Staging problem properties is always a challenge for professional home stagers. However, even the most unappealing homes can be markedly improved using appropriate techniques and strategies that are designed to bring out the best attributes of the residence. Remember, as an expert in real estate marketing, it is your responsibility to help people to sell their homes, even if it means more work for you cognitively, creatively and physically.
Difficult properties fall into many different categories, but all require special handling in order to get them sold quickly and for as much money as possible. Therefore, I have crafted this focused discussion about identifying and solving many of the most common difficulties faced by particular properties on the competitive market.
Difficulties Staging Problem Properties
Problem properties might be easily recognized or their issues might only become apparent with time and fruitless viewings from prospective buyers. Some of the major reasons why a property might be difficult to sell include any of the following factors:
The property might be located in an unappealing location, such as on a busy road, in a bad part of the neighborhood, next to railroad tracks, fire department facilities or near some other liability.
The décor and furnishings of the home are atrocious.
The home might require substantial repairs or renovations.
The home might have suffered structural problems, insect infestation or other problematic occurrence and word has spread in real estate circles.
The home might suffer from an awkward or unappealing layout.
The home might have been the location of a crime or other notorious event.
The owner might have incredibly unrealistic ideas about the value of the house and refuses to price the home according to what the market dictates.
The owner or occupant is unappealing and their influence is tainting the home. The people might be dirty, messy or otherwise present a poor appearance when potential buyers come to visit.
Of course, there are other possible reasons for a property to languish on the real estate market, but these are some of the actual cases I have dealt with during my own staging career.
Solutions for Staging Problem Properties
Solutions for troublesome properties are completely reliant on the nature of the problem that exists. In other words, there is never a one-size-fits-all fix for every problem property. Instead, the stager must work with the real estate sales team to identify exactly what issues the property will face on the open market and seek to rectify these concerns using a custom-designed approach. Here are some of the solutions I have implemented towards getting problem properties sold:
Property location can not be changed. However, buyer perception of the location can certainly be manipulated to highlight the good and camouflage the bad aspects of the area. Scheduling showings during ideal times will help to minimize noise from area liabilities, as will installing noise barriers and quality windows. Informing buyers that the price already reflects any location-specific objections will also help them to get past geographic hurdles, especially if statistics can be produced to demonstrate that the neighborhood is getting better.
For décor and furnishing-related difficulties, home staging is the perfect fix. Simply remove everything and fill the home with rental items that reflect a more desirable look, feel and flow. Problem solved.
Repairs and renovations can be made as needed, but even if the seller does not want to undertake these hurdles, the price can simply be lowered to reflect the need to fix the home once purchased. Regardless of the type of current market conditions, there are always buyers looking for fixer-uppers to invest in and earn equity faster.
For homes with structural problems, permit issues or insect concerns, the problem must be rectified before selling the property. If the problem is significant and allowed to persist, no amount of staging is likely to earn a good purchase price for the residence.
Layout can be optimized by excellent staging. The key is making every area perfect unto itself and as a useful piece of the complete home. Maximize the usefulness of every room and be especially creative to show buyers what can be done with even the most awkward spaces.
For homes with notorious reputations, it might be best to simply play up the history and market to particular types of buyers who embrace the unusual. Alternately, one might play down the event and seek to erase all hints of it from the property, if not from the mind of buyers.
Pricing real estate is a science and difficult sellers with unrealistic dreams of windfalls must be dealt with gently, but firmly. This is usually the job of the listing agent, but novice agents might have a tough time managing aggressive clients with gold in their eyes.
All properties should be professionally cleaned and maintained throughout the sales process. If the owner can not keep the place looking great, then the stager should help to arrange for a cleaning service that can. If the owner is a problem themselves, then simply try to schedule showings when they are not at home and keep them separated from prospective buyers until it is absolutely necessary that they meet.
Summary for Staging Problem Properties
Difficult problems require creative solutions. Staging a perfect home is easy. However, staging a troublesome residence to overcome its issues and present an appealing face to all prospective buyers is the mark of a truly expert home stager. Remember, it is the stager’s job to help get the home sold, even if the seller is the one who is preventing this universally desired objective. A bit of ingenuity and graceful tact can usually resolve virtually any problem when it comes to people. Meanwhile, solid design and professional level skills can certainly overcome almost any aesthetic issue with the home itself.
So, in order to become the very best home stager you can be, you will have to learn a bit of psychology, sociology and debate tactics. Be prepared to face obstacles in your day-to-day work and learn from them. I have met a few stagers who have actually crafted their businesses to specialize in problem houses. These experts earn more than usual and their reputations precede them as the people to call to get difficult homes sold.