What Buyers Want and Why Emily Can’t Provide It

Stop what you’re doing. Emily’s house is officially on the market. If the name sounds familiar, it might be because she’s Target Home’s spokesperson, winner of HGTV’s Design Star, and the persona behind Secrets of a Stylist. Almost as famous as Emily is her Glendale home. In the last 3 years, it has graced the pages of 6 magazines and been the focus of a hugely popular design blog. She’s kind of a big deal.A few weeks before the home hit the market, Emily wrote an extensive blog post discussing her decision to stage her home to appeal to the widest audience. Full disclosure, I am a big believer in staging and worked in the industry for a year. It’s popular because it works. Emily’s home is staged beautifully. However, after studying her design changes and reviewing comps in the area, I am not convinced it was the right decision. Emily edited her home to appeal to the average buyer, but it will not be sold to the average buyer.

The Specs:
1110 Oberlin Dr, Glendale, Ca 91205
3 beds, 2 baths, 1,910 sqft
The average buyer focuses on the numbers. Emily’s home is priced at $538/sqft. Compared to other homes in the area, this is considerably more expensive. Within the neighborhood, most properties are between $400/sqft to $485/sqft, including fixer uppers and high end renovations. In this range, most houses offer more yard, more bedrooms, and more bathrooms for less money. What Emily’s house offers is personality. Whoever buys it will have to value that above the specs. Emily should keep her iconic design as the focus, not edit it to appeal to the average buyer who won’t understand the steep price.

The average buyer wants practicality. Emily’s home has 30 steps to get to the front door. The guest room/potential 4th bedroom is detached from the main house, making it unusable as a kid’s bedroom. Its huge picture windows give the home amazing light but fade furniture and make the room unusable in direct sun. There is patio space but no grass. Features like this limit the type of buyer who will be interested in the property. They will have to be willing to make tradeoffs in order to get great views, beautiful light, the perfect guest suite or home office, and a no maintenance yard. There is a buyer for this type of home, but they are certainly not the average buyer.

The average buyer wants privacy. I think this will be Emily’s biggest challenge in selling her home. While living in it, she was careful not to share exterior shots for reasons of privacy. Before listing it, though, the entire exterior got a facelift and was the focus of a series on her blog. Speaking of her blog, every room has gotten 5 minutes of fame and then some on her social media empire as she’s documented her decorating process. Additionally, the home has been featured in 6 magazines in the last 3 years, making it one of the most published homes in America. As internet privacy becomes a larger cultural discussion, I think a lot of people will be uncomfortable purchasing such a publicized home. Now, for some people, the notoriety of Emily’s home will be a selling point. I, for one, would love to live in the home she so carefully crafted. But I am not the average buyer.

This home is going to be bought by someone in the design community, either a leader or a follower. It’s too unique, too famous, and honestly too stylish for the average buyer looking for space and convenience. Emily, if you’re reading this, my recommendation would be to lean into this niche market. Don’t waste time watering down your style for the average buyer who won’t appreciate it. For those interested: http://www.zillow.com/.


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