By Duncan Fremlin
In 1987 when I was first licensed to sell real estate, the idea of staging a property consisted of clearing away the shoes in the hallway so the buyers wouldn’t trip over them. I exaggerate of course but you get the idea. It was a simpler time but it didn’t take long for that to change.
My first experience with the value of the “presentation” involved a house in Leslieville that I listed and sold. The seller was an art fanatic. He had absolutely covered his walls with pretty much his entire collection of original paintings. Before going to market, we discussed the effect this might have on the sale. Would it distract the buyers and divert attention away from the many wonderful features of the house? These paintings weren’t placed strategically so there was no discussion about placement. The question was, do we leave them or remove them?
As it turns out, we left them where they were. Because of the art, this listing became very well known in the real estate community. In sales, this is a good thing so it sold quickly and for a lot of money. I’ve often wondered what the buyer thought when they arrived to see the house in its emptied state for the first time. The transformation was remarkable.
Now of course, art as a real estate tool is de rigeur. We use all kinds of art to enhance our listings.
Aside from art on the walls, preparing a house for sale today includes floral art. There’s the front step to consider. A dining room table. The master suite. The bathroom.
The art of music is also in evidence at many open houses. Acoustic guitars (and even banjos) carefully displayed in the living room or family room (never place a banjo in a bedroom) are now considered a tool in the arsenal of a Realtor. I suppose these have replaced the now invisible television set that once dominated all living rooms. Here’s a better idea. Go to the Arts & Craft site on the Cabbagetown Festival weekend to buy a “resophonic tin can banjo” at Iron: Uke. www.thegreatmush-uke.com. When displayed properly, the house buyer will walk in, see the tin can banjo and demand to present an offer on the house. It’s uncanny how that happens. I can’t say exactly how much value this feature will add but I would have to think we’re talking at least a few bucks.
If you have a living room wall in need of something and your Van Gough is just not large enough, you can always call the Art Gallery of Ontario and ask if you can rent a $36,000.00 John Brown original. The rate is $1,360.00 per month. I’m just saying. You do have options.
As for carpets, a well-placed Persian rug can inspire an otherwise dull room. I’ve even seen this work in a kitchen. If you’re like the rest of us, you probably have one rolled up in a corner of the basement. That’s the one you bought at the festival yard sale back in 1993 remember? Drag it out, air it out and roll it out. Voila. Buyers will be impressed.
One more important thing to remember. Harvest the dandelions in your front yard and plant flowers from the local nursery. As the buyer arrives and begins the walk towards your porch, the enhanced “curb appeal” will set the tone nicely for the rest of your artfully-presented house.