Buying a home is an emotional process. When I was a real estate agent, buyers would come in to see me to buy a home. Inevitably they would give me a wish list of features they wanted in a home. Sometimes it was four bedrooms, a fireplace, and a 3-car garage. Others wanted a certain amount of acreage or a view. So, I would pick out a few houses to show them. Occasionally, they would tell me about a house they saw online and I would show them that too.
Eventually, though, the buyers would find a house they loved and make an offer. Interestingly enough, many times the house they purchased was nothing like the one they initially described to me! But what happened was, they fell in love with a home and just had to buy it.
When a buyer falls in love with a home, they will justify every reason it will be a good fit for them, and the truth of the matter is, they are usually willing to pay top dollar for something they love. "So what if it doesn't have 4 bedrooms, we don't really need a guest room." "Less acreage means less lawn to mow." "I know it doesn't have a basement, but I just love this family room and there is an attic for storage." When a buyer becomes emotional about the home, that's when they buy. It doesn't really work the other way around. Even if you find a house that meets all or most of their needs, if it doesn't really strike some chord with their emotions, they typically don't buy it. You won't hear them saying, "Well, it meets 9 out of 10 of our needs, so let's fall in love with it."
"When a buyer falls in love with a home,
they will justify every reason it will be a good fit for them!"
- Teresa Costantino
People need to feel a connection to the house once they are inside. Occupied houses filled with a seller's personal items cannot do this. Vacant houses cannot do this. This is also why virtual staging doesn't work. Of course, the first step in preparing the house for sale is to clean and/or de-clutter. The next step is to stage in a way that captures the emotion of the buyer. Marketing the home is much more effective when you create an atmosphere that compels buyers to want to live there. A good professional stager knows how to make these emotional connections.
You can start with choosing a theme for your home. If you are near the shore, you might choose a coastal theme, if in the mountains, maybe a more rustic feel is in order. The modern farm house is theme that is very popular right now. Arrange furniture in a way that encourages images of intimate conversations and relaxation. Infuse some novelty into the staging. For example, add a hammock in the yard. In the master bedroom, place a tray with coffee mugs and a book on the bed. A handsome board game on the coffee table in the family room gives the idea of fun pastimes. If there is a fireplace, have the fire going. Incorporate luxurious decor pillows and a throw blanket that represent comfort and style. Be sure to keep it classy and trendy.
There are so many ideas you can come up with. The key is to identify who your likely buyer is and what they want in a home. Then create spaces that help them envision living that lifestyle in your home.
Teresa Costantino is owner and founder of Home Preppers, a home staging company based in New Jersey (www.hpstagers.com). Teresa has spent her career in real estate as a top-producing Realtor, a home stager, and real estate investor. She has a passion for all things real estate and enjoys helping sellers uncover hidden equity and shorten marketing times. She juggles her time between managing her company, being a wife to her husband Mark, and mom to her 4 children.