The Benefits of “Staging” Your Home for Sale

The Benefits of “Staging” Your Home for Sale

When selling your home, there’s a lot more to it than just listing it.  Even if you have found the best realtor and the best company, there’s a lot of preparation behind the scenes to get your home in tip-top, show ready condition so that potential buyers will fall in love it with it on the spot.  The littlest thing can throw a buyer off, so taking time to “stage” your home can ensure that you’re putting your best foot forward and that will make all the difference in getting your home sold quickly and for the highest price.

Imagine walking into a home that you’ve been dying to see only to find it’s dirty, sloppy and obvious that they have pets. Now think of the alternative. . .much better, right?  Of course, some buyers can look past the mess and see a home’s potential, but why make them struggle when you (and your realtor or staging professional) can do a few simple things to alleviate questions and concerns.  Let your home stand out amongst the rest.  Think about these tips before putting your home on the market. Highlight your home’s strengths, downplay its weaknesses and appeal to the greatest possible pool of prospective buyers with these home-staging tips.

Organization:  Having an orderly home will entice anyone, whether it’s friends coming over for a simple get together or a buyer coming in for a showing. Everyone likes a clean house, where items are intentionally organized and not a source of distraction.  If they can’t see past the mess, they will not buy the house.  Buyers like to look behind every door (especially your closets), and what they find will influence them. Buyers will gain comfort in knowing that you have pride in your home and take care of it.  I’ve sold homes where updating is needed, but if the home is immaculate in every other aspect, the lack of stainless steel appliances or an older AC unit doesn’t seem like such a deterrent.

As-Is:  I’ve worked with many sellers who want to take a chandelier with them or another item of sentimental value. . .and there is no problem with that, of course, it’s theirs  to take, but it’s always best to remove those items (and replace if necessary) prior to starting the showing process.  If you want to change out a fan or remove certain fixtures, just do it and be done with it.  There is nothing more annoying to a buyer than being told. . .”they’re taking this, and oh, that too!”  It causes confusion.  If there are exclusions that cannot be addressed prior to listing , then just make it very clear in the listing details and  in a list that you have on file for when a serious buyer comes along. Everyone should be very clear on what stays and what goes.

Curb Appeal:  Who doesn’t love driving up to a house they’ve been anxious to see to find that it’s even BETTER than what they thought?  First impressions are critical in many aspects of life, but most definitely including the sale of your home.  If the landscaping needs a little trimming or if you want to plant a few flowers for color, go ahead, it can’t hurt.  It may even be that the home needs a new outside paint job. It can be daunting to prospective buyers to see that the upkeep of the home will be more than they can handle so keep it simple and stress free and show them how it’s done.

Spruce It Up:  I’m sure you’ve heard that a can of paint goes a long way. . .and it does.  Sometimes just changing a color, adding an accent wall or touching up areas can make all the difference.  Buyers like homes that feels fresh, leaving them less to do upon move-in.  Show off all of your living space, inside and out.

Details:  A nick here, a scratch there, a cracked tile in the kitchen, a broken blind, a hard-to-open door, a running toilet . . .you get the idea, right?  Buyers focus very much on the details, and the simplest thing can affect their interpretation of the condition of the home.  If you take a little time to take care of odds and ends, it will benefit you in the long run.  I often suggest an inspection prior to listing a home.  An inspection will tell a seller exactly what is wrong with their home and what will be found when a buyer orders an inspection once under contract.  Wouldn’t it be great to know that ahead of time so that you can address anything major?  You may not take care of every little detail, but at least you won’t be sideswiped after the buyer’s inspection and forced into negotiations that don’t conform to the standard As-Is contract.

De-Personalize:  It is hard for sellers to take the advice of professionals and de-clutter and de-personalize their homes.  I totally get the frustration, but our goal as realtors or staging professionals is not to upset the seller, but to get their home to a more neutral state where more people can then imagine themselves in the space.  It’s hard for a buyer to picture themselves or their furniture in a home that is so specific to a seller.  As unfortunate as it is, as the majority of the time furniture is not part of the transaction, it’s hard for buyers to ignore all of the elements that surround them when they enter a home.  An overly decorated home can overwhelm buyers just as much as an overly personalized home with a photograph of their family or pet around every corner.  Always best to keep a home de-cluttered and de-personalized.  How many homes have we been in where you can’t even walk around easily?   Get a storage unit if you need to while selling the home instead of maxing out the garage.

Price it right:  Although we may not think of price as staging per say, it is the most important piece.  The price of a home sets the stage for the amount of activity a seller will get in terms of showings and the amount of offers that can be anticipated when your home hits the market as a new listing.  You have one chance to come out of the gate with a winner and it’s critical that the price adds up.  A property that is priced to too high will take longer to sell, will sit on the market longer and will cause the seller to have to do more in the long run to get it sold.

Tempt the Senses:  Perhaps a small little detail, but always have your home smelling great.  Some say to grind a lemon the garbage disposal, others say to put cinnamon in water and microwave it for 20 seconds, and of course, there’s the age old suggestion of baking cookies before a showing or open house.  These may help if you are home before every showing, but that’s doubtful, so keep your home smelling fresh by keeping it clean.

Keeping it Clean:  This goes for every aspect of the home from taking post-it notes and magnets off of the refrigerator to making sure the grounds are looking their best.  Although I’ve brought it up numerous times already, it is so important for everything to be clean.  If you have a pool, make sure it looks sparkling and inviting, not full of leaves with a stained bottom.  Power wash your roof, clean your windows.  No one likes dark and drab, no one likes old and stinky, no one likes feeling scared to open a cabinet door, and no one likes things in non-working order.  If you are lucky enough to have a nice outdoor area with a pool, then showcase it and keep up the necessary maintenance. . . and don’t take shortcuts! You never know when a showing will happen so always be ready, and as annoying as it may be to keep the home show-ready all the time, it is well worth it.

Light it Up:  One of the main things that makes a home looks so warm and welcoming is great lighting.  I’m sure you can relate, but there has been too many times that I’ve shown a home only to find a light bulb out so that we can’t properly see the whole room or just not enough lighting in general to really showcase the house/room.  Remedy this issue by increasing wattage in lamps and fixtures, by making sure all lights are working, and always remember that lighting creates an ambience that can really help a buyer “see” your home.

In general, try to look at your house “through a buyer’s eyes,” as though you’ve never seen it before. This exercise will help you see what needs to be done. Any time and money invested on these items will usually bring you the return of more money and a quicker sale.