Welcome back to FAQs, the series where the "House Specialty" is short answers to your home decor, and Home Staging questions.
Properties being sold to settle an estate have distinct goals, usually to sell quickly, for the best price. But in this market, buyers want a deal, AND a good-looking place: elements usually at odds with the "As Is" mindset of most heirs and executors. I suggest putting an estate propety's best foot forward is a means to an end.
Two things happen with bad listing photos. They are ignored, or they ring the dinner bell, inviting lowball offers-neither condusive to moving forward. Good listing photos-with appropriate pricing-drives interest, and traffic...which will often drive quantity and quality of offers. And an executor with several offers gets to choose the price and terms will suit the heirs best.
Truth told, I can usually tell from the photos if a listing is an estate sale or not.
The decor is often quite dated, the furnishings usually sparse, often consisting of small, odd or mis-matched pieces (that none of the heirs want). Wallpaper, complicated draperies, and wall to wall carpet abounds. There is rarely any lighting in the room...except for "the" lamp, by "the" chair.
Buyers who can't tell by the photos, can tell when they're there. The space is flat, and without any energy...perhaps maintenance has been deferred. The landscaping is brown-or overgrown, wall art may have been removed, leaving just nails. Often there is an stale odor, and there is almost always an outdated calendar in the kitchen, displaying a month-even year-long gone.
This sounds horrible, maudlin, I know. But I went through this myself, long before I created The Refreshed Home. My brothers and I lost our parents at an early age; I cleared out and got our family home sold while in my 20s, then a number of other family members' homes since. I understand the goals, and issues on both sides.
Just like most projects, the visual solution comes easily; finding what works for the heirs, and executor is rarely as clear-cut. Often I have to deliver unpleasant news-the expectation of selling quickly, for the best prices will often conflict with the realities of today's market, and/or the ability of the parties to help (or even agree!) and they need to make decisions.
My approach in interactive consults is always to talk it out, my counsel is always "Do the best you can." Fresh, clean and clear trumps 'stuff' every day.
In order of importance, here's how to improve the position of an estate sale property when time and money are of the essence (click here for more details):
- Clear out
- Remove wallpaper,draperies, and paint
- Remove wall to wall
- Refinish/update floors
- Small cosmetic updates
- Small repairs