San Diego Home Staging Blog
What are some things I can do to help get my home sold?
We all hope that when we put our home on the market that it will sell quickly and for the price we want. Your home is most likely one of your biggest assets & you're going to want to take the time to figure out how to maximize your investment when you are getting ready to put it on the market.
As a home stager my advice to sellers is to do everything possible to increase the home's appeal to your target buyer. What does that entail?
There are lots of things that are going to affect how well your home sells including market conditions, location, price, condition and marketing. There is not much you can do about the first two - market conditions and location are going to be things you won't be able to do much about. If the market is slow you might decide to wait awhile to list your home. Your location is fixed.
But you can do something about everything else. You can take care of the condition of your home as it goes on the market. And marketing and price will be directly related to the agent you select.
So what things can you do to be sure you have addressed these factors?
Some of the things that you can do to affect how buyers perceive your home are to take care of:
- Deep Cleaning
- Deferred maintenance
- Neutralizing decor that is highly taste-specific
- Home staging
Many of these things you can do yourself. Get the family together and go through each room! Take a look at the entrance to your home & be sure your landscaping is in good shape.
Once you have done what you can a good home stager can help you accomplish your goals and get your home market-ready and that is appealing to buyers!
A good home stager will go over the things you can do, what they offer & give you an idea of what their company can provide. Interview at least a couple of staging companies to see samples of their work, check reviews and get to know their expertise and background. Look at photos of other work they have done & ask questions about their design plan for your home.
Find someone you are confident has the experience and design expertise to make your home look its best. Home staging when done well can help your home sell 90% faster and for 10% more than homes that have not been staged!
Marketing & Price
It's important to interview more than one agent to understand their marketing strategy, background, experience and to decide if this is someone you can work with successfully. The marketing strategy will be important in exposing your listing to the right pool of buyers. You want to know that when potential buyers go online to find listings in the area they are looking that your home will show up.
The agent you select will also be able to help you determine the best price.
Most agents will provide professional photos. Take a look at other listings the agent has represented and see what you think of their presentation & photos.
If you take care of those things your home will go out on the market in the best possible way to find the right buyer!
What if my home has been on the market for a while & hasn't sold?
It's never too late to go back and look at each of the areas we're discussing. Is the condition of the home at its best? Are there deferred maintenance issues that may be putting off buyers? If buyers see obvious areas of concern the likelihood is they will infer that if you haven't taken care of something they see at first sight you may have neglected other areas of the home.
Be sure your home is sparkling clean and looks its best when buyers are scheduled to see it. Before showings and open houses have a checklist and go through to be sure you have put things away. Add fresh flowers and be sure to address cooking or pet odors.
Always take a look at the outside of your home as well as the inside. First impressions matter and you want your home to look well-maintained and cared for as they walk up to the front door. Take care of landscaping issues and add colorful plants or pots to the front porch where you can.
If you haven't hired a stager find one you can help you go over the things that might be holding up the sale of your home. If you have staged your home & it's been on the market awhile it may need refreshing.
It is never too late to go back and take a second look at the impression your home is making on buyers. Your agent should be able to give you more information on the feedback from buyers who have seen your home. If you are getting lots of remarks that the home seems dark, that is one of the issues you can address with minor changes. Sometimes it's as simple as a coat of paint or removing dark curtains. This is another area where your home stager can really help.
Whatever time & effort you put into preparing your home for the best possible sale will be worth getting the best return on your investment & being ready to take the next step in your life!
Homescapes Home Staging San Diego was honored to receive the 2018 Houzz Award for Customer Service. This marks the fifth year in a row that the company has been honored by Houzz.
Homescapes Home Staging - San
Awarded Best Of Houzz 2018
Over 40 Million Monthly
Unique Users Nominated Best Home Building,
Remodeling and Design
Professionals in North America and Around the World
PRESS RELEASE: Carlsbad, CA
, January 21, 2018
– Homescapes Home Staging
of Carlsbad, CA
has won “Best Of Service”
®, the leading platform for home
remodeling and design. This award winning home staging company was chosen by
the more than 40 million monthly unique users that comprise the Houzz community
from among more than one million active home building, remodeling and design
The Best Of Houzz is awarded annually in three categories:
Design, Customer Service and Photography. Design award winners’ work was the
most popular among the more than 40 million monthly users on Houzz. Customer
Service honors are based on several factors, including the number and quality
of client reviews a professional received in 2017. Architecture and interior
design photographers whose images were most popular are recognized with the
Photography award. A “Best Of Houzz 2018” badge will appear on winners’
profiles, as a sign of their commitment to excellence. These badges help
homeowners identify popular and top-rated home professionals in every metro
area on Houzz.
“Our goal is to offer home staging at the
highest level of customer service with a high-end look at reasonable prices in
order to help our clients sell their home quickly & for the best price.”
"The Houzz community selected a phenomenal group of
Best of Houzz 2018 award winners, so this year's recipients should be very
proud,” said Liza Hausman, Vice President of Industry Marketing at Houzz. “Best
of Houzz winners represent some of the most talented and customer-focused
professionals in our industry.
