You know that full-page splashy four-color ad your agent paid for? Inside the front cover of Luxury Real Estate Rag? With the dramatic twilight image of your three-bedroom bungalow? With the adroit description of its stunning floor plan and unique window mullions? The one that never fails to melt your heart no matter how many times you read it?
It doesn’t actually attract buyers for your actual house. Seriously. Instead, it:
Assuages your fear that your Realtor isn’t doing enough to market your home
Irritates other agents who pitched your listing but didn’t get it.
Gives folks something to peruse while waiting for their lattes at Peet’s
Keeps the Luxury Real Estate Rag afloat
Prompts other potential sellers to contact your agent
Offers Looky-Lous and never-will-buy buyers something to talk about
This has always been the case in San Francisco, whether it’s Print or Web advertising. Real estate marketing is mainly about agent branding and agent promotion.
What gets a property sold is its inherent desirability coupled with correct pricing, strategic presentation, availability to be seen and inclusion on Multiple Listing Service. Everything else is pretty much window dressing on which every successful Realtor spend considerable time and money.
You may assume that – like Snapchat and teenagers – sales and marketing go together. Can one exist without the other? Yes! When it comes to real estate sales.
Real estate sells itself. With very few exceptions, a property either meets a buyer’s hopes and expectations or it doesn’t
In San Francisco, where there’s never much for sale, prospective buyers’ energies are spent watching MLS updates – and their feeds to various websites – like Sylvester the Cat. Any changes in or around the canary cage and the buyer is poised to pounce.
This is just another way in which real estate is not really about real estate. It’s about primal human needs like food and sanctuary. The motivated buyer seeks shelter. If your cave is available for occupancy and reasonably priced, buyers will hunt it down and make you an offer you can’t refuse.
Cynthia Cummins is a Top Producer and Partner at McGuire. For info on SF real estate visit http://CynthiaCummins.com.
My best guess is that the question arises in 1 out of 4 listings. But I’ve lost count of how many dozens of times I’ve stood in the middle of a dated kitchen with Seller and Stager debating one critical question:
Should we “paint out” the kitchen cabinets?
Nothing screams “old” or “tired” like old, tired kitchen cabinets. So smart stagers almost always recommend changing out the hardware and slapping on a new coat of white paint.
Sellers are usually concerned about pre-sale Return On Investment. (Painting cabinet faces is cheap but not dirt cheap.) So they’ll try one or more of the following arguments against painting:
It’ll be obvious to buyers that we just painted them.
Whoever buys the house is redoing the kitchen anyway.
It’s better to let the natural wood show.
I actually like the cabinets.
But usually the Seller will be convinced that the ROI is worthwhile because the paint will:
Make the kitchen photograph better and photos are key marketing tools.
Create a cleaner, crisper, brighter first impression
Give buyers the hope that they can delay remodeling for a year or two since they’ve just depleted their savings on a downpayment.
Cabinet-painting works every time. Case in point, here’s a professional photo of outdated kitchen cabinets in a condo I sold two years ago. (The sellers didn’t have enough lead time to stage or paint the cabinets):
Here’s a hurried cellphone pic of the same kitchen snapped by the painter who — for the new owners — recently painted the cabinets white:
…what a little paint, a little floor refinishing and a little staging will do.
I almost always recommend superficial cosmetic updates and staging whenever I list a property for sale. In my heart of hearts, I know it works.
But what’s funny is this: When my clients and I are looking at the “before” version prior to the “after” version being completed, it’s really difficult to envision the transformation ahead.
In other words, in hindsight it always proves to have been a good idea. Yet when you’re trying to decide whether or not to spend an extra $500 to have new carpeting put on the stairs, you might think, “Well. Hmm. It can’t make THAT big a difference.”
Note to self: It alwaysworks. It’s always worth it. When in doubt, GO for it!
It’s simple: Vacant homes sell for less. Rooms appear to be smaller, and the house feels cold and unwelcoming. Exceptions to this rule are far and few between, and an agent who says otherwise isn’t serving your best interests. These two photos tell the story.