When potential buyers first enter your home, it is the first impression that will stay with them.
By using staging, you can show buyers potential without making them use their imagination. If a home is empty and without furniture it can be difficult to see how comfortable the home truly can be and may seem uninviting.
Staging showcases a home. Understand a home that is unkempt will give buyers negative opinions. Disorder makes it hard for buyers to see into an orderly environment. Clutter may suggest there isn’t enough storage. Disrepair can show there may be other issues below the surface.
“When a buyer comes to your home, they are not looking for reason to buy – they are looking for reason why NOT to buy.”
Each home is different and requires different staging techniques. The location of the home is important, as well as a comparison of other homes in the area. If the street showcases homes with exceptional landscape, you may need to consider the addition of shrubbery or plants. If you have pets or children, they may need to visually reduce their presence to engage buyers without pets or children. House staging is unique and many options should be considered.
“Why should I stage?” The short answer is it helps sell homes faster and for top dollar. By looking at a home from the viewpoint of a buyer, the strengths of a home can be highlighted, while anything the house may lack can be minimized.
There are several ways you can stay ahead of the curve and catch potential buyers the moment they step in your house.
- Nothing Personal But Remove the Photos:
Clients are distracted by portraits of the sellers and miss out on key selling points of the home. I love displaying photography but if I’m selling my house, art will be displayed without people in it. No matter how nice the display, personal photos are just that: too personal.
- Accentuate the Positive:
My clients usually know what they like best about their home. It’s usually what they saw that made them want to buy, or it’s something that they added to make the home particularly special. Whether it is a staircase, a great view from the kitchen sink, a pergola or a three-car garage, do something to make the buyers linger in that magic space.
- Smells Like Home:
I’ve heard of many real estate agents bringing in a toaster oven to bake cookies or fresh bread. I you prefer a few plug-in air fresheners. I like using vanilla in the kitchen, fresh scents in the laundry, apple cinnamon in the living room and such. Specific aromas add a theme to the tour, even when it’s not an open house.
- Ditch the Kitsch and Hide Your Opinions:
My favorite example of unnecessary kitsch is the pink pig sitting on the fridge door asking if you’re eating again. This and other comical quips are great fun when you’re living in your home, not when you’re trying to sell it. Especially avoid politically-charged material that expresses strong opinions. You don’t want a potential buyer to dislike you for your beliefs, so remove all questionable material out of sight.
- Clean Up Your Act:
If you are selling your house, cleaning is a no-brainer. Clutter is a killer. Get a head start on packing, and begin boxing up extras that are taking up space on your mantel, table surfaces, etc. Clutter makes a house look smaller, and if you have a small house, it makes it feel claustrophobic. Not advantageous to a quick or profitable sale.
- Embrace the Quietude:
When showing a home, music is not necessarily a bad thing. If you don’t know the potential buyer and their taste in music, don’t push yours. If you are going to play music, be sure it doesn’t have vocals. Avoid niche music; not everyone loves hard rock or country and western. If you are set on having music playing in the background for viewings, opt for soft jazz playing at a low level. Unless you have the music-only channels, keep the television turned off. It’s a distraction.
- Paint the Story:
A coat or two of paint is always a good investment – generally worth 150%. If you decide to make the effort, consider flat paint in areas for resting and relaxing. You can add some colors, but neutral is always best. Satin paint is great for common areas and places where there is a bit more action taking place. You might also consider painting that water stain under the sink where it leaked.
- “Debarkation”: Pet-Proof the Pad
If you have pets, especially indoor pets, make sure that during your listing period, you are particularly fastidious in cleaning up after them. Ask a very good friend (or your real estate agent), who will tell you the truth, to come by and give it the sniff test. Consider buyers with pet allergies.
- Show Off the Goods:
Consider placing laser-printed cards on items that remain with the home. Such things could include high-end appliances, dumbwaiters, laundry chutes, built-in sound systems and other goodies. These inexpensive cards are an under-utilized way to bring attention to such selling features. Don’t overdo it though; no more than 5-10 cards in an average-sized home.
- Clean EVERYTHING:
Take all the medicine, personal hygiene and drugs out of the bathrooms, pack all the games in the closet, put the stuff attic in storage along with half the coats in the hall closet and clean out the pantry, refrigerator and freezer. If your closets are small, pack up half your clothes and shoes. Remember, you won’t be there when your house is shown and your potential buyers will want to see EVERYTHING. Be sure to lock up or take jewelry and other valuables with you.
Other tips: Disclose everything, especially the stuff you are tempted not to. Fix all running toilets, or risk flushing profits down the drain. Grind a lemon in the garbage disposal – it smells great and it’s such great exercise. There are “staging” issues outside too to give your home good curb appeal. Just do it. It’s dollars in your bank.