How Buyers' Age Can Derail Your Home Selling Plan : What You Need to Know About Generational Selling and Real Estate

How Buyers' Age Can Derail Your Home Selling Plan : What You Need to Know About Generational Selling and Real Estate | Staged4more Home Staging & Design

National Association of Realtors (NAR) recently released a study stating that young buyers are taking over. The younger generations (Generation X & Millennials) are becoming increasingly significant parts of the housing market.

NAR 2015 Study : Generational Housing Trends

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We plotted out the results of 2015 National Association of Realtors study on generational housing trends, as you can see, the largest group of buyers are the 2 youngest group: Millennial & Generation X. (source)

WHAT THIS DATA MEANS

  1. Like it or not, Millennials has the buying power now. In 2014, the Millennial was the largest age group that purchased homes.
  2. Because of that, get your home turn-key ready, or as much as you can. This is the generation of instant gratifications. These are also young busy professionals who may have a young family, so the group tends to prefer a turnkey home that is low maintenance or no work involved.

New Homes v. Previously Owned Homes

In another NAR study published last November: New home purchasers bought a new home to avoid renovations or problems with plumbing or electrical, and the ability to customize their home. Home buyers who bought previously owned homes purchased their home for a better price and overall value and the charm and character their home provides. (source)

WHAT THIS MEANS

When you have older homes, highlight the personality and the character of your home, things like original hardwood floors, architecture details, original light fixtures, etc. can all add charm and appeal to your home.

You should also do some research to figure out who your target buyers are. Millennial buyers are looking for different features than Generation X buyers. Think about it, millennial buyers are mostly single and young professional, so having a home that is low or easy to maintain will be a higher priority comparing to Generation X buyers who are more experienced with taking care of a home.

Another important observation this report has pointed out: Environmental friendly features are considered very important by buyers regardless of age. Due to the increase of utilities and water costs (especially areas like California that are suffering serious draughts), green & energy efficient features are considered as very important by today's buyers. (source)


How Buyers Buy

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Another important part of the survey is how buyers buy: Regardless of their age, buyers used a wide variety of resources in searching for a home, with the Internet (88 percent) and real estate agents (87 percent) leading the way. Millennials were the most likely to use a real estate agent, mobile or tablet applications, and mobile or tablet search engines during their search; Gen X buyers were the most likely to use an open house.  

Although the Internet was the top source of where millennials found the home they purchased (51 percent), they also used an agent to purchase their home at a higher share (90 percent) than all other generations. (source)

Among all generations of home buyers, the first step in the home buying process is looking online for properties for sale. Younger generations of buyers typically find the home they purchase through the internet, while older generations of buyers first found the home they purchased through their real estate agent. (source)

photo credit: Elle Decor

photo credit: Elle Decor

What This Means For You

  • Make sure you have your home professionally photographed & shows great online.
  • Even though most buyers may use internet to search for new homes, most of the home buyers still hire and rely heavily on real estate agents. So make sure you have a great one who is well-connected and knows how to market your listing properly. 
  • Open houses may sound traditional, but Generation X buyers still do it. So it is important to hire an experienced agent who knows how to market your home, as well as making sure that you will maximize the benefits of open houses.

If you are a home stager or real estate agent reading this blog post, what have you noticed about making the listing more appealing to different generations of buyers? Share your answers in the Comment section.


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Do We Really Need Staging?

This question was an exact quote from one of our testimonials on Yelp. When we first emailed each other about staging, I could tell the seller was unsure. Which is totally understandable, after all, hiring a professional stager is not like buying a pair of socks at Target. 

The act of hiring a home stager can also seem a little crazy: having total strangers come into your home, fill the home with staging furniture and props to make your house looks like someone lives there (albeit stylishly).

The process can seem like an episode of twilight zone and why should the sellers pour more money into something they want to sell off as soon as possible? Here is how we turned a doubting home seller into a believer.

