by Jennie Norris, ASP® Master, IAHSP®-Premier, ASP-SRS®, ASP-REO® and Official ASP® Course Trainer, Stagedhomes.comOnline dating is very common these days. People create a profile with pertinent information about interests, hobbies, background, etc. and add photos for those looking online for a match. Based on what is read online, the people decide to set up a date to meet in person. They are basically interviewing a person online to see if there is more of an interest. It’s like a job interview – to get the appointment to meet in person, your resume or information has to be compelling and a match to the prospective employer. Isn’t that the same thing we do when we list a house for sale and put our info on the internet for buyers to see? When a Buyer looks at your house online, it’s an interview. They are checking out the house and reviewing the information to see if they want to engage further in the relationship. Based on what they see, they either decide to meet the house in person or move on to the next online option. Remember we only have one chance to make a good first impression. The Wall Street Journal just came out with a highly interesting study that shared 45% of buyers do NOT read agent comments on properties they find online and instead rely on the PHOTOS of the house to either convince them to want to see more or move on to the next online listing. This is a crucial part of the property interview that either leads to a date or moves the buyer to the next online option. The question becomes, “Is your house or listing making a good Interview impression?” If the photos shown online are of cluttered, empty, dated, and/or dirty rooms the interview is unsuccessful and buyers move on to the next option. Imagine back when we were dating or if you are currently dating – think about how we present ourselves on a date? Do we go out with our worst clothes on, uncombed hair and heck – why bother showering? No. Hopefully we put our best foot forward to make a good impression and dress nicely, groom appropriately, and make an effort. We smell good, we look good. So the question becomes, “Is your house Date Worthy? When Buyers come in person does your house or listing make the right first impression for people looking at the house? Does it smell right? Is it clean? Is it appealing? Does it make Buyers want to see more? If not, they will turn around and leave and move on to the next property. Staging is the KEY to getting successful Interviews that translate into Dates. Photos online of un-Staged houses do not create a good impression for the online interview and will not result in a date. Instead those houses will sit on the market, not have showings because of how unappealing they look, and actually be “used” to sell the houses that sell. When Buyers come in person for their date, the house better look like it did online – Staged and ready to buy! Using pictures of a furnished house and selling that house vacant when the Sellers move out does not compute to a Buyer. It is misleading and is disappointing to Buyers when the photos do not translate to the reality of what they experience in the house. It’s like the old bait and switch of online dating – people load up a photo of a really attractive, fit individual and when they meet in person what they actually get is a mildly attractive out of shape reality. The photos need to match what is seen in person or else a buyer will just turn around and leave. A vacant house does not cut it to get top dollar. Without furniture and decor to highlight the rooms, add warmth and emotional appeal, all a buyer has to look at are the flaws in the house. I had a client that shared their house was under contract and it fell through. They had already moved out and despite the fact that they received an offer quickly at first, they were now faced with an empty house that did not show well. When the house was furnished they received rave reviews about how nice it looked. When they house was being shown as a vacant product, all the sellers heard were complaints about all the things that were “wrong” with the house – and they had not changed anything except move out. So wisely they invested in Staging so that they could once again create that buyer appeal and give the buying audience more to focus on than the empty rooms. The last piece of key advice is to keep the house ready to show at all times. Sellers cannot relax in the house once it’s Staged. They have to set the scene daily to ensure that any in-person showings or dates leave the best impression. As a professional ASPM® Stager, I have Showing Instructions that I leave with Sellers that include key tips they need to do on a daily basis to make sure their house is date worthy on a daily basis. In order to Sell successfully the house must interview well online and be selected for the in person date that will hopefully lead to the offer to buy the house! It all starts with Staging for the buying audience – marketing the product properly with Staging and the Seller can eventually relax and move on to their new home once their house SELLS with Staging!