Staging a Home for Sale
Maybe you were offered a job across the country, you want to move nearer to your aging parents, or you simply want to downsize or upsize. For whatever reason, you have chosen to put your home on the market.
To improve the odds of selling quickly and of getting the price you want, you may want to stage your home. Simply put, staging is redecorating and, possibly, renovating. When you stage a home, you want to decorate it to make it appealing to as many buyers as possible. To do so, you generally have to remove a lot of personal items like photographs and anything that makes the home look or feel cluttered. As you wait for a sale, you will need a place to store the portion of these removed items that you want to keep. A storage unit may be the answer. Rental schedules are generally flexible so that you can store items for a month or a year, whatever it takes to get the house sold.
You now have a decision. You can either hire a professional stager or do it yourself.
A professional will be able to view your home objectively without the sentimental attachment to family heirlooms or even an owner's favorite, but not necessarily popular, paint color. A good stager will know if the average stranger will see your valuables and tastes as inviting or eccentric. The stager should be up on the latest fashion trends and know if a shade of wall color is too bland or too bright. The designer you choose should be able to look at your furniture and decor and know what can stay and what should be stored or given away as they provide a plan for reorganization. Of course, this expertise and effort will cost. The range can be anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending on factors that include the degree of difficulty, the reputation of the stager and the size of the home. Professional stagers and realtors view this money spent as an investment because you will likely see it returned to you in the form of a solid offer, quite possibly substantially higher or sooner than without the help of a stager. Of course, don't expect a guarantee.
If you hire a professional, take these things into consideration:
- Look for someone with formal training or, at least, a record of professional accomplishments. Check their websites and review references.
- Listen to a stager's plan and rationale before you hire. Do they have solid reasons for their choices? Can they discuss things like furniture balance, room purpose and neighborhood demographics in a way that makes sense to you and suggests they do their homework?
- Don't know who to hire? Your realty company may offer staging services or be able to recommend someone. Professionally trained stagers also can be found online through the schools where they received training.
- Hiring a professional doesn't mean you are going to get out of all the work. You may still be directed to pack items that aren't in the design plan or do other household chores. Follow the stager's advice and time schedule in order to get your money's worth.
- Know your budget. If your money is limited, see if the stager can cut the staging fees by letting you do the brunt work yourself. Maybe their plan to rent furniture can be modified with the purchase of new slip covers or the creation of a homemade headboard.
- Know what you are getting. Will you do the work, or will the stager use contractors? Who controls their fees? Will you need to rent or buy furniture, rugs or plants? Who keeps these after the sale? Does the staging plan include landscaping or home repairs?
Want to tackle home staging on your own? Some guidelines:
- De-clutter. Go through your stuff now instead of when you move out. Throw or give away anything you don't use, or pay for new paint and staging supplies with a yard sale. Clear off shelves and counters. Leave accent pieces that are consciously designed to draw the eye. Remove children's art and anything that tells buyers that this is your house, not theirs.
- Clean. Clean the appliances, the floors, walls, bathrooms, closets and kitchens. Buyers look everywhere, and most don't want to have to clean someone else's mess. Remove pet or food smells and smoke. This could mean tearing out carpets or replacing drapes. You can quickly turn away potential buyers with allergies or who have family members with allergies when they enter a house that smells like a litter box. If you have a pet, ask your realtor if you have taken care of all the odors. Pet owners may become desensitized and not notice the aroma. When a house is waiting to be sold, pets should be put into storage, too, whether it's at grandma's or at the local kennel or pet hotel. Yes, they do exist.
- Fix things. Chipped walls, leaky faucets and cracked tiles can be repaired, but the buyer who offers full price probably doesn't want to do it.
- Create curb appeal. Cracking paint, sloping porches, dirty walls and trash can turn a potential buyer away before they even enter the house while accents like neatly trimmed bushes, new light fixtures and fresh paint will invite them to stay.
- Use color wisely. Check with experts at the paint store or with your realtor to see what wall colors are popular. You can also review home design magazines or television shows. Stylish decor in neutral colors tends to appeal to more people. The simple colors provide a clean palette that help buyers to envision where they can add their own flair. However, you can add spots of accent color to provide depth.
- Use rooms for their intended purpose. If you live in a family neighborhood, use that extra bedroom as a child's room not a home office and vice-versa if you live in a neighborhood popular with young professionals.
- Maximize space. If room allows, add a petite bistro table to a small kitchen to help buyers see themselves sipping coffee there in the morning. Don't overwhelm a room with too much furniture, though. If your living room is small, you may want to place a loveseat and two chairs there instead of a full-sized couch. As you reorganize, be sure to leave plenty of space for visitors to walk around without feeling cramped.
- Maintain livability. Don't remove so much that the home looks cold and uninviting. Warm tones, textured accents and a few flowers can beckon buyers to stay while barren walls and empty rooms don't give the imagination much to work with.
- Light it up. When potential buyers come to view your home, turn on all the lights and open window treatments that offer a view in order to make the home feel bright and safe. The staging process should have removed things in your home that would be better left hidden.
- Keep the home staged. Although you live in the home, don't let life's daily toils show. Keep rooms clutter free and clean. Smoke outside. Reward yourself and your family for the inconvenience when you have sold the house.
Home buyers want to see the house's potential to be their home. If it looks great due to careful staging, they are more likely to view the home as turnkey rather than as a money pit.
The advice on this website is provided as a courtesy for informational purposes only. "Storage Tips" are offered as-is and no warranty is expressed or implied. For more information, see StorageFront's Terms and Conditions.