Monday, October 15, 2012

What a Restaurant Can Teach You About Home Staging

Even a restaurant needs curb appeal. 

I ate lunch today at my favorite Mexican restaurant. My husband and I eat there quite often, about once a week. Is it because we adore Mexican food above all other types? No. Is it because it’s close by? Not really. Is it because we know the owners? Hardly.

It’s because everything that a restaurant should do, they do right.

Today, midway through my chile relleno I thought, home staging should be like this restaurant. 

Here are some of their winning ways that translate over to staging your home.

Always Inject Something New

Every time we go to Cerro Grande something new has been added. Today it was bigger iced tea glasses. Muy grandes and brand spankin new! And new menu covers. Nice touches.

Since we’ve been visiting this restaurant for about four years, we’ve seen it grow from “just another family-style Mexican restaurant” to a fun place with a captivating ambiance. They’ve added outdoor seating, painted murals on the wall, changed the light fixtures to south-of-the-border-style lights, expanded the menu, decorated the spaces between the booths, and added a full service bar.

These changes tell me that the management is investing in their business instead of milking it, or just coasting.

If you are selling your home, chances are you’ll need to make some investments. 

Buyers will sense it if you are just coasting, waiting for a sale, holding off on maintenance and repairs because you’ll be moving soon. 

Buyers want some show of recent improvements. Walls that have been freshly painted, a stove with some of the latest bells and whistles, window treatments that stay with the home, landscaping that’s been manicured.

It’s not necessary to do all kinds of upgrades, but it is important to make a showing of good maintenance.

What was a playground is now an outdoor patio,
with a bar and bubbling fountain. Are you using your
imagination to maximize your homes potential?
Give Good Value

We never complain about the cost of a meal at Cerro Grande, because we know we get our money’s worth. We enjoy the feeling that we're not getting ripped off, just the way a home buyer wants good value for his money.

Is your home priced competitively? You can’t just meet your competition. You need to beat them! Ambitious, savvy realtors and successful FSBO sellers will usually set a listing price that’s just below the comparables.

And if you are not a motivated seller, what are you doing in the marketplace? If you have the attitude of, “I’ll sell if I get my (unrealistically high) price,” you can expect to wait a longer time to sell.

Offer a Transporting Experience

I find myself uttering the same phrase almost every time we eat at this restaurant.

“It feels like we’re on vacation.”

Why? Because the experience is a step away from the ordinary. The aromas of ethnic spices drift from the kitchen. Music and the language of another culture provide background sounds. Vintage back and white photos of heroes from a different place fill the walls in the vestibule. Brightly painted wood carvings decorate the backs of all the chairs.

The way you want a buyer to feel when he tours your home is that he's being taken to an exciting new place. A place where he can relax, and even enjoy a pampered lifestyle. A lifestyle he doesn’t presently enjoy. He should feel like he is moving up the ladder of success.     

She usually smiles, but she was camera shy. Delivering
chips and salsa to your table right away is like great
"curb appeal."It makes you like the place immediately. 
When a buyer enters your home for the first time, will his initial reaction be, “This is how I want to live?”

Even though you don’t know what the buyer’s present living conditions are, it’s safe to say everyone reacts favorable to touches of luxury, to extreme cleanliness, to simple orderliness, and to soothing color combos.

Pay Attention to Detail

My Mexican restaurant takes care of the details like spotless restrooms, fresh flowers at the table, candles that get lighted at sundown, soft music playing in the background, a waitstaff that acts happy to serve you, clean menus, comfortable seats, quick service, consistent food quality, and I could go on and on. It all adds up.

In today’s real estate market it’s not enough to give the house a cursory once-over, pound a For Sale sign into the front lawn or call a real estate broker, then sit back waiting for a good offer.

A home seller needs to tend to the little things that set the home apart, to make it memorable, and tempt the buyer.

Don’t go thinking that my restaurant is a fancy place. It’s located in a former McDonald’s building. There are no tablecloths, cloth napkins, view of the harbor, printed wine list, pastry cart, or maitre d'. But we can have dinner for two, including drinks, tax and tip, and spend just $20.

Those low prices and the humble pedigree don’t prevent management and employees from delivering the kind of food, atmosphere and service that more than just satisfies.        

The Takeaway

No matter what the asking price, or the location, age, and style of your home on the market, aim to satisfy the buyer. Remove any hurdles he has to making an offer by doing everything right. Just like my friends at Cerro Grande.  

Sound daunting? It can be. But my $4.99 eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and For Top Dollar simplifies preparing your home for sale. You’ll learn all the step-saving, money saving, stress-saving ways you can get a jump on the competition. Download it now and start a program for staging your home today. 

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