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If you'd like to read about what we've been up to or see some of our recent property advice, take a look at the media coverage we've received below.

Can home staging help sell your house?

Everything you need to know about home staging

Sell your house faster by playing up the good...

Increase the overall appeal of your home...

How to reduce the cost of selling your home...

Simple steps to speed up a sale...

Home stager

Simple steps to speed up a home sale....

Stage your home to get a better price when selling...

fin24 press coverage Illuminate

Can home staging help sell your house?

Sunday, 3 September, 2017
Words: Angelique Ruzicka
Full article: https://www.fin24.com/Money/Property/can-home-staging-help-sell-your-house-20170901

Johannesburg - Home staging is a property marketing tactic that uses styling, minor renovations, rental furniture and accessories to improve the presentation of homes that are for sale. Home staging shows elevated Martha Stewart to fame in the 1990s after she purchased a run-down farmhouse in Connecticut in the US and renovated it with style. UK property expert and TV presenter Sarah Beeny has also shown us how a refreshing look can result in interested buyers.

Home staging hasn’t yet caught on in South Africa as much as it has in the US and the UK, but there’s certainly a place for it in the sector.Estate agents in South Africa charge a commission fee of between 4.5% and 7% to facilitate the sale of your house, so sellers are often loath to hire more people to help them get the price they want for their property.Bianca Arnsmeyer, sales manager of Berman Brothers Property, says: “This practice is more common for upmarket properties in the US, especially in areas where there is a surplus of available stock and the seller wants to ensure that their property stands out."Hiring a professional interior decorator in South Africa just for the purpose of making your home more attractive to a potential buyer is an expensive exercise, and this cost is probably only justified for properties that are on the market for R15 million or more.”

However, Lucy le Roux, the director of homestaging company Illuminate, says estate agents often don’t provide decorating advice, which could result in a seller losing out or not getting their asking price. Adding a third element of home staging complicates the deal for estate agents, who sellers think work on value – but they work on volume. They want to sell the house as fast as possible without complicating things and losing their sole mandate. They don’t tell people that they have to change things around to improve their home’s look because this will add to the complexity of the deal. It’s hard to convince people to redecorate and still pay the agent’s commission. It’s been a niche scenario so far,” she says.

THE BENEFITS OF HOME STAGING

That’s not to say that the practice of home staging doesn’t work – Le Roux has made a living doing this since 2014. She says her home makeovers have often resulted in a sale soon after she has worked her magic. “They have done studies in the US that show that staged properties will move 50% faster than unstaged homes,” she says.

Le Roux adds that staging has a psychological effect on potential buyers.If they walk in and see a tired old home, they may think that they can land a bargain because of the renovating and decorating that they feel will need to be done. However, staging encourages them to make an offer that is closer to the asking price.“Staging creates an urgency around the property when people realise that the seller isn’t on the back foot.The seller won’t get low offers because they are putting their best foot forward and showing off their property,” says Le Roux.

She maintains that home-staging could provide the seller with a 10% return.She says that people often make offers that are between 9% and 10% below the asking price, but, if a home has been staged and is looking great, potential buyers won’t feel they have the ability to make a lower offer because the property wouldn’t need to have any work done to it.

BE YOUR OWN HOME STAGER

Hiring a home stager can cost a lot of money. A quick glance on Le Roux’s website shows that she charges R5 000 for property consulting – which includes a one-hour Skype call, pricing, area overview, listing of repairs, upgrades and décor advice – and R25 000 to hire her furniture for four weeks. She also charges customers R3 950 to transport the furniture.  

If you can’t afford to hire a professional, there are some things you can do to improve the look of your home to make it more attractive to buyers:  

1. Get rid of the ‘junk’

“I think people go wrong in the sense that they stop seeing what their house looks like. You are so used to seeing your kid’s art everywhere, the random table you inherited and cat food on top of the fridge. You don’t look at it with fresh eyes,” says Le Roux.

2. Get rid of the clutter 

“People just accumulate stuff – they don’t ask why they still have those items. The average homeowner could get rid of 50% of what they have in a house,” Le Roux adds.  

