Host Phil Tarrant is joined by Evolve Styling team Tanya and Edward Giuffre and Savills sales executive William Chan on The Smart Property Investment Show to talk about the difference property styling can have on your property for potential buyers and how it can result in you making more on your investment.
Tanya and Edward reveal the secrets to creating a connection between the property and potential buyers by selling them a “lifestyle and a dream”, as well as the importance of logistics, demographics and target markets.
William explains how allowing clients to walk into a presentation creates a competitive advantage point, which comes back down to return on investment.
You’ll also find out how to get the “fall in love factor”, key advantages when preparing your property for sale and how to create the “wow shot”.
All of this and much, much more!
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Suburbs mentioned in this episode:
Recording: Welcome to the Smart Property Investment Show with your host, Phil Tarrant.
Phil: My name is Phil Tarrant and I'm the host of the Smart Property Investment Show. Thanks for joining us today. I've got a full studio ... there's plenty of people in here, so I'm going to have to use my skills to moderate a conversation with a number of different people who are all involved in property investment in a couple of different ways. I hope from this conversation, you'll be able to realise how you can add even greater value to your properties at a point when you're looking to rent them or sell them. We talk about it a lot on the Smart Property Investment Show ... it's a long term game, it's about holding property over numerous market cycles. We also talk about life after property investment and why you do invest in property ... that is wealth creation. For a lot of people, wealth creation means realising that value through a sale. For some people, it's about holding those properties long term and realising really good yields from property investment.
To help us with this, I've got a couple stylists in here and I also have a real estate agent. The real estate agent is William Chan from Savills. Then I have Tanya Giuffre ... I think I've got that right, I think I did ... and Edward Giuffre as well. Guys, thanks for coming to the studio.
Tanya: You're welcome-
Phil: Tanya, this is Tanya here. Say a couple words.
Tanya: Hi, how are you? Thanks for inviting me.
Phil: She's going to be the easy one. The other two guys ... no, thank you. Edward, thanks for coming.
Edward: Lovely Phil, nice to meet you.
Phil: And William-
William: Thanks Phil. Lovely to meet you.
Phil: Okay, we're all here. All present, all accounted for.
Property styling ... we, and for a lot of our listeners who remember this ... We did quite a ambitious renovation, probably about two or three years ago where we decided to transform a property in a weekend. It was a long weekend ... Friday, Saturday, Sunday ... We gutted it and put in a new kitchen, bathroom, paint, flooring, new lighting. It was a complete transformation. What we did at the end of it ... We got the property styled. I remember going through the process of styling and arguing with a couple different people about the benefits of doing it and not doing it. For us, it was very much shown that the final product and looking to show what a property could become with only a small amount of work ... The styling pretty much transformed it and it gave people the emotive feel for what something would look like in the future and potentially living in that property.
Tanya, you've been doing this for quite some time ... steering the ship with Edward of Evolve Styling. Why do people style their properties? A really easy, simple way-
Tanya: To achieve a higher price-
Phil: That's pretty much it-
Tanya: That's pretty much it. That's my job. I feel my job ... with the real estate agent, we're a team ... our job is to achieve the highest price possible for the client.
Phil: You go in there and ... Who works out the best way to position a property for styling or how that might amplify a sales price? Is it normally a real estate agent will say to a vendor, "If you sell this property as it is right now you would be looking at X. If we spend a few bucks on it and get it styled, you're looking at Y." Does it only come from the real estate side or does it only come from your side?
Tanya: That comes from the real estate agent side-
Phil: Okay. So-
Tanya: Unless the client has come directly to us, but normally it would be the real estate agent that would be talking to the client about the benefits of presenting it the best way possible ... I would imagine, from marketing to styling the whole end product.
Phil: So William, do you typically style most properties that you look to sell?
William: About 90% of our properties will get some sort of styling done. Whether it's a partial style with the owner's furniture or a complete furnish of an empty property.
Phil: How do you deal with that ... because some people might be quite particular about thinking that their property looks really good and that doesn't need styling. So, how do you deal with in this saying ... I imagine an owner occupier is probably different from an investor. So, let's chat from an investment perspective. Investors, by in large can look to save their pennies rather than spending money. How do you persuade an investor to style their property versus selling it empty?
