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Natalie Evans

Natalie Evans on a new stage for selling homes

By Natalie Evans

Founder & CEO, Little Barn Door

When Natalie Evans styled her family home to sell within six hours in 2016, she unlocked a talent that was to become her business and her passion.

The Founder and CEO of home staging specialists Little Barn Door has trailblazed a growing industry helping to transform the way properties are sold in the UK. Natalie’s burgeoning success is reflected in accolades including Female Entrepreneur of the Year 2022/23, Houzz Best in Service award for three years running, Home Staging Specialist of the Year, and a #1 Amazon bestselling book.

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Home staging is a relatively new concept in the UK; how is the sector developing?

Home staging is still very new here in the UK. In America the home staging industry is big; every realtor in the US has a dedicated home stager to get their properties perfectly presented to sell.

There are very few trained home stagers and specialists in the UK. Historically, our closest link to home staging are interior designers working on show homes, but home staging is different.

What we do is closer to a marketing tool than an interior design tool because everything that's selected to go into our staged homes is done from the perspective of understanding who the target audience is.

There's much more to it than creating a nice-looking space. We spend a lot of time profiling who is going to buy the property before we even start putting anything into a house.

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What’s the home staging process look like in practice?

We offer services from a general consultation for homeowners looking to sell their home right through to full installation of furniture for vacant property owners, developers or investors.

In a consultation we meet with the homeowner, do a tour of the property, and list the actions they should take to redefine the space and present the property to make it appeal to their target audience.

If there is a vacant property, we have everything ready to install from pieces of furniture to candles and cookbooks – every single item to make sure that it’s ready to be relaunched.

What do you like most about what you do?

For me personally, it’s the fact that we’re allowing people to move on to the next chapter of their life in a way that is stress-free, supported, and gets them there faster.

Our clients come from all walks of life, from selling family homes to navigating difficult probate sales. By supporting them with their staging, we’re able to get them off the market quicker; bringing them peace of mind in even a tough market.

It’s great fun staging a house and bringing in all the furniture and accessories, but knowing that the service I offer is making a life impact on the people that are using it is what I love the most.

"There's much more to it than creating a nice-looking space. We spend a lot of time profiling who is going to buy the property before we even start putting anything into a house."

Talk to us about your book: Happy Home Sale.

I released my book last year and it went to number one on the Amazon bestseller list. A lot of people feel very burdened and anxious about the entire process of selling their home and the book takes them through the journey of selling from a mindful perspective to make the process more enlightening and stress-free.

What impact do housing market fluctuations have on your services?

When the market is hot, like the period when the stamp duty holiday was coming to an end, our industry is a little bit quieter. But, that said, we still get huge success rates for our clients by getting multiple competing offers on their property. Throughout 2021 and early 2022 we saw clients achieving as much as £150,000 over their guide price.

Now, while the property market is a lot softer, the need to stage is more present than ever. Homeowners and Developers know that in order to attract and secure a buyer, they have to be enticing. Even in a softer market, we’re still seeing that 80% of the properties we home stage are selling in less than four weeks which is significantly higher than the current 11-week average for the property market.

The cost of the stage of a property is significantly less than a property’s first price drop, and in today’s market every penny counts. By working with a home stager, homeowners have more money in their pocket and estate agents take greater commission.

What’s one thing everyone should think about with home staging?

Understand who your buyer is. A lot of the problems that we come across with people trying to stage a property themselves is that they’re not thinking about who is going to buy the property. The absolute first thing that anybody should consider is who is going to buy the house and what they’re looking for.

Are there common mistakes that people make with presenting their houses to market?

In the past decade, we’ve been conditioned to think that if you’re going to sell your house, you need to get everything out and make sure it’s completely minimal, clean, and disinfected.

That’s probably the biggest mistake that anybody can make because when you strip out any essence of life, you make a property cold and difficult to visualise as a home.

"Even in a softer market we're still seeing that 80% of the properties we home stage are selling in less than four weeks."

Natalie Evans - Founder & CEO, Little Barn Door

How do you enjoy spending your time outside of the business?

I hate the phrase Mum-trepreneur but there is no hiding that I come with 3 small humans and a long haired Dachshund whilst running my business. This can be interesting to navigate, but is at the core of my work/life values.

We’ve got a house in West Wales so that’s normally where you’ll find me outside of term time with my husband and children – paddle boarding, going in the sea, or doing meditation on the beach.

I’m a big believer in eating well, moving my body and putting my goals out to the universe. I’m a regular park-runner and avid vision boarder – both keep me focused on getting to my end goal.

As a creative person and an entrepreneur, who or what do you draw inspiration from?

I like listening to the Nick Bradley Scale Up Your Business podcast. He’s been a massive inspiration and I’ve been lucky to join him on a few coaching sessions. He’s given me lots of guidance to think outside of my comfort zone.

From a female leader perspective, Rachel Hollis, the American entrepreneur and author. She has written about being fearless and surrounding yourself with people who encourage you to be the best that you can be and that has always been inspiring to me.

I also draw inspiration from being a good role model to my children, showing them that women can achieve whatever they want – put yourself out of your comfort zone and you can do whatever you want to do with hard work and passion.

Natalie Evans