If you’re considering selling your home and you want to get top dollar, staging matters. Often investing a few hundred or even a few thousand dollars in staging will provide a bigger investment than bigger-ticket improvements.
Why stage a home? Because a staged home helps create emotional appeal. Many buyers imagine only what they see, not beyond that. You might think they can see past a threadbare couch or a cluttered “junk room,” but it’s just not the case.
If done well, staging mean the difference of months on the market and tens of thousands of dollars. We’ve listed homes and after staging assistance, had them sell quickly when they had previously lingered on the market with other agents. Professional photos also make a difference.
A Few Staging Tips:
Start at the Street
Curb appeal isn’t just a catchy phrase created to boost landscapers’ income. It’s a crucial first impression that can make buyers either wary of stopping to look or else eager to step inside. Make sure that your lawn and garden look great, trash cans and bikes are put away, house numbers are attractive and easy to see, the front door is spectacular (because you’ve replaced or painted it and perhaps updated the hardware), and you have attractive potted plants by the door.
Clean, Clean, Clean
Or hire a cleaning crew to come regularly while your home is on the market, or at least for a one-time super-cleaning. Don’t skip windows (inside and out), behind the toilet, bathroom grout, under sinks. Actually move your furniture to vacuum behind and under it.
Highlight the Architecture
Arrange your furnishings to frame — not obscure — views, fireplaces and other architectural details. Put tall objects (furniture, vases, paintings or plants) against tall walls. Highlight, don’t block, the traffic flow. Grab a couple of sturdy friends and play with different ways to arrange your furniture. Pay attention to your friends’ opinions.
Use Rooms for Their Intended Purpose
Take the exercise equipment out of the guest room and put a bed back in. Put a table and chairs in an eat-in kitchen. Get the home office equipment and filing cabinets out of your little-used dining room and set the table for company (or just put a nice vase of flowers on top).
Fix What’s Broken
Buyers look for flaws to negotiate a lower sale price. That wobbly stair rail may still support you, and the crack in the ceiling plaster may not be structural, but it’ll leave buyers wondering what else is not quite right. No matter how minor the problem, take your toolbox around and start fixing.
Update What You Can
A home often looks tired because of faded paint or old furnishings. A new coat of neutral-toned paint is a buyer-pleasing backdrop. Remove outdated furniture: Buy new furniture, trade pieces with a friend or relative while your house is on the market, or store your furniture and rent a more contemporary style. Worn area rugs (or too many of them) detract from nice wood floors. Shag or other old-fashioned carpeting turns off buyers — replace it if you can; clean it if you can’t. Update a tired kitchen with an inexpensive new countertop, new cabinet doors, or even just new cabinet hardware.
Erase Your Personality
Love Hummels? Bummer. Collect fishing lures? Too bad. Think that colorful painting is quirky and fun? At least half the people who see it won’t. Box up your collections, your personal photos, and anything you wouldn’t expect to see on the floor of a furniture showroom. (Nondescript art is fine; art with attitude is not.) And put away blow dryers, makeup and toothbrushes. Buyers need to imagine themselves in your home, not wonder what its current inhabitants are like.
Invite Honest Friends Over for an Evaluation
Ask two or three of your most forthright friends to look through your house with the eye of a home buyer. What needs changing? The smell of pets? A cracked window? Not-so-clean appliances? What’s acceptable for daily living isn’t likely to impress a buyer.
Find Storage Away From Your House
It’s tempting to shove all the boxes of extras into the basement or garage, but buyers will look there and judge how big they are. Make them as empty as possible by renting a storage space or borrowing a neighbor’s or relative’s garage for a while. (For last-minute things — a stack of papers, a handful of dirty clothes — that you need to put away before a showing, stash them in the washer or dryer or under beds; most buyers never look there.)