William: I think when you style it empty ... We notice when buyers walk through an empty property, they spend lot less time at the open home. They walk in ... couple of minutes ... have a look at the empty rooms and then walk out. So, a couple of minutes and they're out. When you have a property styled, people tend to connect more to the property. They can sit in the lounge room. They can visualise the sizes of the rooms. Something that may look like it can only fit a single bed, you've got a double bed in there. It creates more value and use of that space. I think when you have furniture in, it's very easy to sell to an investor. To say, "Look, if you spend a bit of money ... a couple of thousand dollars ... to put hard furniture, you're gonna get the money back." We've got lots of case studies to show that when we speak to those investors.
Phil: Is it an c you could say, "If you do this, it's worth this much. If you spend some money, a couple of grand to style it, it's gonna be worth this much." Is it really that elastic, the price band?
William: Yes. The reason for that is that we've had the pleasure of, the privilege of selling a couple of investment properties where ... For example, an apartment and they are pretty much all alike in some ways where the internal areas are very similar, locations are very similar. We might have an example where we've got two apartments sold any months apart from each other, one of them would be tenanted ... It may take us eight weeks to twelve weeks to sell that property. Maybe the tenant is inside, maybe they smoke, maybe it's just not presented well. The owners are thinking they're going to save some money because they have rental coming in, but we may take eight weeks to twelve weeks to sell that property. Whereas a similar property, maybe in the same building or close by ... We've styled that property ... rents to auction, four weeks and we have it sold and for a better price.
We've got lots of those examples, so it is tangible.
Phil: Can you put a benchmark price? Can you get an extra 1% or 2%, depending on the styling?-
William: With apartments, for example ... say it's a two bedder, 1.1, 1.2 million, we might get an extra thirty, forty grand so an investor could potentially 10X their investment if it's 3, $4000 for a styling or $5000 dollars and they get 30, $40,000 back. It's pretty tangible, if you look at it that way-
Phil: Oh absolutely. Does it always work though? You just don't know yet-
William: You don't know, but if you don't do it you're leaving money on the table.
Phil: Interesting. How do you guys go about doing this? Say William has a client, a vendor, who is looking to sell their property. He calls in you guys about styling. How does it work ... Do you guys do the same thing for everyone or is it slightly different?
Tanya: Absolutely not. What we see is our point of difference. The hugest compliment that I can have is if I've styled a place and it looks absolutely beautiful and someone walks in and they're not quite sure if it's just a beautifully designed house or it's been styled. They're not quite sure. We don't have the generic look that just goes from place to place.
The most important thing that I do is go to each individual property. William would invite me over, if it was a partial style, to meet the client ... Building a relationship with a client is really important. In that scenario you mentioned before, it's very different to styling an empty apartment to someones living in the house. It is about winning that person's trust because it is their own personal space.
It can be quite confronting and it can be probably one of the biggest financial moves they'll ever make ... selling their home. It might have been a family home for 30 or 40 years and they're going to downsize. You need to be very aware of that and very in tune with the client, as well. It can be a little bit difficult ... William might have invited me in, for example, because the client's taste is not so great in furniture and it's actually going to be detrimental to the sale. That takes all sorts of diplomacy to talk to them about what we can maybe take out, and bring different items in to take the house ... it really takes it to the next level. Ideally it takes it to the next level in the price point as well by styling. It's trying to get them to remove themself emotionally from the home and look at it is as their investment, moving on to where they're going to the next property ... and how much money we can get for them.
Phil: With Evolve Styling, obviously it would tenure you both in the business. Are you the design guy or are you the-
Edward: Definitely not Phil, no. No Phil, I'm the back office guy. They keep me away from the clients, but I make sure that everything runs smoothly and make sure that the client gets the things that they've asked for ... requested on the day. Make sure that we convey our messages clearly and concisely.
I wanted to back up to something that William said ... it was interesting when he said that, "If you sell an empty apartment and somebody walks in there and they walk out in a few minutes. If you sell something that's styled, they'll sit there and they connect with the property." You're not actually selling a property, you're actually selling a lifestyle. That's what you've got to sell is the dream.
You've got to get somebody in the door first and foremost. The way to get somebody in the door is to have great photos online. If you have great photos online ... great photos are not empty houses or houses with clutter, houses with perhaps mismatched furniture that Tanya was pointing out ... that maybe someone has collected over a long period of time. A nice looking property makes great imagery on the website. That will get the person through the door, but you are selling a dream. You're selling a lifestyle. Once you've got that lifestyle thing in the client's head or the potential buyer's head, then that's when you see price is not so important. People will go beyond what they may have originally wanted because they want that lifestyle that you're portraying.
