Be Sure to Bring Along an Interior Designer Before You Buy That New House!

Wouldn't it be great if real estate agents and interior designers worked together in the preliminary stages of finding our mutual clients their new home?
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I recently received an excited call from a new client... Hi, we're looking for a designer for an amazing new house we just bought... we can't wait for you to see it... Great, I said! -- when would you like to meet? Well, escrow closes in a month so let's get together then and we can show it to you! As I hung up ...or hit the "end" key rather, a thought occurred to me...

Wouldn't it be great if real estate agents and interior designers worked together in the preliminary stages of finding our mutual clients their new home?

A few weeks later I met with my new clients and they were so excited about showing me their new acquisition... As we walked through the rooms, both husband and wife began pointing out all their ideas -- at the same time -- and completely opposite of each other... and my heart suddenly began to beat a bit faster...

I was simultaneously trying to evaluate and absorb the strengths and potential of the spaces, the beauty and atmosphere of the site, the architectural features and design elements, listen to the client's stream of ideas and questions and try to grasp their preconceived vision of exactly what they want their new home to look and feel like! And if this wasn't enough, I'm also receiving a detailed discourse of the realtor's commentary on the potential of the property -- which was probably a big part of the sales pitch and a big part of what convinced my clients to purchase the property in the first place!

But I wonder... Aren't most realtors basing their enthusiastic suggestions primarily on aesthetics? Aren't they, too, caught up with their client in a vision of all the property could be, and how to add value to it? Realtors exercising great sales skills and their creative side, may say things like... you could easily knock down this wall, open up this area, take out this brick and put in floor-to-ceiling windows or a spiral staircase or double your outside space by adding to your patio and then extend it with a fantastic infinity pool right out here on the hillside...

Well, as it turns out, these were exactly some of the "minor revisions" to the newly purchased property my client and their realtor had been conjuring up over the last couple months and now I was being called upon to perform the near impossible... But because I love impossible architectural and engineering design challenges, I took a deep breath and confidently said to my clients, OK, great let's do it!

But I leave the meeting fantasizing about how all of this would have been so much easier if only my new clients had called months ago and said, we have narrowed our search to a couple of properties and would love your opinion on what we can do with them... or better still, if the realtor would call and say, I have this great buyer who is looking for a new house, so could you meet with them and see what sort of home they really want before I start showing available options?

In either case, and as with most designers, I would love to sit down with the realtor and buyer and do a preliminary interview to find out just what the expectations are, and try to help the client discover and solidify exactly what they want from their new environment. I would find out what isn't working for them in their current home; did they out grow the space; are they looking for a moderate refresh, or a dramatic design change? By knowing some of these simple facts I could help evaluate a new space, give some solid design ideas along with a realistic budget estimate on their potential options, long before escrow closed and the keys were transferred.

Food for thought... be sure to ask your realtor to recommend a designer or bring your own designer along with you when you start looking for your next home... But, if you really must have that one special house and no other will do, no matter what ... and you must have that fabulous infinity pool built out over the hillside... then by all means, buy the house...

Because after all... we designers can achieve the impossible!


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