It’s no secret that I love my Realtor, Carol. She helped me purchase my last two homes. She was the voice of reason when North’s water damage looked irreparable. The responsible one when I bought Dryden, a home with just one bathroom for my family of four. I think her exact words for both homes were, “Not this one. Run!”

Of course, I listened, but did not take her advice. I’m a designer after all, and I love a good challenge. While I saw the beauty under the rubble, I never would have gotten those homes without Carol. I think she’d agree that we make a good pair.

Before and AFter of the Dryden Living Room

Our living room at Dryden

Realtors and interior designers are a match made in heaven. The Property Brothers have built a massive empire on this partnership. Jonathan and Drew Scott make it clear that if you want the home of your dreams, you’re going to have to renovate. (Or, buy a lot and build a custom home.)

I’ve walked homes with Carol before to show buyers the potential of a dated space. Our Willowick project is a stunning example. This home had great bones, but was stuck in the early ’80s. It’s hard to envision the end result when all you see is dark wood paneling.

Today, I want to breakdown the beneficial relationship Realtors and interior designers can share.

Why Realtors Need to Work with Interior Designers

One of the main reasons Realtors need interior designers is to help buyers understand the big picture. Again, HGTV’s list of reno shows really proves this point. If you’re looking to buy for “character” with modern upgrades, an interior designer can certainly help. And if you’re in the market to sell, an interior designer can assist you in making the best upgrades for raising your home’s value.

We help home buyers see what a home could be…

I live in Houston where the residential landscape is a smorgasbord of design styles. One neighborhood alone could host mid-century ranches, craftsman-style bungalows, Spanish abodes, and modern 3-flats. It’s exciting to have these opportunities! But for a homebuyer, it’s also daunting. Great homes can be overlooked if their potential isn’t seen clearly.

We updated this well-done spec home to the client’s Cali-cool vibe.

When I walk a home with a Realtor, I encourage clients to take design risks and consider high-end upgrades. There is a great value in renovation, especially when you update the kitchen and bathrooms. Even the most stubborn buyers can be persuaded with a huge spike in resale value! When the end result is a gorgeous, one-of-a-kind home it’s a win/win.

…especially after damage and disaster

After Hurricane Harvey, the Houston home market was interesting to say the least. Remediated homes provided once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to snag a dream home at a fraction of the pre-hurricane sale price. But there was a lot of misinformation around which homes were really salvageable. An interior designer can remove the worry. Experienced in structural soundness, we will honestly tell clients what’s a go and what’s a no. We can also point out the not-so-obvious issues like land erosion. And lastly, we can suggest a licensed professional who can help.

A stunning living room design in Houston

Our Willowick project at the final reveal.

Some interior designers and decorators specialize in home staging. I recommend getting a great photographer! If a home’s listing has stunning photos, it’s more likely that people will visit the house in person. An interior designer will bring in the furnishings and accessories that are poised to sell that home. We’re on the bleeding edge of the latest design trends and we source furnishings professionally. For homebuyers who cannot visualize the potential of an empty room, pro staging is a game changer.

I bring value when I effectively communicate the purpose of a room. An interior designer can help real estate clients see an alcove on the stair landing as a reading nook. Or a spare bedroom as a home office.

Laura U at the 2019 Las Vegas Market, style spotting

Designers have exclusive access to great vendors, like Currey & Co.

Why Interior Designers Work with Realtors

I like walking homes with Realtors because I love homes! I will walk through a home in my downtime. No Realtor required. But professionally, walking a home gives me the opportunity to find my next project or simply share my expertise.

A 1950s home on Buffalo Bayou restored - Before and After

Nothing more rewarding than a great before and after

To feed my hobby of walkthroughs, here are my favorite ways to work with Realtors:

1. Consult on Home Renovations

Give me the extensive, can’t-bring-back-from-the-dead kind! Many homeowners skip over properties that need renovations, especially if it’s a large-scale renovation project. These, however, are my favorite. I’ve heard some wildly low ball renovations estimates from newbies in the Houston market. I like to dispel that misinformation. While it takes just 10 minutes to pull a home to its studs on TV, it will take much longer in real life. Setting realistic expectations is crucial, and you a need a professional to do so.

2. Act as a liaison between client and contractor

One of the reasons people don’t want to purchase a less desirable home is because of the construction process. But having clear communication and a liaison can help ease the uncertainty. My team works with both the client and the construction team to communicate design expectations and progress. We also work hand in hand with your architect and builder. I love being the one Realtors count on for extensive restorations.

A condo interior moment with books, florals, and great art

Little moments make a huge difference for potential buyers

3. Transition repeat clients into multiple homes

Many of my clients re-locate, have vacation homes, or split their time between Houston and another office. I help clients solidify their expectations when they move from one home to the next. Sometimes, you want to bring owned furnishings into the new home and other times you want to start fresh. I’ll tell you that beloved pieces can be re-upholstered and re-imagined quite easily. And because I source all over the country, I happily recommend a list of trusted, local shops to new homebuyers seeking a design refresh from coast to coast.

4. Help sell the home

There are simple ways to make a home’s value increase. I say (and Realtors will tell you the same thing) to focus on the kitchen and bathrooms. Although, if you bring in a great designer, you may be tempted to stay put!

Functionality is important. For older homes where the rooms are more closed off and the lighting isolated, I provide structural recommendations. Bringing an older home into the modern world appeals to buyers. So does capitalizing on trends. I’m not one for focusing on fads. I suggest more iconic fixtures: statement chandeliers or a high-contrast color palette.

8 piece dining room with art from Laura Rathe Gallery

Staging is important for Realtors and designers too! Place settings are a must

Interior Designers and Realtors Work Together

As a client, find a Realtor that knows a little bit about architecture and a little about design. And if they can recommend a designer that matches your style, it’s a huge plus! Realtors and interior designers are able to find and create the perfect spaces for their clients!

And if you’re doing a walkthrough, let me know! They really are one of my favorite pastimes.

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