Phil: I'm happy you answered the question the way you did. I thought that would be the case ... you wouldn't be the design guy. I don't know if I'm stereotyping, but I may a bit ... A couple things I pick up on that ... The first one would be from an operational perspective. Styling needs to fit into the marketing period for a property, William?
William: That's right.
Phil: If you get a property on the market, you want to sell it as quickly as possible.
William: That's right.
Phil: If it languishes on the market for too long, then it becomes a problem. I imagine there's been cases where you've styled something after they have tried to market originally and-
Phil: And that has different effects. We'll touch on that in a sec ... But, if you're holding a property for longer than you need to or its an investment property and you have to take tenants out ... It means you've got a short window to try and sell that property as quickly as possible, which is challenging. To actually get the timing and the logistics right on the styled properties is essential isn't it?
Edward: It's a good point, Phil. We operate on very short lead times. As Tanya mentioned, we don't do packages and we don't do ... just generic pick up this property and move it to another property-
Tanya: Take it to another house-
Edward: We actually do bespoke styling. We style to suit the client's budget and also the type of market and the property itself. We don't stick a two seater lounge in a six bedroom house that can take a three and a half and even a larger lounge. We put the right furniture in that meets the target market that we're after and also the client's budget. Logistically, yeah it's quite challenging. Turning around on short lead times means that we do have to do things quite quickly, both at the back end to ensure that the delivery occurs when the agent requires it and the house is finished so that they can photograph and get it on the market ASAP.
Phil: The point about photography I was going to make is that whenever I look at a property on RealEstate.com, for example ... I don't read the description first, I look at the pictures-
Phil: The first thing you do is look at the pictures. If you look at anyone who looks at property-
Edward: And that's human nature-
Phil: Picture, picture, picture, picture, picture.
Phil: Then, you look at the description of it all.
Edward: Exactly. Some people buy their properties remotely. Some investors, in particular, won't even go to the property. They'll look all online. They could be interstate. They could be overseas. It's the imagery that's going to capture their attention. If you don't capture their attention online, you're not going to get them through the door ... maybe it's not that important that you get them through the door ... But you're not going to capture their interest in your property.
Tanya: I think the thing is as well is that people are so much more exposed to presentation, whether it be through all the renovation shows, which are extremely popular on television now. I think people are a lot more savvy about design. If you don't consider styling, your property is just not going to look up to speed with other properties that are on the market at the same time. If you think about a family is wanting ... usually they have to look for months before they are able to get into the market. They go to three or four different house opens or apartment opens in one day ...
What's going to stand out to them? Is it a beautifully presented, well laid out ... it actually gives them ideas about how they can see themselves living in the property as well. A lot of people don't have that vision to think about where is the lounge going to do, particularly if it's a little bit of a difficult layout or the rooms are a little bit smaller than normal. They just would walk in and think, "Oh, I can't fit a double bed in." If you can put one in, it tells a story for people-
Tanya: Which an empty room will never do.
Phil: Yeah, interesting you said that. I talk about it a lot on the Smart Property Investment Show, here I use a buyer's action to buy all my investment properties. I always say that anyone who is trying to buy within the same market that I buy ... I've actually got paid professionals who do it day in, day out. They know the market, they know every single street within, they know individual properties sometimes, they know what makes that particular market tick. If you're doing it yourself, you're competing against guys like me who are using professionals. Probably the same can be said for properties that are styled. If you're using a professional to style your property versus someone who doesn't have a feel for design or hasn't got the ability to show that story ... you've got a competitive advantage by using a stylist-
Tanya: Yeah it's a standout. It's definitely a competitive advantage point. For example, if I know that it's a family home and William said to me, for example that he's going to be targeting it at a family home. To fit the four bedroom home, we will always set up a childrens room in one of those rooms. It is actually all about-
Edward: The target market-
Tanya: The fall in love factor as well ... and just putting detail in so that it feels like someone's family home. It feels like a beautiful home
Phil: Like someone actually really lives there-
Tanya: Yeah, exactly. Rather than it just looking ... it's been obviously styled because, as I said, people are getting more and more savvy to that. When property styling probably started ten years ago, it was such a different thing. Now there's lots of places are getting styled. So it's how do you make a point of difference from them? It is putting some styling into it and making it feel a little bit eclectic so that there's lots of detail and lots of little fall in love factors that people can find as they walk through the house.
