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Sorry, If You Build It, They Are Not Coming

May 12th, 2008 · 2 Comments

(photo credit: mop squad)

Kevin Costner was hot 20 years ago in Field of Dreams. So was that comment “If you build it, they will come.” I received a fantastic comment from a home buyer today for my previous post How Listing Agents Unintentionally Sabotage Their Own Staged Listings:

  1. Danica Says:
    May 12th, 2008 at 10:51 am That is so true. As a potential buyer, I have been frustrated many times by Craigslist ads that have no picture. There are a ton of houses out there, and I’m trying to weed out the ones I don’t want to look at - it’s really impossible without a picture.I’ve seen so many places, staged or unstaged, that sounded great on paper and then turned out to be hideous-to-unlivable in person.More importantly, even though online listings at a place like Craigslist are free and offer almost unlimited space, a lot of sellers just put up one or two sentences and no pictures - and to me that says “I don’t have it together enough to actually market this house.”

    And my experience has been that often, that means they don’t know how to deal with the paperwork, or with my questions, or even with basic social skills.I guess in a way it’s helpful to see a boring, picture-less, one-line house ad - because it tells me I don’t want to deal with that seller. But it’s still hilariously frustrating to see an ad online that says something like, “2 BR 1.5 BA NICE!!! MUST SEE CALL JAMES SMITH REALTOR 555-1414!”

This is a brilliant comment, it just goes to show that with that in this fast changing real estate market, our buyers’ behaviors have changed. The old attitude of “If you list it, they will come” no longer works. That worked in the movie Field of Dreams for Kevin Costner but guess what? Kevin Costner is OLD news now. That phrase was coined 20 years ago, so is that attitude. It’s freaking 20 years old. Shouldn’t we move on with the times?

A savvy marketer knows that today’s consumers are so de-sensitized by advertisements that they need more interactive and user-friendly contents [Note: "content," NOT "ads."] to make an educated decision before buying. You can see that through the fast rising numbers of business blogs and web 2.0 services. People want interaction, not sales agenda ramming down their throats.

Also, today’s agents no longer holds monopoly to MLS information. Internet has made today’s buyers more savvy, shrewed, efficient and much more likely to start their buying process without agents. Additionally, if the consumers cannot be satisfied by you, it’s very easy for them to go elsewhere. To be able to work in a competitive market, as a listing agent or FSBO (For Sale By Owners), you will need to get on with the time to provide a comprehensive and user-friendly marketing package.

To do so, here are a few tips as pointed out by Danika, our lovely buyer:

*Online presence is KEY. Staging the property will instantly make the home show-ready online. Once you have staged, having big & high quality photos is a must.

*Don’t just do 1 photo, if you are allowed to post 10, why not do 10?

*Place ONLY good quality photos that will entice buyers’ appetite. Photos like featuring the local eateries or parking lots are not really adding anything to your listing.

*Be creative, not boring and cookie cutter in your listing descriptions. “2Br for sale” is kind of a duh since anyone can read it from the sheet. Why not say something more descriptive that showcase the unique selling points of your listing?

*MOST IMPORTANT: Provide reasonable expectations for buyers. If your listing sounds like the “IT” property to buy and buyers walked into an ill-maintained home, they will turn around and leave immediately because you have wasted their time. If the house is staged, keep it staged while you sell. If you property was already on market then staged, showcase the staged photos online and on flyers and take out the old unstaged photos.

Happy selling!



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Tags: Advertising · Buyer · Buyers · Home selling · Online advertising · Real estate · Strategy · Technology

What Eliot Spitzer Can Teach You About Listing Photos

March 17th, 2008 · 6 Comments

Unlike Hollywood, sex scandal is not a career launcher for politicians like Eliot Spitzer, now former New York Governor and someone who had single-handedly tanked his own career.

First of all, he is no Paris Hilton. People don’t want to link him with a sex scandal. Second of all, there is a drastic difference between his political image & persona comparing to his exposed image, unlike Paris Hilton who has at least been very consistent in her image as a party girl. So it was not a huge shock that Paris made a sex tape somewhere.
Eliot Spitzer, right, apologised to his family

Eliot Spitzer, right, apologised to his family for “private failings” [AFP]

What does Spitzer have to do with Real Estate & Listing Photos?

Like someone in the limelight, your listing needs to present a consistent image front and back, inside and out. In a competitive market, your buyers are critical and they will be picking your listing apart. Also with the ease of internet shopping, it is very easy to overlook your listing while someone else’s looks much nicer and easier on the eye.

I see many MLS photos that present an inconsistent story that does not tell the story of the house.

Let’s look at some real MLS photos I recently pulled off the web:

It’s too dark to see anything. How big is the room, what is the purpose of this room, can you see? The room also has the “Titanic Effect” where everything is tilted to one side.
What’s the selling point of this kitchen? More importantly, where is the counter? Does this image say “I am a good seller who takes care of my house?”
Ah I get it, your listing has a floor.

