Showing a home is like setting up a first date between the buyer and the home. A buyer wants to fall in love with the home they are going to buy. They want to imagine themselves comfy and happy watching TV in their new living room. We’ve all heard of “love at first sight,” and that would be the objective when showing a home. How can we increase the chances of a buyer falling madly in love with the home? Of course, being attentive to the particular needs and desires of the client is supremely important. Beyond that, there is staging, which can help to make a solid, first impression!
Everyone likes an aesthetically-pleasing environment. Everyone wants their home to be special. Staging can set even lower-cost properties apart from competitive properties, and does not necessarily have to cost a lot of money. If the seller is handy and/or artistically-inclined, it may just be a small investment in some supplies, and a bit of elbow grease. Properly staging a home will showcase its strong points, while downplaying its weaknesses, which can result in a faster sale and also a potentially higher price, even in a seller’s market. According to the National Association of Realtors, for every $100 invested in staging, the potential return is $400. Isn’t that a great return on investment? The International Association of Home Staging Professionals states that staging sells homes 3 to 30 times faster than their non-staged counterparts. Also remarkable, right?
So, let’s have the seller stage that home, make it sparkle, move it faster, and get a higher selling price. That is more commission in your pocket, of course.
Here are some tips to enhance the staging of the home you are showing, and making buyers go gaga over the home.
Decide Upon Professional or Self-Staging
The seller will have to decide whether to hire a professional stager, which can be costly at $750 to $2400 per month, or to stage themselves. The cost of professional staging is probably worthwhile to bear, as it potentially sells the home much quicker, or at a significantly higher price. Of course, it is going to require a lot less time and effort for the seller, and possibly for you. If the seller can’t afford it, the seller can transform the look and feel of the home, to some degree, at almost any budget.
Should the seller decide to stage on their own, they may lean heavily on you for advice. Use the tips contained in this article. Of course, use your own experience and expertise, if you have it. You may also want to pick the brains of your broker and/or your peers who have greater experience and expertise, especially if the seller has very specific needs not addressed in this article.
Concentrate on key areas of the home
To maximize the seller’s budget and effort, it is best to concentrate on key areas of the home, especially if the seller is limited in funds and/or time. The most important rooms to stage are the master bedroom (and any other primary bedrooms), living room, kitchen and dining room. You’ll want these rooms to look chic and clean with trendy and updated decor. An antique look, less any dust and wear, can be a fabulous look for a certain type of buyer, but may lack appeal to many buyers over a more neutral, modern look. Staging is not necessarily meant to present design ideas to buyers, but helps buyers to envision how they will decorate on their own. As much as it would seem that an empty home would give the buyer an empty canvas onto which they can imagine their own interior design, that is not so. An empty home can feel cold and eerie. An empty home also appears smaller. A staged home feels warmer and more comfortable.
Outdoors, you’ll want to make sure the lawns and shrubbery are well-manicured, and any gardens are free of weeds. Make sure you haven’t inadvertently left any tools or anything that does not belong on display on the lawn or in the garden.
While you want the home to be staged with nice decor, you don’t want it to be overwhelmingly full. The idea is to have a nice presentation, while also allowing space for the buyer’s imagination to fill. You don’t want furniture or decor to be blocking key features of the home, so, for example, don’t cover the windows or any fine architectural features that you want the buyer to notice. Of course, if the windows are outdated, and they are not a persuasive feature, taking the focus off of them may not be a bad idea. Again, staging is meant to accentuate the pros and neutralize the cons.
If the seller has a junk room, or a garage full of stuff, they may want to rent a storage unit, and get all the junk out of the home.
The seller should remove all personal photos, trinkets and family heirlooms. They should not have a lot of small pieces hanging around. They should remove any religious, spiritual or philosophical pieces. We don’t want to turn off a buyer that does not subscribe to the seller’s personal beliefs.
Is the front door scuffed? Is the welcome mat dirty and worn out? Are the railroad ties lining the garden rotted? Removing eyesores and, in some cases, adding appealing replacements or enhancements can go a long way in making the home look and feel more cozy. Ultimately, people want to feel comfortable in the place they live. Anything that makes the home look beaten up or outdated is going to make it lose its appeal to many buyers. Of course, there are some people looking to save some money by buying fixer-uppers, and renovating them themselves, but most people are looking to move into a home that does not require so much work to make it look and feel right. Everyone will probably want to add their own signature, but most want a property that already suits their wants and needs, as closely as possible.
