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Four Ways To Create Fall In Love Factor


Tracey McLeod, founder of Presentation Sells, recently went ‘secret shopping’ at open homes with a local real estate agent who is planning to stage every listing. Tracey’s aim was to view the standard of home presentation in a random sample of twelve homes for sale in the agent’s local market and advise on how the agent could stand out with home staging.

Here’s a snapshot of lessons learned about home presentation and creating fall-in-love factor from these homes, using photos from Tracey’s portfolio as examples.

In the ‘after’ photos, Tracey has used mainly the owner’s own furniture and added enhancements where necessary. All of the transformations are made in one day, with ‘before’ photos being taken in the morning and ‘after’ photos on the afternoon of the same day.

Warning – Your home for sale will feel much lighter when successfully staged. This can be confronting for some home sellers, but it is an important transition if your aim is to sell for top dollar.

1 – The Time Capsule

Furnished in an earlier time, some homes for sale are presented like the set of a period drama. Upon entry, it’s like stepping back in time with furnishings reminiscent of your childhood and beyond.

Time Capsule - Before

Time Capsule – Before

Simplicity is the key to overcoming this common home seller mistake. These owners don’t have too much furniture, they just aren’t showing off the home to the best advantage.

Time Capsule - After

Time Capsule – After

After – A fresh approach using the clients own furniture and furnishings shows off the architecture of the home from a different angle and the furniture is almost forgotten. The beautiful art deco home comes to life with lighter, more textured rugs; splashes of greenery and accessories; and swapping around of the art.

This home, located on a busy road, did not sell immediately, but once the price was dropped to meet market expectations, it sold quickly.

“Staging brings an extra dimension to the process, and for the cost, I think it’s well worth it.” – Ken Caesar, Home Seller


2 – The Dating Game

This is similar to the scenario above. Some owners furnish the home when they move in, or they may have originally purchased the home furnished, and that’s almost how it remains. Over time their look is added to with extra items, and nothing ever gets thrown out.

This may be perfect while you’re living in the home, but if you want top dollar from a new generation of buyer, it’s time to update the look.

This home has been on the market in a ‘buyer’s market’ for a number of months. The term ‘buyer’s market’ means that there are more people selling than there are buyers’ buying. Potential buyers are looking for a bargain in this market. The home now has to present as a fresh listing to get new interest.

The Dating Game - Before

The Dating Game – Before

In the ‘before’ photo there are too many colours in the space. We need to be selective about the furniture and furnishings that are staying and the ones that are going.

Let’s update and show off the room, and avoid filling every corner!

The Dating Game - After

The Dating Game – After

After – Turning the dining table better serves the size and orientation of the open plan living area. It gives more space and a better line along the entire room. The staging team remove the extra storage items and reduce the number of florals. Adding a rug defines the space. The use of plants found in the house draws the eye to the walls and away from the furniture. Taking glasses out of the display cabinet and decorating it with coloured glass and pottery items found in the bottom of the cabinet, finishes off the look and spells liveability in the space.

Even though the home was taken off the market after receiving an offer that was rejected by the sellers, the owners loved the new look and kept many of the design elements in their home.

“Everyone who saw the home thought it looked beautiful, and so did we… We just couldn’t get the price we were after.” – Joyce & Brian, Home Sellers


3 – The Floor Plan

Sometimes sellers, and their agents, are hoping that the ‘floor plan’, or how the rooms are laid out, will sell the home. They overlook the importance of the ‘fall in love’ factor in achieving top dollar and hope that the layout of the house will impress sellers.

This is a head strategy, not a heart one.

Home sellers understand intuitively that buyers will pay more once they fall in love with the home. Translating that vision into an appealing visual, is the art of professionally staging a home for sale.

Master Bedroom - Before

Master Bedroom – Before

The ‘floor plan’ strategy involves leaving a piece of furniture in the room so potential buyers can see, for example, that a bed will fit in the space. As a society we have moved beyond this type of thinking when presenting homes for sale, but some homes are still being sold as a ‘floor plan’.

