Buyer Focused Real Estate Staging
As a buyer of real estate in Panama or elsewhere, the search process can be a daunting one. In Panama, the real estate choices begin with urban or suburban lifestyles. Are you seeking the excitement of a big city or laid back beach life, rural farm life in the mountains? From there, house or condo, gated community, small town, the list goes on and on.
Perhaps you want to sample as many of the options as possible before coming to such a big decision. Many expats highly suggest renting for a year to get a true feeling of the neighborhood but this is largely dependent on your budget. Most retired expats chose Panama as a more affordable retirement destination, paying rent for a year may or may not work within your budget.
When you begin your property search, there are a couple of specifics you should keep in mind.
- Can I see myself, my family, my stuff in this space?
- How much has to be changed?
- How much maintenance and additional costs will be required?
As a seller of property, your focus should be on question 1.
You can expect any potential buyer to view multiple properties, often several listings in a single day. For many buyers, the relocation process has not commenced, these are quick trips just to view neighborhoods and properties for sale.
For the seller to make an impact on the buyer, they must view their property from the perspective of the potential new owner.
This is where thoughtful staging can make a huge difference. The seller does not have to lay out a large financial investment to get a significant payback. Upfront efforts will present your home in its best possible light and also simplify your pack and move efforts once you have successfully sold and closed on the sale. The hard part is already done.
First and foremost, the home must be clean and de-cluttered.
Invest the time to reorganize your closets, cupboards and drawers. It will also simplify your packing after your successful sale and close on your property.
Remove anything broken, damaged or worn, junk or garbage can be hauled away by a local service if required.
Use a critical eye to review the paint condition and color scheme. You may love that turquoise blue wall In the dining room or mural in the bedroom, your taste is not what matters now.
Neutrals are always preferred, allow the buyer to envision their imprint on the space. Loud colors and feature walls can mute the buyer’s interest. Patch holes, paint what is most pertinent. A fresh coat of paint revitalizes and brightens the space, presents a clean canvas for your potential buyers.
Make sure all air conditioning units are working, water pumps, hot water, functions as expected. It is a nasty surprise for a buyer to determine post close (questions 2 and 3 above) so either replace, repair or divulge the liability up front. Disclosure will save bad feelings at best and legal battles at worst. Who needs the hassle?
Replace burnt out lightbulbs. Make sure ceiling fans are functional and quiet.
Clean out the refrigerator, put in an open box of baking soda to keep fresh. Clean stovetop and oven.
Clear as much counter space as possible to maximize kitchen workspace.
Put seldom used countertop appliances in lower cupboards or pack and store.
Put away valuables, computers, electronics, jewelry, collections, best to pack for the future.
Most people have decorated their homes to suit their personalities and living requirements and have trouble seeing beyond. It can help to bring in a neutral eye to assist with the purge. Enlist a trusted friend especially one whose opinion is valued.
Personalized items such as family photos, trophies, anything of this nature should be packed away. You want a buyer to envision their pictures on the walls and keepsakes displayed in the space.
This is an excellent time to go through your kitchen drawers and cupboards, remove mismatched items, give the cupboards a good cleaning and minimize what remains. When a potential buyer opens your cupboards (you know they will), you want them to see space not jumble.
The same goes for your closets. A small investment in matching hangers for each of your closets looks clean and crisp. Cull through your clothing and accessories, pack away the keepers, recycle or donate anything you no longer need. A quick online query in your local Facebook pages can let you know where to drop off donations to those most in need.
Organize your closets and drawers by clothing type (underwear, tops, bottoms, seasons, colors, shoes, bags, etc.), the choice is yours.
If you needs tips in organization, google Marie Kondo or KonMarie, a Japanese’s organizing consultant with numerous published books on the topic. Her approach is to find joy through simplification. The KonMarie method for folding your clothing for placement in drawers is particularly simple, smart and esoterically pleasing.
Take a critical look at the washrooms, are they worn or broken? Repair and/or replace fixtures, tiles, etc. you may have to make a financial investment which can be recouped in the selling price.
If you are selling a house, there will be a yard and garden(s) to consider. Most homeowners have gardeners, some even full time, living on the property to maintain yard and/or pool. With the two seasons, dry and rainy, the volume of yard work waxes and wanes. Potential buyers want to see property that is maintainable for them. The less work they see, raking and weeding in particular, the more positive their impression. A well manicured and maintained yard can be a huge selling factor, a beautiful yard can sell a home.
With a pool, ensure the water is crystal clear, worn or broken tiles replaced, and the pool area is clean and welcoming. A few colorful inflatables floating in the pool are a nice touch. Remove and replace broken yard furniture, refresh cushions, display furniture to highlight the best features of the yard.
Solar powered outdoor lights are an inexpensive way to edge a garden, highlight a walkway or water feature and can add polish to the presentation.
When the preparation is done, the property should be listed.
As soon as a viewing is booked, tidy, dust, vacuum, clean bathrooms and kitchen.
Open windows to allow fresh air when possible. Clean out windowsills as dust collects quickly.
Whenever showing the property or hosting an open house, ensure all towels and linens are fresh and clean.
Fresh cut flowers add a nice touch, color and fragrance add natural beauty.
Put out bowls of limes or lemon, they infuse the area with a fresh, not overwhelming, natural scent. Some like to bake cookies but this can come across as a bit contrived, particularly in a tropical country.
Ensure pathways, sidewalks, driveways and entries are clear and clean. Remove clutter to allow easy ingress and egress.
If you are considering staging your home but just don’t know where to begin, consider hiring the furnishing team at Try Panama Real Estate. Liz and Larry bring a sharp eye and wealth of knowledge from furnishing to staging a home.
Liz & Larry are full time Panama residents and homeowners in Panama for over 5 years. With their combined careers in the retail industry, they have 30+ years of client care experience, which has transitioned to the Real Estate industry seamlessly working alongside Try Panama Real Estate Relocation & Rentals.
Panama gave them the idea to join this market in home décor, which launched their own company LLDecorStyle.com, and provides personal consulting in home décor, furnishing and staging. Working alongside TryPanama.com Realtors, they have closed the gap for an unforgettable and fulfilling Real Estate experience.
Considering your property from the buyer’s perspective will add financial value to your home.
More importantly is the intangible: memorability. Make your place stand out, be remembered in a sea of properties for sale. Hook the buyer. Ensure they consider how their life can be lived in the house, how they will make it their new home. The simpler the path, the less resistance. You want them to return, to look again, to be the one property that rises above.
The buyer and seller both come out as winners, and that is the best way to either continue or begin your new expat life in Panama.