3. Clean up, maintain and repair

Arnsmeyer says: “Start with a deep and thorough clean of the home and garden. Touch up any paint problems, fix cracked tiles and make sure there are no scuff marks or stains on floors, walls and ceilings.When showcasing your house, pay attention to details.”  

4. Modernise and ‘add love’

Le Roux says: “Make a few changes that will make you and others fall in love with your home, whether it’s adding trendy accessories or installing contemporary light fixtures.”

5. Let the light in

“Light, bright and airy houses sell faster,” Le Roux concludes.

Everything you need to know about home staging

Tuesday, 4 October, 2016 
Words: Petro Vivier
Full article: http://www.monoshop.co.za/everything-you-need-to-know-about-home-staging/

This is something I have wanted to write about for a while – especially ever since I discovered sites like Stadshem, Fantastic Frank, Entrance Makleri and so on (all of the homes you see on these sites are staged). Home staging – for those who do not know, is any kind of improvement you make to your home so that it can sell faster and possibly increase the value as well. (Obviously home staging only applies to people whose homes are for sale, so if that is you, you might find this post very useful, I hope.)

To find out more, I contacted Lucy le Roux who is the founder of Illuminate Home Staging, a company in Johannesburg that specialises in – you guessed it – home staging. She was kind enough to share some of her work and I also asked her about home staging in general, since it doesn’t seem to be a very common thing in South Africa. 

How Home Staging Works

As I mentioned before, home staging is any kind of improvement you make to your home so that it can be more appealing to a potential buyer. The idea is that when a property is on show and empty (in other words, unstaged) as in the first photo, most potential buyers cannot picture themselves living there, which makes the property a bit more difficult to sell. It makes sense. But how do you go about staging your home and how much staging is enough for it to sell? Well, according to Lucy, it all depends on the initial condition that your home is in. Some homes require a little bit of maintenance here and there and others need something closer to a mini makeover. That will usually be determined by a consultation with a home staging expert, after which they will give you a report that covers what needs to be done, how much it will cost, etc. “For sellers of un-furnished homes we bring a removal truck filled with an entire house of furniture, art and accessories that we own,” says Lucy. “All they need to do is sit back and we transform the empty space into a lovable home.”

Who Can Afford It?

You are probably thinking that home staging sounds like an expensive exercise and while it can be, it doesn’t have to be. I asked Lucy if home staging requires a large budget and she believes that a little can go a long way. “We helped one client, for example, to turn an unsellable house with a pink/tan coloured kitchen into a dream property by spending just R5000 on paint and new handles. Not only did our client sell in less than 4 weeks (after battling to sell for 3 months) but they also received an offer for R200 000 more than their last offer.” But even if you spend a bit more than that on your home before selling, Lucy reckons that more often than not, it is worth the investment. Small changes can make a big difference, as you can see above.

Just How Effective Is Home Staging?

To give you an idea, Lucy told me that the norm in South Africa is for sellers to receive roughly 8-10% less than their asking price (for unstaged homes, that is). Apparently staged homes, according to some studies, sell about 50% faster than their unstaged counterparts and for 8-10% more. “We’ve seen a number of clients receive multiple offers and full asking price after they stage their properties.” However, as she also mentions, your home should still be reasonably priced. “The only homes we have not been able to sell in the past are those that were over priced by R1 000 000. These properties have still not sold after more than a year.”

Is Home Staging for Everyone?

You may be thinking that home staging is not for you, and it seems that a lot of South African sellers are not really interested in it (some are even critical of the whole idea). Lucy thinks that many people are missing out on an opportunity by not staging their homes and I have to say that I agree with her. “The fact that many homes, one of the most expensive items most people will ever buy, are sold with little or no thought on presentation and marketability is a lost opportunity. Unless you have a natural flair for interior design or have hired an interior designer, chances are your property sale would be optimised by home staging.”

“I’m selling my home – now what?”

