Donna and I were swapping senior team stories over lunch one day last week, and talking about how easily prospective sellers are offended when an agent suggests taking down wallpaper and/or neutralizing and painting. Unfortunately, many agents back off as a result, because it’s a tight rope in offering valuable advice and putting people off (and risking losing a listing).
One thing I have learned over the past few years with the seniors is that they all seem to have a hang up with changing colors/neutralizing for a new buyer (“nobody did that for us” or, “they can change it however they want it once they buy it – we don’t want to pick out the wrong color” or, “that’s just cosmetic, buyers can see past it.”). So, if you approach it from the standpoint of de-personalizing the house so the buyer can see themselves living there, then you often meet resistance.
However, when I explain that the way we market real estate has been totally transformed by the internet, and the importance of compelling photography (the first showing will be almost always be online, and if the photos aren’t “wow” then the buyer and/or agent may simply skip to the next listing), they seem more willing to accept the recommendations. Professional photographers have taught us that de-cluttering/staging/neutralizing colors is critical for setting the stage for great photos.
For some reason, that makes the advice more palatable, and I have found that I am always able to persuade a seller that it’s an essential step in getting market-ready. If you need some marketing support, use the ODU ocular tracking study from a few years ago (glossy attached), that found that buyers actually perceive higher value based on the right colors. Even better, show them the difference between good and bad photos online so that they can experience it from a buyer’s perspective.
Although it may seem like a relatively small thing, I am convinced that next to pricing, the SKILL of being able to persuade a seller to embrace your advice on removing wallpaper, painting in neutral colors, and staging is perhaps the single most valuable skill you can employ in delivering a return for your seller clients. It can mean the difference between a SOLD sign and languishing on the market for months, and it can mean thousands of dollars in their pocket from a negotiating standpoint.