Development's sales boom after it stages messy teen rooms in its model home

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A British real estate developer has come up with a novel way to convince prospective buyers that its new homes are truly homey: It has dressed one of the bedrooms in its model home to look like a typical teen's room. Everything was re-created: messy bed, car posters, a fake half-eaten sandwich, open pizza box, and wadded-up underwear on the floor. Everything, developers say, except for a teen boy's "musky, stale smell."

Messy Model Home Sells

    To make the houses in the Abel Home development feel more like home for prospective buyers, a British real estate company dressed a bedroom in the model home to look like a typical teen's room.

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    Authentic details in the model home's teen bedroom include a fake half-eaten sandwich, open pizza box, and wadded-up underwear on the floor.

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    Maggie Abel poses inside her creation--an authentically messy teenage boy's room inside the model home of Abel Homes development in Norfolk, England.

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    Six of the eight homes (worth $435,000 to $535,000) available in the Abel Home development sold within a month.

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Even in this soggy economy, six of the eight available homes in the English development (worth $435,000 to $535,000) were snapped up within a month--including the model home itself. Some of the items in the room, such as the pair of dirty sneakers by the closet door, were brought in by people who worked in the office at the development.

This simple approach is bad news for Home Staging and HGTV's The Stagers, which are devoted to teaching sellers and agents how to make their places look as perfect as possible. To them, buyers fall in love with idealism, and they strive to make rooms look as much like a furniture catalog photograph as possible. For all that, look where home sales are.

But this new approach of "realism staging" is welcome for anyone who has tried to sell their place. For as long as you have your house on the market, you tiptoe around like a guest in your own home. And every seller knows about the frenzied cleaning rush that precedes any announcement that the real estate agent's coming around for a showing. What a relief to learn that if you're artful about it, you can leave things as they are--minus the stink.

People respond to the warm-and-fuzzy feelings they get when they tour a prospective home. A longtime trick (one I've successfully used to hook a sub-letter) has been to pop some cookies in the oven an hour before someone's coming to inspect your place. The aroma of chocolate chip cookies can subconsciously seduce anyone into feeling like they're already home. Giving a room a lived-in look (a really lived-in look) just extends that sensation of familiarity and comfort.

Dressing houses with a fake sense of familiarly is just the thing to try. After all, it would be hard to sell fewer houses than they're already doing right now.
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