Lucy’s number one piece of advice to anyone who is selling their home is to be honest with yourself and look at your property from an objective point of view. “Sellers are usually too close to their own properties to be able to look at them critically and estate agents compete for properties making it hard for them to always be honest with sellers for fear they might not get the sale,” she says. “While I could list endless advice about decluttering and adding stylish pieces, chances are most sellers can’t see the clutter anymore or realise their style may be outdated, so getting a professional in to assist is likely to have the best impact.”

— If you would like to know more about home staging or perhaps you are selling in the Johannesburg area and are interested in staging your home, you can visit Illuminate Home Staging’s website or Facebook page. You can also follow Lucy le Roux on Instagram to see more of her work

Home Staging South Africa

Simple steps to speed up a home sale

Friday, 19 June, 2015      
Words: Lisa Dewberry
Full article: http://issuu.com/thecreativegroup/docs/business_day_190615 (p14/15)

Selling a home is not always easy and can become a lengthy and tiresome process that costs the seller and agent time and money. Despite booming property markets in the main centres, there are still areas in the country where the average property can sit idle for three months or longer before being sold. However, simple solutions such as basic home improvements, savvy online marketing, stylish home staging, smart incentives, creating a “lived-in” look with a house sitter and pricing the property right can often help speed up the sale.

Simple home improvements increase interest

Simon Bray, CEO of Private Property, says it’s essential that all maintenance issues be rectified before placing the property on the market to ensure a quicker sale at the best price. He says buyers notice smaller problems that the owner or agent don’t see because of their familiarity with the property, such as a leaking tap or broken doorknob, and will form the impression that the property is not well maintained and could have even bigger faults. “Ensure the condition of the house can’t be used against the seller. Remove any excuse for a buyer to negotiate down on the asking price. Potential purchasers mentally reduce the price of the property every time they spot a problem that needs fixing. They want to move in without the hassle of making any repairs, and if they think it’s going to cost them money to get the property in good shape, they will stay away,” he says. Ricardo Gouveia, director of Valuetec Property Valuations, says if the owners are going to invest in home improvements, they should put money into improvements that will likely yield the best return. He says that the owners, when trying to increase the value of the house,must be realistic; fitting a new kitchen will not necessarily increase the asking price if the roof is caving in. Says Gouveia, “Any improvements should be practical. Use colours and designs that appeal to the widest audience and complement the home. It is possible to overcapitalise on the property by improving it to a point where it becomes one of the most expensive properties in the area, above the average sale prices, so take note of the suburb and keep the house similar to other properties in the area, to avoid renovating it out of the market. But the upkeep and maintenance of the property should not be neglected.”  

Online property marketing is easy and cost-effective

Property owners and agents now use social media as a way of communicating with potential buyers, as it is an easy, cost-effective way to generate new interest in a property. YouTube, Facebook and Twitter remain the most popular avenues. Some savvy agents have even started employing Instagram. Realistic goals and expectations should be set for social media marketing and for finding potential investors or homebuyers, and tactics should be put in place to meet these goals. Sellers and agents can use social media to publish a variety of content types, such as photos, links, videos and stories, to promote the property or use it as a website if they don’t have one. Bray says that more than 90% of buyers start their search online, so not listing the property on the internet deprives you of the opportunity of reaching buyers at the start of their buying journey. He says a property can be advertised through online classifieds, online auctions, pay-per-click outlets, through banner ads on relevant websites and by joining property investor forums.  

Home staging makes buyers fall in love with a lifestyle

Lucy Le Roux, owner of Illuminate Home Staging, says that for a property to sell fast and earn a greater return on investment, it needs to be presented as “move-in ready”, and the lifestyle it offers should be effectively portrayed. She says that home staging includes minor renovations, the styling of existing furniture and accessories, or providing a full house of furniture and accessories to assist in the sale of empty properties. “It is estimated that staged homes sell in half the time of comparable non-staged homes, all things being equal. To optimise the sales process, home staging should be used before a property is listed rather than as a quick fix after buyers have seen the home on show for months and know the seller is getting desperate,” says Le Roux. According to Le Roux, by providing stylish and trendy furniture, art and accessories, the seller gets to send the message that the value of the property is understood and that the owners are not in a rush to sell.  She says empty homes portray a cold, clinical and lifeless environment that most buyers find depressing, and since there is nothing for buyers to really see, they start to become overly critical of what is there, such as paintwork and fixtures, and they battle to imagine where their furniture would go. “Research shows that homebuyers form an opinion within the first 15 seconds of entering a property and are likely to spend only five minutes viewing an unfurnished house versus up to 40 minutes in a furnished home. If you do go the extra mile when presenting your property and staging it correctly, you will be head and shoulders above the competition,” says Le Roux.