Do We Really Need Staging? | Staged4more Home Staging & Design

OUR APPROACH

Do We Really Need Staging? | Before & After Home Staging | Staged4more Home Staging & Design

The sellers already had moved out of the state by the time we came for a site visit. Because of the move, they were not planning to do any additional work on the unit before it went on the market. The original paint color remained.

If the seller had budget or time allowance, we would recommend painting the walls in something neutral or off-white. The default white color was a stark white, which often makes rooms feel clinical and lacks of warmth and energy, which we need for staging. To warm up the space, we added pops of colors, warmer colors and artwork and accessories that had more saturated colors.

We also recommended the sellers to remove the large TV console in the living room that made the room felt more narrow and cramped. In general, we shy away from furniture that are big and overpowering. Why? Because it feels overpowering when you walk into the room. You automatically feel that the room is smaller and you are feeling pressured. 

Do We Really Need Staging? | Before & After Home Staging | Staged4more Home Staging & Design

As stagers, we often say that how we live and how we stage to appeal to potential buyers are two completely different things. This project is a great example. The sellers left their bed behind, so we styled their bed with hotel style bedspread for the open house. There were also no artwork in the rooms, so we added colorful artwork to warm up the interiors.

When we live in the home, privacy is often a concern. Since the property is vacant during the sale period, we recommended keeping the drapes open to make the space feel brighter.

We also added more lighting to help the rooms feel brighter. Studies have shown that light sells, especially natural light. This is why modern casinos are designed with access to natural light. All because they had discovered the slot machines next to the skylights usually made the most money.

Do We Really Need Staging? | Before & After Home Staging | Staged4more Home Staging & Design

THE RESULTS

Here is what the sellers said on Yelp:

Do We Really Need Staging? | Home Staging Testimonial | Staged4more Home Staging & Design

It is always happy news to get a client's testimonial saying that we had accomplished what we were hired to do! This is what home staging is about: transforming the interior to look warm and neutral, but still with charm and personality that was inviting to the potential buyers.


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#30DAYHOMESTAGING Challenge Launches Today!

I cannot believe it! After talking about launching this challenge for a little bit more than a year with friends & family, we've finally done it! The #30dayhomestaging Challenge is officially launched this morning.

So far we've got a great group of people. There are real estate agents, home sellers, a few professional organizers and even home stagers. Yi Hsuen and I cannot thank you guys enough for your support. It really means a lot to us that we can teach about what we love and spread the word on how awesome home staging is.

Launching #30dayhomestaging challenge! | Staged4more Home Staging & Design

IF YOU ALREADY SIGNED UP

By now, you should've gotten your FIRST EMAIL appropriately named "Welcome to the Challenge!"

If you haven't done so already, go ahead join our private Discussion Group. (I know only about 5% of you have joined so far.) This is where Yi Hsuen and I will answer your home staging questions. In the upcoming weeks, we will also publish a series of blog posts here that will supplement the content.

IF YOU HAVEN'T SIGNED UP... WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

We designed the course to be self-paced. The process of getting your home ready for sale can be daunting and overwhelming, but the reward is WELL worth it. You will feel SO good when you have sold your house!

We designed the course to help you get organized and prioritized all your tasks at hand. Remember, it is about progress, not perfection. Especially in real estate, time is of essence. Follow our guidelines and get your house ready. Get your realtor involved with your process. Make your realtor your accountability buddy, keeping you on track and help you achieve your goals.

Whenever you need help, ask us your questions in the discussion group. If you signed up and feel the course is not for you, you can unsubscribe at any time.


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3 Best Practices for Turning Open House Browsers into Buyers

Even though today's buyers are online most of the time, ultimately real estate is still a face-to-face business. Open house is one of the best times to capture visitors' attention and turn them into buyers. Here are the 3 best practices for turning open house browsers into buyers.

