Don't Sell A House - Sell a Lifestyle!

Posted on July 27, 2015

Unfortunately a number of Realtors out there have never been in a market where more than those few words were required to have the buyers beat down their door. Today it takes a lot more than that; you need to sell a lifestyle.

There is so much competition out there that you need every advantage you can get to attract today's elusive buyer. Price and terms are certainly up there at the top of the list but let's assume that if you aren't priced competitively in the neighborhood you aren't even on the buyer's long list. More to the point, they are looking for a lifestyle. They are imagining themselves raising their families or entertaining friends as they tour your listing. Standing on the patio they are thinking about relaxing on a cool summer evening or visualizing preparing a gourmet meal in the kitchen. Be sure you help them along with their daydreaming.

There are a lot of Realtors that are using home staging as a part of their marketing approach, but sometimes the result is not much more than "listing 101" - clean up, pick up and polish. Those items are a given and are really not what home staging is all about. If you think it through, would you try and sell your car without washing it? No, but you are thinking about how and where you are going to park it to impress the buyer. What we're talking about here is grabbing the attention of the buyer's sub conscience. You are planting that visual seed that leaves an imprint for the sub conscience to feed on after they leave. Let's face it - how many times have you closed a deal the moment the buyer walks into the home; the past feeding frenzy doesn't count.

No, in reality you have a very brief time to make that first and lasting impression. Various studies tell us that the buyer's initial reaction occurs within the first minute. Going back to "listing 101," if the basics aren't taken care of the deal may have died the moment they drove up to the curb and took a quick look at the exterior. Yes that first minute is critical but what you are really after is the next 6 to 20 minutes.

Let's assume that Bob and Mary liked the exterior and are now taking the tour. Your job is to feed those thoughts and impressions that are going through their minds. During the next 6 to 20 minutes they are either going to "confirm" or "rescind" their first impression. It's at this point that home staging becomes a critical element. How well each room displays its own, unique features will either enhance their "lifestyle" image or erode it. Remember, only about 5% of the population has the ability to visualize how a home should look.

Utilizing subtle "vignettes" to make little mental suggestions are one of the best elements in successful staging. A tray with two wine glasses and a candle on the edge of the master bed or a beach bag and towel on the chaise lounge on the patio are a couple of examples. A beautiful view outside the living room window needs to be exploited with a furniture setting that takes advantage of it. Or a beautiful kitchen that is open to the dining room needs to strongly express entertaining. The options are endless and depend upon the trained eye recognizing and setting up the selling features of the house.

Your job is to use the resources you have at hand and tap into the buyer's mind to plant positive "lifestyle" images. When those buyers walk into that home your job is a lot tougher than it was a few years ago. In a great many instances they know as much if not more than you concerning the development, the various models, the neighborhood, the market and every house on the market. The Internet has turned Realtors into information interpreters. The buyers have most likely already done the math, checked on the mortgage and sifted the options down to their short list. Your listing won't be "the" one if you don't capture their imagination and get them to begin seeing themselves living there. What you show them and what you say is the bottom line at that moment.

Buyers are looking for that one home on their short list that screams "I'm The One." Home staging has become the ante just to get in the game today. How well you do it will determine your success. Yes, by all means it's de-cluttering and deep cleaning. But more importantly it's ensuring that the house's best attributes make a strong statement. Make sure those buyers walk out of the house with "visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads."

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