Incentives will sweeten the deal

Builders continue to chip away at home prices by offering special deals. Individual sellers should take their lead and consider offering prices and incentives that might entice buyers to view their property. Simply offering an incentive such as a vacation, petrol card, spa trip or car hire can help get traffic through the door; or, during negotiations, the seller might want to throw in the pool table or lawnmower to help seal the deal. In a down market, buyers are looking for a deal. You have to attract their attention somehow, so do your best to make them feel they’re getting one. Offering to pay for a year’s worth of homeowners’ fees, or throwing in transferable home insurance for a one-year policy that covers appliances such as air conditioners and refrigerators, for example, often helps to convince the buyer. Potential buyers may feel more at ease knowing they will be covered against such problems, which could make the home more attractive than a competing home. Sometimes, potential buyers see the concessions and realise the seller and agent are willing to work with them, and this assists in getting closer to agreement.   Home sitters create a neighbourly vibe Dominique Alexander, owner of Happy Home House and Pet Sitting, says house sitters are often called on by agents to help sell upmarket yet slow-moving houses. The goal, she says, is to remove the air of desperation from the home and add emotion to it. House sitting involves filling vacant for-sale homes with short-term tenants and their attractive furniture, thereby giving the property a well-kept, lived-in feel that will win buyers. According to Alexander, banks and individual homeowners are often interested in hiring house sitters as a way to set a particular property apart from foreclosures and other listings. House sitters show how a potential buyer could live in the home. Buying a home is about more than sales price, school district and length of commute. Alexander says, “Buyers want to feel the house is right for them and see themselves living there. People want to live in neighbourhoods because there are people there. Getting a house sitter is something to consider in areas where there have been many vacancies and where you want buyers to have a sense of the neighbourhood and someone occupying the home for security. House sitters lower the risk of break-ins and keep property values stable for everyone else living on the block.”  

Correct pricing is still key

Tshegofatso Selahle, communications manager at Nedbank, says that regardless of how well a buyer renovates and stages a home, the most important thing is to price the home appropriately. This is where the agent plays a major role in aiding the seller to settle on a price by comparing the home with others in the area. “By researching the property market, buyers will get an idea of the costs in the area and will be able to recognise a good deal. It’s not always imperative to be the lowest-priced home on the block, especially when significant improvements have been made to the property; however, it is important that the listing price not be out of line with other comparable homes on the market,” says Selahle. Bray says that overpricing a property is the biggest mistake people make and the main cause of a property’s remaining unsold. He says sellers should never forget to place themselves in the buyer’s shoes; they must then determine what a fair price might be, as buyers are pretty savvy at spotting an overvalued property and will avoid it. “The longer a property languishes on the market unsold, the more the perception grows among buyers that there is something wrong with it. Sellers should get an estate agent or independent property valuer to price the property. The basis for the valuation would be a comparative market analysis which lists all properties recently sold in the area,” says Bray.   

Home Staging South Africa

Home Staging

Friday, 19 June, 2015        
Words: Shereen Lurie 
Full article: http://www.sahomeowner.co.za/home-staging/

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.

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.

Home Staging Johannesburg

Sell your house faster by playing up the good parts

Saturday, 5 September, 2015        
Words: Samantha Hartshorne
Full article: Open PDF
Home staging business johannesburg

With Spring upon us, residents are likely to notice an increase in estate agent sign boards piercing the verges of many suburbs because warm weather and budding gardens make a neighbourhood feel more attractive.

Many home owners will be thinking of putting their homes on the market during a season traditionally dedicated to starting afresh, and will be looking at ways to fast track sales.

