so organized. Suddenly it is no longer about how much IS this house, but how much do we need to offer to GET this house. In other words, when buyers start making emotional decisions, home sellers get higher profits.
Buyers buy on emotions that they can back up with facts. And in that the details matter. A lot.
This is why, when it comes to helping a home owner maximize their profits, working with an ordinary “staging company” will simply not do. It is why we agonize over making sure that the designers understand how to bring the home’s story to life. And it is just one of the key factors that we analyze as we guide the homeowners the process of preparing their home for sale.
It would have been a lot more affordable to leave the house vacant to save a couple of bucks, but that would have meant taking an unnecessary risk. That would have left it up to the buyer to write the home’s story in their mind without being able to see and feel what it would be like to live there. That would have been a fundamental mistake.
I will stop short of saying that the staging was THE reason that the home sold, after all Darsel had done a great job maintaining the home through the years and getting it ready. But add to that, the staging along with professional photography, and our marketing plan we were able to generate 66 groups of buyers through the house in the first 3 hours of showing the home (that is about 130-160 people through). Several follow up showings and the result is multiple offers above the asking price, and maximum profit for the seller.
In the process, I’m not just selling homes but building relationships one family at a time. Selling houses is a numbers game that is best left up to the average agent. That is what they do, where every client is a number and only conversions matter. That does not motivate me. What I “do” is make connections between home buyers and home sellers, and every now and then I get invited in-to the family to celebrate a Birthday, BBQ, or Baby Shower.
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