At our last Sisters broker tour (which was, coincidentally, scheduled for Valentine’s Day), I was reminded of the importance of staging. We viewed seven new listings that ranged in price from $149,990 to $725,000, and of those seven, one clearly stood out. It wasn’t the most expensive one or the one that was the best bargain. It was the one that looked, far and away, the most inviting.
Surprising enough, the occupant was a tenant. You sure wouldn’t have guessed it, though — this space felt like home. Even before you set foot inside, you knew you were in for something special. The warmly appointed front porch set the tone for things to come.
The rooms were all extremely welcoming; each distinct space within the overall surroundings encouraged exploration. There were even a few nods to Valentine’s Day. I couldn’t wait to see what surprise each room held. That’s exactly the reaction a seller wants potential buyers to experience, but too often is not the result achieved.
Oftentimes, when I tour “staged” homes, that’s exactly how the home feels: very staged. Sterile, like a showroom. Pristine. A bit forced and a tad too done. There’s definitely a formula that most stagers follow when they fill the key rooms that are typically tackled (kitchen, dining room, living room, master bedroom, master bath).
Granted, while the ambiance may seem a bit contrived in these spaces, they are still infinitely more inviting than a vacant home. Nothing says “uninviting” like a home stripped of its insides.
Here’s a closer look at what made this listing so memorable:
Meanwhile, Back at the Internet
On the flip side, while this house showed impressively well in person, the same could not be said for its presence online. A few days after the tour, I checked out the MLS listing and was shocked to discover that photos of the home still included a houseful of Christmas decorations. Photo after photo featured rooms adorned with holiday fare. Folks, it’s almost March. Those photos filled with snowflakes and Santa Claus should be long-gone. Especially in this case, where the current state of the home is a real selling point.
Regardless, there’s no excuse for outdated holiday-themed photos remaining on MLS long after a holiday has passed — especially one as iconic as Christmas. All that does is announce to the scores of potential buyers who are trolling online — weeding through their options and writing off the ones that don’t pass their initial visual test — that your home has been on the market for months. It also distracts them from the job at hand: admiring your home, not checking out your clever Christmas decor.
Considering that about 90 percent of today’s real estate buyers begin their search online, you’ve just made a very bad impression on the majority of the folks who might have bought your house but instead have moved on to the next option on their property-search list. And that’s a real shame.
The lesson here for sellers: Review your listing online periodically, so that you can experience the same first impression that most potential buyers will have. If the photos that your agent has posted are outdated, get them replaced with current ones.
About the Author
Lisa Broadwater, GRI, CDPE, is a Central Oregon-based real estate professional who specializes in listing and selling homes, especially in Sisters, Tumalo, Bend and Redmond.