What an interesting splash pattern on the floor, was there a dead body?

Am I looking at your floral arrangements or at your house?

Are you trying to sell me this house or this giant cabinet? I see I can fit, oh just about 1/3 of the bed into the room.

Are you advertising for your listings or its neighborhood vendors? Shockingly I see this very often in MLS photos where people show signs of local shops, etc. where there are less than 10 pictures of the home itself. In real estate photos, quantity does NOT equal to quality. As buyers, we want to see quality photos that represent the home well.
Are we selling the seller’s interesting collections or the house?

Now you see why photos are important? The MLS photos is a tool for you to tell the story of the house that you are selling. Leverage it well will bring you success in driving traffic to the open house and showing. We all know a photo is worth a 1,000 words, so let your pictures do the talking.

As the listing agent, you have a tremendous power and control over how you can present and market your listing in the best light. After all, presenting a listing is like presenting your single friend to the dating market — your single friend is gotta look good out there! So let’s make a pack together: us stagers will provide the nice staged home effects ready for show and you the agents will present wonderful and well-shot photographs on the MLS!

Happy selling,


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Tags: Home selling

Introducing … Cindy Lin…Stager Extraordinaire!

March 17th, 2008 · No Comments

cindylin.jpgI’m delighted to announce that local stager Cindy Lin has graciously agreed to become a 3 Oceans contributor.  She runs Staged4More and its accompanying blog.  Talented, opinionated, humorous, a little sassy and irreverent  … what more could you want in a contributor — or a stager?

Her inaugural post gives us an Elliot Spitzer object lesson…

Take it away Cindy!

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Tags: Consumer · Industry · Staging

What can a stager do for me? Part 1 of a 4-part series

March 5th, 2007 · 5 Comments

By now, most of us have seen those HGTV shows where a staging team bursts into a property, and, in a whirlwind, transforms it into a buyer’s paradise in a matter of what appears to be a few hours. Usually the premise is either: a) stage this property for sale on a miniscule budget or b) stage this property for sale – the sky’s the limit! But these shows fail to reveal all of the behind-the-scenes labor and preparation put into staging a house. Let’s face it – loading inventory into trucks just doesn’t make for good TV. So I’ve written this four-part blog series to introduce you to what the “typical” stager looks like, along with the services generally performed by stagers. There are, of course, exceptions and variations on what I’m writing, and I’d love to hear what others’ experiences have been with stagers.

So, what does the “typical” staging business look like? Generally, it is a team of one or two staging professionals who do a good deal of the work themselves. Not all stagers have a team of movers, painters and handypersons at their command – although most will be more than happy to recommend such people to their clients. Some stagers do have full-time employees, although many will simply hire assistants and movers as jobs demand. I even know of stagers who bring in their family members and friends as free labor to keep their costs down.

Stagers are often happy to recommend what a client should do as far as remodeling is concerned, but I do not know of many who would handle a job like this themselves. If you are a seller and believe that your property needs major structural remodeling before sale, you should contact a contractor or an interior designer for these things, and call in the stager to put the finishing touches on the property before sale.

Some stagers carry inventory of their own, while others choose to rent furniture or only use the seller’s own furniture for staging. Those stagers who do own inventory often store it anywhere from an extra bedroom in their home to their own warehouse. One of the benefits of carrying inventory that stagers have capitalized on is the ability to stage with a specific style. For instance, some stagers specialize in Craftsman bungalows or modern high-rise condominiums.

A stager with a huge inventory and multiple employees is not necessarily any better than the solo stager whose assistant is her teenage son. Stagers perform a multitude of services – which will be discussed later in this series – and sellers should look for the stager who provides services which best meet their needs.

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Tags: Buyer and seller tips · For sellers · Real estate · Staging

Yikes! Get these sellers a stager!

February 20th, 2007 · 8 Comments

More and more home sellers and Realtors are recognizing the necessity of investing in home staging before placing a property on the market – but apparently not everyone has been clued in! Sometimes people balk at the thought of putting money towards staging, but these pictures of actual properties for sale across the nation prove that it’s an investment well worth making!


  • Hmmm… living room or Elks Lodge? The way this room is presented makes you look for the banquet tables!


  • Less is not always more. These sellers would be better off having nothing in the room.


  • Outdoor spaces need stagers, too! This patio needs staging to show what a great entertaining spot this is.


  • I could write an entire blog about this one (maybe I will!)! Dirty laundry? Child? Seriously, folks, never put children or family members in listing photos.


  • Your refrigerator magnets and knickknacks are fine conversation starters while you’re living in your house – but a stager would have told these sellers to lose them for selling. You want potential buyers talking about the house, not your stuff!

And last, but certainly not least…


  • Unless this is a toy store for sale, this room is the perfect example of why sellers need professional stagers. I wouldn’t be surprised to see price tags on the bears!

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Tags: Real estate