House staging: the power of first impressions.

Last Saturday I decided to kill two birds with one stone (or combine ‘pleasant’ with ‘productive’ as they say in Polish), so I grabbed some leaflets advertising our home staging services and took our dog Eric for a walk in a Very Nice Neighbourhood. I thought to myself, if I need to walk him anyway, I might as well do some leafleting at the same time.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs I was opening a front gate after a front gate and catching my fingers in countless letter boxes, I had time to reflect on the power of first impressions.
I’ve noticed some gates that were only hanging on one hinge. I’ve seen ever more gates with gloss peeling off in massive flakes. I’ve seen front doors with paint peeling off, and even more front doors with shabby door furniture or letter boxes held only by sellotape. And that was all within a Very Nice Neighbourhood of huge 1920s houses with nice front gardens and even nicer cars parked in front.

If you’re selling or renting your property out, you’d better make sure that what people will see before they even open the front door will not put them off. There is ample psychological research material confirming that it only takes seconds (or according to some psychologists like Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov from Princeton Unviersity, only a tenth of a second!) to form an opinion whether we like something or not. Professor Frank Bernieri of Oregon State University who is an expert in so-called “thin-slicing methodology” explained in an interview for the Guardian, that people form an accurate assessment of a person from observing just a few seconds, or a “thin slice”, of their behaviour. The same applies to houses, buyers can dismiss a prefect property just on the basis that there is something “not quite right about it”. It might sound unbelievable, because we would like to believe that people make calculated decisions based on facts, but more often than not, impressions and emotions are just as powerful as facts.
And that’s where staging comes to help. To increase the chances of your house being sold or let after just a couple of viewings, concentrate on what buyers / tenants will see first: front gate, front garden, front door and the entrance hall. Here’s the checklist:

entrance hall table with flowers1) Front gate: is it working / opening easily? (if not, a bit of WD40 can work magic) Does it need to be repainted / restained? You might consider leaving it open for viewings as if you’re welcoming the viewers in (and prevent people from struggling to open)

2) Fence: is it in a good condition? If it’s brick / concrete: does it need to be re-pointed or patched? If it’s wood: does it need to repaired / restained?

3) Front garden / porch: Is it clutter free (toys, bikes, shoes, keys)? Is there enough greenery? (You might want to add a couple of potted shrubs or some hanging baskets)

4) Front door: does it look impressive or shabby? Can you just repaint it or do you need to consider replacing it? Is it clean?

5) Entrance hall: That’s the first bit of the inside of the house that people will see – make sure it looks not only neat and tidy, but also welcoming and inspiring. Fresh flowers on a console table or a floating shelf and a mirror are a classy and easy way to make your hallway stand out.

Good luck!

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