Selling a home used to be easy. You would hire a smooth broker; they would draft property details (full of bad grammar and advertising puff); you’d fill the house with the smell of roasted coffee and wait for viewers to come knocking.
Well, those days are as dated as one of Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen’s scarves. Nowadays, you call in the ‘home-stagers’ for a quick sale.
Five times more people inquired about home staging last year compared to the year 2000, according to the Home Staging Association, and Tracey Taylor of Tunbridge Wells, Kent, was one of them.
Investment: It costs around £5,000 to ‘stage’ a two bedroom apartment – an insignificant sum compared to the 8% home stagers claim they can add to a sale price
She had been renting out her two-bedroom, ground-floor, city-view apartment for several years and had not anticipated any sales problems.
However, when she put the property on the market, it became a “sticker.”
“There was nothing dramatically unsavory about the flat, but it was rented out to tenants and was just a bit dark and cluttered,” says Tracey, 59, an exam invigilator. The estate agent, Savills, advised me to hire home-stagers.”
She hired Beau Property Staging. “Beau turned a soulless, dated flat into a warm, chic apartment,” she says. “They cleared out our tiny little utility room, then refurbished the kitchen and added some modern units.”
Beau completed their work on August 24 and the flat soon had two offers. Tracey sold it for £480,000 in December, well above its asking price.
It costs around £5,000 to ‘stage’ a two-bedroom apartment – compared to the 8 per cent home-stagers claim they can add to a sale price
It costs around £5,000 to ‘stage’ a two-bedroom apartment – an insignificant sum compared to the 8 per cent home-stagers claim they can add to a sale price.
The real estate market is also falling — down 3.4 percent from this time last year, according to Nationwide. So it makes financial sense to sell as soon as possible.
Joss Miller, at Beau Property, has a clear staging strategy. “Make sure rooms have a clear purpose and use mirrors to add space and light,” she says.
‘Don’t fill rooms for the sake of it. If a piece doesn’t strengthen or improve the trait, it isn’t necessary. And never base your staging on your personal taste.’
Kai Carter, a real estate agent in Newbury, Berkshire, uses CGI and state-of-the-art photography to take home staging to a new level. It’s putting Old Church House in the village of Ecchinswell, near Newbury, on the market for £1.12 million (kaicarterestates.com).
It is a renovation of the village church from 1860. I found an impressive interior.
A kitchen-cum-dining room leads to a living room with a cathedral ceiling and mullioned windows, all of which overlook Lord Lloyd-Webber’s Sydmonton Estate.
The furniture, especially the heavy oak doors, is a nod to the history of the house.
Still, the agent, Natalie Carter, has gone to great lengths to temper the sense of antiquity. She has digitally cleared the rooms; then modified the floor plans and redecorated the new spaces using CGI.
The rooms you see in the brochure don’t actually exist. “We gave the furniture a modern twist and digitally adjusted the layout to better delineate the rooms,” says Natalie.
“My goal is to create a neutral look so the buyer sees the space and features, not the furniture.”
You would imagine that Natalie could be accused of misleading potential buyers, but that is not the case.
She is aware of the misrepresentation laws, according to which she cannot change the color of the walls or carpets or “virtually” fix a broken window.
The countryside is such a major attraction that Natalie also shoots drone footage of the area.
It’s all a far cry from the traditional gimmicks of house sales. What will the future bring? “I think virtual reality is going to play a big role,” says Natalie. “I can imagine talking a potential buyer through a home viewing in real time while they’re at a pool in Tenerife.”
So you don’t have to put the coffee pot on.