Last year, I had the opportunity to work with a client that had two investment properties with underwater mortgages. I was able to get both units under contract right away. Unfortunately, the deal on the unfurnished unit fell through; and that is when the problems began.
I was only able to get offers $15,000 BELOW the amount the lender was requesting. After a few months of trying to help my client get an offer, I convinced her to invest in staging. I recognize that most sellers in short sale situations don’t have the money to fix up their home or pay for staging services, but that is where creativity comes in. We worked closely to get the unit staged and soon after were able to get the sale price the lender was seeking. the money spent was a minor investment compared to bringing money to the closing or signing a promissory note for the difference of the $15,000 the bank wanted.
I have always enjoyed helping friends while decorating their homes and love reading every interior design magazine that I can get my hands on; but in helping my clients staging became a key component of the sale strategy. Ever since that first experience staging a distressed property, I have been able to help other clients prepare their homes for sale and get the best and highest price possible. Whether a short sale, or a traditional sale, the goal is the same: making the property look bigger, brighter, and accentuating the positive aspects of the home.
Staging is providing potential buyers a sense of possibilities and displaying the home’s potential, while evoking a cozy and inviting feeling. Unfortunately, while many homeowners decide to sell their home they forget to emotionally detach from it. They need to see the house as a commodity for sale. Homeowners must realize their property -whether distressed or traditional sale- is competing with other houses in their neighborhood. If the seller desires to get the best price or wants the lender to release them from any deficiency, the homeowner must show the property in the best light possible and staging is a tool to achieve that.
Today, there are companies that provide virtual staging services. I have used the services of Virtual Staging Solutions for staging one of my short sale listings. The home was vacant and it helped potential buyers see the possibilities. Not only did I use the photos for the MLS, I enlarged the photos of the main rooms and mounted the blown-up photos on easels, giving a sense of art in a model home. And what happened to the distressed house once it went to market? It went under contract for nearly $50,000 above listing price.
Foremost, underwater homeowners must remember that being in a bad situation doesn’t define who they are. Thinking of creative and inexpensive ways to stage a short sale must be part of their strategy while working with a Realtor®
Norka Parodi is a member of the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing and is a Broker/Realtor®, with CDPE, CIAS, LMC, GRI, TRC designations
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