Like we say in Belgium: “Belgians have a brick in their stomach”. There comes indeed a time in your life when you have to sell your apartment on the Belgian coast or your house in Brussels: quickly and at the best price. But how can you sell quickly and easily without spending too much?
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” – Leonardo da Vinci.
You got it right: Better selling is due to the concept of “simplicity”, in a noble sense, in its appearances and in its representation. Put simply, you have to reorganize your property to reveal its assets and enhance them with the best quality photos.
1. Home staging : Simplify your property
Whatever your taste, how do you feel when you enter a space overloaded with furniture and objects, with sometimes questionable hygiene, in a dark and old-fashioned atmosphere? You do know the answer… And the solution: home staging! Or the art of getting rid of all the unnecessary things in your home in order to make your potential buyers feel so good that they would immediately call it their future home. And here are his 7 commandments:
1. A clean house, from the garage to the attic
Coffee stains on the table do not give the right impression.
2. An impeccably tidy house
With a clean kitchen, the beds made, the shoes stored in the cupboard, etc. And above all, no packaging lying around!
3. A “neutral” or “depersonalized” house
Difficult for potential buyers to imagine themselves in your house if it is crowded with photos of your loved ones and other “unusual” objects, e.g. a collection of porcelain cats in a display cabinet (#truestory) … You must imperatively free your home from your (too) personal items and clean everything up while thinking of a decoration magazine!
4. A spacious and bright house
Do white walls speak to you? These two words alone summarize this basic trend for several years which aims at amplifying the notions of space and light. Is your wall painting starting to peel? Are your wallpapers from another time? Paint them all white! Another advantage is white walls also make your home more neutral (see point 3).
5. A functional house
If need be, repair any apparent small defaults. Hanging electrical outlets or wires, a leaking tap, large cracks in your wooden floor, etc. The accumulation of all these small defects give a very bad impression of neglect. Even worse, they could suggest hidden flaws …
6. A modern bathroom and kitchen
These two rooms are key to a positive first impression and a higher selling price. If you can’t upgrade them, because they are obsolete, spend some time and money to “refresh” them in some way. As an example, repainting old wall tiles in white, replacing a tap or ugly cupboard handles can change things in a positive way.
7. And the garden too!
Some mowed grass and trees, some land freed from weeds, inspires confidence. Even better, if you can, plant some flowers! In short, take care of appearances before the sale! Keep in mind that the first visit to your home will be decisive: There will be no second impression!
2. Ask for professional real estate photography
Now that your home has adopted its best look, you still need to make a snapshot of its new status with great-looking photos.
Warning: Like on a dating site, photos of your house on a real estate website can make or break your sale!
In other words, excellent or poor photos can attract or repel potential buyers. With immediate and often definitive consequences. The photos of your house or apartment should reassure and inspire confidence. They should glorify your property, i.e. display it in its best shape, without being misleading advertising.
A picture is worth a thousand words. Take the test: Click in the middle of the images below and drag the arrow. For your information, on the left the amateur photo; on the right the pro photo…
NB: It is also unfortunately not rare that certain “professional” real estate agents in Belgium take amateurish photos to sell houses… Just browse Immoweb and let yourself be surprised!
Who should you talk to? How should you proceed?
There are 2 ways of looking at this:
- Either you want absolute tranquility and want to manage nothing, for several 1.000 euros,
- Or you want to invest a little of your time and a 100 + euros (or a little more, depending on the size of your property) to sell on your own, in less time and for a better price.
Option 1: Contact a real estate agent
Using a real estate agency in Belgium is expensive, but it remains a guarantee of serenity. For a fee of 3% of the sale price + VAT, your agent will take care of the sale, from A to Z:
- Estimated sale price
- Home staging advice
- Advertising and visit management
- Management of the administrative part.
The costs of 3% exVAT remain almost invariable, regardless of the seriousness of the agency and the quality of their photos. Which is a pity as these real estate photos are essential since they can make you fall in love with a house in a couple of clicks on Immoweb.
The problem is that Belgium is full of agents who do not all share the same ethics, nor the same quality requirements in terms of real estate photography.
You can blindly trust the seriousness of the bigger names in the real estate industry, serving premium clients (Sotheby’s, Barnes, Engel & Völkers, Immo Vermast, Archybald & co), or mass audiences (Century 21, Trevi, etc.). This said, we have to acknowledge some big differences in the quality of their photos. Everyone has their own priorities! But the devil is in the detail and the overall quality is judged precisely on these small details, especially when it comes to premium.
There remains the question of the least serious agents in all aspects. How can you recognize them? Through some foolproof details:
- An often amateurish logo which is generally disproportionately displayed on top of their photos (maybe they’re afraid to see their “beautiful” images stolen?)
- Photos of average or mediocre quality, which are often poorly framed and exposed (too dark or too bright) and, more and more, look “HDR-unnatural”
- They send you housing ads which rarely match your search criteria
Ultimately, this type of agent rarely lives up to promises.
For sale: Multi-functional wooden staircase (incl. open closet, flower pot and a niche for knick-knacks) in a very good state!
(Source: Website of a true Brussels real estate agency whose name was modified out of respect)
Option 2: Contact a professional photographer
Once your house is shiny and tidy, hire a professional photographer specializing in real estate / architectural photography. Leave him/her a few hours in your home, at his/her ease, and you will get two days later photos of your house or apartment, as you have never seen it, and of a quality far superior to any real estate agent, including “premium” agents. Everyone’s got their own vocation…
When you invest a 100 + euros into professional photos, you will immediately raise the perceived value of your house by a few 1000s of euros.
There are as many photographers as real estate agents… Be savvy, do not be fooled by the myth of professional photographers who know how to photograph everything and anything! A photographer specializing in babies and pregnant women, for example, is certainly not the right person to contact. Nor an event photographer. With some exceptions, of which I am.
The best piece of advice is to take a look at the photographer’s portfolio.
So, which professional will you pick to help you sell your house in Belgium: the real estate agent or the photographer?
If you prefer to sell your home by yourself and hire a professional photographer, feel free to have a look at my portfolio + contact me here!