When sprucing up a home, eliminating eyesores and enhancing the appearance, the seller will want to make sure they get bang for their buck, and a fair return for their efforts, so they should balance the cost and the amount of work it will be to properly stage vs. the return in value. We have already stated that there is about a 4-to-1 return on dollars invested in added value to the home, but, of course, the seller should not go overboard, and spend more dollars or sweat more than necessary.
The idea is not to completely renovate the home. You want the seller to get out of their own head and into the head of the buyer. We don’t want to force the seller’s sense of style on the buyer. The seller should try to be neutral when replacing worn or damaged items. They shouldn’t replace a door if it just needs a couple of fresh coats of paint. The seller should be neutral with color choices. They may love bright, flashy colors, but many buyers will not.
Be thoughtful about furniture
Furniture should not be overkill. The seller should remove excessive furniture that is cluttering up rooms, and move furniture off the walls to allow flow, and make rooms appear larger. Dirty or worn furniture is a big turn-off, and should be cleaned or replaced.
Brighten up the bedrooms
The seller will want to give the bedrooms a luxurious resort look using nice linens. Stuffing a large comforter into a duvet cover in a soft tone will give a light and cozy feel to the room. The seller should choose solid colors, and add accents with throw pillows, shams and blankets. The seller should remove personal items from nightstands, and any sort of clutter.
Kitchens sell homes
Does the kitchen need a makeover? The kitchen is where the buyer will prepare their meals, and, in many cases, consume them. The seller should remove small appliances, and anything else cluttering the countertop. Cupboard and cabinet doors should be freshly painted if they look worn. The seller should stick with classic white, or go for a dark neutral color. A simple table and chairs with a modest centerpiece can look inviting. The seller will want to replace the faucet and/or basin if corroded or stained. If the dishwasher looks worn, a replacement front panel or contact paper may do the trick vs. replacing the entire unit. The seller should make sure that any tiling looks clean, and use grout cleaner or stain, if necessary. Peel-and-stick faux tile can inexpensively spruce up a drab backdrop.
Accent office space
Remote work and homeschooling are more and more popular, and some sort of office space may be essential for buyers. If there is not a dedicated office space in the home, the seller will want to create one. If an entire room cannot be dedicated as an office, the seller can make a mini office in the corner of a spare bedroom, living room or den. Even a studio can have a small desk and chair in one corner to make a comfortable workspace.
Organize storage space
The seller should declutter and organize storage space. They’ll want to pare down excessive clothes and clutter in closets, and make sure items in closets are nicely folded and stacked neatly. Nice baskets and bins can be used to store excess items in the closet. Cheap-looking plastic totes should be avoided. The seller can use shoe racks to neatly store shoes, and should be careful not to overcrowd them. A little space is always good.
Spruce up bathrooms
Bathrooms should obviously be as sparkly-clean as possible. Scrub, scrub, scrub. Buyers will be easily turned-off by the smallest spot of dirt in a bathroom. The seller should clean or replace faucets and basins, as necessary. There should be no sign of water stains or mold. Tiles and grout should be as immaculately-clean as possible. Bathmats, shower curtains and throw rugs should most-often be replaced, which can be done very inexpensively. Cosmetics and toiletries that are cluttering counters and cabinets should be removed. The seller can’t lose by going for a spa look in the bathrooms with fluffy, white towels, decorative candles and soaps, and a couple of classy accessories. Potpourri works really well in bathrooms to give a pleasant aroma.
- De-pet the environment
The seller should erase all signs of pets. Even pet lovers will not be excited to see fur balls on the floor, or any signs of pet-related mess. Some buyers may be allergic. Make sure the seller removes any pet-related items, like food bowls and dog beds, and cleans up anything related to their pets. The seller should freshen the air with fragrance to remove any pet odor.
Let there be light
Proper lighting can be essential in warming up the look and feel of a home. Rooms that are poorly-lit can seem cold and depressing. The seller should ensure that the lighting in rooms is bright, although not intensely-so. A good rule-of-thumb is 100 watts of light for every 50 square feet. The seller will want to be sure to use the proper types of lighting, as well. Ambient (overhead and general), accent (walls and tables) and task (reading and under-cabinet) are the three types of lighting the seller should use.
We hope you and the seller will cooperate to get the most out of staging, sell properties at higher prices in less time, and maximize your commissions. Those are the benefits proper staging offers.