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Breakthrough Ideas for Greater Real Estate Success!
In this issue...
  • 4-Steps To Stage A Home For A Fast Sale
  • How To Have Your Best Month In December
  • QuickTip: “Cutting Board” Prospecting
  • Get New Clients From Your Hobby Group
  • Horror Story: Short Sale Bankruptcy Fraud

4-Steps To Stage A Home For A Fast Sale

Would you like to know how experts stage homes to get them sold fast and for top dollar?

Today I'm going to show you a step-by-step process for staging both the inside and outside of homes you list.  Now I know you're probably experienced in staging, but the ideas below will probably shed some light on important areas you may regularly miss – so at worst it'll be a great reinforcement for you.

But before I share the steps for staging success, there are 3 rules you should know about dressing homes for sale:

Rule 1:  Most buyers are very literal.  They only know what they see.  They have very little imagination.  You must create their imagination for them (via staging) to sell effectively.

Rule 2:  First impressions are lasting with buyers.  Buyers decide whether they like or dislike a home within seconds of entering.  It either hits them or it doesn't.  You must enhance the first impressions of the home.

Rule 3:  Your home will sell because of emotion, not logic.  The only way to stimulate emotion is to make your home a place where people can really “FEEL” at home.  Make it warm and inviting.  Emphasize the special benefits of the home and lot.

Remember not to talk about dressing the home with sellers, or improving home deficiencies until AFTER you have taken the listing.  People can be very sensitive about their personal belongings or how their home looks prior to staging.  So let's begin...

How To Stage A Home For a Fast Sale

STEP #1:  Assess the Current Situation
Be honest with sellers about what needs improving.  You're a team now.  If a floor is marred or a room needs painting, say so.

Also, let your clients know that there's a difference between how they live in a home, and how we show it for sale.  They may need to change their home and lifestyle for a short time to accommodate this rule.

For the outside, take a walk across the street from the home.  Examine the curb appeal of the home.  Make notes of items that are unsatisfactory from a buyer's perspective.  Remember, buyers are very literal.

You can even tell your sellers to get into their car and start driving away from their home.  As they do so, ask them to take a look back at their home.  Make notes about what looks good, and what needs improvement.

STEP #2:  Eliminate Clutter
The key to showing homes effectively is getting rid of clutter.  Make counters clear, get rid of pictures on the wall and tables, store excess furniture if necessary, put books in boxes.  Your clients are doing this anyhow for their move, they just need to do it a little early.  Here are other household items to put away:

  • Clear away kitchen and bathroom counters.  These are areas where you need to show the most space and neatness.  So put appliances and kitchen-items away.
  • Re-arrange furniture so rooms look larger.  Store old furniture or cluttered items in another location -- at least while the home is for sale.
  • Get rid of as many “personal” things as you can.  Buyers have a hard time visualizing “their” new home with the seller's personal belongings everywhere.  Try to make the home look neutral, as if you don't know who lives there.

And just like the interior, you need to get all the clutter out of the yard.  Put hoses away, store garbage cans, put away the sprinkler and kids toys.  The neater the area looks, the better the first impression.

STEP #3:  Spruce the Home Up Before Showing
Make improvements to the home, but only where it will make the biggest difference to the sales price.  Getting the biggest bang for your clients buck usually means getting a fresh coat of paint on strategic walls and areas.  New paint is an inexpensive way to show a home.

Check the paint condition of the INTERIOR of a home by removing pictures off walls.  It will probably need painting.  Remember to get inside painting done first, before any cleaning.

Check the paint condition of the entire EXTERIOR of the home.  If it's pealing or worn, the buyer will notice it immediately.  Don't devalue your home by trying to sell it in poor paint condition.  Pay particular attention to the front door, mailbox, garage doors, and walkway areas.  These are where the buyers will be walking and noticing problems.  You should also consider the following items with sellers:

  • Professional Cleaning.  Get a professional firm in to CLEAN the entire home.  Floors, ceilings, windows, fireplace, carpet, drapes -- everything!  Also, check for ODORS.  If the owners have a pet, they're home probably needs to have carpets cleaned or deodorized.  Any odors make a home less attractive.
  • Home Inspection.  Check for termites and functional obsolescence.  Many homeowners actually have their home inspected prior to putting it on the market.  It makes a good impression to the buyers when you have your own inspection completed by an independent company.  It will also save embarrassing situations with buyers who discover problems.
  • Landscaping.  The landscaping should look immaculate.  Make sure the lawn is groomed, flower beds are clean, leaves are removed, and weeds are pulled.  Check the bushes and trees for grooming also.

STEP #4:  Show the Home In the Best Light
Always turn on the LIGHTS when showing.  Tell your clients to turn on all lights around the home before a buyer gets there.  If you show the home, make sure you turn on as many lights as you can for the buyers.

These include the mailbox light, front door, entry (especially if the entry is dark), and dark hallways.  Make your home alive, by being inviting and bright.  Bright homes sell better than dark homes.

Leave all front area curtains and drapes open.  Have you ever seen model homes?  The drapes are always open at night, and the lights are on.  Why?  Because it shows the home better.  Also, when you keep drapes open during the day, people touring through the home will experience more natural light.

BONUS TIPS:  After you complete the dressing of the seller's home, you need to make 2 statements that will help set the stage for your relationship.  You want to say the following:

  1. You may get some agents not showing your home because of the listing price.  At this time, don't worry about it.  But if we get too many, we'll need to revisit the issue.

  2. You will get offers all across the board.  There are those who just make low offers to see if a seller will bite.  Some may be as low as 20% below your listing price.  Regardless of the price or terms of the offer, let's make sure we examine and discuss all offers that come in, OK?

