Thank you, Mr. Shakespeare, and it was never so true as it is in today’s highly competitive real estate market!
What is “Staging”?
Basically there are 2 kinds: Staging for Life, i.e. decorating with your tastes, reflecting your individual style and preferences — and Staging for Sale, i.e. considering what an average buyer needs to see in order to fall in love with your home! We’ll focus on Staging for Sale, since this blog is mostly about real estate sales, and presumably if you are trying to sell your home, you are willing to do what is necessary to accomplish that goal!
You have one chance to make a first impression on visitors. Potential buyers may only be in your home for a few minutes, so a positive impression is critical. Think “curb appeal” and be sure your lawn is kept mowed, hedges and trees trimmed/clipped, walk-ways swept and a colorful pot of flowers at the front door is always a plus! Take a critical look at your front door (and window shutters if you have them) and if a fresh coat of paint is needed, it is an easy and inexpensive improvement. Make your home look welcoming from the time the prospect pulls up to the curb!
A Room with a Use
Buyers need to see rooms as they were originally intended, so if you have been using your living room as a gym, it’s time to store the treadmill, weights and exercize bike and restore it to a place for conversation and gatherings. Spare bedrooms in use as craft rooms should be restored to the original function. Not everyone is able to “imagine”, in fact few can, so it is up to you to help. Remember too that less is more! It’s really important to store your personal collections. You may treasure your ceramic doll collection, and your dozens of family photos spread throughout the home, but these are distractions for buyers, and doesn’t help them visualize living in the home.
Clear the Clutter
Probably the most important rooms in the house, because they are the most expensive to upgrade, are the bathrooms and kitchen. Make a dramatic first impression by de-cluttering: first, remove everything from the countertops! Clean them thoroughly, including back-splashes. Then add back only a few items, such as an attractive bowl with fresh fruit in the kitchen, or a vase with vibrant flowers in the bathroom, and neatly folded towels. Throughout the house, have carpets and windows cleaned, paint touched up as needed, and add emotional warmth with throw pillows, plants and candles. “Less is more” and “de-clutter” cannot be over-emphasized!!
Remember how pleasant it is to walk into a kitchen smelling of freshly-baked cookies? Not that you need to bake every time there is a showing scheduled, but there are many little tricks, such as keeping vanilla in a small flat dish unseen under a chair in the living room, or in a barely warm oven, that will help to create an impression of “home”. If you have pets, please keep litter boxes in the laundry room or garage, if possible, and clean them several times a day if you have multiple users. There is nothing that turns prospects off more than litter box odor! Smoking is another major issue, although thankfully not as prevalent as it once was. If there are smokers in the house, it will be advantageous to use an outdoor area away from living areas, perhaps on the side of the garage where the smoke won’t drift into the house.
There are many more ideas and HGTV has tons of them available to you, on TV and on the website! I would encourage you to investigate and ask questions as much as you can, because this is not a good market for just slapping a home on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) and expecting multiple offers in the first week. Marketing a home is a joint effort between the homeowner and the Realtor, and it’s time to take a hard look at your home if you are going to commit to selling. If not — it’s time to re-evaluate your goals.
Call me at (805) 937-577 or send an email if you’d like more tips for staging!