Selling a home in today’s real estate market is very different than it was just a few years ago. With many properties on the market for buyers to choose from, it is even more important to have your home market ready and differentiated from the competition. Home Staging does just that.
The home staging industry has been around since the 1970's and is a wise investment for savvy sellers. 94 persent of staged homes generally sell within 29 days compared to homes not staged. While home staging includes the basics of de-cluttering and cleaning, it’s really all about the magic of marketing and creating an emotional connection with your buyers. Staging your property will also help your home typically sell quicker and for a higher offer.
Hiring a professional home stager to assist you if you are not a DIYer is money well spent. However, if you are willing to invest some time and effort, you can highlight your home’s strengths and differentiate it from the other homes on the market. Here are several home staging tips to help you sell your home quickly.
If at all possible, hire a professionally trained home stager. The minimal investment you spend on this service is always less than a list price reduction. They will be able to guide you every step of the way from consulting and share with you what specifically you need to do to de-clutter, repair, clean, make recommendations on what furniture should go into storage - through to the actual home staging of your property.
Not preparing your home before you list it is a mistake that many sellers make when they decide to sell their homes. Rather than take some extra time to get it market ready – they quickly list it as is. Today’s savvy buyers want a home that is move-in ready and that emotionally connects and appeals to them. This mistake typically delays any potential offers and interest in showings. It also keeps the home on the market longer. De-cluttering, repairing, cleaning and staging before the home is on the market is literally ‘money in the bank’ for sellers. Not doing this on the front end will cost you money later on.
There is the old saying "If you cannot see it, you cannot sell it." Does that pertain to your home? Take a view of your house from the street. What do buyers see from the curb? Overgrown shrubs? Dirty walkways and peeling paint? The curb appeal is the first impression that you have to make on your buyers. Make that impression count.
If your home doesn’t look appealing from the curb, likely you won’t get buyers to come through your front door. Power washing your siding and walkways and painting the exterior and trim all make a difference in creating that ready to move in appearance. Add pops of color with potted or planted flowers. Reds, yellows and oranges are great choices and can be seen easily from the curbside. Hanging Boston ferns are an inexpensive way to add a lush deep green color as well.
Can your home pass the white glove test? Does the interior look roomy and spacious? Take time to do a deep cleaning of your entire home. The windows must sparkle. Tip: Remove your screens as it makes the house look more inviting. Clean and polish wood floors. Clean or replace grout in showers and flooring.
Having rooms that look spacious with good flow go a long way to creating a more appealing space. Leave key pieces of furniture that anchor the space, such as a sofa, chair and cocktail table. Put the old stuffed recliner and other non-essential pieces of furniture in storage.
Maximize the floor space to show off the square footage of your home. While it doesn’t seem like much, this simple tip will help in creating a visually larger space and hopefully more money in your pocket when an offer comes in. Less is more when it comes to knickknacks. Pack them away (including your jewelry and special momentos to keep them safe) and display only a few key items with color, texture and interest.
Before staging the living room:
After staging the living room:
You will continue to hear the phrase move in ready again. Buyers today are not interested in repairing, re carpeting and repainting. If the property isn’t in move in ready condition, they will go down the street and purchase a similar house that is.
Recently I staged a lovely home in a great family neighborhood. It was well kept, clean, had upgrades galore, fantastic curb appeal and great flow. As I was staging, a realtor came in to show a family the house. I heard them excitedly talking about how they loved the home. The discussion then turned to the dark green walls in the formal living room and the blue dining room. (The sellers had told the realtor that they were not interested in painting those rooms a more neutral color.) The buyers said that as much as everything else about this property was perfect, they were not willing to repaint and they moved on to look at the next house on their schedule. Some time and effort to neutralize those rooms by the sellers may have changed the outcome of those buyers. Keep paint colors and carpet neutral. A simple and relatively easy fix will bring in higher offers and a quicker sale.
Did you know that most people purchase a home based on emotion? They can see themselves and their families living in the house, gathering around the beautiful fireplace in the living room opening holiday presents, baking cookies and cupcakes in the bright, modern kitchen. So create that emotional connection with your staging. Use white fluffy towels, a potted orchid and a few small smooth river rocks to give your bath a spa like feeling. Simple touches create that important connection to your buyer.
Create an emotional connection:
When you list your home for sale, it becomes a “product”. Ensure your home appeals to the most buyers by depersonalizing it. Pack up the doll collection that has taken over your spare bedroom. Take down most of your family pictures.
You want the focus of your buyers to be on your home. Not your “stuff”. Tip: In today’s Internet driven world, the first peek buyers will get of your home will be on the Internet. Ensure that you remove anything that could identify your or family members before you list it. A great example of this is the popular trend of spelling children’s names out with artwork or in large decorative letters. As a safety precaution, I recommend removing them.
Invest in the time and effort to repair cracks in walls, ceilings, leaking faucets, rotting wood and the like. Showing a home in poor condition will only generate frustration when you receive low offers (or no offers) due to the lack of care your home exhibits. Do all of these repairs before listing – and again, you’ll find they return the investment to you.
As a stager for many years, I’ve seen MLS pictures that show an unkept and dirty property. I wince when I see that. A little elbow grease and a weekend spent de-cluttering and packing up unnecessary furniture and household goods will generate a lot more interest in anyone wanting to even preview your home. Take the time now to get the cleaning and clutter under control.
All too often in preparing a home for market, sellers forget about how their closets and pantry present to buyers. A few rules of thumb. Remove all items (shoes, boxes, etc.) from the floor of the closet. This makes the closet look much bigger! If possible, remove at least half of the clothing in the closets to make them also look more spacious. Pantries can benefit from some simple organization. This is a good time to throw away canned goods or other items that have passed their expiration date. And it’s less to have to pack and move when you sell your home!
Sadly, this is one of the biggest faux pas a seller can make. Take the time now to define your spaces so buyers can tell what these rooms are. This is especially important for vacant homes.
Looking at an MLS picture of a room can be confusing as there isn't a definition as to it’s purpose without any furniture in it. Is it a bedroom or an office? Hiring a professional home stager to turn a vacant and cold home into a beautiful, warm and inviting space is crucial in today’s market. The same is true in an occupied home. If you’ve turned the dining room into a playroom for the kids, bring back the dining room table and chairs to ensure that it reads as a dining room.
Your MLS pictures are sometimes the first and only opportunity your home will have to make that great impression to a buyer. You need to focus on room definitions, maximizing floor space, light and airy rooms, texture and visual interest. Many of these changes you can make yourself. If unsure, call in a local home stager and a realtor or both to work with you before listing it to quickly get your home sold.
Before staging - bedroom
After staging - bedroom
Following these tips and suggestions will make a big difference in having your home sell quickly rather than languishing on the market. Many of these changes you can make yourself. If unsure, call in a local home stager, a realtor, or both before listing your home to quickly get it sold.
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Photo Credits: Home Staging photos curtsey of © Barbara Heathcote; Check Man, Cross Man and Jump Man © ioannis kounadeas - Fotolia.com