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The Story of an Empty House: A literal illustration of why, when your goal is to maximize the profits from your home sale, the details matter … ALOT

I glanced down at my to-do list and saw priority number one for the day: Take Pictures of the Empty House. Something I could not have been more excited to do. The sale was closed and funded. The last truckload of furniture was packed up and gone. All that was left to do was to take down the sign & lockbox, and hand off the last key … Oh, and take those pictures.

You’re probably already asking yourself, “Why in the heck would would anyone care about taking pictures of a vacant listing that already sold?”

Good question. Let me tell you. 

About six months ago, we met with Rich and Angela about the sale of their home in Central Austin. They were moving to North Carolina, to be closer to family. That conversation led to them posing the question, “Do you think that we should leave our furniture here, for staging purposes, or should we look into furniture rental?”

That’s the type of question we appreciate hearing from home sellers because immediately, it indicates two things. 

A) these folks are bought-in to the process.

B) We are already thinking on the same wavelength.

Both of which, we’ve found to be critical ingredients to a successful and profitable home sale.
And while we always have an opinion on each client’s best course of action, we never make decisions — particularly value-influencing decisions — before conferring with our team of experts.

In other words, first step, we do our research.

In this case, we called upon our Design Team to consult on the interior design, paint colors, and lend a professional opinion on the full spectrum of staging options. We decided that based on the price point, neighborhood profile and demographics, the home would need to be furnished and presented in a slightly different manner, so as to speak directly to our target buyer.

Have you ever wondered why homebuilders locate their sales offices inside of their model homes? Why they show you the model first, before the half-finished or vacant product? Why homebuilders spend so much time & money studying the science of staging homes?

In regards to a model home, it makes absolutely no sense to fall in love with a house and with furniture you are not actually going to buy, right? 

But still, it happens all the time.

And this is where many real estate agents get it wrong. (See Exhibit #1) The most important story being told in each home sale, is certainly not that of the listing agent. It’s not even that of the home seller or the property being sold. No, the most influential story in every home sale is the one the buyer tells him or herself about what it would mean to them … what it would feel like for them … to own THIS property.

The most influential story is the one the buyer tells him or herself about what it would would feel like for them to own THIS Specific property.

When a buyer starts to tell him or herself the story that, “this is my house,” rather than “a house lived in by another family,” resistance dissipates. The likelihood of the buyer making a strong offer increases.

In other words, when buyers start making emotional decisions, home sellers return higher profits.
And in that, the details matter. Alot.

This is why, when it comes to helping home owners maximize profits, working with just any “ordinary home stager,” simply will not do. After interviewing a host of qualified candidates, unanimously, we chose Meagan from Beckett Staging to bring this home’s story to life.

I’ll stop short of saying that the staging was THE reason that the house sold. After all, Rich and Angela had done a phenomenal job of both improving and maintaining the property in their 3+ years as owners.

But I don’t think it’s any stretch to say that Meagan’s work, coupled with first-class professional photography, set the stage for us to generate 20 showings and more than one offer, within the first three weeks. This, mind you, this was a high-priced property, in a softer market, during the month of January. Historically one of the slowest times of the year for buyer activity.

When we hosted an invitation-only “Broker’s Open House,” our second week on the market, it felt as though more of the 20 brokers in attendance asked “who did your staging,” than asked questions about the house itself.

And while we were absolutely thrilled by the reception, the feedback, the end result, to me, it was more common sense than anything. 

Home staging and presentation is just one of about a dozen of so key indicators that we analyze as we guide homeowners through the process of preparing their homes to sell.

When Rich, Angela and I sat down last September and they posed that question, they already knew the answer. I already knew the answer.

It would have been a heck of a lot more “affordable” to simply leave select pieces of their own furniture behind. But the truth is and always was, the best course of action was to have the home professionally staged.

Leaving the house vacant or sparsely furnished, to save a couple bucks, would have meant taking an unnecessary risk. It would have meant putting the onus on the home buyer to fill in the blanks.
And that would have been a fundamental mistake.

It’s been our experience that the path of least resistance is rarely the same path that leads to a superior result.

the path of least resistance is rarely the same path that leads to a superior result. 

So why, you ask, did I want to go take pictures of the empty house? It’s simple really. Knowing how this story unfolded, I was curious to go back and re-read the prologue. To revisit where we started and to see the transformation — this time, in reverse.

And I couldn’t help but chuckle when I saw that not only had the buyers purchased the house, but they’d also purchased a few pieces of the staging furniture. 

Of course. 

For without them, the stage would have been completely empty, as they set out to write the first act, in their new home.

At the end of the day, at Three Pillars Realty, we don't just "sell houses." That's not the purpose or motivation behind what we do. Rather, what we “do” is make connections between home buyers and sellers. And the best place to start always has been, and always will be, with a good ol’ story.

He or she who tells the best story usually wins.

Check out the dramatic difference (below) between the before and after professional staging photos. Which property would you pay a premium for?


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Helping Sellers On The Move
"Ryan listed my property on the MLS on a Wednesday morning. By noon the next day, my dilemma was deciding which over-asking price offer I was going to accept. That was a fun problem. I know I’ll never have to stress about real estate in Austin, Texas because Ryan France is on the mound!"
Lauren Neil-Jeffrey
"Ryan was the perfect Realtor for us. His advice on staging our vacant house was the most important reason it sold quickly. The sale of our home was a pretty complicated process. Ryan’s patience, honesty and straight-forward attitude were key in seeing this complex processes through."
Ankur Jain
"Once my house sold (above asking), I got a call from Ryan asking if I had a favorite charity for which he could make a donation to commemorate the sale. I was slightly taken aback ... then I realized that I shouldn’t be surprised at all. Not only is Ryan a good Realtor, he’s an even better human being."
Dale Blandin
"Ryan displayed complete professionalism and was always prepared. His skill at marketing was superb! The house was under contract within a week of listing! He knew where to focus efforts for the best results and he is very detail-oriented. I highly recommend him."
Luke Childress
"Ryan and his team were very helpful in making my condo stand out and sell quickly. He was proactive & effective in his communications. I always knew what to expect and where we were in the process. Ryan is the consummate
professional. You will be in good hands."
Laura Tomlinson
"Ryan had our house under contract in less than 48 hours, with 6 offers. Many of the Realtors commented on how the house was “staged and priced perfectly” thanks to Ryan’s advice. Ryan was extremely easy to communicate with and made the process of selling of our house as easy as possible."
Shelly Weathers
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