In this episode of Secrets of the Top 100 Agents, host Tim Neary is joined by Evolve Styling team Tanya and Edward Giuffre and Savills sales executive William Chan to talk about the difference property styling can have on your property for potential buyers.
They reveal the secrets to creating a connection between the property and potential buyers as they believe that “when people are looking to buy a house, they're looking to buy a lifestyle or a dream” as well as the importance of repurposing space to add more value.
In this episode, find out:
- The levels of home styling
- Maximising return on investments
- How commitment will get you the best result
Tune in now to hear all of this and much, much more in this episode of Secrets of the Top 100 Agents!
Speaker 1: The top 100 agents are the best of the best, listing and selling more than any other agent in Australia. These are the practises, actions and beliefs of the most successful agents in Australian real estate, raw, honest, and completely uncut.
Tim Neary: Good day everyone, it's Tim Neary here, I am editor of 'Real Estate Business' and host of the 'Secrets of the top 100 agents' podcast. Thanks for tuning in. Very interesting show planned for the day, we're going to find out all there is to know about home styling. To talk us through it, I'm very pleased to welcome Edward and Tanya Giuffre from Evolve Styling, and also we've got William Chan, who's a real estate agent with Savills here on Sydney's North Shore. Williams also just been accolade as one of Domain rising stars, so William, Edward and Tanya, Ed I beg your pardon, welcome to the show and thanks for coming in.
Tanya: Thank you, great to be ...
Edward: Congratulations William on being nominated a rising star with Domain the other week.
William Chan: Thank you Ed, thank you Tim, thank you very much.
Tim Neary: Fantastic, now we're going to talk home styling and just off air I was talking about how do we start the show and I said maybe we talk about what real estate agents don't know about it, and what they should. Then William was just mentioning that probably a lot of real estate agents do know a lot about it, but there might be different levels of it. So let's probably start there William, what can you tell us about the different home styling levels?
William Chan: There are different home styling levels, and a lot of agents know that styling is important, but what they probably don't know is that there are different stylists out there and some offer more basic approach and maybe they've just gotten into the industry so their level of styling is not, maybe not as good as someone who's more experienced. That has an impact on the presentation because you can tell by the way things have been styled, sometimes a bit basic, and then sometimes it's quite unique and more bespoke and presents better. So there's a difference between the levels of style you can get with different stylists.
Tim Neary: Just to take a step back, the reason why we've got you in the studio today is that you sold a property, and Ed and Tanya you did the home styling for one of my colleagues here, Alex Whitlock, and we did a show a little earlier about the process that was involved in that. Let's just go back to perhaps Alex's experience and talk a little bit about that, what level of home styling did you come in on that one?
William Chan: When we went through Alex's property, I mean it presented fine as it was, but we decided to take the home to the next level. We got Tanya and Ed through and they presented it beautifully. We painted the property, we touched it up, and it was sold within one to two weeks.
Tim Neary: So Tanya, when you walked into Alex's place, what did you see, and what did you see in your minds eye?
Tanya: Okay, I actually saw a beautiful home, it had a really lovely aspect, there was lots surrounded by bushland, beautiful, lots and lots of glass and light. But it was a typical family home, with a couple of teenagers, or I think even three teenagers, so I think what we have to do is take it to the next level. We see our own houses every day, when people are looking to buy a house, they're looking to buy a lifestyle or a dream, so it was turning a every day family home, very comfortable every day family home, into something that was a little bit more aspirational for buyers when they walked in.
So Alex was so open to that, which was absolutely brilliant because it gave me a bit of carte blanche to do what I needed to do, to create a point of difference. So we removed quite a bit of Alex's furniture and he had a lot of timber furniture, which was great because it had quite an organic feel the house, but they were very heavy. So he had lots of very heavy furniture, because they were part of his every day life, he had lots of books, and things like that, but we needed to remove those things because they closed in the room, made it feel quite heavy and dark.
So we took a lot of that away, we set up a formal dining area in a room that was really just where everyone did their work on their office desk, and there were files and filing cabinets. We turned that into a beautiful dining room, formal dining room. So it was repurposing some of the spaces so they had more value to clients as well, rather than just being the family sort of dumping zone if you like, which we all have in our house.
Even the verandahs, just every square inch of the house has to have a purpose, or feel that it's loved and cared for, and used, and has value to the person buying the house. So Alex may not have sat on the porch outside his bedroom and drunk a cup of tea, but we put a beautiful setting there to make it feel like it was another little zone that you could go to in the house, and have your own private space. So it's purposing every area beautifully, so the house spoke for itself and the furnishings didn't overwhelm it, and the day to day clutter of everybody's life didn't overwhelm it. That the people could see the house, the beautiful house for itself.