Independent HOME found that it takes only a little time spent on thoughtfully preparing the home and knowing the target audience to actually help you avoid delays in shifting your home. As with anything you're selling, play up the good parts. Detracting from the unappealing aspects is vital for success in the sale.

The numbers speak for themselves. According to FNB's Property Barometer, approximately 87% of residential property sellers in South Africa end up dropping their price by 8%. A recent FNB estate agent survey also revealed that for the first time in four years those dropping their prices where predominantly in the high net worth segment. These high net worth properties are also the only segment where the average time on the market has increased- up three weeks since 2014. For the other sectors the average time on the market is around 12 weeks. Houses with an average selling price of R1,46m spend just 9.1 weeks on the market and houses in a higher net worth segment with an average price of R4,62m, list for 18,9 weeks before selling. 

Lucy le Roux who owns home staging company Illuminate, says giving your home a new look has three main advantages. Firstly the home should sell faster if it offers a look and feel that is more inviting, which also reduces selling costs such as rates, levies and bond instalments. Secondly the staged home is less likely to attract low offers. "By removing any barriers to purchase and launching a strategically positioned and priced home on to the market, sellers will avoid attracting low ball offers and are more likely to get the asking price- or even more if there are multiple buyers interested.

Finally le Roux says that spending money on staging a home that is on the market is the only property marketing technique that pays for itself. Her company offers services  that provide consultations to sellers on how to present their home to a buyers market. Illuminate also provides home staging advice as to where to spend money to improve elements of the home for the best uptake and where not to overcapitalise. A decorating and small renovation service is also available.  

Home Staging Business

Stage your home to get a better price when selling

Monday, 9 November, 2015        
Words: Property24 
Full article: http://www.property24.com/articles/stage-your-home-to-get-a-better-price-when-selling/23062
sell your home faster

Staging your home when selling could mean more offers for more money more quickly. Here’s how you can make home staging work for you…

Most sellers would love to sell their home in conditions where multiple buyers are interested and there is little to no price negotiation. In conditions like these, houses sell faster and for more.

This is according to Lucy le Roux from Illuminate Home Staging who says while some sellers may be waiting for the property boom to return or for stock shortages to get so low that the same selling conditions are created, there is actually a lot that can be done to create boom-like conditions for your individual property, no matter the macro-economic environment.

She says sellers can make use of the practice of home staging, which though seen as best practice in property markets around the globe, is still relatively unheard of in South Africa.

“Home staging is any activity involved in ensuring a home appeals to the highest number of potential buyers as possible prior to listing,” says Le Roux.

“This is essentially the principle at the core of all marketing: understand your audience and do everything in your power to make your product as desirable and easy to purchase as possible,” says le Roux.

With eco-mobility month and the introduction of various international brands like H&M, Pizza Hut and Krispy Kreme we might be fooled into thinking our major cities are enjoying all the benefits of many international cities, but in reality Le Roux says the way property is sold in South Africa is over two decades behind its global counterparts.

“Marketers in these countries know that the same techniques that get people to buy everything from toothpaste to 4x4’s can be used when trying to influence the single largest purchase most of us will make in our lifetimes: buying a home,” she says.

“There is an entire arsenal of property marketing techniques that as yet hasn’t even been capitalised on by South African homeowners. Research from the United States shows that staged homes sell 50% faster than unstaged comparable properties and can result in a final offer of 8% to 10% higher than the sellers would have received."

Le Roux says taking the appropriate time involved to prepare your home prior to listing can increase the possible demand for your property substantially creating optimised selling conditions. How does it work?

- Home staging helps buyers to connect emotionally to your home and helps them to visualise how they could live in the space, raise their family and entertain their friends. Ultimately it shows how buying your particular home will help them to achieve their dreams and aspirations and gain the admiration of others.

-Home staging removes uncertainty and various barriers to purchase. By presenting a move in ready home where buyers are given a sense of the scale and purpose of each room, buyer uncertainty, a factor which often prevents a sale or keeps potential first-time buyers in the rental market, is reduced.

