The Power of Staging

By MNR News posted 03-18-2022 08:58

Most of us have been there. Excitedly walking into a house, certain that it could be “the one.” But instead of hearing choirs of angels as you move through each room, you quickly become disappointed by the purple shag carpet, the water-stained ceiling, and the odor of stale tobacco mingled with “eau de Fluffy the cat.” No matter what the listing says about the house’s “great bones” or that it is in one of the best school districts in town—you can’t leave this showing fast enough. Your Realtor® knows that getting you to come back from these initial impressions is next to impossible.

But is staging necessary in this crazy market? In a word, yes. While the events of the past two years have changed much in the buying and selling process, staging can still be a low-cost way to maximize your prospective pool of buyers and sell your house for top dollar. So, while homeowners might not opt to hire a professional stager right now, they may instead choose to do some DIY decluttering, deep cleaning, and depersonalizing. In a time when most buyers are getting their first looks online, this is a great way to get a property to stand out—in a good way!

While a home is most likely the biggest purchase someone will make, it is surprising that decisions are made much more by emotion than logic. While price range and a short checklist of the number of beds and baths are important, at the end of the day, most houses are purchased because they “feel” like home. Buyers can picture their daughter walking down the stairs in her prom dress, they smell those holidays meals as they tour the kitchen, or they hear the laughter of friends and family around the backyard patio.

Luckily many of the best staging tips just require some time, elbow grease, and imagination. That investment should help make your house outshine the others.

Outside and entryways—you only get one chance to make a first impression

Look at the outside of your home with fresh eyes—or better yet, ask a friend to do it for you. Paint your front door, plant some flowers, pull weeds, and sweep your front walk. Even adding something as inexpensive as a cute welcome mat can help make potential buyers feel at home.

Rethinking your space—furniture and floorplan meet function

Floorplan. Assume that most prospective buyers don’t have any imagination. Combine that with the fact that most houses have an awkward space that doesn’t get used. By adding a desk and plant—or a comfy chair and side table with a lamp—you have just created useable space and an opportunity for a buyer to see themselves in a space.

Take the time to rearrange your furniture into “conversational groups.” Not only does it make a home feel cozier, but it makes a room feel bigger as opposed to having your furniture pressed up to the walls. We get used to things as they are. By simply making a few changes, you may discover a much more usable way to showcase your home. Just make sure that you always allow clear walkways and don’t block doors.

It is also important to ensure that each room is being used in the most valuable way. This enables buyers to see how much usable space your home has. Rather than leaving a spare room that you’ve been using as overflow storage, clean it out and add a bed with a pretty comforter and a dresser. Instant value! And buyers won’t be wary that your home doesn’t have enough storage space.

Furniture. When it comes to furniture, less can truly be more. A huge four-poster bed in a small room will do a disservice to your home—unless you live in a castle. Replace, rent, or borrow more appropriate (read: more modern, less worn, better scale for the room, etc.) pieces. Store anything that doesn’t match the rest of your furniture or consider donating or selling your items. There will be fewer things to move into your new space once your home is sold. Your goal is to make the room look and feel as spacious as possible while allowing buyers to envision their belongings in your space.

Put your money where your mouth is—stage the kitchen

If you have to choose where to focus your money, time and attention, look at your kitchen. Staging can be as simple as new towels, a bowl of fresh apples, adding a tray of freshly baked cookies to the kitchen countertop, or a vase of flowers on the dining table. Clear clutter from your countertops. According to the National Association of Realtors®, “the rooms that hold the most importance for buyers are the living room, master bedroom, and kitchen.”

Another bright idea—don’t forget the lighting

A well-lit home is a cheerful home. Open up the curtains and allow the sun to shine into your room through those freshly-washed windows. Make sure all your light fixtures and lightbulbs are clean and in working order. Replace that outdated chandelier or hot pink ceiling fan. Easy changes that won’t break the bank, but may help you cash in when you sell!

Keep your style to yourself—it’s time to depersonalize

You may have loved pigs since you first read Charlotte’s Web, but it’s time to pack up your swine-centric figurines, artwork, and Wilbur comforter. The best staging advice is to make every space feel neutral, modern, and inviting. The more people you can appeal to, the more potential offers you’ll receive.

Walls. It’s always safest to remove wallpaper as it’s a highly personal expression. At the very least, paint your home with neutral colors. And while you’re at it, patch any nicks and fill those nail holes.

Flooring. Clean or replace your carpet. Repair any broken tiles and clean grout. If you do replace flooring, make sure it’s low maintenance and has mass appeal. Consider replacing bathroom floors since the square footage is relatively small and you can achieve a big impact for a lower cost.

Help them see their family in the space, not yours. Remove all family photos and keepsakes. Take the kids’ drawings off the refrigerator. Your goal is to have a beautiful, but not highly personalized space that is appealing to a wide range of buyers.

Create a relaxing oasis—boutique bedrooms and spa-like baths. If you watch any “home show” on television, you know that people want a calming retreat to escape to after a long day. Set the stage with neutral colors and fresh linens. It’s all about creating a space where buyers feel they can relax and recharge.

Clean your plate (and your floors and your appliances and your…)

Your home should sparkle for every showing. Before you put it on the market, make sure you deep clean everything. Once it is listed, make sure you tidy up and clean surfaces daily. A clean home says that your home has been taken care of. And don’t forget about things behind closed doors—buyers will open the refrigerator, pantry, and medicine cabinet—so make them organized and picture perfect.

The sweet smells (of success)

Prospective buyers should never be turned off by smells. Make sure that no one can guess if you have pets or toddlers. They also shouldn’t be able to know what was on the menu for last night's dinner. Freshen your home with plants, herbs, and flowers, beeswax candles, and other natural scents. Air fresheners can trigger allergies so it’s best to avoid those. And one of the easiest ways to combat smells? Don’t forget to run the garbage disposal and take out the trash!

Don’t distract. Declutter!

Clutter distracts buyers and makes your spaces feel closed in. Box up, throw, donate, or sell everything you don’t need on a daily basis. Make your rooms feel spacious—space sells! Edit your personal items down to just the basics. For example, if it’s July, take the winter coats and ski equipment to storage. Sure, keep that adorable baby Vikings jersey—but if your son is 18 it doesn’t need to take up space in his closet. Always remember that less clutter means your spaces will look bigger and more appealing to buyers.

It’s time for your next home sweet home

Keep reminding yourself that the staging process should always be about making changes that will make your home appeal to the biggest set of buyers. The more purchase offers for your home—the higher the selling price!