Follow Homescapes Home Staging on Houzz
About Homescapes Home Staging
Judith Burzell started Homescapes Home Staging
after several years of remodeling homes & seeing the dramatic difference it
made to a sale when the home was staged.
The company has received multiple industry awards over the years &
is dedicated to providing quality staging accompanied by excellent customer
Houzz is the leading platform for home remodeling and
design, providing people with everything they need to improve their homes from
start to finish – online or from a mobile device. From decorating a small room
to building a custom home and everything in between, Houzz connects millions of
homeowners, home design enthusiasts and home improvement professionals across
the country and around the world. With the largest residential design database
in the world and a vibrant community empowered by technology, Houzz is the
easiest way for people to find inspiration, get advice, buy products and hire
the professionals they need to help turn their ideas into reality.
Headquartered in Palo Alto, CA, Houzz also has international offices in London,
Berlin, Sydney, Moscow, Tel Aviv and Tokyo. Houzz and the Houzz logo are
registered trademarks of Houzz Inc. worldwide. For more information, visit houzz.com
Is your home on the market & it hasn't sold?
As the owner of a home staging company in San Diego, CA I
hear this question all the time. If you have your home listed for sale &
you’re not getting the offers you want, what could be the issue? Here are some ideas on what it might be. And if you
haven’t listed your home yet, here is a chance to get it on the market for the sale you
What factors are affecting the sale of your home?
There are five primary things that are going to affect how
your home sells.
Location (we’ve all heard how important location
What is it about each of these factors that makes a
Let’s take them one by one.
*Hint: with the first
two there isn’t a lot you can do to change how your home is going to
sell, but we’ll give you a couple of ideas! The last three will be your chance
to make a difference!
1 – Location. If you picked a great location when you purchased your home you are
most likely still going to be OK on location. If you selected a home in a great location
that shouldn’t change unless something changed in the neighborhood since the
time of your purchase (was a commercial building constructed nearby, a major
road that added noise, a new flight pattern from an airport, or general
downturn in the condition of the homes in your area). If you were able to pick
well when you purchased your home, you should be fine on this point. If you are
in a location that had issues to begin with or there has been a change in circumstances that is detrimental to
your sale, what are some of the things you can do?
- If you have a noise
issue, can you add plants or structures that will baffle the noise, or add sound-proofing?
- If something has
been built nearby that is an eyesore, can you block it with a fence, tree, or reduce the impact in some other way by adding better window coverings, a fountain or other improvement?
- If the neighborhood
has gone downhill can you talk to your neighbors or homeowner’s association?
Would sprucing up your own front yard make a difference? Sometimes one owners’ efforts will help inspire others to make a
2 – Market conditions.
This is another area where there isn’t much you can do as a homeowner that
will help the sale of your home. Market conditions are going to be in flux.
Hopefully, when you are ready to sell you will be lucky enough to list in a
great real estate market when homes are selling well. If not, it will be more of a challenge; but, there
may be some things you can do that will help. If
you have seasons in your area where the market fluctuates throughout the year
& you decided to sell during the slow season, you might want to wait to list
your home until sales pick up. Sometimes
if you can wait a while longer, in a few months or a year the market may
shift. I’ve seen some homeowner’s decide
to ride out a poor market by deciding to rent out their property until market
conditions improve. This is an issue where timing may be everything.
3 – Condition. At
last, something you can really do to make a difference when you are selling!
The condition of your home is a critical factor in how well it is going to sell. A clean home that is well-maintained with a
yard that has inviting curb appeal & with a great look inside is going to
sell faster & for a better price.
Here are some things you can do to help get your home in the best
- Fix it. If your home has things that need to be fixed
get it done before you list it if you can.
This is the time to take care of deferred maintenance. If your property looks well cared-for
potential buyers are going to assume that you have maintained your home over
time & that they are less likely to have problems in the future.
- Deep clean. Now is the time to get everything spotless,
organized & put away (you’re moving soon anyway, take this time to start
packing!) Check for details like baseboards, corners, around tubs & sinks to be sure they are fresh. How about floors & windows? Check for odors & be sure if you have pets to deodorize & put things away if you can.
- Get organized. Your home will look larger & more
appealing if you follow the general guideline, less is more. Reduce clutter, pack or put away the things
you are not using, consider putting personal hygiene items like toothpaste
and shampoo into baskets that you can slip under the counter to hide. Then spruce up that area so that it
shines! And de-personalize where you
can. You want potential buyers to
envision themselves living in your home so don’t distract them with your
personal mementos & family photos.
Look at the demographic of the potential buyers you think are your most
likely buyers & focus on them.
- Hire a professional
home stager. Here is a proven way to help you sell your home quickly & for
the best price! Statistics show that a home that is well-staged will sell
approximately 80% faster & for an average of 12% more than a similar home
that has not been staged! The return on your investment in home staging is the
largest return of anything you can do as you prepare to sell your home – at
over 350%. A home stager will help you present your home in the best possible
way to attract buyers. Hiring a quality
company is definitely something to put on your “to do” list. Be sure you find a
staging company that has experience & look at their website and
reviews. Interview more than one. Ask to
see photos & examples of their work or if they have a home currently staged
ask to see the listing. How long have they been in business & how many
homes have they staged? Most importantly decide if this company is a good fit.