-Home staging allows buyers to appreciate the overall space, rather than focusing on small details that may put them off. By focusing on increasing the overall beauty and appeal of the home, the property is given an edge. Beauty is proven in countless studies to be linked to higher earnings and success.

-Immaculately presented homes are rare in the South African market. Focusing on the presentation of your property puts you head and shoulders above the competition and leads to buyers feeling that they have found something special. This leads to less price negotiation and faster sales.

Illuminate Home Staging’s top 5 tips to prepare your home to sell are:

1. Remedy anything that will put buyers off

Here the prime suspects are too little light, dirt and odours, stained carpets, cracks, leak damage, bright paint work, damp, pests, wear-and-tear on grout, window putty and exterior wood.

2. 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 six months, including all personal photos, should be packed.

Not only will this make your house feel more spacious, it will give buyers a chance to imagine themselves living there instead of feeling like they are intruding in your home.

3. 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 on 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, lighting 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.

4. 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, a trend, to make sure you get this right.

By just including a few on trend features you will instantly increase your home’s appeal.

This 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.

5. Get a 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 intact, get the advice of a home stager. Its approximately R1 500 well spent for a consultation.

Home staging business Johannesburg

Simple Steps to Speed up a Sale

Wednesday, 19 August, 2015        
Words: Lisa Dewberry
Full article: http://www.propertyprofessional.co.za/simple-steps-to-speed-up-a-sale/

Selling a home is not always easy and can become a lengthy and tiresome process that costs the seller and agent time and money. Despite booming property markets in the main centres, there are still areas in the country where the average property can sit idle for three months or longer before being sold. However, simple solutions such as basic home improvements, savvy online marketing, stylish home staging, smart incentives, creating a “lived-in” look with a house sitter and pricing the property right can often help speed up the sale.

Simple home improvements increase interest

Simon Bray, CEO of Private Property, says it’s essential that all maintenance issues be rectified before placing the property on the market to ensure a quicker sale at the best price. He says buyers notice smaller problems that the owner or agent don’t see because of their familiarity with the property, such as a leaking tap or broken doorknob, and will form the impression that the property is not well maintained and could have even bigger faults. “Ensure the condition of the house can’t be used against the seller. Remove any excuse for a buyer to negotiate down on the asking price. Potential purchasers mentally reduce the price of the property every time they spot a problem that needs fixing. They want to move in without the hassle of making any repairs, and if they think it’s going to cost them money to get the property in good shape, they will stay away,” he says. Ricardo Gouveia, director of Valuetec Property Valuations, says if the owners are going to invest in home improvements, they should put money into improvements that will likely yield the best return. He says that the owners, when trying to increase the value of the house,must be realistic; fitting a new kitchen will not necessarily increase the asking price if the roof is caving in. Says Gouveia, “Any improvements should be practical. Use colours and designs that appeal to the widest audience and complement the home. It is possible to overcapitalise on the property by improving it to a point where it becomes one of the most expensive properties in the area, above the average sale prices, so take note of the suburb and keep the house similar to other properties in the area, to avoid renovating it out of the market. But the upkeep and maintenance of the property should not be neglected.”  

Online property marketing is easy and cost-effective

Property owners and agents now use social media as a way of communicating with potential buyers, as it is an easy, cost-effective way to generate new interest in a property. YouTube, Facebook and Twitter remain the most popular avenues. Some savvy agents have even started employing Instagram. Realistic goals and expectations should be set for social media marketing and for finding potential investors or homebuyers, and tactics should be put in place to meet these goals. Sellers and agents can use social media to publish a variety of content types, such as photos, links, videos and stories, to promote the property or use it as a website if they don’t have one. Bray says that more than 90% of buyers start their search online, so not listing the property on the internet deprives you of the opportunity of reaching buyers at the start of their buying journey. He says a property can be advertised through online classifieds, online auctions, pay-per-click outlets, through banner ads on relevant websites and by joining property investor forums.  

