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Show Sellers You Care With Honesty

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A Remarkable Record

A client recently shared a story with me about her real estate agent while I was picking up things from her sold home.  She was so excited and pleased with her agent that her house had sold the first day at over full price with a backup offer coming in two days later.  We talked about how, in my experience, this agent has a remarkable record for getting much the same results for virtually all of the clients he works with.

She told me how much she loved working with him and respected him then added, “Please don’t tell him this, but when one of my friends heard I was working with him she could not believe it!”  I asked her why and she explained that her friend had interviewed him for her own home and was angry and shocked that he told her she needed to clean up her house and get it ready for market.  She was appalled that anyone would have the nerve to criticize her home.

An Affinity For Collections

My client continued to explain that her friend went on to interview three different agents, one of whom absolutely loved her house which was filled with several collectibles and was a showcase of her very extended family.  In fact, the third agent loved it so much she spent three hours at her home admiring her collections and told her she would not change a thing and to put it on the market that very day.  Well, of course her friend was quite reassured to know that her personal style and somewhat crowded home was perfect for marketing a home for sale, so she listed with the last agent.  The extra bonus was this agent even felt her home was worth more than any other agent had thought.

As you might have already guessed, although the friend’s house was listed first, her friend’s house has not sold.  Now don’t misunderstand, my client was not thrilled when the first agent came in and told her there was work to be done before he would list her house, but she appreciated his honesty and once he pointed out the types of things that buyers could see as negatives, she understood how her home could be made more marketable.  She also recognized that because of his knowledge of the area her home was located in, when he explained the difference between what people were asking for their homes compared to what they were actually selling for, she could see what a realistic listing price should be.  Judging by the first day on market sale, his recommendations were correct.

It’s a Business Matter

At the end of the day, the seller who may have had a couple feelings hurt up front is the one who ends up loving their agent.  Suggesting that a home be properly prepared for sale is not a personal attack.  It is a business matter; the business of getting a home sold quickly and for the price desired.  Pricing the home to attract the right buyers from the start will draw the most attention making the hard work and investment in staging profitable.  I have a feeling this client’s friend just might be having a change of heart pretty soon and will be rethinking her decision on which agent was really looking to represent her best interests.

Nickie is the founder of GetStaged2Sell.com and InspiredFengShuiLife.com. She is a certified IBE Healthy Home Practitioner, Certified Usui Reiki Practitioner and Feng Shui Consultant. She has lived on both coasts (as well as in the gorgeous Rocky Mountains of Colorado) of the US and currently calls Los Angeles home. You can find her in plenty of spots in the online world and should you happen to catch her at home, she will probably make you something yummy!

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12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Julie Emery

    August 21, 2008 at 12:44 pm

    I know I’m losing listings these days because they don’t like what I’m telling them about pricing. I’m OK with that. I heard a long time ago that you should ask sellers up front for permission to be honest with them about their home. So, I always ask. That doesn’t mean they don’t still sometimes get offended. But after I’ve explained why I need to do that, I think there’s a somewhat better chance that they’ll be able to hear what I have to say.

  2. Chris Shouse

    August 21, 2008 at 12:46 pm

    What a great story and sometimes you lose a listing when you are honest but at least you know your reputation is in tact and at some point people will look back and say I should have listened.

  3. Todd Waller

    August 21, 2008 at 12:58 pm

    Julie-

    Good news for you is that as your market place gets even more bombarded with “bad” real estate news, it becomes easier to talk about price. Here in the Ann Arbor area, the question isn’t, “How much can we get for the house?” it is, “Ok, how bad is it going to be?”

    And permission based presentations are great! Keep it up.

    Nickie-

    After all, real estate agents are hired to assist a consumer in purchasing or, in this case, selling a property. In a market where prices are descending, price and condition are the two biggies. If you’ve got one but not the other, a sale may happen eventually. Get the two right up front and the property will sell!

  4. Julie Emery

    August 21, 2008 at 1:02 pm

    Chris,

    My experience has been that while they may look back and say that to themselves, they almost never call me and say it! Pride seems to get in the way. I’ve been trying to figure out how to diffuse that up front so that they feel able to call me when they get to that point. But I’m not sure that’s always achieveable. If someone else has found a good way to set that up, I’d love to hear about it!

