Do You Need to Stage Your Home Before Selling?

living room staged for selling

Post from MilitaryByOwner

The ultimate goal in selling a home is to garner the most attractive offer, and quickly. To achieve this, savvy sellers utilize home staging techniques that are repeatedly proven successful. The 2019 Profile of Home Staging reports that 25 percent of buyer’s agents agree that staging a home increased the dollar value between one and five percent compared to homes that were not staged.

Staging practices are often DIY friendly, but some markets require the services provided by professional stagers. Your real estate agent will know what is appropriate for your neighborhood.

Let’s take a look at three popular descriptors home buyers mention over and over while compiling their must-have lists. Once you’ve viewed the qualifiers through a stager’s point of view, it's simple to see what tasks have to be tackled.

#1 - Light, Bright, and Airy

Clean

Make no mistake-cleanliness is the cheapest and most efficient way to begin staging a home. Decluttering and deep cleaning are must-do’s to attract the best buyers for the best price. From crown molding to baseboards and the appliances in between, each corner of the house has to be inspected and free of cobwebs, dirt, and grime. In fact, the profile report states the top two home improvement recommendations were decluttering and cleaning.

Likely at the very top of a buyer’s wish list is the presence of plenty of natural light. No, this doesn’t mean updating expensive window and door systems, but it does mean maximizing the amount of natural light (or the feel of airiness) streaming through the house.

Although your staging budget probably doesn’t have room for new windows, the effort to have them completely cleaned--inside, outside, and the space in the middle--is well worth your time. The simple act of removing dirt and adding sparkle adds an extra layer of light pouring through the house.

Window Treatments

Reevaluate the need for your current window treatments. For showings, can you get away with removing them to showcase the window size, woodwork, or picturesque view? Remove heavy fabrics that surround the windows to offer a lighter version of the space.

If privacy is a non-negotiable issue, consider tricks that block views but also let sunlight in. Tension rods fitted across the window where the lock traditionally sits let natural light come in above, but impede the public view below.

Neutral Paint

After cleaning, new paint is the second most affordable way to add brightness throughout the house. To the chagrin of many homeowners who have perfected a personal color palette, buyers insist on wall and trim colors that are flexible.

Neutral paint lets buyers envision their styles and furniture in the room, not to mention the ease of a move-in ready color scheme. Homebuyers pay more to avoid nuisances such as painting before they arrive. For a secondary advantage, don’t dismiss the power of coordinating neutral colors to enhance the overall size of a home.

Flooring

The number one flooring request from buyers is hardwood. There is room for interpretation for what buyers perceive as hardwood; quality laminates and tile that mimic hardwoods are often welcomed. But, carpet, particularly dated and smelly carpet, is not open for interpretation. Most buyers don’t want the burden of removing it before move-in day.

For a minority, there is a case to be made for carpeted sleeping spaces. Citing warmth and noise reduction, these buyers are fine with carpeting if it is well cared for and odor free. If you have carpeting in the home, professional cleaning is necessary.

If your staging plans include a flooring overhaul, consider using the same material throughout to unify the home’s footprint; the mind’s eye perceives the space as larger. Take the advice of a professional as to which way to orient planks or tiles to avoid visually chopping spaces into small areas with abrupt starts and finishes.

#2 - Spacious

Buyer’s agents will confirm that they are never looking for “small and cramped” in their ideal property descriptions. This doesn’t mean that homes with smaller square footage are doomed; it just means judicious furniture placement is necessary. Even larger homes appear smaller if outfitted with too many oversized furniture pieces.

To prepare for an open house, stagers often recommend securing a temporary location to store home goods, not only to increase the illusion of spaciousness, but to remove personal items that restrict buyers from forming a vision of their belongings filling the space. Family photos and personal decorating items that overtake mantels and tabletops act as clutter and reduce the feel of openness.

Ideal furniture placement is crucial to show off available square footage. Many homeowners immediately push their couches and end tables to the wall perimeter of the room to showcase an empty swath of space in the middle. This setup is not indicative of how people live.

Pulling seating together to form conversational areas is much more suited to everyday life. An ideal setup includes furniture close enough to be useful (end and coffee tables) and arranged for families to be able to communicate easily. A clear and wide pathway around and behind furniture is vital for easy flow of foot traffic.

#3 - Curb Appeal

Not technically inside, of course, but curb appeal is a top priority for buyers. Sticking with the move-in ready theme, it’s important to know that buyers prefer to avoid the work of turning a so-so yard into a space worthy of a magazine cover.

Professional stagers are embracing the idea of staging outdoors more and more because buyers now have the mindset that porches and yard spaces are extensions of the living areas inside. From grand entertaining centers in the backyard, to a charming front porch overhaul, curb appeal encompasses many options to attract buyers.

Inexpensive solutions for front or back porch updates include new exterior lighting fixtures, modern outdoor furniture to include durable rugs, and attractive planters. A new front door system quite often is one of the best returns on investment. Not only does an attractive door provide personality and charm, but the security features are an practical bonus. Add in a new mailbox and address numbers, and the look is complete.

The power of home staging can’t be denied. Year after year, staging and real estate reports solidify the importance of achieving the perfect balance of investing in the right staging projects to earn the most from the home sale. When that balance is struck, the time on the market is shorter and the final sale price is higher.

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