Tim Neary: That's a great way of putting it, from the family home to the dream, and we do as we live in a home don't we? I mean we start, it becomes very functional, and we start to have our preferred areas, and it becomes a family place, but when you ... I like the way that you put it, every room had a purpose, and you put every room back into the dream, into the ideal picture.
Edward: Tim, you're not selling a home or a property, you're actually selling the lifestyle, and the dream as you mentioned, the dream. It's a lifestyle you're selling. People don't want to go from their home to another home, they want to go from their home to an improved lifestyle, and so you've got to portray that.
Tim Neary: Now Ed, you and Tanya worked together as a team, and you were just telling me off air that you do the work on the back end. How does the whole team come together and produce the wonderful stuff that you do?
Edward: Look property styling is quite a complex business, there's a lot of moving parts, and agents tend to move on a very short time frame. When they get a signing they want it on the market asap, and that's totally understandable. We have a lot of inventory in our warehouse, that inventory has to be selected correctly to I guess achieve the look that these stylists are trying to achieve to the target market that we're trying to attract. That has to be picked and packed and then put into a loading bay zone, and then dispatched on the movers truck on the day.
So it's quite complex, and then once it arrives at the other end we've obviously got to get it set up within a matter of hours, so the photography can be done on the same day or the following morning. That property get on the market as soon as possible, 'cause the agents objective is to sell it for the client as soon as they possibly can for the best price possible. So we do work on very tight time frames, and it is a bit like the block, we go in there in the morning and we transform a house on the same day.
Tanya: Whole house together.
Edward: A whole house on the same day.
Tanya: Right down to; ...
Edward: You can imagine that could be from the front gate all the way to the back, and it could be plants, outdoor furniture, all the interiors. So it is a lot of work, and it takes a lot of people and a lot of effort to do it well, and that's quite logistically challenging, but we pull it off.
Tim Neary: It certainly does sound like a lot of moving parts, and I think one of the moving parts is the seller, in this case Alex, I suppose you've got to have the cooperation of the family. Does that sometimes get a little tricky?
Tanya: It can get tricky, because at the end of the day they still have to live their life in the house, so this is what we call a partial style where we use some of the client's furniture and we bring in some of our own furniture and the client stays living in the house. So I have to be realistic with logistics for clients, and so I do ask them what's achievable for themselves. I ask them to push themselves a little bit further outside their comfort zone, it is hard work setting up for opens every week, but if they can do that and push themselves to do that, they will reap the rewards. Absolutely reap the rewards, but it does cause disruption, I am asking them maybe to do without a big work desk that they would normally have, but I try and keep in mind if they have to have a functioning office in their home, obviously we need to accommodate that as well.
Tim Neary: You talk about reaping the rewards, and I'm going to ask you again Will as the selling agent, reaping the reward I guess is selling the property and getting the best possible price. The disruption that comes is not just a physical disruption but there's also a price point involved in that, how do you sell it William to the seller, to the vendor at this stage? If you get some resistance how do you talk your way around it? How do you get it across the line?
William Chan: I think with a lot of owners, they're already pre-framed by them looking at open houses and looking at properties on the web. A lot of properties in our area at the moment, in North Shore, are already styled and that sort of helps a lot when we walk into a presentation, their question is not do we need styling? It's how much do we need? Is generally the question I'm coming up against right at this moment.
So they're already, to sell a styling to an owner is basically showing them examples, case studies. Giving them an idea of past properties that maybe didn't sell, and then we styled it and then resold it. Or properties that maybe have a slight disadvantage, whether it's on a main road. Taking peoples attention off that and into the property, into the styling, to help sell it and do a quick turnaround, where traditionally that property might be on the market for eight weeks, or twelve weeks and selling it in 4 or 2. That's really good, just case studies, lots of case studies.
Tim Neary: Lots of case studies, and showing the seller, the vendor the benefits of it in the long run. I suppose in the; ...
Edward: Alex's was, the Alex property we were talking about earlier, your colleague, it was a typical example or a case study that Williams talking about. That property sold very, very quickly. I think; ...
William Chan: 2 weeks.
Edward: That property sold in 2 weeks.
Tim Neary: I mean I know because we had Alex on the show a little earlier talking about the experience, and he said originally he wasn't that keen on the idea but you'd spoken to him and you convinced him.
William Chan: Alex is a great guy, yeah, he said, "William I'm leaving it up to you." I said, "Well let's do the styling." He said, "Okay, let's do it." Little bit of hesitation, but he agreed so it was good.
Tim Neary: He said that, I mean he made that point over and over again, that he trusted you. He trusted your judgement .
William Chan: That's right.
Tim Neary: He said you didn't let him down, and he got a really good result.
Edward: He got a great result in a short period of time.
Tim Neary: In a short period of time, that's significant isn't it Ed?