You may want to type up a list of home-staging items for your sellers to address.  You can use this 4-step process as an outline to work with sellers, get more offers, and sell your listings faster.

[Ed. note: To find out more about how to sell your listings faster including the best strategies top agents use to get price reductions, learn more about our new program Superstar Closing Secrets™ by clicking here...]

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How To Have Your Best Month In December

Do you send holiday cards to your sphere?  There's a big mistake you could be making causing your message to get lost in the “holiday clutter”...

Try this unique promotion as the end of the year approaches to maximize your income in December AND pave the way for a great first quarter.  This strategy is all about “client recognition and appreciation” (one of the cornerstone's of my Service For Life!® personal marketing system).

Agent Nicole Nekolny sent in an idea that reminded me of a brilliant holiday marketing strategy.  And below her description I outline the steps to use this in your practice.  Think about how you could use this strategy this Fall to skyrocket your December production...

Here's Nicole's brief description:

“Throughout the year I keep a record of all the homes I list and sell.

As the holiday season approaches, I review my year and thank all of my friends, family and clients for their help in making my business successful.  I include past years clients as well.

This works great in the Fall...when things are seeming 'ghost-townish', I send out mailings and call anyone who might need my services.  It usually produces one or two new clients each year.  Well worth a few minutes of my time.”

Here's the Step-by-Step Process To Use A
Bolster Your Income:

This may sound shocking, but... STOP sending out Christmas Cards to your sphere as the ONLY holiday contact you have with them.  These promotions simply get lost in the clutter with all the other holiday cards in December.

What's far better is sending a special 'Thanksgiving Card' that makes your sphere (House List) feel appreciated and gives you a surge of new business to fuel your December production.  Here's how it works...

Step 1:  Get a LIST of your clients
This could be your entire sphere-of-influence on your database (what I call your House List), or it could be your best clients who have sent you a referral or done a transaction in the past year.

Step 2:  Use a greeting card sized envelope
And make your mail look personal... hand address or use a handwriting font to mail-merge your clients name on the front of the envelope, try not to use mailing labels, and use a first-class postage stamp.  See my other mailing tips in this recent issue.

Funny Thanksgiving card

Step 3:  Send out a SPECIAL Thanksgiving Card
Don't use a bland, ordinary card with pumpkins or fall leaves...use one that stands out and gets noticed.  Plus, have a heartfelt message inside that bonds clients to you through “client recognition and appreciation.”  Here's an example funny thanksgiving card I found online...

Step 4:  Use an “Insert” to Make an OFFER

This is important:  You must have an offer in this promotion for it to bring you business.

What can your offer be?

Inside your greeting card include an “insert” that says something like...

Funny Thanksgiving card Insert

Do Not Open Until You
Display Your Greeting Card

The curiosity gets the best of the recipient and they open the insert right away to find out what's inside.

Then on the INSIDE of the insert, offer them:

  • A free home price analysis...
  • A free report on saving money with a home purchase...
  • A free invite to a foreclosure investing workshop...
  • A free subscription to your monthly newsletter...

Final tips:  send your card out with a first class stamp, on the Thursday before Thanksgiving.

This way it arrives just in time for their holiday meal, where they could be talking with friends and family about potential buying or selling.

And follow up with a sequence of contacts...either with a personal phone call or another reminder mailing for your special offer.

QuickTip: “Cutting Board” Prospecting

“I give a hand carved cutting board to every Buyer when they close.  Whether it's the husband or wife, they usually leave it out in plain view for all to admire.  But here's how I get business from this idea...

I put their name and Close of Escrow (COE) date on the cutting board so it has a personal and sentimental value attached to it.  And I also put my name at the bottom!  Guess who talks about it... their closest friends who come over for dinner and then get referred to me!”

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Get New Clients From Your Hobby Group

“Here's how to put your hobby to work...bringing you new clients in 5 easy steps...

Step 1:  Join a local hobby group.  Whether it be an indoor/outdoor activity, sports, or otherwise...get involved in some small 'community' of similar people.

Step 2:  Become a leader/organizer of your hobby group.  For example, I am a tri-athlete.  I coach swim workouts and I lead recreational bike club rides.  So, I am recognized by all and seen as someone to look up to.  Which is great personal marketing in it's own right.

Step 3:  Ask newcomers if you can take their picture and add them to the Internet with photos of other members of your hobby group.  It is a great way for everyone to learn each other's names.

Step 4:  You will need full access to the website to put the photos on the web.  The club or organization that sponsors your hobby group may refuse, so make a mildly branded page on your own website, and once it is established, the club can link to you!

Make sure your photo is first.  And for security and peace of mind, just put members' first names with their photos.  Click here to see an example website...

Step 5:  You also can get their personal information so you can notify them of club news, but also to add them to your mailing list.

Remember not only to have fun, but to always represent yourself professionally as someone who gives and deserves respect.”

Horror Story: Short Sale Bankruptcy Fraud

“Didn't see this one coming... My client wrote an offer on a short sale in Elk Grove in April that was finally accepted by the bank in July.  Close of Escrow was scheduled for August 15th.

All inspections went well and we had full loan approval and everything had been completed with funding of the loan scheduled 2 days before COE...until everything came to a screeching halt with some shocking news...

The title company pulled up a 'bankruptcy filing' by the seller, although the seller said he had NOT filed a bankruptcy.  The bankruptcy trustee now took control of the house as she suspected fraud and my clients had to cancel and requested their deposit back.

Fortunately we were able to get their deposit released and we have now found them a beautiful home just around the corner from this other nightmare.  Just one more thing that we need to make our short sale buyers aware of!!!”

Issue #1160