As a certified home stager, people often ask me how they can best prepare their home to sell in today’s slow real estate market. My answer is simple. Go back to the basic principles of good design to create multiple, memorable, ‘first impressions’!
Today’s prospective homebuyer is smarter than ever. Statistics show that 85% of people first search MLS listings on the internet to determine which homes they want to see in person. Therefore, compelling photographs depicting a house staged in show condition are critically important. This can often make the difference between a home that sells quickly and a home that will languish on the market for months, unseen.
The art of successfully staging homes so that properties sell quickly and at the best possible price is a service that has become widely adopted. Home builders have been using this marketing technique for many years to create an emotional connection with their potential buyer. They knew that a well-marketed model is minimal investment with maximum return, giving them that all-important advantage in a competitive marketplace. What model merchandising has done for home builders, home staging is now doing for individual home sellers and real estate agents nationwide.
Barbara Corcoran, the dynamic and successful New York real estate mogul, was recently quoted as saying, “Home staging, once considered an option by real estate professionals, has now become a necessity.” The benefits of home staging are obvious.
The following is a simple guide outlining the basics of good staging for both professionals and individuals who want to prepare their homes for a faster and more profitable sale. . .
A good home staging is . . .
. . . simple. Less is more when preparing your home to sell. It’s important to remember that you’re selling square footage and therefore you need to make rooms look and feel as large and open as possible. Declutter – declutter – then declutter again. When you have too much furniture, artwork, accessories, or just plain ‘fluff’, you risk sending your potential buyer into sensory overload.
. . . organized. Get organized! Reduce the size of what is in your closets, garage, pantry, etc. Clear countertops in your kitchen and bathroom areas. Keep refrigerator surfaces free of magnets and pictures of children. Host a garage sale to get rid of all the excess stuff you haven’t used or used in years. Box up out-of-season clothing, kids’ toys that won’t get lost, and stacks of books you’ve been meaning to read. And as a special reminder, organize your linen closet. This is a access point for potential buyers. An indicator to them of how well you have paid attention to detail in maintaining your home. It may seem unimportant to you, but buyer surveys have indicated that it isn’t to them!
. . . balanced. Have you ever been in a room where you felt uncomfortable and you didn’t know exactly why? The room was most likely unbalanced due to furniture that was out of scale and proportion to the room. It could also have been that the colors, textures, or lighting were not evenly distributed. Maintaining the visual balance with your furniture is essential to achieve a feeling of comfort, well-being and a good home staging.
. . . cohesive. Your eye carries color from room to room. It’s important to determine a general color scheme for your home, usually a combination of 3-5 colors, and stick with it. This does not mean that all rooms will look the same. Rather, each room should have its own personality while maintaining a cohesive flow of color and style. And remember, your color choices will psychologically communicate with your potential buyers. For example: red conveys emotion, blue evokes tranquility, pink has a calming effect, yellow sends the message of happiness and light, and green signifies life and growth. And when you wear black you are communicating the feeling of sophistication and elegance. Know what message you want to convey when making your selections.
. . . descriptive. The house should tell a story, represent a lifestyle that encourages buyers to envision themselves living there, entertaining there, raising their family there. Each room in the house should be a designated space that is memorable and incorporates the WOW factor!
. . . staging with the potential buyer in mind. Pay attention to demographics. Who is your target market? Young professionals with children, empty nesters? Is it a golf club community or on the water? Your staging should reflect and incorporate subtle furnishings associated with them, again forming that all important emotional connection with your potential buyer, making them feel like this is their ‘home’.
Finally, two basic things to remember when preparing a house for sale: #1. The way you live in a house and the way you organize a house for sale are two different things. A house on the market must be seen as a product and staged to appeal to a wide range of people. The depersonalization of the house is necessary for the buyers to connect emotionally with the house and to imagine themselves living there. #2. First impressions are made within seconds of entering each area of a home. You only get one chance to do these Unforgettable first impressions!