They are going to be helping you sell one of your most valuable assets &
you want to feel like you can work together.
- Look at your homes curb appeal. How your home
looks as buyers drive up to see it is going to set the stage for how they
perceive the property. Is your yard well-maintained? Are shrubs & bushes pruned and the lawn trimmed? Try freshening up your yard with
new plants, colorful flowers and mulch, gravel, bark or other ground
4 – Price. Setting
your price right is often the most critical factor in getting the right
buyer. Let the experts (your real estate
agent or appraiser) guide you when you are making the decision on where to set
the price. Many sellers get an idea in
their head about what they think the price should be & they won’t let go of
it. Being realistic is going to be a
huge help in getting your home sold.
Your agent is going to look at the comps (the selling price of homes
similar to yours in your area that have recently sold) to help you set the best
price. And for some tough love,
remember, buyers don’t care what you need to get from the sale of your home,
they want to know that it is priced right.
If you set the price too high you risk letting the house sit
on the market. If a home has been listed
for too long buyers are going to question if there is something wrong with
it. You will also open the door to
people thinking you are in a financial bind & need to sell the home, which
will attract low offers.
The cost to hold on to a home that doesn’t sell because the
price is set too high is almost always more than the first reduction in
price. The same is true for the cost of
fixing things from deferred maintenance or investing in the cost of quality
When you are selling your home you want to get on the market
with all of the boxes ticked that say your home is going to make the best first
impression possible, that it’s priced right, the value is there & the
condition is such that it helps buyers fall in love when they step through the
front door & can’t wait to get their checkbook out!
5 – Marketing. How
your home is marketed is also critical to your sale. Your best friend when you are putting
together your marketing plan will be the help of a qualified real estate
agent. Interview two or three agents
& get referrals from past clients.
Check their reviews & look at their website. Ask questions about their prior sales. How many homes have they sold overall? In the
past 12 months?
And most importantly, decide whether they are the right fit
for you. You’re going to be working
closely with them & you’re selling what is most likely your most valuable
asset. You want the partnership to work
to get your home sold. You want your
agent to create a marketing plan where the greatest number of your potential
buyers will see your listing. A good agent will see that you have professional
photos for your listing. Buyers today
are most likely going to see your home for the first time when they are looking
online. Having great professional photos
of your home looking its best is going to attract buyers & get them out to
look at your home!
Have I done all that I can?
If you take a look at each of the areas that are going to
affect the sale of your home & do your best to work with each one to have
your home looking its best, it’s priced & marketed right, then you are in
for a great sale! If you are having
trouble getting the right offers, think about what you can do to make some
changes to get the results you want.
As a home stager I am sometimes asked to come into a home
that has been on the market for some time & add staging to help showcase
the best that the home has to offer. I
have seen great results over the years & many homes turn the corner on
sales after staging. But if you can,
take the time to do your research and get it right the first time.
Are you ready for a great sale?
It’s true, you only get one chance to make a first impression! I would wish you “good luck on your sale”
but perhaps a better way to close is to say that if you are getting ready to
put your home on the market your best results will be if you “do your homework”
– if you do that your chance of getting the sale you want is greatly increased.
If you are a San Diego home stager, there is a new RESA chapter ready to serve you!
If you are a home stager you know that home staging is a relatively new industry that is going through major changes as the industry grows & more people understand the benefits of staging their home as they prepare to list it for sale.
As the industry grows home stagers have more access to programs & associations for continued training, professional support & one of own trade associations - the Real Estate Staging Association (RESA).
Beginning in May 2016 San Diego now has its own San Diego Chapter of the Real Estate Staging Association!
As a home stager in San Diego County, CA, I was fortunate to learn about the Real Estate Staging Association (RESA) early in my career as a home stager. RESA is a member-governed trade association for home stagers. RESA is committed to advancing professionalism and excellence in real estate staging & has members in the U.S., Canada & throughout the world.
We know the benefits of home staging - but what are the benefits to a stager of belonging to a trade association?
New clients often ask me about what qualifications a home stager should have. Being a part of a trade association that is recognized throughout the industry is an important step that can keep you connected to what's going on in the industry, continuing education, professional tools, support & networking with your peers.
General statistics on the benefits of home staging show that a homeowner selling their home can expect to sell approximately 80% faster for an average of 10% or more when their home is staged. One of the most important things that makes staging work is the understanding in the public eye of those benefits & that quality staging is key to the best results. An organization like RESA helps educate the public about those benefits.
RESA helps promote ongoing education to real estate agents, homeowners & the general public as to the value of home staging.
What are the benefits to a home stager of belonging to a trade organization such as RESA?
As a trade organization RESA offers:
- access to continuing education for home stagers
- networking opportunities
- discounts to services for home stagers
- access to other resources such as legal, insurance, healthcare, business forms & more
- special rates on things such as car rentals, office supplies, online shopping, artwork, greenery
- discounts to popular online marketing companies & inventory management systems
- opportunities to participate in leadership positions within the organization
- an annual convention & the chance to meet home stagers from other areas
- access to the Staging Excellence Alliance program
The San Diego Chapter RESA meeting will have discussions on issues that are important to all stagers, events hosted by local vendors, opportunities to volunteer in community events & chances to meet other local stagers & network.
