Staging Your Home For Sale

When putting a home on the market the question arises to what extent a home should be prepared to show to potential buyers may depend, but what is clear is that it means much more than wiping the counters and vacuuming the carpet. There is now an emphasis on staging a home as part of the selling process.

“First off, staging is not decorating or design,” said Greg Adams, realtor/broker for Century 21 Bradley Realty. “Decorating is personalizing your home, but staging is depersonalizing your home so it appeals to the unknown buyer. As the potential buyer is walking up to the home, curb appeal will set the tone. We need to boost the curb appeal because many buyers will drive by the property to decide whether it’s worth looking at. Examples would be power washing your front walk, planting flowers or greenery, removing yard debris, mowing the lawn and re-seeding any patches. Be sure that the front door or porch have been freshly painted or are in great condition to set an initial positive tone and to give off an inviting feeling with porch furniture and a clean doormat.  Also, always keep your porch lights on in the evening in case a potential buyer drives by.”

Most realtors have experience in staging but some have made it something of a specialty. Jihan Brooks, a realtor with Dreamkeeper Realty, has focused much of her attention on what it means to stage a home and why staging is a good investment.

“Essentially, a stager helps the seller present the home so that the buyer can see themselves living there,” said Brooks. “It might mean arranging the furniture in a way that defines the space or in a way that highlights the home’s features rather than highlighting its flaws. Decluttering is important because if someone has a lot of kitchen appliances and gadgets on the counter, it might make buyers think there isn’t much counter space because they look so cluttered.”

While it’s true that the market is currently advantageous to sellers that doesn’t mean staging is an insignificant aspect of making the sale.

“Even though you may be hearing that homes are selling quickly, staging is still important,” said Brooks. “If people can’t visualize themselves in a home and think a room looks too small or the colors aren’t right, they might not even consider it at all. But if you depersonalize the space and make it appealing to buyers, you can have multiple offers which will help to drive up the price.”

“When a buyer walks in the home, the first 10 seconds gives them a feeling of whether they want to continue to look at the home,” said Adams. “So it’s crucial to get your home clean — vacuum, clean countertops and scrub the grout. The two most important rooms to have spotless are the kitchen and bathrooms. If these are dirty, buyers get turned off. We also ask sellers to clean everything off the kitchen counters, and I often hear ‘But it’s so plain!’ But that is exactly what we want – we want it to look clean and big. You should also tidy your cabinets – buyers will open them. The most important thing is to get return on investment and to get your home sold fast is to clear away all of the clutter. Remember, staging is depersonalizing and preparing for a buyer who might not share your tastes. It’s not uncommon to have people find off-site storage to store the things removed from the home. If that doesn’t work, then put things in the garage, since the garage is not as important to have orderly as the house.”

“Most people don’t realize how much they have to stage,” said Brooks. “Little tweaks can help, but there are a lot of ways that a house will still look too personal to the buyers, and they can’t picture themselves in the house. Closets are especially important. A cluttered closet will definitely turn off buyers.”

Brooks added that eliminating things that signal the daily habits of the current owner is also very important, a tip that Adams also mentioned.

“Another important thing is to be aware of pet, cigarette or cigar odors. I have had people walk in a home with these smells and immediately leave. If you have pets, you should steam-clean the rugs, do extra vacuuming and washing of surfaces. Make sure pet toys, dog bones and litter boxes are hidden for showings. Candles and air fresheners can become problematic too, since buyers may think the seller is trying to cover up odors or they might simply be sensitive to perfumes. Try to keep a neutral scent throughout the home.”

And while baking cookies before a showing may sound a bit cliché or trite, Adams said it might not be such a bad idea.

“There are times that I’ve shown 10-plus homes in a day, and we might remember the home by those that had chocolate chip cookies or little bottles of water – ‘We really liked that cookie home.’ Not an important thing to do, but kind of fun.”


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