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A $3 Million “real house” just went on sale in Second Life. How can I use the info to learn to stage my real house?

It’s a Coldwell Banker publicity stunt, but a good one — they’re marketing a $3MM home in the virtual world of Second Life.

Ok, hah, hah. But actually, this is a very cool thing for home sellers. By noting how one of the country’s top real estate agencies changes the way a house looks, we can learn all sorts of great tips about staging.

You can go to this ABC news link to take a look at both sets of pictures.

Notable changes between the “real” home and the virtual representation include:

Picture 1:

* a stricter sense of entry (in reality, the entryway has an open space between two columns, while on SL there’s a solid wall).

* less landscaping — in SL the front shrubbery is much shorter, in order to show off the house; one shrub has been moved to the edge of the home, and one tree has been eliminated entirely. If you are selling your real home, consider pruning back trees that obscure the house’s features, especially the front windows. Also, even if you don’t want to spend a lot of money right before you sell your home, realize that every $1 you spend on landscaping will net you $3 back when you sell.

Picture 2:

* there is a fire in the fireplace in the SL house. This makes the home seem warm and inviting. If you’re selling your home in the winter, you might want to light a Duraflame log to create the same effect. If you’re selling your home in the summer, use a mass of candleholders and candles of different heights to give that same sense of potential light, even if they’re not aflame.

* in the SL house, the fireplace surround and the columns are a darker grey. You could do this in RL using paint colors to create a greater sense of depth and drama in the room. Note that the current trend is not to use crazy contrast-y colors, such as red accents in a white room, but to use slightly darker tints in one neutral family. I love grays, but I should note that in New York City on the high-end, different shades of cream and beige are much more popular.

Picture 3 is the Realtor avatar, which I’ll comment on in a minute.

Pictures 4 and 5 are the kitchen. First, let’s just note that it’s important that the kitchen takes up two whole photos in the ABC News Story. It’s proof of the Realtor maxim, “Kitchens sell houses” — when you’re staging, if you can concentrate on only two things, the exterior and the kitchen are the places to start.

Second, notice how warm the cabinetry in the SL house is. First, the cabinetry in the real house is inexplicably three colors — pine, white, and some sort of dark mahogany. In SL, that’s been streamlined into one color, a cherry, which balances out the shiny cool of the stainless steel refrigerator. Finally, the countertop in the SL house is quite prominent, one giant slab of grey stone.

You might not want to spend $100K renovating your kitchen — and yes, it could cost that — but you can get a real bang for your buck by updating your countertop. The best approximation of what’s in the SL pictures is a grey quartz composite or, on the high end, a pietra del Cardoso stone.

Pictures 6 and 7:

This is every Realtor’s dream — an ability to focus on an open door, inviting the buyer in. Obviously, you can’t change the buyer’s focus in real life, but if you are taking photos of your house for a listing you might want to try a shot lot like this just as you’re walking in.Also, do you notice how much brighter the SL pictures are than the Realtor’s photos of the home? It’s an argument for sellers getting a professional photographer, who will use expensive lights when he or she does the shoot; also, as you get your home ready to sell, think about places where spending a few hundred dollars to put in a light fixture can really brighten a room.

For more tips on selling your house — and some wacky stories of my first year in real estate, check out my new book, “Diary of a Real Estate Rookie”– the pick of the week from Newsweek earlier this summer!


Alison Rogers

author, Diary of a Real Estate Rookie


Posted in For Gawkers and For Sellers 13 years ago at 6:27 am.

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