Last week, I offered some home-buying tips on how not to be fooled by staging. This week, my focus is on why empty and unstaged properties should be ranked at the top of every buyer’s must-see list.
I always say that my “dream home” for buyers is one with stained shag carpeting, an active roof leak and cat pee in every corner. Anything that combines ugly, stinky and neglected is enticing to me.
Or, as a contractor friend once said to me, “More pig, less lipstick.”
Some piggy properties are major fixers suited only for developers. I’m not talking about those oinkers. I’m talking about properties where the seller didn’t bother taking any pains with presentation. These empty or non-staged homes offer special advantages for buyers.
Advantage 1: Non-staged properties photograph badly. The lighting is dim and the empty rooms look small and sad. On MLS, dismal photos (or a lack of any photos) repel many buyers. These buyers swipe ahead to the next, more attractive looking listing. This means less competition for the poorly-presented house.
Advantage 2: Non-staged properties convey the impression that something is amiss, otherwise the sellers and their agent would care more. Busy buyers have infinite choices but finite time for viewing them, so they eliminate the “houses that must have something wrong with them” first. Fewer shoppers mean fewer offers.
Advantage 3: Lack of staging may mean the seller isn’t being well represented. The listing agent isn’t employing an effective marketing strategy (which would include staging), so there’s a chance he/she will not be very strategic about pricing or offers or negotiations. This also can mean a better value for the eventual buyer.
Advantage 4: Lack of staging magnifies flaws and implies neglect. For example, in a warm, well-lit, furnished living room a tiny superficial plaster crack strikes a buyer as a good excuse to change the paint color after closing. In a cold, dark, vacant living room that same crack worries the buyer that the foundation is crumbling. It’s all psychology, but this psychology works in favor of the buyer rather than the seller in an unstaged house.
Bottom line for San Francisco buyers: Don’t skip homes with no staging and/or no online photos. Go see them. And when you see them, consciously strive — with your agent’s help — to see them as if they are staged. Apply the lipstick yourself. Then make an offer.
Click here for part one of this two-part post.
Cynthia Cummins is a Top Producer and Partner at McGuire. For more information on San Francisco real estate visit CynthiaCummins.com.