3 Best Practices for Turning Open House Browsers into Buyers | Staged4more Home Staging & Design

Connect with Your Potential Buyers

3 Best Practices for Turning Open House Browsers into Buyers | Staged4more Home Staging & Design

I don’t know about you, but I’m a lot more likely to pay more attention to the house if I feel this is the house I can live in. What’s one way to personalize your listing for different audiences? Paying attention to where they’re coming from, who they are, what do they like, what is their lifestyle. If you know the demographic well, you can tailor your staging and marketing to your target buyers. 

 You can also target potential buyers based on their interests. Certain amenities in the home, like pool in a city where it's 90 degrees in the summer will go over very well compare to a home located in a city where the warmest temperature is 30 degrees. A friend of mine works with multi-million dollar homes, and in her market, it is not unusual to see homes with 2 kitchens: one kitchen for show and the other for the chef to cook in. So highlight the great selling points of your house will help to convert browsers into buyers. 


Accurate & Professional Photography

A photo like this will be a hard sell to get anyone into the door, let along turning browsers into buyers. (It's so meta, a photo within a photo!)

3 Best Practices for Turning Open House Browsers into Buyers | Staged4more Home Staging & Design

I highly recommend hiring a professional photographer, because not only they can shoot well, work with lighting, they also know how to compose a photograph properly. It does make a huge difference, like this set of photos illustrates. Which house will you want to buy?

3 Best Practices for Turning Open House Browsers into Buyers | Staged4more Home Staging & Design
3 Best Practices for Turning Open House Browsers into Buyers | Staged4more Home Staging & Design

I also see a lot of real estate photos that was shot using wide angle lens so the room will appear bigger when potential buyers see them online. However, today's buyers are savvy and inundated with advertising messages daily. When buyers walk in the home and feel the house is actually much smaller than they anticipated, they will quickly get turned off and want to leave.


Show, Not Tell

3 Best Practices for Turning Open House Browsers into Buyers | Staged4more Home Staging & Design

This is where home staging comes in for vacant projects. An empty house with 4 blank walls doesn't say a whole lot. But you can tell the buyers a story visually (like the architecture of the home, lifestyle of the neighborhood, etc.) and make the home more enticing to view with home staging. 

One of the most important selling points of a home is also its floor plan, so it is critical to create a great traffic flow that makes the buyers fall in love with the home, not feeling like "Oh, hmm, how do I put furniture in this room?" 

3 Best Practices for Turning Open House Browsers into Buyers | Staged4more Home Staging & Design

Staging will especially help with homes that have tricky floor plans, or rooms with funky shapes (I have seen this happened several times where builders are trying to get as much square footage as possible by creating rooms that are uneven.).

What did you think of these 3 tips? Have any to add? Or more questions? Ask me your questions in the Comment section below.


TAKE OUR #30DAYHOMESTAGING CHALLENGE

If you are planning or thinking about staging your own house for sale, consider taking our free #30DAYHOMESTAGING Challenge that is a free email course where you will receive 1 email every 3 days. During the email course, I break down the process of home staging into 10 steps and delve in deeper than our current Basic Training. In additions to the email course, you also received accompanying podcasts, action steps and access to our private discussion group for more support.


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Do I Need to Stage My House?

Having been in real estate for 11 years, stager for 9, I get this question frequently, even from my close friends. I define the process of home staging as the process of getting your home ready for market. It starts from the moment you start preparing the home for sale, such as curb appeal, exterior work, landscaping, painting, etc. So yes, you do need to stage your house. But, it is "how far do you need to go with staging" is what most people are asking.

Most of the time, when people ask this particular question, they know deep down they need to stage, or at least do some sort of preparation to make the house look more presentable. What they are really asking are: "Do I need to hire a professional home stager?" "How much do I need to do to stage the house?"

Here is my answer:

Do I Need to Stage My House? | Staged4more Home Staging & Design

Do Your Research

Should I Stage My House? | Staged4more Home Staging & Design

Have you heard of that story / joke that what do you do if you and your friend ran into a bear in the forest? The answer is that you only need to run faster than your friend.