  5. Mark Eckenrode

    August 21, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    @todd: liking the “permission based presentations”

    it’s the whole “don’t call my baby ugly” bit… but by asking permission first, you soften the weight of the critical assessment that follows

    oftentimes, you can soften the blow by giving a fancy name/title to your feedback. for example, i do a “Marketing Audit”… the term “audit” communicates that this is serious, professional feedback i’m providing and that some of the feedback may not be pretty but, in the end, it’s all for their benefit.

    asking permission and using titles/names help frame perceptions from the get-go. that’s the whole key…

  6. Todd Waller

    August 21, 2008 at 1:29 pm

    @mark: thanks! In combination with the permission based presentation, I have found that the added touches of professionalism go a long way too; like an agenda for the presentation.

    “Mr and Mrs. Seller your time is valuable and I would not want to waste it. To assist us in coming to a meeting of the minds, I have drawn up an agenda that will help us stay on track, answer your questions and come to a decision.” Then briefly address each point on agenda (no more than 6 points).

    Couple that with your “Marketing Audit” (will have to use that term now) and the presentation feels even more professional.

    FTW – Mark Eckenrode 😉

  7. Paula Henry

    August 21, 2008 at 4:51 pm

    Nickie – Couldn’t have said it better! I would much rather lose the listing than try to market a home which is not ready for the market. All the listings I have sold this tear were clean, staged and priced right from the beginning. (or short sales) 🙂 You have to set the stage for buyers from the start. and…….sellers need to know how buyers are reacting according to CURRENT market conditions.

  8. Fred Carver

    August 21, 2008 at 7:19 pm

    Hi Nickie…Great post..You hit the Naill right on the Head..with a shift in our market place, I too have lost recent listings due to pricing or Seller preception on what Buyers want. I find Motivation is a key factor when discussing pricing and getting a home ready to list and sell. Even in our Slowing market my motivated sellers say “Fred…are you sure we’re low enough and I’ve done enough to be ready”, that sellers home Sold in two days with three offers, selling $13,000 over asking in a Buyers Market.Another in 4 Days. I just checked and the homes I did not get the listings on over the last month, are still for sale.

    Once again Great Post, thanks for sharing your story. I’d love to mail this to every possible home seller or give it to them in my pre listing package and have this story on my Blog and web sites..keep them coming!

  9. Elaine Reese

    August 21, 2008 at 7:46 pm

    Like Paula, I won’t take a listing that doesn’t agree to make it presentable. I “try” to soften the blow (if needed) by using a retail store as an example. There are lots of products on the shelves and we’re going to place their HOUSE (not home) on one of those shelves, yada, yada. I also might use their car as an example in that they usually clean out the french fries and dirty socks before they take it to the dealer to try to negotiate top dollar. I’ve found those two examples allow them to begin to think in terms of their “house” as a product. That helps remove some of the emotional aspect.

  10. Nickie Rothwell

    August 21, 2008 at 9:36 pm

    Everybody has such great ideas!

    It can be tough talking to sellers about what needs to be done, but more and more, it is becoming the norm. I think that coming to the listing presentation with before and after pictures of your sold listings is another thing that makes it easier. Your new client can see for themselves that it isn’t just them that need to make some changes for market, it is every home.

    Showing them a previous “winner” can help them understand and even get excited, especially if it has a great “Sold” story to back it up.

    Thanks so much for sharing all your great ideas too!

  11. Chris Powell

    August 25, 2008 at 11:33 am

    I find that if I replace some of the words I use when suggesting things to a client, it becomes much easier for them to hear what I am saying. For example, I use “we” instead of “you”.And I use “the home” instead of “your home” As in “we need to make some changes to the home”. I think that this immediately help the client start to “disconnect” from the home and think of it simply as an object to prepare to sell. I also use the term”the market” instead of “I”. As in “the market is telling us that the price should be”. I find that this approach takes any personal feelings off the table because it’s very hard for them to get mad at “the market”.

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Green Live & Work

Regenerating architecture: green building product innovations

(Green News) Sustainable design has evolved beyond robotics, and has tapped into the basics, using pre-historic methods: bacteria. Genius!

