Today I taught my first home staging class at the University of North Florida (UNF) I’m teaching for an organization called OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute). OLLI is specifically designed for students over 50 years old who want to continue learning. This class wasn’t my typical home staging class where I’m teaching them to become home stagers, but rather I’m teaching potential sellers who want to know how to maximize their equity.
Home staging class teaches students how to prepare their homes for sale
I think my personal favorite part of the class was watching the light bulbs go on in their heads as we discussed the importance of home staging when selling. Many of the students have not sold in 10 years or more. Most of them admitted to already looking at homes for sale on Realtor.com or other online home sites. When we discussed the importance of the photos, they often added in discussions on some of the homes that they had seen.
Selling faster is nearly always better
One of the lessons that I was able to make pretty clear, and seemed to really sink in with the students is that selling your home faster is almost always better. Sure, some sellers are not in a hurry and find that selling for a higher price is really what is important to them. What I try to teach is that selling faster usually equates to higher offers. The offer on day 3 is usually much better than the one on day 30.
Staging is not decorating, it is marketing
This is an important distinction in my book. While we make homes look pretty, that’s not our main goal. Our goal is to maximize the return on investment of our home sellers and to make the home inviting to home buyers so they will connect with it. While we typically recommend that the home be neutral and free of clutter or distractions, it can’t be sterile. Warmth is an important part of the selling equation.
Professional photos are an important ingredient in selling the home
One of the students asked about this. Their agent told them that they take good photos and don’t need professional ones. I mentioned that some agents do take great photos, but most do not take professional quality photos. Having never seen their agent’s photos I asked what they looked like. They had never actually seen the photos.
This leads me to the last big lesson of today’s 1.5 hour class…..
It’s important to interview your agents carefully
Too often home sellers leave the sale of their biggest investment to a family member, friend, or someone down the street. The average buyer decides within one minute of entering the home to either stack up the reasons on why they like a home or don’t like a home. You either have them at hello, or they will give reasons to say goodbye. The average buyer spends less than 12 minutes in a home. They base the biggest purchase of their financial portfolio in less time than they spent watching a sitcom or thumbing through a magazine.
When deciding which agent to hire, they need to consider the marketing skill of their agent. What advice can they give you on preparing your home for sale (or better yet, do they recommend a professional stager)? What do their listing photos look like? What do their marketing pieces look like (flyers, online media like social media, blogs, etc)?
Today a listing agent needs to do more than simply put the listing in MLS and letting it feed into the plethora of IDX sites. They need to MARKET their listings. Staging is one of the many marketing tools that they have at their disposal. Actually staging is probably the biggest best marketing tool they have. Staging also probably has the biggest return on investment.
So what did I learn in my home staging class?
I remember how much I love teaching. I remember the excitement of talking to sellers and seeing the light bulb turn on. I also learned that no matter the age of the seller that they are willing to learn and implement the strategies if they truly understand why we want them to. So, I look forward to my 2nd OLLI class next week. I can’t wait to find out what new questions they have for me.