Edward: To return to this point earlier, we really pride ourselves on being able to make it look like it's a well designed and lived in home, not a styled home. We've put in skateboards in kids rooms, we put in rocking horses last week into kids rooms. We go to that extreme because that's actually what makes us different to the normal run of the mill property styling companies. It has to look as if it's a well presented home, not a well styled home.
Phil: It's a good point. You spoke about target market ... target market being, well it's a four bedroom house. It's a good chance where you operate upon the North Shore Sydney-
William: North Shore, yes-
Phil: It's a good chance a family is going to go in there. I imagine operating on the North Shore of Sydney, William, you would have buyers who aren't traditionally your Anglo Saxon family.
Phil: North Shore Sydney up though Chatswood, example-
William: That's right.
Phil: There's a lot of Chinese buyers or foreign buyers. Do you often get so targeted where you match particular styling for that particular type of demographic as well?
William: Yes, we do. Sometimes we have multi-generational families so we might set up the fifth room as an in laws room, in laws accommodation ... or maybe avoid some really strong colours like red, for example, in some particular rooms because it may be not suitable for that culture.
Tanya: Definitely. That's all part of tailoring each individual home to them market and the suburb as well. We style across lots of different suburbs and we are able to create lots of different looks rather than just have that one signature look that you take around everywhere. We really pride ourself in being able to ... if it's a North Shore property and it's maybe that Hamptons style that everyone likes. Then, if I go to inner city or Balmain, you need an edgier, cooler look. It's being able to present lots of different styles as well that suit the demographic for each market. Eastern suburbs is a little bit more glam, upmarket but glam. All the stylists have an understanding that there's a different look for a lot of the different areas that we go into ... It's the individual architecture of the home. Who is going to be the buyer? Who's the suburb and the demographic? What look do we need to put together for this house to appeal to those buyers?
Phil: We talk about this a lot and we get a lot of questions around it about ... How do I choose a real estate agent to sell my property? ... and check them out, we've spoken about it a lot. One of the key areas where a real estate agent should be able to support you, William, is understanding who is going to buy your house and therefore marketing it in a particular way, which is going to most appeal to that demographic and then supplementing it with some smart styling to a make it look good. Would you say that's one of the key factors of choosing a good agent? Actually understanding who is going to buy it?
William: Knowing the market is pretty much half the game. If you know who is going to buy the property, you can tailor the styling, the marketing to that person. When they're looking at a piece of marketing it almost jumps out at them and they say, "Oh, that property is for me," or "That's perfect." A lot of the times we think through particular properties ... That might be a downsizer who might like that, so let's target them. Whether they look to buy ... Are they looking on the paper or on the internet? If it's a younger crowd, might even use social media to reach out to them. Things like that is part of it, and also styling. If you can tailor it to that market, they can connect to it better. If we know that, we can advise our clients. It gives them a big advantage.
Phil: Let's get some free advice for our listeners, Tanya. Those who choose not to use a stylist, but understand and appreciate what a well presented property looks like for not only taking photos but at open house. What are the five key things you think that you need to get right when you're preparing your property for sale?
Tanya: I'd probably say one of the most important things is, don't ignore the front of your house. Don't just think about it internally. It's first impression. Whether it's somebody is driving past and they see the sign ... if your house is beautifully presented, it's first impressions. If it's a house ... Have you painted the front door? Freshly painted the front door. It might be something a bit fun and something a signature colour that people will remember. Is there a nice setting outside ... a pot and a plant. Think about your house from the front fence to the back fence. It's not just inside.
Once you get inside, the key is de cluttering. Everybody knows how you live is not how you are going to set it up for styling. The most important things you have to think about is that you're going to have groups of people, ideally, coming through your home all at one time. You need to have really free, open zones in the room so that people can access all the rooms and move around freely without bumping into furniture. De cluttering is so important. Things that you can do without on your day to day life, or it even might be a bit of a hassle ... it's still worthwhile taking them out of the house and storing them. You need the house to speak for itself, but the furnishings have to really compliment as well.
