How to Stage a Home for Selling
Should you bother with staging your home before potential buyers see it?
Think about items posted for sale on Craigslist. That “gently used” rug appears to be in great shape, but the cats or filthy highchair in the background make you think twice.
It’s the same with houses. Good staging hides flaws and puts a home in its best light.
It gets even better. In a recent study by the National Association of Realtors, around half of agents reported that staged homes usually sell faster and fetch higher prices.
Set Aside Your Feelings
Don’t take this personally, but home buyers don’t especially care what you’ve done with the place. They just want to envision themselves living in it. They want a blank canvas that sparks the imagination, and your fondness for industrial chic or the color orange might stand in their way.
You probably have exquisite taste, but the point of staging is to minimize distractions and let your house speak for itself. There’s room for a little personality, but it can’t be yours.
First Things First
It’s tempting to bust out the scented candles and arrange fresh flowers, but there’s much to be done first:
Repair and upgrade
There are easy fixes for leaky faucets, dinged walls and nasty-looking caulk. Start with cosmetic touch-ups.
Painting is one of the cheapest ways to give your house a fresh, modern look. Choose warm, mostly neutral colors that appeal to everybody. If you introduce small doses of accent color, stick to one per room.
Ask your real estate agent if major upgrades, such as wood floors or modern appliances, are worth the investment to increase your home’s value.
What makes the strongest impression: the aroma of fresh-baked cookies or unsightly grime behind the toilet? Unsightly grime wins every time.
Roll up your sleeves, and boldly go where no one has gone before. Don’t forget to spruce up the exterior.
Clutter obscures your home’s best features and raises doubts about your storage space. As you reorganize and eliminate, shoot for a modern, minimalist look.
Pack up the vintage TV lunchbox collection. Run the paper shredder. Increase your closet space by storing bulky items and seasonal clothing in under-the-bed containers.
You’d hate to lose a buyer just because someone in your wedding photos reminds him of his mother-in-law.
People have all sorts of prejudices, unfortunately, so don’t give potential buyers a chance to discriminate. Hide anything that indicates your race, religious beliefs, political views, sexual orientation or other personal details.
The Storage Dilemma
Now that everything’s boxed up, where do you put the boxes? What do you do with the plethora of end tables, paintings and tub toys that are taking up space?
With any luck, you can impose on a friend who has room to spare in the garage. A number of charities might love to have your stuff.
The next-best solution is to lease a storage unit short term. The expense is well worth it if your home looks cleaner and roomier.
No matter how well you arrange it, shabby or outdated furniture can spoil the effect you’re trying to achieve, which is that of a brand-new house with endless possibilities.
Consider renting more stylish pieces until your house sells. Alternatively, hire a professional stager with a storehouse full of goodies. We’ll talk more about that later, so keep reading.
Stowing the coffeepot may be impractical, but nix the toaster, cereal boxes and 2-liter soda bottles.
An attractive set of wooden spoons or cookbooks should be fine if they’re neatly displayed. A bowl of lemons or apples adds a homey touch provided the fruit is real, and the same goes for houseplants. According to realtor.com, fakery will get you nowhere.
Set the breakfast bar and dining table to suggest livability.
Stage to scale. A cavernous space with scattered doll furniture, so to speak, looks stark and uninviting. If there’s plenty of space to walk freely, the proportions are probably right.
Lose the TV. Create a serene, romantic atmosphere with fluffy pillows, a plush comforter and fresh flowers.
Put away toothbrushes and grooming products in the bathrooms. Visitors know they’re there; they just don’t want to see them.
Display only clean, fragrant towels and unused soap. Think day spa.
In every room, move anything that’s even partially blocking the windows. Open the drapes and blinds and add ambient lighting in dark spaces.
Is This a Job for the Pros?
In 2004, Meridith Baer’s rental house sold out from under her. She called a buddy who had already moved to another city. His completely empty house had been on the market for some time.
Baer got permission to arrange all her furniture — and 250 plants — in the vacant house. A bidding war ensued, and the home sold for half a million more than the asking price.
Baer subsequently launched a successful staging company.
Realtor.com estimates that a 2,000-square-foot home costs around $7,200 to stage professionally for three months. That may sound like a fortune, but it could be significantly less than your first price reduction.
Do the math before you decide.
Whether you do it yourself or hire an expert, the benefits of staging can’t be denied.
In the NAR study, 83% of sellers’ agents said that staging makes it easier for buyers to visualize a property as a future home. Almost half said it boosts selling price anywhere from 1 to 20%.
If nothing else, your house will show well online, especially if you hide the cats and power wash the high chair.
Did this blog inspire you to stage before you list? Don’t hesitate to leave comments and share it with friends.
Guest Contributor, Russell Jones