Featured Project: Imperial Lofts 80 Sherbourne Street, Toronto
I have seen and staged a lot of properties in Toronto and the GTA but the ones that challenge me more are the stale listings. I am always intrigued on what’s holding the sale of this properties, why is not selling? Does it have serious problems? Maybe overpriced? You will be surprised, most of the time, these properties are in perfect condition and priced based on comparables in the area. All that is lacking is the right merchandising, and the right packaging enough to land an offer.
Listed for over $500,000 this condo unit has been on the market for months prior to staging and received no serious offers during the time. Owners were very disappointed considering similar units in the same building have been selling fast. In my experience units like this in downtown Toronto sells within 10 days. So what’s holding it?
The problem with the unit is, it is not showing ready when it was first listed. It was listed “as is” which is a mistake because of Toronto’s high inventory of condominiums and tough competition.
Problem 1. So much stuff inside. The homeowners were artists, musicians, love the outdoors; they play all sorts of sports, pet owners, and parents of 2 small kids (imagine all the toys, sports equipment, and clutter in this small space). Solution: Get a temporary storage locker to free up some space while the unit is listed. There are many storage facilities downtown ranging from $150-$300 per month (depending on the size of the unit) that can hold your excess stuff for now. Creating that extra space can add value to your home and definitely worth every penny spent. Every square footage counts when selling a small condo.
Problem 2. The unit needs deep-cleaning. Deep cleaning is a MUST before listing your home. Nobody wants a dirty home. In this case, their pets even made it worst, because you can smell the cat pee as soon as you open the door (which they have gone nose blind to ). Solution: Hire professional cleaners. Situations like these cannot be remedied by simple cleaning alone, hire a professional to do the job, they use cleaning solutions that work wonders. Floors need to be washed, the whole unit needs to be aired out (to get rid of the unpleasant smell), relocate your pets, and remove all fabric materials (bedding, curtain, rugs) where the unpleasant smell is sitting on. If you can smell it, you can’t sell it.
3. The unit was NOT showcased for the target buyers. When you’re selling, you have to be one step ahead of your buyers. You have to offer them solutions to get them on board. This is why it is important to have a good grasp of your target buyers, your location, and your listing price (who can afford it?) Solution: Know your target buyers, imagine how will they comfortably function in the space, and really understand what they need. Showcasing a home for sale is not about you, it’s all about your buyers.
4. It’s drab and lacks the “WOW” effect. While the furniture pieces, and set up works perfectly and comfortably for the owners, the unit is not “shiny” enough for buyers to want it. Solution: Change things around, accessorize and give clear function to every awkward space (in this case, we set up a workspace area to where the electric piano was). We removed the red sofas and opted for a more neutral gray, we picked furniture pieces and accessories to enhance the look and the overall feel of the unit. Create a better lifestyle for your buyers. The right furniture and accessories are important in achieving that “wow” moment.
5. Failure to maximize the unit’s square footage. With the shrinking square footage and the increasing tag price of condos in Toronto, buyers are always skeptical to where they place an offer. You have to justify that your unit is worth what you’re asking for. Solution: Give buyers the extra space and function they are all looking for. In this case, we converted the nursery to a full bedroom (to show buyers that an actual bed will fit in the room), and created a workspace area in the living room. This way your buyers know that they get the bang for their buck.
6. The former listing agent does not believe in the power of staging. Choosing the right agent is critical when selling your home, they can be a great source of help but they can also add more stress to an already stressful situation if you end up working with the wrong agent. Solution: Ask questions before signing with an agent. Ask for their stats, their marketing strategy, how will they prepare your home for sale, or how accessible are they for example. Do your assignment, research before you sign up with anyone.
The property’s number of days on the market plays an important role when potential buyers are looking at the listing. It can tell a lot about the property, and can negatively affect its final offer. Your agent can deactivate the listing and reactivate it again the next day to reset the days on the market back to zero, but if nothing has been done and popping up at the same price, buyers will keep ignoring it regardless of how many times it shows up on their screen. If anything, this could be annoying to potential buyers.
Before you entertain the thought of price reduction, consider home staging. It always costs lower than a price reduction, and it is a better negotiating tool other than price alone. Let’s admit it, at the end of the day, everybody wants a beautiful home.
Is a Canadian Certified Staging Professional. His professional affiliations include the Real Estate Staging Association (RESA) and the CSP. He is the recipient of numerous home staging awards and was picked as RESA’s Top Professional Stager of Canada for 2016. He has worked with hundreds of Real Estate Brokers, Investors, Real Estate Agents, and has helped homeowners showcase their homes at its best when it is time to sell.
As President and Principal Stager of REDESIGN4MORE, Red provides home staging and interior redecorating services for both small and large-scale residential projects throughout Toronto and the GTA. Click here to learn more about Red and REDESIGN4MORE.