Well, it is the same in the cut throat world of real estate. Realistically, you only need to be one step ahead of your competition and that's as far as you need to do. If you are in an area where almost every one stages their homes for sale, then yes, you will definitely stage your property.


I usually leave the decision of hiring a professional stager up to the sellers, but I always recommend these few things if you choose not to hire a professional stager and go the DIY route:

Get Packin'

Should I Stage My House? | Staged4more Home Staging & Design

I've heard of recommendations to pack at least 1/3 of your personal belongings, and I agree. For example, you are selling in the summer, start packing winter clothes (unless you live in interesting weather like ours in San Francisco where you wear trench coats in the summer). Start cleaning out your closets, because buyers will definitely open your closet doors and see how much storage there are. 

If you simply cannot pack things away for the selling period, neatly organize everything as if you are displaying them, like this example above. This way your interior looks stylized, not cluttered, and your home still gives visitors a great first impression.


Deep Clean & Touch Up

Should I Stage My House? | Staged4more Home Staging & Design

Paint is your new best friend and it is the best and most affordable return on investment out of the entire process (other than magic erasers and windex). Power wash is magical, use it. (If you don't believe me, see this Buzzfeed post here.). Cleaning is important, because it shows that you, as the seller, have maintained the home well.

Selling is a little bit of a mental game. It is a bit like dating. You want to put your best foot forward and you only have one first impression. So while it may be counter-intuitive to make the home look like new when you are selling it soon, these are the necessary steps to make sure you have a great first impression for your potential buyers.


Everything has Its Own Place

Should I Stage My House? | Staged4more Home Staging & Design

Organization is key to make the space feel welcoming, fresh and most importantly, potential buyers will feel less intrusive when they are touring your space. Take away all your personalization of the home, including accent walls with strong colors (usually deep red, orange, etc. are hard to please), personalized decorations, personal photos, etc. and store these in spaces where buyers won't see. 

Create niches & spaces where you can store things neatly. I'm obsessed with baskets. They are easy to use, great catch-alls and you can get organized if you are pinch for time. And, they look great! You can get baskets inexpensively in your local Home Goods, Marshall's, Target, etc. and tuck them under beds, coffee tables, etc. where you can get ready for open house really easily and quickly.


Repair, not Upgrade

Should I Stage My House? | Staged4more Home Staging & Design

When it comes to selling your home, it is really not the best time to do any major upgrades, largely because you will not be able to recoup the return on investment before you sell the house. (I've written a blog post on this topic about if you should remodel or not before going on market.) Amongst all your repairs, I generally recommend completing all the minor repairs. Because how easy they are to complete, not doing these repairs can make you seem like you are not maintaining the home properly. If you have any deal breakers type of repairs, definitely complete those before you go on market as well.

The only upgrades I recommend are generally appliances, lighting fixtures, etc. but never major remodels unless the client is an investor who is used to flip projects.


Take a Few Photos

Should I Stage My House? | Staged4more Home Staging & Design

You know how they say the camera adds 10 pounds? Same with houses. If you have things all over the place, clutter, and messy counter spaces, the camera amplifies the effect of clutter and disorganization.

It may look alright in person, but camera sees spaces differently than human eyes. What you see in person is going to be different than seeing everything on photographs. So during your last walk-through, take a few snaps of the home and see if anything jumps out at you in particular. This will help you get ready for the listing photo shoot as well.

Remember, there is only one first impression. Since more than 95% of buyers check out listings online first before seeing homes in person, it is important to make sure you show well both online and in person.


Take our #30DAYHOMESTAGING Challenge

If you are planning or thinking about staging your own house for sale, consider taking our free #30DAYHOMESTAGING Challenge that is a free email course where you will receive 1 email every 3 days. During the email course, I break down the process of home staging into 10 steps and delve in deeper than our current Basic Training. In additions to the email course, you also received accompanying podcasts, action steps and access to our private discussion group for more support.