It's all about simplifying everything. If you've got bookshelves that are crammed full worth of books, I say to most people, "Take half of them away and have some negative space." ... De cluttering, a fresh coat of paint is worth a thousand words. It's always worthwhile just touching up and doing a fresh coat of paint. Make sure taps aren't dripping. Make sure the doorknobs aren't falling off. All those little things make impressions to people.
You want them to feel that your house has been well loved and looked after. If there's a broken window pane, fix it. If there's a stain on the roof, get it painted so people don't think that there's a water problem. Fresh flowers, if you're living in the house ... always little things like fresh flowers make a big difference. Fluffy towels in the bathroom ... Everything has to be immaculately clean including your windows.
They would be the main things ... if you can de clutter, make sure it's immaculately clean, fresh flowers and just adding greenery at the front door, that type of thing.
Edward: It's funny. Tanya mentioned about getting the front door painted ... because once people go and see many properties over the weekend, they might see three, four five ... If your property is the one with the yellow front door, they'll talk about it after they have been to all properties. They'll go, "Do you remember the house with the yellow front door? That's the one I really like." Having that differentiator, not only by de cluttering and all that, but just have something that's-
Edward: Yeah, a bit of personality. Something they can remember and take away.
Phil: I know what it's like when I look at properties ... fortunately I use a buyer's agent that does most of these for me, but occasionally I go do it myself. You get fatigued-
Phil: Another property, you try and remember what it looked like. If you're really good ... and there's some good apps around these days to help you out ... but if you're not good at note taking and being able to conceptualise all those different changes, it's impossible. I really take your point on something which is uniquely memorable so you can-
Edward: Tangible and a benchmark-
Phil: Ah yeah, the yellow house. A point you made Tanya ... I think that a lot of people would frame styling this way and, it's not the right way, is that styling just means fluffy towels and bake a cake in the oven so that when someone walks in-
Tanya: Ah no. No we don't do that. That's old school.
Phil: It's much more than that. It's about street appeal, curb appeal-
Phil: It's about the simple things like making sure the grass is mowed and the flowers-
Tanya: Garden beds.
Phil: The gardens are good. A good letterbox, I imagine, is always another point.
Tanya: Yeah. I always give that advice, even if, it's not part of ... I don't organise the gardens and that type of thing, but I see it as part of my role when I come to the house to actually advise the client on what they should be doing externally, as well as internally. I look after internally, but obviously outdoor furniture and that sort of thing. I feel like that's part of the whole service is getting them to understand presentation right from the moment the person walks in the front gate. I often work with William on that as well. It's not necessarily in my immediate scope but we work together to present the whole house for the client.
Phil: How did this relationship start? How did you guys-
William: Actually, we were just having a chat about that before. I met Tanya, I think a year or two ago. I was trying to get styling for an investment property and the client I worked with ... they were dead set against using Tanya and I was convincing them to use a different styling company ... but it happened that we went with Tanya and she did a wonderful job. Things that were very unique, like the rocking chair, some toys in the kids rooms and a chalkboard. Things like that that made it really warm, and that really impressed me. Since then, we've been working together ever since. All my clients are raving fans. They want Tanya to use her to style their own homes once they've bought.
Tanya: That often happens.
Phil: You actually go and style when someone buys and say-
Edward: Interior decorating is very, very different to property styling. Maybe Tanya can talk a little bit about that because it is a completely different kettle of fish. It is another part of our business and our service offering.
Tanya: I think at the end of the day, you've won the person's trust. I think a lot of people are nervous about interior designers. Once I've worked with them, we obviously have a really nice rapport and I have won their trust. They can often see how I interpret pieces of furniture that they do own completely differently and they've never imagined that their piece of furniture could actually look like that. That's often ... We get asked to come and interior design the new house, which is a huge compliment to me.
Phil: It is. I think a lot of people put up their hands and say, "I don't know how to design anything. I need some help, please." It's good that people are doing that.
With the work that you do with property investors ... Primarily, does the work come from your relationship with real estate agents or other type of professionals? Or is it direct? What I'm getting at is that ... Do you think property investors are thinking this way and therefore contact people like you? Or, it normally comes from a real estate agent saying, "Look, I can get you X thousand dollars more or tens of thousands dollars more, if you engage a property stylist." How does that work?
Tanya: We do have our website and we get clients through our website. Often I will get a new agent, which is really how I got William is that-
William: That's right.
