Struggling to sell? Call in the makeover professionals
known as stale stock. Their method is simple: come up with fresh marketing ideas and material – and reprice the property. They recommend knocking 10 per cent off the original asking price. “Less than this and it could go unnoticed,” warns Tollit. They recently sold a property which had sat overlooked for six months within a week of relaunch.
For those who need to sell but whose property isn’t gaining any viewings, there is an alternative to dropping the price: focus on appearance. Back in the heady days of 2006, blemishes such as damp patches or threadbare curtains weren’t stumbling blocks. But today’s buyers are more likely to wait for something better to come along if what they see doesn’t catch their eye.
“If you were planning to sell your car, you wouldn’t get the best price by taking it to the dealership covered in mud and with empty crisp packs in the footwell,” says Trish Pead of Home Staging London. “It’s the same with a house. If buyers see that it has been loved and looked after, it will pique their interest.”
The concept of dressing a property before putting it on the market is a well-trodden route in the US and Australia. Here, while it’s established practice for new developments, it’s now gaining ground on the resale market. With costs starting at around £350 a week, it’s an upfront expense which can be a challenge for equity-rich, cash-poor vendors. But employing a home stager can be the difference between securing the asking price or losing tens of thousands of pounds by dropping it in desperation.
One of Pead’s clients was struggling to sell a property in Earls Court, London, pictured top left. “It hadn’t had any interest and the agent was advising him to drop the price by £50,000,” she says. After repainting areas and dressing the flat to suit young professionals, it sold within a month – at full asking price. The £10,000.
Estate agent turned home stager Marina Collett of TPS Furnishings says that home staging is about “distracting the eye away from the cracks and creases” in a property. “So many rooms are just grey and beige, which don’t stand out in the crowd. We use plenty of colour and proper pieces of art which have been professionally hung.”
TPS was recently hired to help with the sale of a Chelsea house which had a potential “red flag” layout: the sitting room was in the basement. The dressed property ended up going to competitive bids within a matter of weeks.
Achieving the right interior finish for the demographic of the potential buyer is key. “You have to understand the local market and make sure the property speaks to it,” says Sarah Clements of Hamptons. service cost
She was asked to help with a Russian-owned stucco-fronted house in Clapham that had been languishing on the market for a year. “Decoratively speaking, it was too ostentatious for the Clapham market.” After removing most of the possessions and redecorating, the house went under offer three weeks after relaunching.
Home staging works for the country house market, too – especially when properties have been stripped of furniture or are probate sales. When an attractive but soulless barn conversion in Gloucestershire wasn’t attracting any interest, Luke Morgan of Strutt & Parker asked Tetbury-based furniture dealer Toby Lorford to help.
“Not only did it then sell for a good price, but the buyer took all the furniture,” Morgan says. “For some people with little time on their hands, providing a ready-made solution will be the difference between a good price and an average one.”
TPS helped sell a Chelsea house, main, with its sitting room in the basement; the buyer of a barn conversion, below, took the home’s furniture, too