Home staging makes buyers fall in love with a lifestyle

Lucy Le Roux, owner of Illuminate Home Staging, says that for a property to sell fast and earn a greater return on investment, it needs to be presented as “move-in ready”, and the lifestyle it offers should be effectively portrayed. She says that home staging includes minor renovations, the styling of existing furniture and accessories, or providing a full house of furniture and accessories to assist in the sale of empty properties. “It is estimated that staged homes sell in half the time of comparable non-staged homes, all things being equal. To optimise the sales process, home staging should be used before a property is listed rather than as a quick fix after buyers have seen the home on show for months and know the seller is getting desperate,” says Le Roux. According to Le Roux, by providing stylish and trendy furniture, art and accessories, the seller gets to send the message that the value of the property is understood and that the owners are not in a rush to sell.  She says empty homes portray a cold, clinical and lifeless environment that most buyers find depressing, and since there is nothing for buyers to really see, they start to become overly critical of what is there, such as paintwork and fixtures, and they battle to imagine where their furniture would go. “Research shows that homebuyers form an opinion within the first 15 seconds of entering a property and are likely to spend only five minutes viewing an unfurnished house versus up to 40 minutes in a furnished home. If you do go the extra mile when presenting your property and staging it correctly, you will be head and shoulders above the competition,” says Le Roux.

Incentives will sweeten the deal

Builders continue to chip away at home prices by offering special deals. Individual sellers should take their lead and consider offering prices and incentives that might entice buyers to view their property. Simply offering an incentive such as a vacation, petrol card, spa trip or car hire can help get traffic through the door; or, during negotiations, the seller might want to throw in the pool table or lawnmower to help seal the deal. In a down market, buyers are looking for a deal. You have to attract their attention somehow, so do your best to make them feel they’re getting one. Offering to pay for a year’s worth of homeowners’ fees, or throwing in transferable home insurance for a one-year policy that covers appliances such as air conditioners and refrigerators, for example, often helps to convince the buyer. Potential buyers may feel more at ease knowing they will be covered against such problems, which could make the home more attractive than a competing home. Sometimes, potential buyers see the concessions and realise the seller and agent are willing to work with them, and this assists in getting closer to agreement.   Home sitters create a neighbourly vibe Dominique Alexander, owner of Happy Home House and Pet Sitting, says house sitters are often called on by agents to help sell upmarket yet slow-moving houses. The goal, she says, is to remove the air of desperation from the home and add emotion to it. House sitting involves filling vacant for-sale homes with short-term tenants and their attractive furniture, thereby giving the property a well-kept, lived-in feel that will win buyers. According to Alexander, banks and individual homeowners are often interested in hiring house sitters as a way to set a particular property apart from foreclosures and other listings. House sitters show how a potential buyer could live in the home. Buying a home is about more than sales price, school district and length of commute. Alexander says, “Buyers want to feel the house is right for them and see themselves living there. People want to live in neighbourhoods because there are people there. Getting a house sitter is something to consider in areas where there have been many vacancies and where you want buyers to have a sense of the neighbourhood and someone occupying the home for security. House sitters lower the risk of break-ins and keep property values stable for everyone else living on the block.”  

Correct pricing is still key

Tshegofatso Selahle, communications manager at Nedbank, says that regardless of how well a buyer renovates and stages a home, the most important thing is to price the home appropriately. This is where the agent plays a major role in aiding the seller to settle on a price by comparing the home with others in the area. “By researching the property market, buyers will get an idea of the costs in the area and will be able to recognise a good deal. It’s not always imperative to be the lowest-priced home on the block, especially when significant improvements have been made to the property; however, it is important that the listing price not be out of line with other comparable homes on the market,” says Selahle. Bray says that overpricing a property is the biggest mistake people make and the main cause of a property’s remaining unsold. He says sellers should never forget to place themselves in the buyer’s shoes; they must then determine what a fair price might be, as buyers are pretty savvy at spotting an overvalued property and will avoid it. “The longer a property languishes on the market unsold, the more the perception grows among buyers that there is something wrong with it. Sellers should get an estate agent or independent property valuer to price the property. The basis for the valuation would be a comparative market analysis which lists all properties recently sold in the area,” says Bray.   

home stager south africa

How to reduce the cost of selling your home

Monday, 21 September, 2015        
Words: David Steynberg
Full article: http://hometimes.co.za/2015/09/how-to-reduce-the-cost-of-selling-your-home/
home staging business johannesburg

Some 87% of home sellers drop their price by 9% in an attempt to speed up the sale and reduce the cost of keeping the home while applying for a new bond. This is according to FNB’s Property Barometer’s third quarter survey, which is 9% higher than the 78% recorded in the second quarter of 2014.