What did you think of my tips? Do you disagree? Or agree? And did I miss anything?

Join us for #30DAYHOMESTAGING Challenage!

30-Day Home Staging Challenge!

Join us for this free challenge to get your home ready for sale in 30 days. 

The #30DayHomeStaging Challenge is a 30-day email course that breaks down the process of home staging in 10 steps. We use our 10-Step Home Staging Basic Training as a starting point and dive in deeper. You will also have a private discussion / support group, podcasts and action steps to help you through your 30-day challenge!

FORMAT

n this free course, I will walk through the process of home staging, drawing from my 11 years in real estate. In additions to the emails (1 email every 3 day), the participants will also get accompanying podcasts, action steps and access to a private discussion group for additional support. If you or you have any sellers who want a little bit of guidance on staging homes, this is a great and risk-free way to learn more about home staging.

The challenge goes live next Tuesday, 5/26! If you missed our launch date, no worries. You can join us at any time and start the free email course on your own. Just remember to join our private discussion group so you can share your challenges and get answers & support from your peers.


SCHEDULE

30-Day Home Staging Challenge Schedule | Staged4more Home Staging & Design | #30dayhomestaging

WHAT YOU WILL LEARN

  • How to get started with home staging
  • How to find out your target buyers
  • How to boost your curb appeal
  • How to stage your house that appeals to your target buyers
  • What repairs to prioritize, to make and not to do
  • How to easily plan your space
  • Design principles for real estate
  • How to achieve a model home look that is ready for market

READY TO GET STARTED?

 

You will also get our free home staging tips weekly delivered to your inbox every Saturday at 8am PST. Happy Staging!

 
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How to Mix and Match for Maximum Impact : Finishes

When I stage homes, I generally play it a little safer with the furnishing and accessories choices because I want to appeal to a broad range of buyers. I may inject some personalities by playing up the accessories and colors, but in general, it has to be pretty broad stroke so that we are not turning any potential buyers off. However, in your home, you can do whatever you want. I especially love when homeowners mix and match finishes and patterns to bring out their personalities and highlighting characters of the home.

In this particular post, I'll touch on mixing finishes (because mixing patterns deserve its own post!) to create maximum impact in the home.

How to Mix and Match Finishes for Maximum Impact || Staged4more Home Staging & Design

Create Harmony

How to Mix and Match Finishes for Maximum Impact || Staged4more Home Staging & Design

Harmony may sound like one of those woo-woo words, but no matter what type of room you are creating, achieving harmony is the ultimate goal. Whether you are staging for sale or decorating your home, harmony is about bringing different elements together and making them work with each other. When you have a harmonious room, the room will feel balanced, energetic and instantly puts the visitors at ease. 

Harmony is defined as the pleasing agreement of parts or combination of parts in a composition. Harmony involves the selection/design of elements that share a common trait, however, Harmony becomes monotony without Variety. Common traits orientation colors or values shape/size materials variety: the extent of the differences in design elements -- visual interest is enhanced by introducing dissimilar elements and spatial arrangements. (source)


Find the Unifying Factor

How to Mix and Match Finishes for Maximum Impact || Staged4more Home Staging & Design
How to Mix and Match Finishes for Maximum Impact || Staged4more Home Staging & Design

You can mix in lots of different textures, like matte finishes, rustic wood finishes, glossy flooring, copper fixtures and paper containers, into one scene. But notice how there are common factors that help to unify the space and pull everything together. Color is usually the easiest way to tie the whole room together. Pick one central color (black, in the 2 examples above) and bring in other finishes as accents, like marble, bronze, wood, to add impact & visual interests.


build an atmosphere

How to Mix and Match Finishes for Maximum Impact || Staged4more Home Staging & Design

You know how movies have different genres? Like romantic comedies, drama and horror. It is the same as decorating & styling. No matter what your style is, boho, modern, traditional, or whatever label you identify with, success is when there is a central, cohesive theme throughout. It can be a color story, like you have one main colors and 2-3 accent colors throughout the home. Or it can be your furnishing pieces, how you place them together. Overall, you are building a lifestyle, a tone, a mood in your home, an atmosphere. 