Tanya: Because clients actually contacted me directly because they loved our website and they loved the work that we had on the website. I often am introduced to new agents that way. Mostly, I think people firstly ... their first stop is the real estate agent and they put their trust in the real estate agent and then these services are overlayed with that relationship with the agent. The majority of the work does come through agents, though we certainly get a lot of clients come to us or ... Word of mouth is what has really grown our business. I've just styled a place recently where I styled her friend's property and she said, "You have to use Tanya. You're not allowed to use anyone else." We often get business through word of mouth as well.
Phil: William, how much persuasion do you need to do for your vendors to get them to style? Is it quite an easy proposition to sell to vendors or is it something which is a bit of a challenge?
William: I think in the early days, a couple of years ago, it was a little bit more difficult because it wasn't as mainstream as it is today. Now, we walk into a presentation ... clients thinking of selling. They've already decided to style because they've been to so many open homes and a lot of them look so beautiful with how they're presented. They feel as though they want to be a part of that and have their home looking great as well. They are already pre framed to think styling is an option, so they ask me about it. They may be sold 70% of it, and it's just getting the opinion of an agent to make sure that their money is best used. They are already thinking about it. Then, they just need us to reaffirm that that's a good decision.
Phil: Okay. Well answered. Is it easier to get property investors to style than owner occupiers?
William: No, not really. I think they're both ... We do more partial styles for homeowners. We do more for people that are already living there and we just add a bit more flavour to it, to give it a polish. But, for investors ... we are finding that more and more of our investors are really wanting to get max dollars for their property, especially with the market the way it is at the moment. Things are starting to be a bit more flat, or a bit more steady if you like. To really stand out, to max out the dollars on their investment, we are finding it's a lot easier to persuade them to use styling. Because, at the end of the day, it comes back down to return on investment and that's what they're getting with styling.
Edward: So, it's a good point that William makes. Return on investment is really important. The majority of our clients see a 20X return on their investment. We see it range from 5X all way up to 70X. We had a property only about six weeks ago in Drummoyne that they spent $10,000 on it and they get $700,000 more than their expectation. Obviously, there's a whole number of factors there, but we can see that type of return. You also see shorter leads times, as William said, for those properties that are styled. They sell quicker versus those that are perhaps unstyled or perhaps have a tenant in there and they can't get the styling done. They take ten, twelve weeks to sell versus your standard four to six weeks.
Tanya: What I say to anyone that's maybe a little bit hesitant is, "How many real estate agents have you interviewed for the job?" Often people will interview three or four different agents. I say, "Have they all talked to you about styling?" They go, "Yes." Now, a real estate agent is not going to recommend that you style your house just for the hell of it. The reason that real estate agents recommend it to their clients now ... pretty much par for course ... is because it actually works. It gets them a higher price for their client. The property sells quicker, so everybody is in a win win situation. Real estate agents are not going to recommend something that costs money to their client unless it's actually really going to work. It does work. That's why there are so many property styling companies and all the agents recommend it now.
Phil: Is there any reason why not to style?
Edward: I guess if you perhaps had a designer property to start with ... perhaps there are some of these types of property around that are just ... We have walked into a couple of properties in the time we've had our business and we go," Hmmm, this is actually beautiful. There's not much more that we can do to this show."
Tanya: It's interesting. You sort of think they have so many beautiful pieces of furniture and a beautiful home. I did walk into a home and I'm thinking, "Okay. Why am I here?" But when I really got down and knotted through the house, I'm going, "Yeah, there's missed opportunities here." It is often just putting an overlay ... I call it shooshing, which is not very technical-
Phil: I thought it was shushing. Proper colour pillows, you know.
Tanya: It actually did then add another layer of tactile and beautiful ... I just used beautiful cushions and throws, cashmere throws. The house was already outstanding, but putting that extra layer, it did-
Edward: The texture-
Tanya: The texture and the warmth. It just photographed more beautifully as well because it had that overlay on it as well. So it did take it to the next level. But I have to say there's been couple places and you go, "Oh wow. What am I doing here?" But, I don't do things just for the sake of it. I think William will know I always say this to clients, "I'm happy to use your piece of furniture if it works." If I feel it's not detrimental to the property, it's going to create a problem, I'm more than happy to use clients' furniture. I don't bring things in just for the sake of bringing them in. It's only ever to enhance the property so it adds value to the property.