If you are a home stager in San Diego please come join us at our San Diego Chapter RESA meeting held the 4th Tuesday of the month. For more information contact: Judith Burzell at (760) 224-5025 for details.
What other steps can I take as a home stager in San Diego to improve my skills & raise the level of professionalism that my company has to offer?
Are you getting ready to sell your home? Here are 5 things you need to know!
If you are getting ready to put your house on the market there are five primary things that are going to affect the sale.
Two of those things you can’t control
– but there are three that you can!
1) Market conditions –
market conditions have a huge effect on how your home is going to
sell. The things that affect the market
are inventory (availability of homes for sale), affordability (the ratio of
prices to earnings), housing values, interest rates, mortgage rates & the
There is nothing any of us can do to affect the housing
market. It simply is what it is – with
some exceptions! If the market
traditionally fluctuates in your area through the calendar year if you can plan
to list your home during the peak season (traditionally mid-March to mid-April - this will vary regionally) you may increase your chances for a quick sale at the price you want.
Location – you’ve heard it all before!
Location, location, location – where your home is located is probably the most
important factor in how your home is going to sell. If you chose well when you
purchased and your home is located in a desirable area, you are set. If the
area has declined or your specific location has issues with things like noise
or proximity to something like commercial or industrial areas, your sale is
going to be negatively affected.
Again, there is really nothing you can do
about the location of your home. So focus on taking care of the things you can
do to make a difference!
Condition – the condition of your home is
going to be one of the most important factors in getting the sale you want. Unless you are prepared to put your home on
the market with the idea that someone will come in and completely renovate it,
top to bottom, you are going to want to make the best impression possible on
potential buyers. Be sure to take care
of deferred maintenance, curb appeal & deep clean.
And most importantly, be sure to have it professionally
staged. A staged home will sell 80%
faster and for 15% more than a similar home that has not been staged. A professional stager is trained in
maximizing every area of your home to appeal to the broadest range of buyers.
Interview stagers the same way you would an agent. Get their background, be sure to see samples
of their work & ask questions about how they would help you prepare your
home to look its very best. The cost of
staging can vary, but this is most likely your most valuable asset! This is not
the best time to cut corners, so find a quality company. You want your home to stand out among all the
rest & get those offers coming in. In most cases the monthly cost of
staging will be less than the carrying cost if your home doesn’t sell right away. And the first price reduction is almost
always less than the cost of quality staging.
Price – in order to get the offers coming
in you need to price your home right. It
doesn’t matter to potential buyers what you “need” to get out of the sale. The house needs to be priced just right – not
too low and not too high. Don’t assume
that if you price it over comparable homes buyers will come in & make a low
offer with the hope that you will negotiate. More likely they will just walk
away. And this is where your real estate
agent will make a difference. Your agent
will do a comparative analysis of the homes in your area & help you
determine a fair price.
When you are
ready to select an agent be sure to interview several. Check their background & experience. Look at their marketing plan & ask them
for statistics on how the homes they have listed have sold (the number of days
on market, number of price reductions, how many homes have they sold, how many
years have they been in business, check their reviews). Then
pick the agent you think can do the best job & is someone you think you can
Marketing – how you market your home will be
one of the most important factors in getting the sale you want. Marketing strategies have changed a lot over
the past 15 years. These days buyers are shopping for homes online & that may be the first place they see your home. You want an agent who knows how to get your
home in front of your pool of potential buyers – ask them how they are planning
to do that!
You’ll want professional
photos that showcase the best your home has to offer and a marketing strategy
that is directed at your target demographic.
Your agent should be able to tell you who that is – are you near great
schools? Your target buyer may be a young family with children. Is your home single story? That opens up your
target market to anyone who can’t or doesn’t want to climb stairs. Do you have local shops within walking
distance? Are you close to good public transportation? Those things should all be part of a good
Be proactive as you get ready to list your home for sale &
you can count on the best possible result!
Home staging in San Diego is rapidly becoming a standard practice used by homeowners to help prepare in the sale of their home. Homeowners are realizing that the value added by staging their home is one of the best returns on investment that they can make when preparing to put their home on the market.
What can you expect when you hire someone to stage your home?
Every room in your home can be enhanced by staging!
Whenever you are considering hiring a home stager be sure to check samples of their work, either on their website or a site such as Houzz.
What you choose to do will depend on the circumstances of your sale. Is your home occupied or vacant? Stagers offer services to occupied homes that range from a design plan, organization, upgrades, recommendations & staging.
For occupied homes, stagers will try to use what you have on hand, streamlining the look of each room to make it appealing to buyers. They may recommend bringing in furniture & accessories as needed to make the most of your home.
Home staging companies will often offer different levels of services, such as a consultation or a MiniMakeover, where their staff will make changes that will allow you to get your home on the market quickly. Most stagers will offer shopping services & redesign.
