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With all this trouble in the housing market it’s a good idea to present your home in its best possible light if you’re trying to sell it. As a Certified Home Staging Specialist, I’ve learned a few tricks that can make your home stand out from all those on the market.
First a few statistics:
According to the National Association of Realtors, homes sold in the first four weeks of listing average 1.9% less than the listed price, homes sold between 4 and 12 weeks average 3.6% less than listed price, homes sold between 13 and 24 weeks average 5.6% less and homes sold after 24 weeks average 8.9% less than listed price. You do the math.
But most staged homes get top dollar based on the comparative home of equal value in that neighborhood. And they sell two times faster than the competition. That leads me to believe that you might like to know how to stage your home.
What makes a buyer chose a particular home to purchase? Well, they must have an emotional connection. Buyers have to be touched emotionally and inspired to believe that this house can enrich their lives. They have to feel good in the house.
So, how do you make this happen? Preparing and dressing a home is the best way to make it stand out from all the rest. By dressing a home to sell, you will likely sell it faster and perhaps for more than anticipated.
While a critical factor in home sales is location, location, location, any house can be the most appealing one in a less than perfect neighborhood. And if a neighborhood is desirable, the competition is even keener—dress that house to stand out.
The best way to do this is to look at the house the way a buyer will look at it. Think of it as getting dressed up for a night on the town. Buyers shouldn’t see that house until it’s ready—prepared for its big debut. As a buyer you’ll have to see the house as a product for sale rather than as a cherished family home. And after living in a house for an extended period owners tend to overlook obvious flaws.
Where do you start? Well, the first impression is a lasting impression so make the first impression positive: start with curb appeal. The decision clock for most buyers starts running the moment they drive up to a house.
You won’t want a buyer to encounter cracked cement, broken lights, dirty windows, ugly hardware, small house numbers, trash, dead plants. These are little things that make a big difference when a prospective buyer sees the home for the first time.
And once inside the buyer should feel the house is spacious, clean and comfortable?inviting—a safe harbor. You accomplish this through the five steps of staging: un-cluttering, cleaning, repairing, neutralizing and dynamizing.
Whole books have been written on this subject. Go through your house with a ruthless hand. Decide where to start and then follow these five rules:
1. Throw it away
2. Put it away
3. Give it away
4. Sell it
5. Keep it
Only keep what you have to have and what you love. Pack up what you can now. You’ll have to do that to move anyway.
Cleaning doesn’t mean the once-over with a vacuum and feather duster we do on a regular basis—it means deep down, thorough, white glove clean. If necessary, it means hiring a team of professionals.
Homes with animals and homes with smokers need extra care. Nothing turns a buyer off quicker than pet odors or the smell of stale smoke. If walls are smoke-stained, they may need a fresh coat of paint and window coverings must be cleaned or replaced.
All windows will need to be cleaned inside and out, all woodwork cleaned and repaired. Make sure lighting is clean and in working order. In any home, if it can’t be cleaned, it must be painted. This will make the house feel brand new.
Every detail—large or small—needs to be in perfect shape. Even small repairs such as a leaky faucet trigger a fear response in potential buyers—the fear that there may be even bigger repairs that need addressing. Buyers only know what they see, not what could be.
Think real estate beige. While a limited number of buyers might really love a particular décor, it will not appeal to the largest possible audience. The more neutral a statement a home makes, the wider the buying audience, the quicker the sale, the more money the house brings in.
Evidence of pets, un-nerving artwork, loud paint colors, smells, pests, bold or dated wallpaper and carpet, even the presence of lots of family photos about need to be removed.
The simplest way to neutralize is to paint. Remember that neutralizing doesn’t mean boring, just widely appealing.
Setting the scene—where the real fun begins.
Setting the scene reaches the psychological needs of the buyers and successfully setting the scene is strongest when you appeal to buyers’ senses. This is where staging really happens. Little areas of the house are set up to provide buyers with constant surprises and good impressions. Every space inside and outside of the house is a communication opportunity—an opportunity to communicate easy living, social gathering or an abundance of personal time.
A few well placed props powerfully enhance a space and evoke positive feelings. For example: a vase of yellow flowers, wooden hangers in the coat closet, closet items faced, fresh baked bread.
Now you have the basics. Just remember that once the house is ready, it has to stay that way. So, every day scan the house for things that need to keep it in tip-top shape.