Make HGTV Work For You Not Against You
As I have driven around the suburban Philadelphia region that I have called home for the last 17 years, 1 taken note of a few troubling trends recently. The first is the amount of new construction – town homes, condos, carriage houses - that have popped up near what locals call “the mid-county interchange” – an area close to commuter corridors leading into the city but equally accessible to the joys of suburban life- green grass, open spaces, recreational activities, shopping, etc. It is an area that says, “I have made it – I am now a grown-up”. I suspect that the “millennials” (as they have come to be known) – recent college graduates, many without the time or experience to do even basic home improvement are the target consumers of these properties – the home-improvement show-educated buyers who want it all – shiny, high-end finishes, designer-staged, move-in ready properties; and some can even afford to pay for it.
The second trend is the amount of existing inventory sitting vacant awaiting buyers with a bit of vision or those forced to “settle” because they simply can’t afford the hefty price tags attached to these newly constructed dream homes. They, too, watch the home-improvement shows and head out with realtors in search of the re-defined American dream. I can only imagine the frustration of both parties that walk through house after house searching for something that only seems to exist in the buyer’s dreams – or on TV.
The challenge comes in seizing that finite opportunity to help the buyer envision the potential of these homes, educate them and correct their misconceptions about old homes being “money pits”, and gently modify their quest for the immediate gratification within that brief window of time during a showing when their first (and often last) impressions are being formed.
This is where realtors and decorators can become allies with the common goal of finding a property with the potential to become the dream home that these buyers are picturing in their lofty expectations. These home improvement shows provide a model for us to follow if we shift our focus from that of believing we are working against these shows and instead put them to work for us. This model goes beyond the tried and true model of staging homes (which many sellers are still resistant to paying for) to a full “vision consultation” during which a designer is able to participate in a showing, walking through these homes addressing concerns and pointing out remedies for problems that potential buyers see, gently correcting misconceptions, and enabling them to envision the property as it could be instead of as it is. This neutral third party can apply his/her expert opinions, provide valuable information about costs of various projects, and give access to a network of professionals willing and able to assist the buyer in taking a property from a dated, empty box to an “as seen on TV” end-of-episode reveal.
To flippers, landlords, and real estate agents cursing the explosion of shows on televisions shows, blogs, vlogs, websites, and You-Tube videos focused on real estate, home improvement, and design, I suggest this – KNOW YOUR CONSUMER. They are watching these shows and visiting these sites. They believe they can and should live in a home that rivals anything that they see on TV. They are no longer willing to settle for a safe beige box that they can make their own and even if they are few have the time or skills, or vision to make it what they want it to be. Take advantage of this window into their buying habits and SAVE HOURS of time and frustration for all parties by bringing a “vision consultant” to your team so that you can direct your time and energy toward doing what you do best and he/she can help give your buyers what they want.