Tim Neary: A good result, and in a short period of time.
Tanya: So it wasn't actually as disruptive as everyone thought, because it sold so quickly he didn't have to set up for too many opens.
Edward: Yeah, and I mean it's all about the return on the investment at the end of the day. So sure Alex may have had to do without a desk for a few weeks, and perhaps didn't have all of the things at his disposal that he's used to, in that location. But at the end of the day Alex got a great result for, in a very quick period of time, and we have return on investments that we see up to 70 times for our, sorry our clients, they can get a return of between 5 and 70 times. We had a client in Drummoyne the other day that spent 10,000 dollars in styling, a very, very big house, but got 700,000 dollars more than they expected. It sold at auction very, very quickly, and there was a lot of fighting over it. So it pays to style, if you don't style you're leaving money on the table.
Tim Neary: I mean I was going to ask you, and I would like to ask you, but you've sort of preempted my question about how does one find the budget for this? Well you find the budget for this in the end result don't you? But my question was going to be, does it ever go wrong? Are there any sort of points, any warning signs, any red lights that go off early, where you say this may not be one to go with? Or is it always a good idea?
Edward: Look I think there might be some properties where we might be uncomfortable in setting up styling because the owners just can't make that commitment and that change. 'Cause it is disruptive as Tanya said, and it is work on their behalf to ensure that the styling money, the money that's been invested in styling is well presented at each open. The Thursday open and the Saturday open or whatever, right? So it is a fair bit of work, but to be honest with you, if you can't do it then perhaps ... We detect that as well, there are some places we go to and we just say look you have to do this. We're quite honest and open with the client, and we say, "There is this that you have to do, and this you have to do in order to maximise your investment, if you're not willing to do that then you're better off not doing it at all."
Tim Neary: Because a half job is just not…
Tanya: That's right.
Tanya: If some clients are really resistant to losing their pieces of furniture because they see them as being quite beautiful, and I've been asked by the real estate agent to come because it's not really presenting that way. So that's a whole very delicate area that you need to sort of work with the client quite closely, which we always try and do but if I feel they just not willing to change much at all and it's going to be just a few cushions and that's it, I can't see the point in ... You know you need to commit to it, to get the best result.
Tim Neary: Yeah you'd be incurring some reputational damage wouldn't you, if you suggested a styling and they weren't prepared to go the whole hog, just change a few cushions and then it didn't work. Then they would come back to you and say it didn't work.
Edward: We'd rather not do it, and we do advise the client in that situations, where we just say, "Look I think it's best for both that you just stay with what you've got and go to market that way."
Tanya: I can honestly say that very rarely; ...
Edward: Very rarely happens, 'cause by the time we're there, they're already conditioned as William said to styling. They've seen the difference and the value can add, they look at photographs on the web. It's about making sure you portray a really beautiful lifestyle on the web, in order to get their attention to come to your property. So people that are selling have already done a bit of homework, and they see the properties that are online, most successful properties online are the ones that have been styled.
Tim Neary: It's a nice endorsement to the sort of the modern way of doing things, and the access that we have to so much information. That all of these, as you say, the sort of shining lights are all available for everybody to see with the full history, and probably before's and after's and things that you can show people. So Ed just talk us through a little bit, what is a typical ROI on a project like this?
Edward: Look it is an investment and I was thinking the other day about how to, I guess, portray this well and one of the things I remember when I sold a property some 5 years was the last one I sold, was back then it was quite common to put property into the local papers and the cost of that was quite high. I was thinking I was being quoted between 10,000 dollars or more to put in a half to full size ad in the local paper. So property styling is a bit like that as well, it's an investment too, right? So we're seeing ROI's of between 5 and 70 times the investment. We had a property I mentioned earlier I think in Drummoyne, a few weeks back that sold for 700,000 over expectation. It cost the client 10,000 dollars for a very large house to have styled, but the average is 20 to 30 times the investment in styling, so it pays to style. The investment is a worthwhile investment, so I'd highly recommend it for everybody to style.
Tim Neary: We're sort of coming to the end of the show, so I want to just thank you for coming in again. I know that Alex was very, very pleased with the result that he got, and it's terrific for you to come in and talk us through it. So William congratulations again on your achievement with Domain. Ed thank you for coming in and Tanya thank you also for coming in.
Tanya: Thank you.
Edward: Thank you very much.
William Chan: Thank you very much.
Tim Neary: Cheers.
William Chan: Thank you.
Tim Neary: Remember to follow us on all the social media stuff, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn. You can follow me too on Twitter @timothyjneary. If you'd like to do that realestatebusiness.com.au is where you'll find us. There's plenty of stories there on the business of real estate across the whole of Australia and on my guests today, Ed, Tanya and William. Thanks again for tuning in, and we'll see you next week. Goodbye.