This is a home Tracey staged very early in her career for a seller who was cash strapped and leaving the country to care for an elderly parent. A very stressful time, if there ever was one!

Master Bedroom - After

Master Bedroom – After

After – It’s a very unique stone cottage, so the owner knows that it may take some time to sell. Bringing in bedside tables and lamps, inexpensive art, an occasional chair, bedlinen and cushions, and renting these items to the owner, means that the home could appear lived in and inviting.

In this case, when the day comes to remove the rental items because the owner’s budget had been reached, the agent mentions that some buyers are coming through later in the day for a third inspection. It’s not possible to remove the items later that day. The potential buyer (female) says to Tracey as she is finishing up, “Gee, it looks so small without furniture.”

Six months later the unfurnished home sold. Even so, the owner is very happy she had it staged because the marketing photos showed what was possible.

“The house has now settled – Oh, and I got what I had hoped to get for it – I was especially glad under the circumstances that I had enlisted you – It was the right choice. I should add that home staging is done regularly here in Canada when selling a property, but you can see for yourself on the internet that the quality for the average home is not nearly as good as what you did for me.” – Patricia Luck, Home Seller


4 – The ‘I’ve got this’.

In the ‘I’ve got this’ home, the owners have studied TV and magazine makeovers and used some of the ideas without a clear understanding that the reason for staging is to visually market the home, not to furnish it. Staging considers ‘profit’ over ‘pretty’.

The aim of professional staging is to find the value, in dollar terms, in each room. It is not to show off the owner’s decorating skills. Here we see a beautiful home that was on the market for a number of months without any offers. The owners were very motivated to sell but did not know how to display the home at it’s best and still live in it – a common problem.

Master Bedroom - Before

Master Bedroom – Before

In the master bedroom there’s a lot of colour and the stagers need to find a way to incorporate that into the room as a whole, as well as honouring the fact that the home owner is going to be sleeping in the bed each night while the home is on the market.

Master Bedroom - After

Master Bedroom – After

A long hallway signals the entry to the Master Suite. Over a number of seconds, buyers have a sense of expectancy as they traverse the hallway. All they can see in the ‘before’ photo is the small wooden table, which is out of proportion with the grandiose room. In the ‘after’ photo they are being called by the fusion of colour that is the orange and green. It is showing off the high ceiling and large window recess as well as the room’s dimensions.

Master Bedroom - After

Master Bedroom – After

After – As much as possible the colours in the Master Suite are neutralised upon entry to the room. The aim is to get the proportion of colour right. The proportion of colour should match the room’s expanse, not overpower it. Changing the bedside lamps and placing a neutral occasional chair in the line of sight of potential buyers, offers something to draw them in as they view the space from the long hallway.

Conversely, in the second bedroom, while we have the opposite look happening, the effect is the same. The bed becomes the focal point of the room.

Bedroom - Before

Bedroom – Before

We see this a lot in ‘I’ve got this’ homes for sale. Secondary bedrooms get the leftovers in terms of furniture and furnishings. You do not want buyers looking at your beds. They are leaving home. You want buyers looking at the lifestyle potential of the room for family and/or guests.

Bedroom - After

Bedroom – After

After – Using mainly the home sellers own items we are able to pull together a very liveable space that looks great from every angle! The room now looks like somebody lives here. The colour and height of the wall art draws the eye to the outdoor area which is accessible through the sliding doors.

“The end result: my home sold in one just weekend, and at a higher price point than I expected!” – Lawrence Peters, Home Seller

It’s important to understand that, in reality, not every home sells perfectly. Other factors are at play. Your home’s presentation is part of a trifecta of selling success: Price, Presentation and Marketing.

The one thing that using a professional approach and visually marketing your home does, is to prepare the home, and the sellers, for a successful sale.


Like this? Please share with a friend in need so that more home owners can sell their homes faster and for top dollar. – Tracey McLeod, Presentation Sells


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