Most home staging companies also offer staging to vacant & model homes. In those cases, you will need to decide with the stager which rooms are best ones to be staged. Generally, the most important rooms to stage are the first ones you see as you walk in - that is the best opportunity to make a great first impression. Other important rooms to stage besides the main living area, are the dining room, kitchen & bedroom.
A well-staged bedroom will make a home look warm & inviting!
Why is curb appeal so important!
The first thing a potential buyer is going to see when they drive up to your home is the view from the street. This is your best opportunity to make that great first impression.
Landscaping & front yard improvements are relatively inexpensive & give you a great return on your investment! Fresh plants, cleaning up & trimming, & adding fresh, colorful flowers will make a tremendous difference to how your property looks to a buyer. A good home stager will make recommendations that are cost-effective & help highlight that first look!
This homeowner took full advantage of the outdoor space, using large colorful plants, adding a new walkway, trimming & setting the stage with comfortable porch seating!
What about outdoor spaces?
In San Diego, where outdoor living is year-round, it is important to consider staging your outdoor space. Our climate allows us to enjoy patio living in just about any season - in our area enhancing the patio & yard can make the difference in the sale of your home.
In San Diego, staging outdoor areas is often your best choice!
In most cases we recommend that the seller make the most of their backyard by taking care of landscaping, adding colorful plants & staging their outdoor living space.
In San Diego, a good choice for landscaping is often native plants that grow well in the area but require little water. Choosing low-water use, native plants helps the environment & lowers your water bill at the same time!
Other consideration on hiring the right professional for you:
When you are looking for a home stager, ask the company representative about their business model & whether or not they own their own inventory or plan to rent from a furniture rental company. Some staging companies rely entirely upon rental furniture. Almost all provide their own accessories for rental.
Either option or a combination of both, may be the best choice for you depending upon the unique features in your home.
When discussion staging options for your home, the company representative should be familiar with the San Diego real estate market. Ask for references & check testimonials.
As you interview stagers check to see if they ask you questions that are relevant to the sale of your home, such as size, number of bedrooms, year built, floor plan, whether it is a single family dwelling, & single or multi-story. They should ask for a general description of the property, lot size, its condition, unique features, when you are planning to put the home on the market, & any issues that may concern you about the impending sale.
What about staging the entryway?
The entry way is the potential buyer's first introduction to the inside of your home. This point of view has the most potential to grab a buyer's interest & help them see themselves living in this home. Even the smallest touch of color & warmth can help draw a buyer into the home & set a welcoming tone!
A beautiful painting set at the entry warms the space & invites the buyer in!
A good stager will have credentials & experience - ask them about their work & training. We offer a review of the property & a detailed bid for larger projects. Our company approaches the sale of your home as if it were our own - our primary goal is to help get your home sold quickly & for the price you want, not to showcase our design abilities.
Staging should highlight the best features of your home, emphasize the unique aspects of the home that will help it sell & help potential buyers to see past minor issues that are easily resolved, so that they are ready to make that offer!
What it means to "define the space"
Before staging it was difficult for buyers to see how this space could be used - with staging it becomes a clearly defined extra living space!
The home stager you hire should approach each space in your home as a potential buyer would.
A good home stager will look at each area of your home from the point of view of the buyer, asking the same questions someone looking at the home would buy.
Common questions are "what is the purpose of this space", "how can I use this room", "will my furniture fit this room", "are there any problem areas I see"?
An essential part of staging your home is helping to address & answer those questions before a buyer walks through the door, showing each room to its best advantage.
A home stagers job is first & foremost to help you get your home sold.
Getting it Sold!
A well-staged home will enhance the property's best features without overwhelming the space.
To find the best stager in your area to help you sell your home, look at their experience, credentials, samples of actual work completed, testimonials & see how comfortable you are with their presentation.
Your home stager is an essential part of the team that will help you sell your home so be sure you pick a company that you feel confident can provide you with what you are looking for!
Your home is often one of the most valuable assets you will own - taking the time to find the right staging company is essential to making the most of that asset!
And remember - staging sells!
HomeScapes SD Home Staging works with & supports the Home Stagers Network, an organization designed to support the home staging industry. The Home Stagers Network works to educate people on the benefits of staging your home when you are preparing to sell, provides a network of support to home stagers & supports charitable work where we can share our skills. We are partnering with the Home Stagers Network in their volunteer program,
"San Diego Dream Homes", which will co-ordinate on-going
participation in local volunteer work in the San Diego area.
Their 1st project supports Habitat for Humanity (HFH). HFH need donations (new or gently used items) for their stores. The donated
items are sold & the proceeds are used to support Habitat for Humanity's great community projects. In the future there will be opportunities coming
up to work on newly constructed homes where stagers can help out on-site. I'll
keep you posted when something comes up, if you want to get out there &
In the meantime, until there is
an active home-building project to volunteer for, they need things now for
their stores. We will be gathering donated items over the next month to take
into the Escondido store. They also accept items in the SD store & for large
items they will pickup! This is an on-going project, so we will post a reminder
each month that we are gathering items for donations. I will also post when volunteer opportunities for home stagers in San Diego come up where we can help out on-site.