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bio-concrete

A Third Grade Teepee

Remembering back to third grade science class, about ten sticks bound together at the top with twine of some sort, and a little beansprout planted at the base of each pole, eventually became the coolest shelter this eight year old had ever seen. Seedlings wound their way up, tendril by tendril until their leaves reached just far enough to clasp and join, and create and fantastic teepee that was actually a food source, too! Talk about the ultimate in sustainability – but that was old school.

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Making Something Out of Nothing

Enough about my blast from the past. I was seriously thrown into nostalgia when I thrust onto the path of this fantastic article by Gary Wollenhaupt earlier this week regarding some of the most inspirational green-building products I have heard about in quite sometime. It must have something to do with the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute’s Innovation Challenge and building products that seem to become something from nothing! Apparently these folks were up to the task!

So, maybe the little teepee which was representative of the sacred “three sisters” or corn, beans, and squash that the Native Americans utilized as their staple crops symbolized something else to me. The regeneration of soil, the regeneration of the land, and a regeneration of that happy little elementary school structure, covered in beans which became the perfect hiding spot.

Obviously, the teepee wasn’t innovative, but for this little kid, the shelter “appeared out of nowhere” once those leaves filled in. The Forbes article pulled together an arsenal of truly innovative products that are not only environmentally friendly, sustainably-minded products that will certainly turn many green-builders on their heads!

The Home that Regenerates Itself

Innovation comes in many different forms. Lots of great builders looking to build sustainable homes look towards energy efficiency in a hard-core way and building with products that take building to a new level; however, these innovators have gone and created building products that supposedly grow themselves, or are fire-retardant, or are -say what?- regenerating when they are broken? Oh, ok? This sounds like something out of the future, and we don’t even have our hoverboards yet!

Seriously though, it is amazing to think that there is a product made of a bacteria which will regenerate itself. Self-healing materials have been around for a while, but not necessarily for home building. Wollenhaupt noted that the”Bacteria engineered to thrive in dry climates is helping to create a concrete that can repair itself.

The bacteria are mixed into the concrete and release calcium carbonate, similar to limestone, as part of their waste process. The material fills in holes and cracks in the concrete, making it last longer and reducing maintenance costs.” As someone who is incredibly interested in developments like these, I am quite curious as to their durability and what the testing has been like for the products, but can’t wait to see what the future holds for green building products that bring us full circle! Fascinating, isn’t it?

Watch it Grow

It will be fascinating to see what happens when these homes are built out of these biologically and ecologically innovative building products, and if they will indeed withstand the test of time and do as they say they will. Take some time to view the entire roster of impressive applicants to the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, the California based non-profit who put on the event, check out their information, and applaud their achievements in green-building and design!

Now I want to go in the yard and build a little pole-bean teepee, and watch it grow. I don’t think my back yard is at the “coral-like” regenerating concrete bio-product level quite yet.

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Green Live & Work

Superadobe: super sustainable building phenomenon

Taking something that already had the power to be awesome and making it, well, super-powered, that is what one bright-eyed architect did with an age-old building concept. Let’s take a mini-adventure into the world of Superadobe, where a blending of concepts which are thousands of years old with some new ideas has created yet another buzz in the stratosphere of sustainability and green building.

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Superadobe, I am Your Father

I believe it was Christopher Nolan who said “Batman and Superman are very different characters but they’re both iconic and elemental.” Either way you cut it, adobe is elemental, and adobe is nothing new; I make the comparison the Batman and Superman because they are both superheros, however different…

Adobe is also something nothing short of super. From the ancient Egyptians to the Anasazi Tribe, many cultures near and far have utilized the brilliant mixture of straw, soil, sand and water tamped together to create a sun-hardened earth house for shelter through the ages. These homes are sturdy, cool on the inside in the heat of the Sun, and warm on the inside during cool nights.

It is quite possibly some of the most amazing architecture that we can find when we look at the history of our progression of architecture, next to the great pyramids and cliff dwellings. Let’s face it, in many parts of the world, because of its magical simplicity, adobe is, after caves, how humans survived the elements.