Layer, layer, layer

Remember the statement about harmony in the beginning of the post? I actually love this statement about harmony, even though it seems a bit stuffy. It is important to curate your pieces that share a common trait, like a common color, but you want to be aware of picking too many of similar items which will create a monotony, i.e. boring. By layering different finishes together, like matte, shiny, rustic, etc. and play with the spaces, you can really create a room that wows. 

How to Mix and Match Finishes for Maximum Impact || Staged4more Home Staging & Design


What did you think of my how-to? Add your tips here in our Comment Section below!

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Why We Started Charging for Property Previews

Recently, we made a decision to start charging new clients for property previews. It is not an easy nor a popular decision, since most stagers choose to not charge for a preview. So why did we do it?

Is it because we are greedy witches? No, we actually lose money on writing proposals either way. If we were to charge our normal consultation rate, the price of previews would triple. Not to mention we credit back half of the preview fee at booking. At the end of the day, when you do the math, we make less than minimum wage on proposals.

Why We Started Charging for Property Previews & Started Building Values for Our Clients // Staged4more Home Staging & Design

The decision comes down to building more values for our customers.

It seems very counter-intuitive. Why would we need to charge for a preview? Something seems so straight forward and simple. But the process actually takes awhile. Before we go out to visit the client, we speak with the potential clients on the phone. Then our Project Coordinator Anita sends out an email to confirm and see if there are any more questions that we can answer prior to the actual appointment. On average, before we head out of the door and get into the car, we've already invested 30-60 minutes in the process.

For the actual appointment, me & Yi Hsuen visit most of sites together, discuss the project design, and then draft the proposal. So by the time we sent out the proposal, we've invested another 4-5 hours.

We run a small shop, so we have to be efficient and conscious about the workload we take on. Because each project on average takes between 70-80 hours to complete, over time, we learned to be a little smarter about our time. After we started tracking our time, we realized that we were going on a lot of preview appointments to people who are just price shopping or not that serious about staging to begin with. They just want to "see how much it will cost" even after we already communicated our minimum and our normal project range. 

That's heartbreaking because that means we are sacrificing valuable time where we could've been working on the business to benefit our clients. Every time we go on a preview appointment takes time away from our existing projects: we can't prep for existing projects in the pipeline, we can't go shop for new props, we can't meet with vendors or catch up on paperwork.  

Before we rolled out this policy, we had a lot of back and forth discussions about this. After all, we had been in the business for 9 years and always offered free estimates. However, after a string of appointments that went nowhere, we realized that the appointments started putting stress on our workdays, especially when the housing market started to heat up. Several times, in the middle of prepping for jobs, we had to drop everything and leave to preview properties. That ate 2 hours out of the prep day. The potential clients were usually wishy-washy and wanted free information, even when we had prefaced that it was just for an estimate. Then we were back in the studio, racing, trying to finish the prep on time. It was not a good feeling.

After speaking with a few other stagers in my mastermind group who had implemented this policy with success, we decided to follow suit. Additionally, I remember back in my realtor days, the trainer always advised us to get buyers qualified financially before started working with them. Why? Because if they can't afford to buy a house, there is no point to show them any houses. It is the same idea. In a way, by charging for previews, we are qualifying the new clients who had never worked with us before.

It's been a month since we had rolled out this new policy, our booking rate increased and the workflow actually improved as well. We can now book appointments in advanced and manage our work days more efficiently. 

What do you think? It was a difficult decision but in the end we were happy with the response. We still get the occasional scoffs, but we realized that those are not the right customers for us. What is your opinion on this? Share your thoughts below in our Comment section.

 

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