Phil: We've got markets rights across Australia. William, I know you work on the North Shore of Sydney and we're recording from Sydney, this particular podcast. The city market ... Some would argue is sort of softened a little bit recently. It's not growing at the same speed it has done over five years. Depends who you talk to and where you're buying. To generalise, irrespective of where you are in Australia, is styling less important in burning hot markets because the stuff is going to move anyway and the property should sell on its own merit? Or, should you only really style when it's a soft market. Is there any logic behind any of that?
William: If it's a hot market, it just means you get more. So if you-
Tanya: You'll always get more. You'll always get more if you style. I'm sorry, always. You still might be able to sell your house ... When it was really hot, there was a bit of off market selling happening-
William: That's right.
Tanya: You should still-
Phil: So even off market you should still style?
Tanya: You still style. You will always ... It will always get you more money regardless. If you want to sell in a hot-
Edward: And more than your investment in styling-
Edward: By at least five to seventy times.
Phil: Okay. Five to seventy is a big spread.
Edward: It is a big spread and the average is about 20X.
Edward: We've seen some amazing results. You won't get that unless you ... you've got to put some money into it. It's like selling a car. Would you sell a nice car and not detail it? Would you not spend $100 on a detail and-
Phil: That's a fair point.
Edward: Of course you would.
Phil: How does it work with photography? You guys would style it, you get-
William: I'd get my photographer and we take photos and pick the winning shot ... the money shot if you like to call it.
Tanya: The wow shot.
Phil: The wow shot. Is there any a way that you can style a property better for photography or is it-
Tanya: Yes. My job when I walk in, is to think about how it's going to be photographed as well because ... Ed was talking about before, it's the photos that get the clients into the property. When we go to look at a property, generally the photographer will shoot towards the window. I know what angles they're going to shoot with. I try and lay out the property so that, for example, when you walk into the room they're going to shoot towards the window. The TV unit and the TV is not the first thing you see on the wall because there is nothing attractive about a TV and a TV unit, but you do have to show it in lots of properties. I always place it on a wall where it's not going to be in shot. You put your beautiful piece of furniture, which is a beautifully dressed lounge with cushions and throws, in shot.
I always try to think ... Photography plays a really big part in how I style or we style. We do style so that it's going to ... you get that winning shot. We often talk about that saying, "This is your winning room. This is your wow room." If that's going to be your wow shot, you put all your focus into that room and you really think about how it's going to lay out so that you get the best shot for it. Definitely.
Phil: I spoke earlier about a property that we did a reno on and styled. Another property in our portfolio, which is out in Cambridge Park, which is near Penrith. We did a major renovation on it. We completely gutted the whole place. It took us a couple of months to do it. We had that property styled as well. We took the photos and we rented that property out. The purpose of the photos were ... it's good for Smart Property Investment, we put it on the website and all this sort of stuff. We used those particular photos for the rental. It looked great. Is there any difference in styling for a property that you're looking to sell or you're looking to rent out? Is it fundamentally the same thing or should you do something different for investment purposes?
Tanya: I think it's fundamentally the same thing, to be honest.
Edward: Just on that what we find is because we offer six weeks rental and two of those weeks are free, it enables the client to have a week prior to their very first open house for marketing photography, then a week after to do whatever this wish. Some of that time in the week after is for an investor that may have bought the property to actually take prospective tenants through while the furniture is still there. That really is a win win for both the seller and the purchaser.
Phil: Tnhat's a really good point. You style it, you take the photos. Then, maybe an investor is buying it. Then they get a whole week to actually go though there and show people through. Same logic applies ... nice pieces, de cluttered-
Phil: Show people what it'd be like to be living there.
Tanya: Just think about making ... always what people look for when they buy a property in my mind, is that it feels spacious and beautiful light, and fresh. I always keep that in mind when you're trying to keep the rooms feeling open and good circulation spaces.
Edward: Sometimes that could mean, take down those old curtains that you've had up for ten years and just put sheers in. Go down to Ikea or Kmart and buy a rod and some sheers. Just let that light in ... you've got to get the light in.
Tanya: So he is, see, he is an interior designer-
Phil: He's got an eye for design.
Really enjoy the chat guys. I'm pro styling for the right thing.
Tanya: Yes, you've obviously done it.