If you are a San Diego home
stager & would like to help out, you can contact me through a comment on this post or through the website's "Contact Us" page. For stagers in other
areas, if you are interested in starting a similar project, leave your contact information & I will share the information that we have gathered so far. Our next
project is shaping up for the holidays! If you are not a stager & would like to participate, leave a comment & I will get back to you.
Happy staging! Let's share what
we know & love!
Sep 6 2014
Is SEO optimization really so complex that you need to go out & hire an expert? Maybe not! Is that heresy in today's tech-driven world? Recently, when I was sitting next to a consultant who specializes in SEO optimization & asked that question, he laughed out loud.
Two years ago I didn't have the slightest idea what search engine optimization was. SEO was some technical term that didn't affect my life or business - or so I thought.The first rule of business is that you need to have something of value to offer potential customers. The second rule is that you need to find the best way for your customers to find you.
This is a home we recently staged to help get it sold as quickly as possible for the best price. As a home stager this is what we have to offer our customers - but what could I do to help them find me?It was pretty clear that the first step was looking at how internet searches work.
And if you want your business to come up high on an internet search, you need to know what SEO optimization is & a little bit about how it works.As the owner of a small home staging business in San Diego, I eventually realized that I had to come to terms with learning (yet again) another lesson in technology & that meant getting acquainted with SEO optimization.I am a complete novice.
I love my business, but a background in home staging doesn't lend itself to a high degree of sophistication in mastering the ever-changing challenges of today's technology. And yet to succeed in business, in today's world we don't have much choice but to jump in & see if we can figure out some way to find our potential pool of customers so that we can let them know we have something of value to offer them.
When business was slow this last winter, I decided I would either need to hire an expert to help with my SEO optimization or try to understand a little about it on my own. Out of pure curiosity, I began to read one article after another about search engine optimization & what it means.The goal was to get a higher ranking on Google, Yahoo or any other place where my very specific client base might find me. So far, it's been working pretty well. Shockingly well, in fact.
Is it dumb luck? Or is some of our success a matter of sticking to classic good business practices that have been around for decades - rather than putting our focus on trying to outwit & manipulate this monster of information, the internet.Following best business practices to me means offering the best product & service you can provide, working to be consistent, honest, reliable, informed, current, relevant, & in the end giving them what they want.
Because in the end, that's what it's all about - the ultimate goal for any business is to give the people what they want.How can doing that - just running the best business you can using the best possible classic business principles - help you find your target audience & get new clients to know you & trust you enough to buy what you are selling?
As I searched through articles on how to promote my business on the internet, it occurred to me that most of what they were talking about was raising your standards to try to be the best in the business - offering people answers & giving them something of value.When people do an internet search they have a question they want answered. They are going to type in the search words that they think will most likely bring up websites and articles that can help them answer those questions or provide a product that will.Classic good business practice is about quality, value, content, consistency, solid information & reliability. And sometimes it is about following rules (although sometimes it is about breaking them, but that's another article).
If you are attempting to get a higher ranking on Google, how important is it to take a look at their rules & regulations? Google makes their rules quite clear and available. There's no question what they are looking for.When people type in key search words as they are trying to come up with answers to their questions, Google wants the most relevant, reliable, informed, engaging, quality content that it can weed out of all the detritus on the internet to come up - they are trying to give the people what they want & need.
If you focus on following the rules and creating valuable content on your website or publications, you have far more to offer that person sitting at their computer than someone who is trying to play the game & do whatever they have to do to scam their way to the top of an internet search.Maybe the key is to create customer focused information that answers a need & provides quality content that your target audience is seeking where they are looking for it. And you want to work with the people who can get you there.
If you are starting with Google, look at what they have to offer. You want Google to help you promote your business, why not take a look at what other services & products they have to offer. Is it possible that part of the secret to Google's mysterious algorithm could lie in networking their own products & services? Does it make sense that a company would set out to make their products and services work in concert with others in the same company?
Do you want Google to work for you? Try expanding your knowledge of what they have to offer. I found over 101+ different products & services with a simple search. Google is the most popular search engine on the Web. There is a vast array of great products to discover, from Adsense, Analytics, Places, Maps, Android, Google+, Mail, Docs & my favorite new product, Waze (a great new traffic and navigation tool).
Google+ is catching on slowly but surely. It's a great place to share information. Linking your publications, website & posts on Google+ & actively sharing, can only help with your SEO optimization.My home staging business in San Diego took off when I worked on developing better content on my website, defined our brand & niche market, and became active on social media sites. I began to post on my blog, shared posts, & published articles with original content that I thought would be of interest to our potential clients.
I've shared everything from staging photos to nature photos to gorgeous travel shots, just to lighten things up once in awhile!
If you've ever investigated SEO optimization you've probably come across the concept of content marketing. If you are familiar with the term, you might have noticed that all of the descriptions I used earlier on classic good business practices (providing a quality product, information that is valuable, relevant, consistent, reliable, customer-focused, and original), also fall into the most common definition of content marketing.
A lightbulb went off when I finally realized what "content marketing" was all about! When you focus on providing a quality product backed by quality information that is focused on your potential customer's needs and answers their questions, those are the things that a search engine wants to come up when someone sits down at their computer & asks a question. They don't want a bunch of empty content, blatant advertisements, spam, high-pressure sales techniques or inaccurate information.
