Once your home hits the market, it becomes a product—a product in competition with others in its price range. The longer your home sits on the market, the lower the selling price will be. In order to get the highest return on what is likely your biggest investment, your house needs to be in tip-top shape and stand above the competition. And, frankly, it has to look like you don’t live there so that the potential buyers can imagine themselves there instead.
That’s where home staging—the art of preparing a home for sale, with a special emphasis on presentation and appearance—becomes crucial. The goal is to skillfully arrange furniture and decor in a way that showcases the house in its best possible light, while appealing to the broadest number of buyers. There are compelling reasons to do so. Staged homes typically sell in one-third the time. Properly staged homes sell between 6 to 17 percent higher than houses not properly staged. The house will stand out above competing properties. Staged homes look great in their Multiple Listing Service listings and therefore get more showings. The property will appeal to a majority of would-be buyers, which in turn will bring in more traffic and potential offers. Most buyers prefer a move-in ready home and are willing to pay for it. Finally, you will reduce the issues that buyers use for price negotiation by having your house in top condition.
Professional home stagers are skilled in the art of home staging and understand the importance of furniture and accessory placement. They design rooms that are filled with emotional connection points that subconsciously make the potential buyer feel at home and subsequently make them feel as if your house is the home for them. A staging professional will guide you step by step through the staging process. They will make your home look its absolute best for open houses and showings, most always resulting in a quicker, more profitable sale.
The cost of home staging is most always significantly less than the first price reduction. The average home staging investment (including home repairs) is between one to three percent of the asking price, which generates a return of eight to 10 percent.
Most home stagers offer a wide variety of services and work within any budget. You can hire them for consulting purposes only to do a walk-through of your home and then help you come up with a plan of action. They can stage your whole house or just stage a room or two. If your home is vacant, the stager will supply all the needed furniture and accessories. If the home is occupied, the stager will use as much of your furniture and accessories as possible, adding additional items only as needed.
Home owners can certainly stage their own homes; however, there are initial steps you need to take to set the stage before you can begin.
Repair, Update and Restore
Repair any cracked walls, dripping faucets, broken appliances and loose doors. Update all wallpaper and paint and replace anything that looks worn or dated. Restore wood floors, stain or paint kitchen cabinets, clean or replace carpeting and polish fixtures.
A potential buyer cannot see past the clutter. They will walk into your house and immediately feel uncomfortable and want to leave. It is imperative that your house is neat, organized and clutter-free.
• Remove at least one-third of the furniture from each room.
• Pack up and remove at least one-third of the contents of all closets, cabinets and drawers and then organize.
• Remove three-quarters of all books from bookcases.
• Remove most knick-knacks.
Personal items distract the potential buyer. You want them to visualize themselves living in your house, so remove all personal items. Pack up photos, personal memorabilia,
religious items, collections and
Clean everything until it sparkles and shines. Think about it: Would a dirty stove or bathroom appeal to you if you were imagining your new home?
When all home improvements and repairs are complete and the house is in pristine condition, the home staging can begin. A properly staged house should look and feel clean, bright, spacious, balanced, warm and inviting.
Front Yard (Curb Appeal)
Many potential buyers will not even want to enter your home if they are unimpressed with the front of the house, so it should look well-groomed and welcoming. That means: power washing the exterior if necessary; doing a thorough clean-up of the front yard; removing all clutter; trimming overgrown bushes and shrubs; landscaping; adding plants to flower boxes and replacing the welcome mat.
You probably enter it every day without thinking about it, but imagine it’s your first time walking into your home. What would appeal to you?
• Add a console table (indicating a place in which to put keys and mail).
• Hang a mirror. It will add brightness by reflecting light.
• If there is room, add a small bench or chair (showing a place to sit and take off shoes).
• Add a colorful area rug.
• Place fresh flowers on the table.
The Living Room
This may be where your family spends a lot of time, but the next family has to envision doing so too. Arrange the furniture to create a conversation area, centering on a focal point, like a fireplace or picture window. Arrange accessories in groupings of three, five or seven. Add floor plants and fresh flowers. Lamps add extra light and ambiance.
The Dining Room
The room should look ready for guests. Set a couple of place settings. Add fresh flowers or a bowl of fruit to make a centerpiece for the table, and put a couple of floor plants around.
Here’s where minimalism is crucial. Remove all furniture except the bed, one night table (two for the master) and one dresser. Also:
• Use luxurious comforter sets.
• Add coordinating throw pillows.
• Update the curtains.
• Add greenery or fresh flowers.
• Limit accessories to a few items arranged nicely.
Whether or not the potential home buyer likes to cook, the kitchen is an area everyone likes to imagine at gourmet standards. To help:
• Remove or hide all small appliances.
• Add fresh flowers.
• Create small vignettes of accessories to create interest (for example, a bottle of wine, two glasses and
a bunch of grapes).
• Don’t underestimate the power of smell. Brew coffee or bake something that smells delicious.
Cleanliness and comfort matter here, so invest in plush towels. Replace the shower curtain (if necessary). Add a basket of decorative soaps and lotions and put a bouquet of fresh flowers on the counter.
The Basement/Garage /Attic/Outside
The rest of your home should be clean, neat and well-organized. That means clearing out the basement, garage and attic. When you sell, in order to move out, you’ll have to do this anyway. So consider it getting ahead of the curve.
Since your backyard is an extension of your house, clear the garden and make sure the landscaping is up-to-date. Then create multiple areas of interest, such as an outdoor eating area with a barbecue or a play area for the kids.
Spring is a busy time for home sellers and house hunters, so if you set the stage now, you may just be able to put the final touch on your lawn by summer: a for sale sign.
Kristen Stern is the owner of One Day Decorating, LLC and an interior decorating company in Huntington. Her services include interior decorating, interior redesign, home staging and holiday decorating. Visit www.homedecoratinglongisland.com or contact her at 631-766-0955.