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Furnish Your Property to Sell

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July 13, 2011

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Interior designer Justine Knox has been known to ask some of her female clients, who want to sell a property, the following question: “How often do you leave your house without putting on make-up or brushing your hair?” And the response in most cases is: “Never.”

In spite of this, many sellers of all kinds of homes believe that it´s not necessary to prepare their property for viewings by potential buyers. What seems indispensable when selling a second-hand car is neglected when it comes to homes. “In Mallorca it was almost unnecessary for many years, because properties sold like hotcakes,” the British interior designer explains.

Now the real estate market has changed and the service is much more in demand. The sellers’ market has become a buyers’ market. Interested purchasers are aware of their strong position, and inspect rigorously, and try to negotiate price reductions. Justine Knox: “A healthy sales policy is marked by always spoiling the client.”

She is the “House Doctor” and knows the cure for empty, cold, cluttered, grubby and dowdily furnished homes.

Justine Knox graduated as “Senior House Doctor Consultant” with the American taskmaster Anne Maurice in the UK (www.housedoctor.co.uk). Justine moved to Mallorca with her parents when she was just 15 years old. Her company for interior design and furnishings, based in Son Bugadelles, has been flourishing over the years.

Home Staging for sales is also applied in Germany, e.g. by Britta Möglin from Berlin (http://sahnestueck.com). People tend to buy under the influence of their gut instinct.

Using the example of our January property, a villa in Santa Ponsa, owned by a world-famous fashion designer, Justine Knox shows us how to prepare a property for viewings: “The first impression counts. A potential buyer spends a maximum of 30 minutes in a house. During the visit one imagines what it would be like to live in these rooms. We try to fulfil the expectations.”

The white-coloured chic mansion has some architectural characteristics which determine the furnishing: wide and open rooms without a clear definition (above all the main living room), little wall space, lots of windows and a modern minimalist design. Justine´s diagnosis: “An eclectic mix of modern seating combined with solid natural pieces is necessary.” Firstly, the House Doctor creates a dining area, because “people want to know where they might have meals.” So the space in front of the glass doors, with direct access to the pool, becomes both living and dining area, but clearly separated. In order to provide more privacy she recommends understated roller blinds.

A massive wooden dining table and a wooden coffee table are the foundation pieces that create a warm atmosphere in this modern building. Complementing these are a chic white leather sofa and white leather dining chairs. The show bathroom is fitted with fluffy towels and looks clean and fresh. Crisp white linen bed covers give the bedrooms an attractive design. The visitor should lust after moving into the house straight away.

Fancy decorations such as wooden vines and chrome wall art are eye-catchers. Justine Knox: “Potential buyers remember details like these, especially after having inspected many different properties. However, you must not overload the rooms with accessories, but leave space for the prospective inhabitants’ imagination.”

For a lasting beautification of a home one can buy the complete furnishing, if rental is considered, or just rent the package.

“Furniture rental packages are quite new on the island. It´s a highly effective solution for a defined sales period,”

House Doctor Justine Knox remarks. Rented furnishing must not be used and the minimal rental time is three months.

The client has to leave a security deposit and pays – e.g. for a two bedroom apartment – a monthly rent of 275 euros. The price of buying would be 9,950 euros (incl. VAT). Knox Design carries out the planning, de-cluttering, delivery and installation of the whole system (included in the total price).

Justine Knox has to get over one psychological hurdle: “The clients want to sell and therefore receive money. I try to convince them that a professional aesthetic enhancement of the property produces an enormous return on investment.” In Scandinavia and the UK, home staging is common – the application accelerates sales, facilitates the real estate agents´ work and generates higher prices. Justine Knox: “Once we managed to sell a house for 1.2 million euros, thanks to home staging. Before, it had been on the market at a price of 800,000 euros and nobody bought it. This meant a 50 per cent increase, with an investment of barely one per cent of the total price.” The costs of rental furniture and property staging can be offset against tax after the purchase is concluded. If the buyer wants to keep the show furniture, the seller gets 50 per cent of the rental fee back.

Justine Knox´s company had been successfully growing due to Spain´s real estate boom, which reached its peak in 2002: “My job was and is to give buyers the best interior design and equipment possible. I could even furnish a medieval castle if necessary. But now I also want to help home sellers.” The rental furniture packages won´t make her a billionaire but the new service has positive side effects. All the homes staged by Knox Design are showrooms – an elegant method of building a network with property owners and real estate companies, who can experience first hand what the design company has to offer.

The villa in Santa Ponsa is for sale with First Mallorca www.firstmallorca.com
Canvas supplied by Austrian artist Bettina Nuschei www.bettinanuschei.com

All furniture and art objects supplied by:
Knox Design www.knoxdesign.net


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Jan Edwards

Jan Edwards

An ex-BBC radio presenter/journalist living on the cosmopolitan island of Mallorca, who is assistant editor for the luxury lifestyle publication abcMallorca. Her main writing interests are in travel, food and interviewing interesting people and well-known celebrities. Jan blogs about her finca lifestyle and contributes articles to some well-known publications in the UK.