It seems to be working.
The irony is that while it works today, things change so quickly in our technology-driven world that this could all be obsolete tomorrow & our ranking could crash and burn - and if that's the case, it means it's time to hang it all up & book that vacation to the Seychelles!
Six good reasons to hire a professional home stager
We recently received an inquiry from a real estate agent asking
us how a hiring a professional home stager when you are ready to sell your home
is different than just de-cluttering & organizing your home. I wanted to share my response.
I received the comment form you submitted to my website,
HomeScapes San Diego, a local home staging company. You mentioned that
you would like some information on the benefits of hiring a professional home
stager that goes beyond what de-cluttering & organizing can do. Home
staging may include some de-cluttering & organizing, but it goes far beyond
that. Anyone could, & should, de-clutter. But if you want the
best price for your home, home staging is the way to go.
What professional home staging does is give you an edge when
selling your home over other homes for sale in your area - which often means
the difference between getting it sold & having it sit on the market with
the price trailing downwards. When you put your home on the market (often
someone’s biggest asset) you want to come out of the gate running & looking
1 - Statistically, staging your home professionally will
help you sell quicker & for a better price - homes that are staged sell an
average of 80% quicker and for 10% more than those that are not & staging
is the best return on investment a homeowner can make when selling (NAR)
2 - A professional home stager, who has been trained
& has experience, knows how to showcase this particular home to make the
best first impression possible
3 - When you professionally stage, you help buyers see how
rooms can be defined, how the space can work with their furniture & it
helps them envision themselves in the space
4 - Professional home stagers are trained to know how to
showcase the home to appeal to the broadest range of potential buyers in the
targeted demographic for this home, without the personal bias a homeowner may
hang onto about the home, which could prevent them from having the perspective
needed to get buyers attention
5 - The cost of using a trained home stager is a drop in
the bucket compared to the average first price reduction if the home doesn't
sell (typically home staging can range from $1,000 - $2,500 - far less than the
first drop in price, usually no less than $10,000)
6 - Good home staging increases the perceived value of the
home - with improved curb appeal, decor & better photographs, the homeowner
gains because they have re-inforced the perception that the home has been
well-tended & has been taken care of overall.
Let me know if you have any comments or questions. It was
a pleasure to provide some information on why we believe in professional home
staging to get any home sold quickly & for the best price, regardless of
market conditions. If the home is priced right, a staged home will sell faster than its competition!
Thank you for your inquiry. A picture says it best - take a look
at the "Before" & "After" photos of the home we staged
last week, below.
LEARNING TO BE FLEXIBLE!
Do you want to increase profits? It’s all about being flexible and keeping an open mind:
Flexibility & the ability to adapt & make changes is
key when it comes to running a business & seeing a profit.
I am in the business of home staging. We have a business
plan and model that we are constantly revising to adapt to changing
circumstances & things we are learning.
I am constantly challenged, even with two decades of owning my own
Today’s business owners need to be savvy on multiple fronts:
internet marketing, social media marketing & continual changes to the sites
we are all learning to use. This is a different business world than the one I
first met two decades ago.
But the overall principles for success in business have not
really changed. The underlying tenets to
creating a successful business are the same, but how we go about it & the
tools we need to master are different.
THINK LIKE AN ENTREPRENEUR!
Thinking like an entrepreneur requires a basic skill set. You can find dozens of articles on what it
takes to become a successful entrepreneur. Almost every list includes having a passion
for your business, tenacity, vision, the ability to take risks, break rules &
learn from setbacks.
What does it take to move from that basic skill set and turn
an idea into a successful business? Of all the traits I have seen listed, I
believe flexibility and adaptability are the most important. It
is the same for the survival of any organism.
Success in business is founded on adaptability and the
ability to assess where you are & make necessary changes. That takes an open mind. It means being able to make an honest
appraisal of what is working and what is not.
You may need to consider questioning the belief that you are
ever finished with creating your business model. There is a fine line between finding what
works and staying with that & being able to see when circumstances have
changed & when you need to adapt to move on.
Successful business owners are committed to constantly
looking at their business model and being brutally honest about what is working
and what is not. They are open to a
constant flow of new ideas and changes in the marketplace and how we are being
challenged to market with changes in technology.
That social media site that gave you 90% of your business in
2010? Well, it may not be much of a player in 2015. We all know how fast things change today.
Entrepreneurs know the value of rule-breaking at times and
the ability to look ahead and defy convention when we see a new open road. People who are able to spot trends in the
early stages have a huge advantage.
Get your ducks looking like this…
TRY SOMETHING NEW!
A step beyond recognizing & moving with trends is the
entrepreneur who is able to break with convention and actuallycreate change. The freethinkers of yesterday who defied
convention became the innovators who broke through outdated models in their
field. They were the ones who had the courage
to break out of the norm & come up with new ideas that changed the world.
Many of the world’s great innovators, from great artists to literary
geniuses to business giants, were mocked when they first came out with ideas
that defied conventional thinking. Think:
Frank Lloyd Wright, Pablo Picasso, Steve Jobs & Larry Page. They were all freethinkers
who were unafraid of taking risks and creating something new.
