By Cheryl Eisen
The New Year means fresh deals, a new crop of buyers and sellers, and a list of last year’s unsold listings lingering like the cold. The latter might dampen the eagerness of the New Year and find its place on a New Year’s resolution list, but instead of waiting for the ball to drop and dragging the old into the new year, spruce up your stale listing and you might see it sell in time for the Chinese New Year.
Pricing, timing, or staging might have contributed to the property’s stagnancy on the market, but regardless of the reason or the marketing plan, the solution lies in rebranding your listing for the New Year. Why rebrand? Behind every successful marketing plan and brokerbabble paragraph is a branding strategy and a story, sold at first glance through a listing’s images. An unsold listing might linger because its “story” blends in too well with others’, getting lost in a heap of search results. Or perhaps the whites walls, square windows, and empty spaces don’t inspire a buyer’s imagination. Regardless of what the story may be, listings are most easily represented through the photographs and after a while of combing through someone’s browsing list, even those nicely staged listings start to look stale amongst a growing catalogue of newly available properties. Taking advantage of the excitement and newness of the upcoming year, this is the best time to rethink how an unsold listing is being packaged and presented to potential buyers and how you can rebrand your listing and start the new year off equipped to sell.
Online listing images are most likely the first thing a buyer sees when he or she is browsing properties. This is the first opportunity to entice the buyer and to establish a visual identity that they will associate with the residence. Also, people like to look at pretty pictures more than they like to read: you can convey the message of any brand with your words, but if you can show rather than tell them what it’s like to live in a newly renovated historic village townhouse, then a buyer will be convinced.
Let’s look at an example: A sprawling west village townhouse on West 13th St. had been on and off the market for a year. After our staging firm gave this townhouse a new face, it sold in less than a month. The before picture shows a few problems with this property’s branding that rang true for the rest of the home: 1) The furniture was sparse and inappropriate for a formal living room (settee’s aren’t necessarily the coziest of seating either) 2) The scale of the lighting is wrong (too small) and the lack of drapes makes it feel like a rental, not a luxury townhouse in the village 3) There is no area rug 4) The dark paint on the wall is too taste-specific and breaks up an already small room. The list could go on, but all this townhouse needed was to live up to its price-tag and zip code—and demonstrate its full potential as the luxurious townhouse-manor that it claimed to be.
The rules of this rebranding project and any other are these: warm up with a neutral palette, new paint; floor-to-ceiling drapes don’t just make ceilings look taller but they also frame beautiful windows and make rooms look finished and cozy; comfortable, yet modern and clean lined sofas add a touch of lavishness without sacrificing homeyness; extra-large area rugs are simply luxurious; textured throws, sculpture-like accessories, and oversized art add coveted lifestyle points to any listing (be sure to keep these abstract for impact and broad appeal); remove any personal items that directly relate to the previous occupiers or personal taste, as you want to be able to relate to potential buyers.
The most important thing to remember, though, when reconsidering a listing’s branding, is whether or not the listing visually exemplifies the lifestyle that is being sold. If not, then that may be a big reason it’s still persistent in the market. Rebranding it for the New Year might be the best solution for a productive 2014 and a successful 2015.