Phil: I have done it. I really enjoyed it though. I like to think of myself as a designer… I know certain things that I am good at and I know when something’s been well done. It does make a big difference.
Tanya: More and more ... people, guys included, are getting a lot more savvy about styling and presentation. It's not something that's just for a minority of people now. It's definitely for the majority of people.
Phil: There's nothing wrong with making something look its absolute best. It makes sense.
Tanya: That's right. Touche.
Edward: Especially when its your biggest asset that you-
Phil: Its huge. I can see people getting caught up with ... there's a lot of benefits to styling a property if you're going to sell it, if you're getting between five and seventy times the value of it. To actually style a property, to take photos, to rent it out or potentially use if for open houses ... Would you be doing that for a $300 a week property in Mount Druitt versus a $2000 a week in the eastern suburbs. Obviously, there's going to be a price point there where the market will dictate where it sits, but-
Edward: As Tanya said, it pays. So the $300 rental amount, you might get $350 for it if you style it. You'll get more interest in it, and you'll have it occupied quicker.
Phil: It goes back to the competition, right? If there's-
Phil: 10 or 20 other $300 a week properties in Mount Druitt on that Saturday ... which people are trying to get in there. Often happens in Mount Druitt ... that's just a suburb that I've plucked out of the air, but there's a lot of investors out there with a lot of rental property so-
Tanya: It's still the same principle-
Edward: It's the same principle.
Tanya: It's relative to how much you spend though, obviously, for the property. The principle stays the same. It's about good presentation and making the most of the property and making your property stand out regardless of whether it's a $300,000 single bedder or a $5,000,000 property. It's the same principle.
Edward: Yeah, the ROI is still there.
Phil: It's good. So you need to work that out for our listeners, what is the ROI? There's a band in there but, to echo what I think is the consensus of our guests in the show here today. It actually pays. You're not going to get it backwards by doing it. It's just how much you get forwards.
Phil: Listen to your agent if they tell you to style. Is that what you say, William?
William: That's it. Listen to your agent. They know what's best.
Phil: Anything from you guys, the styling guys ... to summarise, to finish up with? Edward?
Edward: I just wanted to point out the conversation we had earlier ... we touched on, which was styling and interior decorating. It is very, very different and some people have this connotation that we're actually styling the property to suit the owner's taste. That's really interior decorating and that's completely different. If you want a timber table with a glass top or something specific, that's what interior decorating is for.
What we do is we create a look that attracts a maximum interest for the target market. It may not be your specific taste, but we are creating a look to maximise interest. That's really important to bear in mind. To Tanya's point, some people may be a little bit insulted when we come into a property and we say, "Look, we love your furniture but you know what? This isn't going to work and this isn't going to work, but we can use this piece." We can't use a lot for these very reasons. It might be the flow zones aren't right or the pieces are too big. Interior decorating and your personal taste, put that to one side. Property styling is about selling your property for the best price and getting the maximum interest.
Phil: So if you choose to use a stylist, let them do their job. That's what you're saying-
Tanya: Trust them.
Phil: Tanya, anything to finish up with?
Phil: That's pretty much it. Excellent.
Tanya: Yeah, that's about it. Thank you Phil.
Phil: I think we've done this reasonable justice. If you have any questions at all about styling, contact the team, [email protected] We can put you in touch with the guys over at Evolve Styling. If you want to pick William's brain on how to sell your property for the most on the North Shore Sydney, I'm sure he'd be very happy to take your call-
William: Give me a call. Always welcome.
Phil: Where are you from? Savills?
William: Savills. Yes.
Phil: Good. Alright, I enjoyed the chat.
William: Thank you.
Phil: We'll be back again next week. Remember to check out smartpropertyinvestment.com.au. If you're not subscribing yet to our morning market intel and news, make sure you do. Smartpropertyinvestment.com.au/subscribe. We're on all the social stuff. Make sure you like us, follow us ... do all that social stuff. Just search Smart Property Investment. That's it for me this week. We'll be back again soon. See you.
Recording: The information featured in this podcast is general in nature and does not take into consideration your financial situation or individual needs and should not be relied upon. Before making any investment, insurance, tax, property or financial planning decision, you should consult a licenced professional who can advise whether your decision is appropriate for you. Guests appearing on this podcast may have a commercial relationship with the companies mentioned.
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