Flexibility and adaptability show up in many small ways in
the way we think and act. The words we
think and speak reflect our attitudes about how the world works and can show us
just how open-minded we really are when we take a hard look.
THINK SOMETHING NEW!
If we accept that mastering the art of being flexible and
adaptable can translate into a more successful business – which in the long run
means greater profits - how do we do make that change?
First look at a couple of definitions. “Open-minded” is defined as being “willing to consider different ideas or opinions”. “Flexibility” is defined as “the ability to
recognize & adapt to fluctuating situations.”
could be more fluctuating than the rapidly changing world of technology today where
we are trying to do business?
It all comes back to how we think. If you accept that you have the power to
direct your thinking, then you realize you can change your thinking habits to
become more open-minded and flexible. We have the power to re-frame the way we
think and train ourselves to become less rigid in our thinking.
Rather than sticking with an opinion that is unwavering, we
can chose to step back, reserve judgment and consider new options.
A FORMULA FOR SUCCESS: A.L.C.
One way to look at it is to try the formula: ALC: “Act”,
“Learn”, “Change”. In life we are always
going to need to “Act” in order to
put an idea into motion. Once we do
that, if we have an analytical approach with an open mind we can assess how
that idea worked, “Learn” from its
successes and failures, then “Change”
- that is what adaptation is all about. Do that once, then do it again & keep on doing it.
The process never stops.
Try it – make a decision about something you want to try
with your business. Let’s take advertising. You make the decision to “Act” and take an ad out on FaceBook. You watch the analytics and you see how the
ad is doing. It’s not performing the way
you had projected.
Begin to research how other people are doing the same thing
and see what kind of results they are getting. Figure out what they are doing
differently. “Learn” from that
analysis. Then “Change” the things that are not working. Then start over and do it again.
ALLOW THE WORDS YOU USE TO CREATE WEALTH!
How we think is reflected in what we say and do. If you’ve made a decision to be more flexible
and adaptable, try tracking how you are putting that into action as you
interact with others. What you ‘put out
there’ can indeed affect where you end up.
Here is a small example of how this works in my business. I
see a lot of discussions about my field in articles and on social media sites. There
is always some discussion on best business practices. One such community for
business owners is LinkedIn.
LinkedIn has some great opportunities for business networking
and sharing ideas through discussions that offer support to business
owners. The group discussions allow
people to post questions and answers to a wide range of topics. It is a great place to learn.
One of the most interesting things I have learned from that
site, is that there is a tendency for many participants to have firm,
uncompromising, even judgmental, beliefs about just about everything - from
basic rules for how a home should be staged (should you use table settings in
kitchens or trays on beds, silk vs. real plants, air mattresses, leave business
cards at homes you’ve staged), to the best business model (should you rent
furniture or own your own), or the best way to use internet marketing – the
list goes on & on.
The discussions can get heated and sometimes the
participants are downright insulting to one another. You hear “I would NEVER do XYZ…” or “anyone
who does XYZ is ….” – not the model for an open and supportive discussion and
the free flow of ideas. You’re not learning when you head is filled with
Reserving judgment and thinking before you speak may not
only be a kinder alternative, it can help you train yourself to keep an open
mind. Doing that allows you to explore
the possibility that someone else might have a better idea.
Even if you still don’t agree 100%, by keeping an open mind
you may find that there is some small lesson that you would otherwise have overlooked
had you not indulged yourself with that “AHA, I would never do that”- moment. That small lesson could result in a slight
‘tweak’ you make to your own business model that ends up making a difference.
Sometimes those ‘small’ ideas create breakthrough moments for your business.
AN OPEN MIND WILL ADD TO YOUR BANK ACCOUNT!
For me the answer is that there is no one right way to do any of these things. There
is no ‘one size fits all’. It
depends on the situation: your geographic location, your client, the current
market, availability of resources, budget constraints, local tastes and
trends. For home stagers, if the home is
at the beach an ocean-themed décor plan may be perfect year-round – in Ohio in
the dead of winter, that’s not going to work.
If you step back and reserve judgment, listen and learn, you
may decide that your opinion that inventory purchased at the local discount
store is tasteless is unfounded - it might be the perfect solution for someone
else in a different area with a different budget. It might even work for you
someday. And rudely expressing that
judgment has just shutdown someone in the discussion. When we don’t keep an
open mind we are at a standstill.
It is the free-flow of ideas that is at the heart of being
flexible and adaptable. If we learn to
check our egos at the door and step back from making broad judgments about how
other people run their businesses, we might just learn something. And that
little thing we learn might be just the thing we need to know to succeed &
While the examples here might seem silly to those outside
the field of home staging, the basic issue – being flexible & adaptable
when it comes to how you approach your business model - is critical to seeing
your company grow. Inflexibility can show up in the many tiny ways we interact
In order to live things need to grow and change. Being open to that change, not set in old,
narrow ways of thinking, can be your greatest tool to creating a successful
business & seeing greater profits.
May you all succeed doing the thing you love most!