While still a fairly new concept concept in South Africa, many sellers are looking to home staging companies to increase the overall appeal of their home to potential buyers. We spoke to Lucy le Roux, the entrepreneur behind local property innovation: Illuminate Home Staging.
Tell us a bit about yourself:
Growing up near the Drakensberg foothills, Lucy has always had an appreciation for beauty and design. And after completing her two degrees in marketing at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal, she went on to work in marketing for 7 years finally combining her two interests as marketing manager at a prominent interior design firm in 2012. Lucy saw the potential to apply her skill set to the local property industry by starting Illuminate Home Staging in 2014, offering high-end rental furniture and styling services to property sellers.
What is Illuminate Home Staging?
Illuminate Home Staging is a property marketing business that uses styling, minor renovations and rental furniture and accessories to improve the presentation of homes prior to selling. Home staging started in the US in the eighties and is today a global property phenomenon with home stagers on every continent.
What services do Illuminate Home Staging offer?
We help our clients sell their properties faster and for more. The services we offer are centred around achieving this goal:
Property Consulting: This includes a 1 hour consultation at your property followed by a comprehensive home staging report. Our report provides a closer look at your property and includes an area overview, pricing analysis, buyer profile and suggested minor repairs and styling to ensure maximum return.
Styling: For sellers of furnished properties we provide 1 day of on site styling to prepare the property for professional photography and show days. When you live in a property you stop noticing what needs an update. With our fresh perspective, we’ll declutter & re-arrange your furniture and accessories for you.
Minor renovations: Sometimes a home needs a little bit of TLC before it’s ready to be introduced to buyers. We assist by sourcing contractors and project managing minor renovations on our clients behalf. This can be as small as painting over a pink wall or replacing a dated tile in a bathroom.
Furniture hire: Unfurnished homes are hard to fall in love with and they make buyers think that the negotiation is in their favour. For a monthly fee we stage your home to sell by providing contemporary furniture, art and accessories for the main living areas of your house.
What are the top benefits to home staging?
Sell your property faster: The speed at which your property sells is key to reducing selling costs (rates, levies and bond instalments), avoiding price reductions and maintaining a strong negotiating position with buyers. Research shows that staged homes sell 50% faster than un-staged comparative homes.
Make more money: Research by the National Association of Realtors in the US has shown that staged homes can generate a return of 8 to 10% on the selling price. According to FNB’s Estate Agent Survey 2015, approximately 87% of sellers in SA end up dropping their selling price by around 8%. By removing any barriers to purchase and launching a strategically positioned and priced home onto the market, sellers will avoid attracting low ball offers, getting asking price or even more if there are multiple buyers interested.
Make your money back: Home staging is the only property marketing technique that recoups selling costs. A simple way to determine whether staging your property will pay off is to use the following formula to calculate the main costs of selling your property. Price – 8% reduction – (Bond + Rates + Levies x Time on Market ) = Expected Return – 5% Agent Fees. When this formula is applied to the sale of a R4 000 000 home that would mean a likely R320 000 price reduction with R104 763 spent in expenses over a 3 month period (average selling time). This would bring you to a total of R3 575 237 before paying R184,000 in agent fees. The total cost of selling a R4 000 000 home in South Africa could therefore be expected to be R608 763- the same as buying a brand new Audi TT. Thats before even adding the VAT to the agents fee’s, rates and taxes and levy clearance certificates, compliance certificates, bond cancellation costs and possible capital gains tax if you are selling at a profit. Home staging offers a solution.If we look at our scenario above, employing the services of a home staging company would limit the price negotiations (lets assume to only 4% ) and up to half the time it takes to sell. That is a conservative gain of R212 381 without even considering the upside that you could get from the asking price.
By how much will home staging affect the selling price?
There are no hard and fast rule’s in terms of the percentage of the overall sale price that home staging should cost but we generally try to keep it to 1% or lower. If we consider that home staging is any property enhancement from minor renovations through to styling existing homes and full furniture and accessory hire, the costs are very different. When it comes to renovations it is so important to consider what similar homes in your area offer and what the buyer profile is like. Not all renovations will lead to an increase in value. Generally the renovations most likely to add value are maintenance and repairs (ensuring their are no major issues such as leaks or cracks) or those that add living space (additional bedrooms, outside deck area etc. ). Investment in curb appeal/the area of your home that buyers will see in the first 15 seconds of viewing is also key. You’ve heard the saying that kitchens and bathrooms sell houses….well they certainly stop people from buying houses but investing in these areas doesn’t always lead to recouping the costs. Studies show that minor renovations or updates in these areas bring the most value compared to a complete overhaul because of the associated costs.
Your top 5 DIY home staging tips:
Research: Go to show days. This will help you to start thinking like a buyer which is really the perspective you will need to improve your own home. Take note of how you feel walking into homes that are neglected, cluttered and uninspiring. Next go online and start looking at what is on offer in comparable homes in your area. This will give you an idea of what changes you may need to make to compete.
Start packing: You plan on moving anyway so you may as well get started. Up to 40% of all belongings including furniture and things already packed in cupboards can be packed and put in storage. Anything you haven’t used in the last 6 months, including all personal photo’s, should be packed. Not only will this make your house feel more spacious, but it will give buyers a chance to imagine themselves living there instead of feeling like they are intruding in your home.
Remedy any thing that will put buyers off. The prime suspects include; too little light, dirt and odours, stained carpets, cracks, leak damage, bright paint work, damp, pests, wear and tear on grout/window putty/exterior wood.
Get the basics right by standardising the look and feel of your home. Choosing a theme and carrying it though the house has a huge impact in creating a calming space that feels well loved. Choosing a neutral paint colour for the whole interior that ties in with flooring and any built-in elements is a good place to start. Don’t be afraid to paint over wood or brick as this often updates and unifies the look and feel of older homes that have these features. Next consider standardising small details like door and cupboard handles, curtain rails and entry level contractor doors as these really set the tone for the overall feel of the home. Repetition is key to creating a space that looks put together so remove any elements that don’t repeat.
Add something loveable. To get buyers to part with large sums of money they need to fall in love. Here it’s important to note that you need to implement something that is universally loveable to make sure you get this right. By just including a few on-trend features, your home will instantly increase it’s appeal. These could be anything from adding a barn door, subway tile backsplash or blackboard in your kitchen to feature pendant lights, geometric scatter cushions or a vegetable garden.
Get some fresh perspective. Invite your most honest and stylish friend or contact for tea and give them permission to give you the ugly truth about your house. If you want to keep your friendships in tact, get the advice of a home stager. Its R1 500 well spent.