Home Staging: The What, Why and How
It is unfortunate that many homeowners do not understand the importance of home staging and why it is something they ought to seriously consider. Obviously, many do not know what it includes and how to do it. They are in luck if they hire an experienced real estate agent who will encourage them to get a home stager. And for-sale-by-owner homes will more often miss out on this possibility as they are going it alone without the advice of a quality agent to assist them.
This article covers the what, why and how of home staging. If you are on the fence about trying it out, you will gain a better understanding of what it is, why you should do it, and how to do it effectively and efficiently.
What is the Home Staging Process?
As the name implies, it is staging your home. Sure, you love your home and it has its own charms and appeal. But for best results when trying to find a buyer, it has to put its best foot forward. You have to prepare it for sale by making sure that it appeals to the highest possible number of potential consumers. Consider it an opportunity to turn your property into a palace, welcoming potential buyers, and inviting them to check out your home to fall in love with it.
There are professionals that do this for a living. They are trained experts who have the knowledge, expertise, and know-how to get it completely properly. Ask your real estate agent for a recommendation since experienced agents often have a network of key professionals they rely on for tasks like this.
Why Stage a Home?
Chances are you love your home. You know its appeal and charms. However, what you enjoy about your house may not be appealing to your potential buyers. It may seem like a possible fit to a handful of buyers, but you really want your home to be appealing to as many potential home buyers as possible if you want to sell your home quickly and for top dollar.
By staging your home, it is an affordable and cost-efficient way to potential net the most money possible when your house sells. There are many plusses and virtually no reason why you should not do it. Done right, any investment put into the staging will be returned to you (and more) once your home sells.
How to Stage It
First of all, do not ever do it to try and trick or fool buyers by hiding defects or damages. They will see through the ruse and move on quickly. Besides, a self-respecting real estate agent or home stager would not you let you do that anyway. If they do, they are not what you need.
Here’s how to efficiently stage your home:
Get rid of the clutter – I have never heard a buyer ask to purchase clutter and I bet your agent has not either. No one appreciates clutter so get rid of as much of it as you can. You do not want visitors to be distracted, taking away from the natural (and staged) charm your house has/displays. If the property is cluttered, buyers will have a very hard time projecting themselves into owning the house.
Minimize personal belongings – You clearly want them to visualize your home as their home, and it is very hard for them to do that if they see pictures of you, artwork of your kids, your personal effects and the likes. The home should be void of as much personal stuff as possible. A professional stager can definitely provide key assistance in this area.
Clean your home – That sounds so basic and simple, yet so many do not take the time to get and keep their home clean. Make sure every inch is cleaned, dusted, and squared away. Do not just take care of visual messes. Clean your home from top to bottom and side to side.
It may be a good idea to hire a professional cleaner for the job. They will typically do a better job than any homeowner and will clean areas you may forget (like the stove, baseboards, or closets). If you are still living in the home, you will need to find a balance between a clean house and a lived-in one.
It is important to find a balance between a clean home and one that appears cold and sterile. While it is important to take out clutter, personal belongings, and clean the house, it may not be a good idea for it to look semi-bare. A lived-in house has an attitude and story to tell, so find that balance.
Boost your home’s curb appeal – This is very important because as they say, first impressions last. Potential home buyers are not going to suddenly appear inside your house. They will arrive at the front of your house, which means that they will have a good view of your home from the curb. In the next 5-10 seconds they will decide if it is worth getting out of the car to come inside! The question is – is that view worth leaving their car to see what lurks behind the door?
If your home has good curb appeal, it can set the stage for a successful visit. You may be surprised at the mood and vibe it gives off, and how that positively or negatively affects consumers. It is not unusual for people to fall in love with the rest of the house when they have already become enamored with the curb appeal.
On the other hand, you can expect the exact opposite if your home looks terrible on the outside. Not only do you risk buyers moving on before coming inside, but unless the interior wows them, they may have pre-determined the homes suitability for their needs.
Here are a few tips on how to improve the curb appeal of your home:
- Clean the siding, roof, windows, walkways and other hardscape. If, for example, you have problems with your roof, you should make sure to get it fixed.
- Repaint your home’s exterior if needed.
- Mow the lawn and improve the landscape.
- Improve your porch by adding furniture, welcoming mats, plants, and the likes.
- Paint, fix, or replace anything worn out (i.e. shutters, mailbox, railing, stairs, etc.)
Improve or enhance the kitchen – The kitchen is often a deal breaker. Too small and you run off those who like to cook. Too big and those who eat out a lot will feel overwhelmed. Not enough cabinet space and many potential buyers will run for the hills. An amazing kitchen will push your prospect towards buying your home, while a bad and outdated one will push him outside the door. Make sure to fix broken cabinets and fixtures. Remove and replaced damaged appliances.
Update the dining area – Sometimes this is an extension of the kitchen and other times it is a separate space. Start with the dining table. Do not leave it bare. Style it up as if you are expecting visitors. Adding a small centerpiece is often a good idea too.
Stage the bedrooms – You can bet consumers will take their time checking out the bedrooms (especially the master) so spend a little time ensuring they look and feel comfortable not crowded or unorganized. The other bedrooms should follow suit. The most important thing with the rest of the bedrooms is to make sure they are gender-neutral. Even if you have a couple of boys, make sure to update or stage their rooms so they appear as gender-neutral as possible. This way when your prospects have young girls, they can still visualize their precious princesses living there.
Bathrooms – Besides the kitchen, no other room will get as much scrutiny as the master bathroom. It must be clean! This is not the room to skip if you get tired of cleaning…do it first before you start to burn out. A few accents can go a long way here too. For secondary bathrooms, a new shower curtain, floor mat, and tidy counter space will be appreciated by potential buyers.
Getting a Pro Pays Off
There are some home staging tips that you can do on your own but for best results, it is a good idea to consider hiring someone to truly make-over the house, and prepare it for a future sale. Professional home stagers know and understand how to do it right. They are trained to look at houses and determine the best and most cost-efficient ways to stage them. It is an investment that is worth paying for.
As always, a good real estate agent will be able to tell you what needs to be fixed and should have a list of potential vendors for you to call and arrange a quote with. Take advantage of your agent’s vast network, and in no time your home will look its very best. When it comes to selling your home, both you and the agent want it to go as smoothly as possible, and this is simply one way to help that process.
Start by taking care of the simple things yourself, if possible, such as ridding the home of clutter and personal belongings. Once that is done, the professional home stager can take over.
Of course, it is important that you take emotions out of the process! It will be very hard to get rid of clutter and personal belongings if emotions get in the way because you will not see the clutter through the “stuff”. If need be, call over a trusted friend or family member to assist. Remember, the end goal is to sell your home quickly for as much money as you can so the importance of home staging should not be undervalued.
Additional Home Staging Resources
Kyle Hiscock: Home Staging on a Budget
Sharon Paxson: 10 Simple Home Staging Tips
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