Most people become so accustomed to their own homes that they have trouble seeing them objectively when it’s time to put them on the market. That’s why, whenever I list a home, I always hire a professional home stager to help the client prepare for the sale.
Home staging, to me, is taking a look at your home through the buyer’s eyes. I’m so convinced of its importance that I pay for the stager as one of the services I offer as the listing agent. The most important idea I want every seller to understand is that their house should appeal to as many buyers as possible.
Thoughtful staging helps the house to sell faster, and to earn more money. That’s why nearly all of my clients accept my offer, and are glad to work with the stagers.
They take time with the sellers and help them decide how best to get the home ready to show. That includes the obvious things like cleaning and de-cluttering. It includes steps to make the house feel lighter and brighter, and to enhance its curb appeal. And, as much as any homeowner loves the touches that make a house into a home, it’s important to de-personalize your living spaces.
Why should that matter? When prospective buyers are looking at your house, you want them focusing on the house and its features, not distracted by your collectibles or a wall covered with family photos. It can be hard to see a home’s possibilities if it’s too full of personal items, and dominated by the current owners’ individual tastes.
This doesn’t mean you have to erase every trace of your personality from the house. You still want a home to feel like a home. But buyers need to be able to visualize their own possessions in each room. They shouldn’t have to think too hard about what a house would look like without all the seller’s decorative touches.
And first impressions go a long way. Sure the buyers look at the house, but they also look at the way the house shows. It also often gives buyers a sense of condition of the things they cannot see. If the home is neat, tidy and organized, that also tells the buyer that the owner has cared for the house, and is likely to have kept up with general maintenance such as cleaning out the gutters, inspecting the crawlspace and changing HVAC filters regularly.
Most of the steps a stager recommends can actually help the owner get ready for the move. For instance: Removing family artifacts, hobby material or other excess items is just a matter of starting the packing process sooner rather than later. Everything that can be boxed up and stored in advance of the sale is something that won’t need to be packed afterward.
Staging can have costs, but they absolutely pay for themselves. Professional carpet cleaning, touching up scuffed trim and repainting a dark room in a brighter color are typical examples that can add up to 1 or 2 percent of the house’s value. But national statistics show these steps will add 8 to 10 percent to the sale price. A seller can expect to get back three dollars for every dollar spent. A well-staged house will sell quicker, too.
The staging process takes about two hours. The stager will go through the house with the seller, offering room-by-room advice about how to freshen and brighten the space, and improve how foot traffic flows. Typical recommendations include removing or rearranging furniture, and adding accents that can help a room look its best in a photograph.
My stager likes to see greenery in every room, just because a photo that includes flowers or a houseplant is more likely to catch a buyer’s eye in an internet listing. Remember that 90 percent of the potential purchasers are going to see it online before they step foot in the house.
The same principle applies to the exterior. A stager will always start by addressing landscaping, with simple suggestions like strategic placement of flowers, to add to the property’s appeal to the drive-by shopper.
For a house that’s not occupied, staging is vital. When walls and floors are mostly bare, it’s especially important that they look clean and fresh. We try to avoid leaving a house completely empty. The stager I hire has furnishings that she can place in a vacant property, for a small fee, to help it look warmer and more inviting.
Have a question about buying, selling or any other real estate matter? Let me know and I’ll address it in a future article.