Selling a home or cottage seems like an easy task in this peak market: keep the place tidy, fluff up a pillow or two, and voila!
Not so fast. Getting the maximum value from the sale of your property requires a strategic touch, explains Megan McLeod, broker and team leader for the McLeod Team.
“It’s very important to understand the reaction from buyers when they enter a home or cottage,” she says. “I know that most buyers will react negatively to a large shag carpet or pine on the ceilings and the walls.”
Megan’s experience as a certified home stager can give properties the edge they need.
With 21-plus years experience in real estate, Megan knows the importance of creating lasting relationships and building connections between buyers and properties. It’s why the McLeod Team uses strategic staging techniques to elevate the properties they list.
For example, old-fashioned pine ceilings and walls can take buyers’ focus away from the overall value of a property; especially when the furniture and decor don’t provide the proper accents.
“One of the best and quickest ways to get positive attention is to bring in all white furniture,” says Megan, whose team is part of Sotheby’s International Realty. “It brightens everything up and it even complements the pine.”
To illustrate just how valuable strategic staging can be, even during a peak market, Megan points to a Muskoka waterfront cottage that was listed for 77 days while other properties were being sold within a week.
She was brought on board by Sotheby’s colleagues to bring her keen eye and experience to the table.
“It had orange terracotta tiles on the floor, and green terracotta tiles on the kitchen island as well as the backsplash and in the bathroom,” recalls Megan. “The rest of the house featured pine ceilings and walls. Those are certainly not trending colours, as most people were looking for white, black and grey tones.”
Megan decided to go all-in on the orange and green for staging purposes, brightening up the cottage with furniture and accents that matched the tiles, giving the place an appealing retro vibe.
“We made it like this was a planned design,” she says. “It actually looked really good when it was done.”
Even better was the fact it only took five days to sell after her staging strategy was implemented.
Sometimes Megan will find minor issues that require fixing, such as dim lighting or old wallpaper in a kitchen. In these cases, she works with a contractor to find cost-effective solutions such as hanging new lights and covering the wallpaper with shiplap MDF.
“If I can efficiently help solve these issues, it makes a big difference,” she says. “I won’t just stage around them if they can be easily fixed from a time and cost perspective.”
Having worked for a high-end, popular Muskoka furniture store for several years before making the move to real estate, Megan learned a lot about accessorizing and the importance of quality products.
“I invest generously in a quality inventory because I know it will help make the sellers listing with me a lot more money.”
However, in the early years of her real estate career, Megan wasn’t using the same staging techniques as she does now.
“At the beginning, if I went into a place and there was stuff everywhere, I would de-clutter it, and sometimes bring in bedding or pillows just to freshen it up.”
However, during the early part of COVID, Megan really upped her home staging strategy for each of her listings.
“I decided I’m going to kick the staging up in a big way,” she says. “Staging is going to really help sellers maximize the value of their property.”
It’s also going to be an essential part of Megan’s future business when the market levels out again. She says it will be even more important when those times eventually set in, and her team will be ready to bring their passion and expertise to the forefront.
“Strategic staging has given me a creative outlet that’s unique to my industry. My team loves it, I love it and it’s been a wonderful part of what we do.”
A previous career in high-end sales also taught Megan how to build strong relationships and negotiate deals. Whether representing the sellers or the buyers in a deal, she’ll fight tooth and nail to get the best possible outcome.
And the results speak for themselves: Sotheby’s receives numerous personal messages from Megan’s clients about her professionalism, work ethic, and execution.
“It means so much to me that my clients recognize me and my team,” she says. “When people take the time to write personal notes about their experience, it shows we’re really making a wonderful connection.”
TEXT CHRIS OCCHIUZZI | PHOTOS MITCHELL HUBBLE