“That’s the first cost (the 9% reduction) sellers should anticipate when selling a home. The next cost comes in relation to how long the house is on the market,” says Lucy le Roux of Illuminate Home Staging. “In South Africa the average time on the market has settled at around three months over the past year, between a five-month peak of 2008/9 and the 2004/5 lows of less than two months. This 11-week average is for houses with an average selling price of R1,46m that spend just 9.1 weeks on the market and houses in the high-net-worth segment, with an average price of R4,62m, which list for 18.9 weeks before selling.”

Sellers in all price categories need to be aware of the costs accumulated while their house is still on the market: bond payments with hiking interest rates, levies and rates per month multiplied by the number of months unsold, estate agent fees (anywhere between 5% and 7.5% traditionally, or through Steeple’s 1.5% (or a minimum of R22,000) and HomeBid’s 1.95%), and compliance certificates.

So how do you reduce the cost of selling? Simple, you reduce the time on market.

Le Roux says to do this, it is critical that significant time and effort is put into the preparation of your property prior to listing to speed up the time it takes to sell and to reduce the percentage price reduction.

“Research from the US shows that home buyers form an opinion of a property within the first 15 seconds of entering and that only about 10% of buyers have the ability to see past unattractive features,” she says. “This could be anything from unfinished renovations, a home furnished with outdated and mismatched furniture or an empty property.”

Further to doing this themselves, sellers can enlist the services of professional home stagers who are able to see past the clutter of the home and either spruce up spaces, rearrange furniture or bring in entirely new couches and fittings and fixtures.

"We took on a property that spent over six months on the market with no offers. After staging, the house received two competing offers in six weeks. Another home that was on the market for nine months had a huge uptake in interest with people viewing the home on show days and was rented out as a corporate lease. We recently sold another home that was potentially going to be a loss maker, but after just three show days she sold.” – Lucy le Roux, Illuminate Home Staging

“There have been studies in the US where they have tested home staging in developments with identical houses and found that the staged homes sold 50% faster than un-staged homes,” says Le Roux. “In South Africa that would mean a house that would usually take an average of 11 weeks would now sell in 5.5 weeks.”

And this service is not just reserved for the high-end market. DANI Home Staging, which operates in Johannesburg, caters to the lower-middle market.

“In this price bracket, staging is critically needed but perceived as a luxury by a lot of homeowners as they are not well informed of what staging is,” says Andiswa Ncedani, founder of DANI Home Staging. “We currently do not charge for an assessment of the home’s readiness to sell.”

The cost to stage varies significantly, with DANI charging a minimum fee of 10% of the total staging budget which is a maximum of 2% of the sale price (R1m home staged for R20,000).

Illuminate, which plays in the high end, provides its own furniture, art and accessory hire to homes with an asking price of R2,5m and up. “For a full house of furniture, art and accessories for four weeks (this covers the lounge, family room, dining room, patio, kitchen, main bathroom, main bedroom and study) we charge R25,000 with a fee of R5,000 for every week thereafter,” says Le Roux. “For our styling services for sellers of furnished homes (or clients who need some help getting their homes picture perfect) we charge R3,000 per day on site. We also offer a property consulting service where we advise clients of how to improve the marketability of their properties. This service costs R1,500.”

The cost of the stager is for the seller’s account – not the estate agent’s – but both Le Roux and Ncedani say it is worth every rand.

“Home staging is the only property marketing technique that recoups selling costs,” says Le Roux. “The costs saved by home staging relate to three areas: reducing the occurrence of low-ball offers, reducing selling costs (bond, rates, levies that the sellers are paying while living in their new home) and reducing the likelihood of price reductions due to limited interest.”

Illuminate Home Staging Johannesburg

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