Staging a home is essential when a house is for sale. Staging can make the difference between a house languishing on the market for months versus one that sells quickly and for top dollar. When a seller decides to sell, they must also decide to emotionally move out of the home long before a buyer is identified. A seller must no longer see them self as the owner, but as an intermediary occupant. Hopefully, when the listing agreement is signed a seller will realize how important it is to stage the home so that it will be attractive to as many prospective buyers as possible. In a sense, the staging process must first begin in the mind of the seller. Experienced realtors can attest to the many challenges they encounter when endeavoring to explain the benefits a seller receives when their home is staged. Here are six areas professional home stagers zero in on when staging a home and tips every seller should remember.
One: Curb Appeal
Eye catching curb appeal is critical because buyers need to want to see the interior. At a bare minimum, the flowerbeds need to be freshened, grass mowed, and the walk-way swept. Make sure the little things that are no longer noticed by a seller, but will scream deferred maintenance to a prospective buyer, are addressed. The cracks in the sidewalk must be repaired before they start chipping away at the asking price. It is amazing how much money a prospective buyer deducts from the asking price because of minor imperfections. Another reason curb appeal is so important is because realtors typically tell buyers to drive by houses to see if they like the outside before proceeding to make an appointment to show the inside. Realtors know how important curb appeal is to buyers. Remember, if a buyer doesn't like the outside of the house, chances are they won't want to see the inside.
Two: Clearing Away Clutter
After the curb appeal test has been passed and a prospective buyer crosses the threshold they decide if they like the house within the first 8 seconds! First impressions are lasting! Pay special attention to the foyer. Make it warm and welcoming instead of a drop off place for shoes, mail, and keys. In addition, clutter must be banished from every area of the house. Buyers are looking for square footage. Clutter is the number one culprit that conceals valuable real estate. When selling, it is imperative that a house appear as large as it possibly can. If there are boxes or extraneous furniture in the house, a buyer cannot see what's for sale. Most buyers lack imagination and can't visualize what the home would look like if it were not overrun with clutter. Remember to help the buyer see what is for sale by removing the clutter.
Three: Packing Collectibles
The next no-no is knickknacks. There are three reasons why a seller should begin the cathartic process of removing their beloved collectibles. One, it will drive home the fact that the house is for sale and make it a reality especially if the sale is not necessarily for the happiest of reasons. Removing bric-a-brac will help the seller come to terms with the fact that the house will no longer belong to them. Two, it gives the seller an opportunity to get a head start on packing. Three, while a seller's valued and sentimental collections may be beautiful, they could be problematic, too. For example, when a prospective buyer tours a home for sale, the last thing a seller or realtor wants is for the buyer to become distracted by the collection of clowns in the family room. Losing a potential buyer is no laughing matter. Remember that collectibles can be distracting, are personal and taste specific and won't do anything to help the home sell.
Four: Removing Family Photos
Professional stagers agree that the suggestion to remove family photos receive more resistance from sellers than any other. Nevertheless, in order to successfully stage a home it must be void of personal photos. Again, this is the most difficult change to make for sellers because it depersonalizes the home, but that is exactly the look a stager wants. Think about it, what makes a furnished house a home as opposed to a model home? Personal effects like family photos do. When a prospective buyer is touring a home and imagining living in it, don't bring them to a screeching halt by having them encounter personal pictures. Remember, packing the photos away will help the buyer envision themselves as the new owners.
Five: Simulate a Pet Free Home
Another important staging issue the pros address are the four-legged family members. Pets should not be present when a house is being shown to prospective buyers for three reasons. One, it is important to avoid alienating buyers who don't like pets, two there are buyers who may have a fear of them, and three, pets can be distracting to buyers who do like pets. Eliminate pet odor and remove the canine china and the kitty litter box. Remember to stay focused realizing that removing the pet from the home is only temporary and can assist in speeding up the process of selling the house.
Six: Make Minor Improvements
Kitchens and baths make and break sales. If there are discretionary funds available, allocate them to kitchen and bathroom makeovers. A return on the investment is almost always a guarantee. Expensive renovations should be avoided, but giving the rooms a facelift by changing out the kitchen cabinet knobs or resealing the bathtub are good projects to undertake. Of course, any structural problems with the property should also be repaired. It would also help to order a home inspection so that when the buyer has their inspection done there aren't any costly surprises. Remember that even minor improvements to kitchens and baths make a big difference and can make the home more desirable to a buyer.
Home staging is not a 100% guarantee that a house will sell during a specific time-frame or for a specified amount of money. However, if a house is priced correctly based on a CMA (Competitive Market Analysis), and it is staged, preferably by a professional, the chances of a quick and profitable settlement are far greater. Home staging will give a house an edge on its competition. The process of selling a house can be exciting and exhausting all at the same time. But nothing makes the process as emotionally draining as having the house sit on the market for months. To avoid this, realtors recommend that a seller do all that is possible to make the house desirable to as many buyers as possible; staging will do that. Remember, home staging will help a house to sell as quickly as possible and for as much money as the market will allow.
©Rena Bullard 2009
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