How do we get sellers to prepare their property without offending them and encountering resistance? Educate the seller. Let the sellers know that this is part of the total service that you provide and a necessary part of the marketing process.
Begin this education process with your very first contact with potential sellers -on the phone or in person. A phrase that I find successful is, "Let me tell you how I work," followed by a quick recitation of the service I provide in the listing and marketing of their property. I let them know I want to see the property and get to know them.
Second, I put together a two-part listing presentation which included an exclusive marketing program with details on how their property fits into today's market in price and terms.
Then I add information on an extra-special free service. With permission, we go through the home together room by room, for staging recommendations.
By starting this dialogue with sellers as soon as you meet them, not only do they get an overview of your services, but they also know that staging their home and helping them prepare the property is an extra service that you provide for your sellers.
At the first visit, I always have the sellers show me through the property. At that time I start to see the property both through my eyes and through the potential buyer's eyes. I follow along as the sellers explain improvements they've made and special things they have enjoyed.
As we go through, I comment on each room and build rapport, while I mentally stage each room. I think about what I will ask the seller to move, repair, etc., when we do the staging after completing the exclusive listing agreement. Never stage the property the first time through. Complete the educational process and have the sellers' commitment in writing first.
It is important during the listing presentation to once again point out your special service. Get their commitment verbally to do this. Take all the time you need to explain to that seller how staging will help potential purchasers mentally move in, then ask the sellers point blank, "Do I have your commitment to help you stage your property after we complete the paperwork bringing you on the market?"
When I have educated the sellers about the importance of staging their home, they always agree.
With the paperwork finished, it's time for staging. The primary areas of concerns are the "three C's" -clean, color and clutter.
To ease into the process, say, "The way you live in a home and the way you market and sell your home are two different things. Now the public will be coming through."
Also explain that because they have entrusted you with representing them, they know you'll be selling their home. And since they will be moving as soon as the house is sold, you suggest that begin packing certain items early.
In each room, look for any extras that should be put away. You, the agent, are like a movie director setting the scene for the purchaser to view. As you direct you sellers to the items that need to be packed up and put away, have them make a pile in the middle of the room to be packed when you are gone.
Remind sellers to always close their closets. The open closet will be the first thing a prospect will see, missing the rest of the room.
I take my foot and intentionally stub my toe on the little rug. I want the sellers to think of the safety of strangers touring their home. "What if someone falls?" I ask. The little rug is easily rolled up and left under the bed.
Blinds should always be left open to flood the room with sunlight. The only exception is a window with an exceptionally bad view. In that case, the blinds should be open but slightly tipped down. There will be a light, but the view won't detract. Also, check the slats in the blinds. If some are bent, have the seller repair them.
Magazines should be quickly slipped under the bed to be accessible for evening reading but out of sight for tours.
Crucial rooms are the living room, the kitchen and the master bedroom, but take time to go through every single room in the house and stage it. Then move outside and go around the exterior.
I commit about an hour for staging. This is a small amount of time compared to the value both you and seller will receive in shorter listing time and larger selling price.
We owe it to our sellers to stage the properties, but we also owe it to ourselves. Your listings will look better than ever, sell faster, and be more profitable.
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