Home Staging 101

Let's face it, an unfurnished home looks cold, empty, and unappealing. This look gives off a negative first impression. Do you want your potential buyer's first impression of a home you are trying to sell to be anything associated with feelings of coldness or emptiness?

Regardless of whether the home is empty, or even if people are still living there, the house needs to look like a home while it is on the market, and this is why home staging is vital.

Home staging is the of making a house look like a home someone would want to purchase. The 3 D's of home staging involve delousing, de-cluttering and decorating a home to give the end buyer a positive first impression and to help buyers see a home's full potential.

You would think that keeping a house clean when trying to sell would be common sense. However, more home sellers fail in this area than any other. Many that I speak with don't think a dirty house is a problem! Consider the point of view of a potential buyer. When they walk into a kitchen, they are fantasizing about family dinners they will be holding, which should put them in a pleasant frame of mind. If they see a dirty, greasy kitchen, they won't have those fantasies. Same with a bath tub. The new buyer has to envision relaxing bubble baths in the tub, or wanting to wash their children in the tub. If that tub is filthy, they won't want to get into the tub and won't buy the house. Therefore, cleaning a house is imperative to selling a house.

On a side note, I may choose not to work with a seller who shows me a house in a dirty condition. If the seller doesn't care enough to make the house presentable for you, they won't care enough to make it presentable for your potential buyers.

I'm not sure de-cluttering is a real word, but you get the meaning of the word. Psychologically speaking, clutter is associated with lack of cleanliness and deceit, and a house full of clutter will be perceived as a dirty house with a lot of necessary repair work. In fact, many self-help gurus will say that one of the best things anyone can do to improve their emotional state is rid themselves of clutter. So if you're interested in selling your house, break out the boxes and either box up your belongings in an attic or make a couple of trips to the Goodwill to get rid of the stuff you don't need because buyers don't want to see it.

Remember, you never get a second chance to make a first impression, and the first impression anyone will have of your house is the outside front. This outside front includes landscaping the yard, the garage door, and the front door. On one of my first fix and flips in Cedar Park, TX, I decided to paint the outside door of a cream colored stone house a bright red to give it a fancy pop. I'd seen two other houses in the neighborhood do it and I liked it. I had trouble selling the property and asked for advice from two other investors who were in the area. Both of them said that in their first impression, they didn't like the red door as they didn't feel the house was welcoming. So I repainted the front door with a different, toned down color and the property sold shortly thereafter. A well manicured lawn, lively garden, and properly painted outside will give off the best first impression of the house. Even if the paint inside isn't the best color or the flooring could be replaced, once you have a good first impression, the potential buyers will be more forgiving of things that need repair. Surprisingly, even if the inside is immaculate, you still cannot change the buyers perception they receive from a negative first impression from the outside of a house.

In summary, as home sales decline and a record number of for-sale houses cram the market, more sellers are turning to home staging to make their properties stand out. Quite frankly, a beautifully decorated, uncluttered, clean, and staged home sells faster, and for more money. In this tough real estate economy, you need to take advantage of every situation, including home staging, in order to sell a house.