Superadobe is Born Powerful

In the present, an Iranian born architect, Nader Khalili, has discovered, well- I say present, but it was some twenty plus years ago- how to perfect the concept of adobe and bring it forward into the new age. Through modification of the structural processing of the staging of the adobe, Khalili has managed to create a product and process that he has coined as Superadobe. Khalili has said that “Superadobe is an adobe that is stretched from history into the new century. It is like an umbilical cord connecting the traditional with the future adobe world.” He has an interesting take on adobe and its re-emergence to the “new world” through his superadobe product.

Moon-dust or Sand. Take Your Pick – it is Still Super.

What this really means is that his process of taking long tube-like bags, usually made of sturdy polypropylene or sometimes straight-up burlap, and filling them with sand, or rice or any sort of fill, then creating a trench for the foundation, and forming the frame out of these tubes which are filled with the “fill of choice” and then tamped down, either by hand or with a pneumatic tamper. As the foundation is created, windows can be created by having voids not filled, or cut out after the fact. A huge part of superadobe, beyond the tubular filled bags of soil or the like is the barbed wire which reinforces the shape of the buildings, which are generally a coil of these reinforced tubes which ultimately form a beehive shape. There have been extensive experiments with the concept of superadobe, or the earthbag building concept, which Khalili first came up with after attending a symposium at NASA in 1984 where he was trying to figure out who to build structures on the moon! Imagine, bags full of moondust. That sort of sounds magical, or super! Doesn’t it. Just agree. It does.

Kryptonite-proof

From the Moon to Your Backyard it seems that not even Kryptonite will take  this stuff down! Superadobe is one sturdy building concept. It is aerodynamic, just as its predecessor, just regular old adobe is. However; with the beehive and or rounded edges that it tends to take on, it can survive hurricane force gales. A superadobe home or building can be built by unskilled labors in a matter of days by the resources available on site, either of the sandbags, or of the specific tubing and barbed wire. The buildings are sturdy, sustainable, cost effective and can be built in nearly all elements. As a builder, one would look to superadobe from the cost effective standpoint for a client who is thinking about passive solar design; it tends to stay cooler during the day in those hot climates, and warm in the evenings in cold climates. The stuccoed exterior is incredibly low maintenance and provides the client for an exceptional opportunity for reduction in utility bills, or for even being off the grid, if they so desire. New offices looking for an interesting, cost effective and sustainable building concept, could certainly look at superadobe as an option. The unique building structure of the circular and hive-like shapes lend towards something new and different. If you want to stand out from the crowd, be sustainable, and possibly have a quick build, superadobe could be for you.  It From the moon to Costa Rica and everything in between, superadobe is a sustainable building concept that has green building aficionados looking towards the sun. It’s a bird, it’s a plane. No. It’s superadobe.

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Green Live & Work

GreenSpur: sustainable construction, reclaimed materials

GreenSpur Unveils their first OneNest Project home built in Virginia, a sustainable construction project that could be duplicated across the world.

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One of a kind sustainable construction project

This weekend was full of anticipation and completed, what could be called “full-circle-excitement come to fruition” for those who have been keeping tabs on the GreenSpur construction team. Not so long ago, I brought word to you about the incredible opportunity that Mark Turner and his concept team were working on regarding a fully sustainable, green-built home constructed of Structurally Insulated Panels (SIPS) and reclaimed materials.

This project is the first of its kind and is hopefully going to be one of many that will be replicated internationally as a model of sustainable construction that meets the needs of a true nest.

Flying into the Nest

Minimalism, with a true rustic elegance is what you find peering out at you as you make your way up the steep, curving drive to the Delaplane OneNest home set atop a perfect hill overlooking the foothills of the Shenandoah mountains. It is almost as if someone has called in the gentle fog to hover just at the top of the treeline for intrigue, mystery and sultry ambiance to pull you into the site. Recall those mystical tendrils of smoke that lure… that is what pulls you here…to something new and exciting.

Before you get to the site, strategically placed communal fire pits with site-found logs are hissing, popping and generating that delightful campfire smell and then there is that house. With the elevation of a classic barn marrying a contemporary sanctuary, OneNest sits there among newly planted native river-birch trees, nestled in yet peeking out. The patina of the tin a deliberate match to the brick-red rust of the seamed and painted hardi-plank that covers the SIPS.

