With more listings and less buyers looking at homes this fall and winter, sellers may need to give a little more thought to making their homes more inviting to previewing buyers. Creating a WOW experience is a sure way sellers will get a higher price. This last spring and early summer, it was less important. Buyers were snapping up anything with a roof and a yard. Things change.
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Over the last few months, many of my columns have focused on the challenges facing buyers in a seller’s market. During most of this year, getting a home into escrow, regardless of price, has been challenging for many buyers. Today, with a greater selection of listings, sellers must focus more energy into preparing their homes for presentation to the public.
Professional staging advice is once again gaining popularity. Another confirmation that the market is becoming more balanced is a recent publication by the California Association of Realtors to their members on house staging. The article highlights different staging techniques using the ancient Chinese art of Feng Shui (pronounced “fung shway”).
As we all know, Mr. Feng Shui was a famous top listing and selling Chinese real estate agent back about 3,000 years ago. He then went on to become a famous cable TV personality and top-selling author of “Flip This Pagoda.” A key to his success in sales was his philosophy that how a home is oriented, what you have in it and where you place those things can affect how quickly a home will sell. Naturally, Mr. Feng Shui’s teaching are a bit dated, especially as it relates to the placement of the flat screen TV and design of the home office workstation.
I confess there are some of Mr. Feng Shui’s teachings that I do not to understand, such as: not having more than one pair of shoes near the entry way, not placing the headboard under a wood beam or under a window and making use of each burner on the stove by rotating their use. But if it helps to sell a house, I’m going to pay attention. Besides, most of the teaching is just plain common sense.
In his book, “Happy People Live in Happy Homes” Mr. Feng Shui says, “The easier it is for people to bring opportunities to the front door, the more you’ll have. Well, how could anyone argue that point? You don’t want a sumo wrestler blocking the way. Keep the path clear from obstacles littered across the sidewalk running from the driveway to the front door. Keep the plants and tree branches trimmed back, unlock the gate or take it down, get rid of the cobwebs, put the dog in the backyard, take down the extra security door and remove the sign that says, “This house protected by Smith & Wesson.”
Another teaching of Mr. Feng Shui is the use of plants in the home. He said they “bring vibrant Chi, or energy into one’s space.” However, plants must be kept healthy, placed in his designated areas and in visually pleasing pots. Dead plants in the home absorb positive energy.
Outside plants have a place, mostly away from the house. According to Mr. Feng, when limbs of the trees are in direct contact with the house they can transfer negative energy. The leaves also plug up the rain gutters and can damage the fascia boards, barge rafters and roof. This is lasting 3,000-year-old good advice whether an ancient Chinese home built with mud-brick and thatch or modern-day wood and stucco.
Mr. Feng Shui says to keep the energy flowing. Doors and windows are entry points for energy to enter and escape. To encourage the positive flow of energy, make sure they all open and close easily. Open curtains and blinds to invite energy into the room. Security bars on windows are a major distraction for buyers. Buyers are going to open sliding doors so they should move easily. All homes look more cheerful in the sunlight.
Mr. Feng Shui was very particular about furniture placement. He believed furniture should be arranged so that the back and head are protected. Never have your back to a doorway or window. This theory was likely developed due to frequent surprise invasions of Mongols and their leader Genghis Kahn. Not following Mr. Feng Shui’s advice proved fatal to James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok who was shot with his back to the front door while playing poker in 1876 (and holding a pair of Aces and eights, now know as a “dead man’s hand.”)
Mr. Feng Shui was a big advocate of water features. Water is a universal symbol of wealth and prosperity. Moving water represents the flow of money and having connections to many people. Still water, such as ponds, lakes, or swimming pools on your property, represents stored, accumulated wealth. Placing a fountain in front of your home is an excellent way to attract flowing money/energy and buyers into your home. Aquariums and fishbowls are other prime wealth attractions. Aquariums add wealth energy and the fertility-giving dimension of living fish to the power of moving water, resulting in an abundantly symbolic and effective wealth cure.
On a more serious note, the study of how using the concepts of Feng Shui can improve your environment and sell your home more quickly is well documented. I have included the most common Feng Shui staging techniques on my website. The most important concept using Feng Shui is 幸福家园卖快速。
Ken Calhoon is a real estate broker in El Dorado County. He can be reached at kencalhoon.com.