The big question on everyone’s mind when it comes to staging is: “Is it really necessary? They’re buying my house, not my stuff!”
The answer: YES!!!
And, yes, they are buying the house not the stuff but like with ANY thing, you are selling an idea. The idea of buying these shoes is that you will look and feel fabulous while wearing them! The idea of buying this car is that you will have a safe and stylish way for your family to travel. A whole team of advertisers and marketers put those shoes on your feet and put your feet in that car. It’s all in the perspective of the marketing.
Essentially, you are marketing your home. If you walk into a clothing store and find tables with messy piles of clothes for sale, are you in the mood to buy them? Probably not. Next door is another clothing store with beautiful displays of mannequins and accessories with racks of neatly hanging garments organized and lovely, are you going to buy these? Probably yes.
So while your home is your home and you’re comfortable there, the neighbor’s house is pretty and also for sale. When buyers come down your block, which one will they choose? Yes, price can be a factor, but people are willing to pay a little more for nicer things. As a seller, wouldn’t you want to maximize the amount of money you can get for your house? With a bit of effort, this is possible! It will also increase the foot traffic which will increase the exposure and bring in offers. More than one offer often leads to even more money! Interested?
So where do you start?
With the walk through of course! The one I talked about in the first part of this series. On the walk through, you should be looking at everything, including your stuff. Think about the purpose or function of each room and decide if the minimal amount of stuff is being used to convey this vision.
First impressions are everything! The walk-through begins at the curb, where your potential buyer will get there first glimpse at their new life in their new home. Will they pull up to the house and want to keep on driving? That’s up to you! Is your lawn mowed? Weeds pulled? Home front clean and clear from distracting toys or lawn ornaments? You might enjoy seeing your collection of 30 garden gnomes, but some buyers may be turned off. A simple landscape goes further than a sea of personal touches like bird feeders and windmills. Let’s highlight the home and what is has to offer. A big front porch? Show it off with a potted plant or two and a rocker, not the entire stock of plastic chairs and tables from the home improvement store. Be sure to check the doorbell. Does it work? What about the porch light? These are easy fixes that can help keep a buyer wanting to come inside.
The front of your home is like an appetizer, we want to give them a nice taste of something but make them want more! Getting them in is good, keeping them in for a long time is better! How the entry way welcomes them is a key element. If your home doesn’t have a defined entry way, you can create one with a console table dressed with a decorative bowl (for keys). A small chair or stool (nice to have somewhere to take off your shoes) and a small carpet or rug to warm things up.
Getting into staging the rooms is easy. Take, for instance, the dining room. What’s in yours? A big table with a lot of chairs? Maybe a buffet, a hutch and a corner curio cabinet displaying Grandma’s trinkets? It looks lovely, I’m sure, but a buyer will see a small cramped space with no room to entertain. Take out the buffet and the curio…that’s right, you want to sell and move anyway, why not get a jumpstart on packing? Then pare down the chairs from 6 to 4. This leaves, wall and floor space to walk around the table effortlessly. It opens a buyers eyes to the potential of the space and that they can bring their big dining room table with their chairs and it will all fit.
Now, staging isn’t just about clearing out a whole bunch of furniture. Remember my clothing store analogy? Well the mannequins with accessories was an important part, (not the mannequins) as accessories are in staging a home for sale.
On the dining room table, a simple runner with a bowl of fruit (to make it homey and inviting) maybe a tall houseplant by the window (bringing nature inside makes people feel connected to the space). Oh, and everything needs to be clean! Get those cobwebs out of the corners, polish the light fixture and make sure there are no streaks on the windows. Simple enough!
The living room and bedrooms are a little more difficult. I chose the dining room first because this, unless your ONLY eating area in the house, is the room that has the least amount of personal effects.
The living room has your spouse’s favorite chair, you know the one. It has rips, stains and a big spot that is shaped like your significant other’s rear. Will a potential buyer see them self sitting in THIS chair? Probably not. Then, there are the family photos and huge collection of DVDs on the bookshelf. What about the HUMONGOUS big screen TV that takes up an entire wall? It might be nice for you to live here but will a prospective buyer want to live here WITH YOU? Because that is what they will feel like…buying ‘this house I’ll have to live THIS way.’ I know it’s silly, but it’s the psychological aspect of searching for a home. As a seller, you need to leave your emotions at the gate, remember? We want to detach your emotions and reach out to the buyers’.
How do we know who the buyer is? Well…the buyer is you. Your best friend. The buyer is me! I know, crazy, right?! The buyer could be anybody, so we have to appeal to everybody. As shocking as it may be, a huge TV the size of your car does not appeal to everyone. Consider swapping it out for a smaller one you may have in the basement or bedroom. The photos are nice and lovely but a buyer will see your family, not theirs. They have to go too. Replace those with neutral decor, paintings or shelves with a vase of flowers, a book or A trinket, as in one… maybe two, not the whole circus train from precious moments collection.
We are creating open space with a feeling of home. A home ANY one can live in.
In the bedroom, it is important to showcase here, the bed must be made! Even if you’re not selling your house you should make your bed every day anyway. The bed is a place for relaxing and restoring. The bedroom should reflect the essence of renewing our spirits. It should be bright and airy yet cozy and comforting. The place to make this statement is with a can of paint. Okay, you like purple. Your sheets and blankets are purple. Your bathroom from top to bottom is purple, carpet, curtains; all purple. A buyer walks in and sees ONLY purple. Not the great natural light or the hard wood floors. They don’t see a walk-in closet or ceiling fan. They. see. purple. Then, they will leave; remembering your house because it was purple, not because they wanted to live there.
In bedrooms, go with neutral earth tones. If you choose a color, choose a pale version of the color that is not overpowering the features in the space. Go easy on patterns and bright colors, these will be distracting. Stick to neutrals. Mom’s handmade curtains are pretty and all but a simple blind, or panel will suffice. All the frills ruffles, lace and valances will detract from the view. Again, make sure everything is CLEAN! No one wants to spend any length of time in a dirty, dusty space. This is our goal here , to make a buyer want to stay, we want them to feel relaxed and welcome here, just like they would want to feel in THEIR own home.
Bathrooms need to be sparkling, as do kitchens. All the yucky stuff happens here. Make sure every nook and cranny are spotless! These two spaces go hand in hand when it comes to staging. Keeping counters clean and clutter free is very important.
People, looking to buy your house, will be opening cupboards, drawers, and closets. If they find a mess of bottles and products, they will see a crowded small space with no storage. If you can eliminate the non-essentials for your everyday life you will succeed in showing the space and expanse of the storage in your home.
When I began my staging process I started with closets. It’s easier to pack up the small stuff I don’t need or see everyday first. I started with the linen closet and packed up all the spare sheets, blankets and towels, leaving just enough for our family and one extra set.
My linen closet looks HUGE! A major asset in any home is storage. A major asset in selling any home is highlighting the storage. Leaving the closets and drawers jam-packed with stuff will show the buyer that you don’t have enough storage and make them question whether the home will have enough for them and all their stuff.
The good news about all this hard work to stage your home: it will pay off! Here is a link to some staging statistics ( in case you don’t believe me)
Another good thing about staging is that it can be done with little to no investment. Simple decluttering and shifting of your design resources, like taking a chair from the crowded dining table and using to help make the entryway more welcoming is free! Some fresh flowers or throw pillows are low cost for a huge impact dressing up a space.
As a partner to this post I compiled a list of helpful ebooks on cleaning and decluttering here!
I hope my tips and experience will help you! and Stay tuned for the next installment in this Selling Your House Series!