The standing seam metal roof line is a delicate yet masculine balance to the reclaimed history that is woven into this home through the use of wood paneling straight from past cabin quarters of the John Marshall property. The facade wouldn’t be complete without the mirror image of floor to ceiling windows flanking a steeple like fireplace that is masoned in stone harvested directly from the site. Usable porches galore. Panoramic views of the fog rolling on and on across the pits and valleys of the foothills while the cows come home. A matching barn is just beyond the main house that has an awning wide enough for a classic riding tractor. Classic is right. This is just the exterior.

Getting Cozy on the inside

Delivering more inside, OneNest’s vaulted ceilings are welcoming and open, leaving one to be baffled by the thought that this space is one-thousand square feet. It could be thousands more; the trompe l’oeil affect of the grande windows to the view beyond pulls the eye out and into the distance. The living room has very functional usable built-ins and is open to the stunning kitchen with a wonderful amount of storage. The fantastic use of counterbalanced Connecticut-style pull down lanterns is just one more ‘trick of the eye’ and fun for the gorgeous space and means to draw the eye up to the loft space above which is the master suite.

Past the kitchen, a full bath, well appointed and glowing is to the left, and storage to the right. Beyond that, windows, again floor to ceiling brighten the space and pull in the outdoors while highlighting the spiral staircases to go up and up into the nest. Before heading up, a nosy poke into the crawl space reveals some more smart design, wine-cellar in the crawl built from galvanized metal buckets and wine-racks; a good use of space in an otherwise unusable crawl!

The second floor is home to the lofted main bedroom, which has a lovely view of the great wide yonder and can be conveniently enclosed with thoughtful curtains; wrapped around the far right of the bedroom is a little nook- great for reading, a dog-friend or maybe some lovely indoor plants for creating a nice indoor air quality. The master spa-bath is impeccable with an egg-shaped soaker tub, walk-in shower complete with rain head and well, it is simple, yet stunning. Plus, there is a fireplace above the bath. Nice… I

n the central stairwell, up once again, the next level houses the guest room with incredibly functional use of space, reclaimed wood and a sumptuous bathroom which is just incredibly well done. This OneNest space is an unbelievable four stories of beautiful, reclaimed, green living space built to help the owner truly nest in, living in what they need.

sustainable construction

sustainable construction

sustainable construction

sustainable construction

sustainable construction

Nesting as a Trend

Why OneNest? Business partner, Arian Lewis, stated “this is something that can be replicated in any country across the world. I’m currently talking with contacts in Malaysia to see about using our concept houses there.”

Lewis is the partner based out of the Oxford England team, who has been working on outreach to developing nations. These homes can be built anywhere. They are sustainable and don’t have to take up a lot of space or resources. Minimal or luxury finishes can be put into them and the product can be built an a relatively small amount of time.

Mark Turner, the brainchild behind GreenSpur and the OneNest project, said when asked what the biggest take away should be for the project, “Well, this was absolutely a labor of love and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I wanted to do something different that other builders weren’t doing and that would change the way things were being built in the construction industry.” He has proved it once before when he built a net-zero house on Capitol Hill, now he has done it again with the OneNest project’s first completed home, built in 100 days in Delaplane, VA.

Turner reminds us all that “OneNest is the context of everything in one world- a natural resting place.” Mark has also been quoted, “When I think about designing and building PLACE, I am inspired by Stegner’s quote, ‘There it was, there it is, the PLACE where during the best of our lives friendship had its home and happiness its headquarters.’ This 1000 SF OneNest Project is our team’s best attempt to capture this spirit. We are using radical approaches in design, materials and building science to capture that simple notion that we all universally yearn for: ‘happiness its headquarters.'” I love this about this team, they are so grounded in their since of duty to balance and harmony with nature, life and the elements.

What is Next for OneNest

Looking at their mission, Delaplane was a lovely place to select for the first part of this project’s journey. Just off of John Marshall Highway in historic wine country, this may be an idealistic “happiness headquarters.” The first OneNest will be open for extended stays as well as events for the next six months to continue to the conversation within the community and beyond about this intriguing and passionate design and building concept.

Where do you think we’ll see more of these beautiful, sustainable creations across the States and internationally? Start the conversation by making the visit.

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