A couple of years ago, a colleague and I were approached to put together a package for styling newly refurbished student houses. The Landlords had come to realise that upping the presentation of their properties scored major points with their target market. Their houses stood out from the others available to rent and, enabled them to achieve a faster Let and demand higher fees.
We worked in 3 or 4 university cities on probably about 35-40 houses. Whilst each area had major differences, all the properties we styled were very similar. By viewing the company’s previous rentals we had a good idea of the look they wanted and by viewing competitors accommodation, in the same location, we also got a good idea of what they didn’t want!
Involved from (almost) the beginning, when walls were coming down and extensions were being built, the colour schemes, along with kitchens, bathrooms, appliances and flooring had already been chosen. Our task, was to complete the furnishing of the student houses with furniture, artwork, accessories etc and successfully style them, within a very limited budget.
We worked with suppliers we knew and trusted to provide the bulk of the furniture; beds, sofas and blinds but our buying skills were tested to the limit as we tracked down decorative items and hunted out bargains. Budgets only became available when the houses where nearing completion and often with less than a fortnight’s notice!
The hours were long, the work was stressful, the deadlines were tight. More often than not we’d turn up with cars and vans packed to the gunnels only to find builders ‘finishing off’ and paint-work still drying. Once I turned up on site at 6am to find a house full of snoozing carpet fitters (who’d worked late into the night) sleeping off their celebratory hangovers. The end result though, more than made up for the inconvenience … well that and being able to indulge my passion for shopping with someone else’s money… even if I was on a bargain hunt. Seeing the total transformation from grotty terrace to stylish student pad always made the job worthwhile.
Of course just improving the property presentation doesn’t necessarily guarantee a Let; good marketing, a proactive agent and creating a buzz, definitely helps too. Once we’d installed, styled, itemized and taken marketing shots for the first house in each area, an Open day was held. Nicely furnished, well equipped, clean and contemporary our houses were not only a hit with the students but the parents too! Mums and Dads noticeably perked up when they walked through the front door – yes there was a premium to pay, more than 20% in some cases – but they’d rather their son or daughter live there than the dirty net-curtain clad property next door.
Our ’employers’ had researched their market, called in the professionals and offered something different.
Their houses were cleaner, brighter and more stylish than many others on the Letting agents books –
They soon had something else too…. a ‘waiting list‘ of eager tenants!