Staging a home for sale means just that…setting the stage so that your home may sell faster and often times closer to the listing price than if it were not staged.
Staging allows the home to be presented as a canvas and allow the buyer to paint a picture for them; visualizing what the space will look like if they moved in with their items. But that does not mean showing an empty home; rather staging accentuates spaces within the home by creating vignettes, which enhance positive space while downplaying negative areas within the house.
You could hire a professional stager for about $400 for a consultation and then shell out another $100 per hour for the stager to do the packing and the redecorating, OR you can do it yourself, keep the savings and put it into staging the home if you do-it-yourself.
In order to create the staging scene, understand that for the next 30-90 days, while the house is for sale, you will need to have removed personal items, collections and clutter, (and keep them ‘gone’ until you have a signed contract). Your home may lose its personal style and warmth, but that will be one of the small sacrifices you will need to make to maximize profit from the sale of your house.
Staging will require some planning as you will pack away items, which you may have kept handy just for the sake of a convenience (i.e., refrigerator door space used as a bulletin board for ‘to-do lists,’ coupons, family photos and calendars, etc.) or items which may have been left plugged (indefinitely) into electrical outlets for convenience, such a shavers and hair dryers in the bathroom; all of which add clutter to the home.
If you stage your home for sale on your own, here are 10 easy tips to remember:
1) Make a list of all the spaces, choose one room at a time and tackle each individually. You will be overwhelmed if you choose to do ‘the whole house’ in one afternoon. Start with the bathroom(s) and the kitchen and then move to the common rooms and finally the bedrooms. Basements, hallways and attics are last. Check off each room on your list as you go helping to make you feel as if you have made some accomplishment. Understand that packing up clutter is ‘work’ and it is time-consuming (that is why there is a $100 an hour price tag on the hiring a professional), but remember always that the savings outweighs the hard work. By all means, ask family members to pitch-in. Even children can pack away their toys and older children can clean a dirty shower. Plug in the Ipod or put on a CD to help the time pass a little more pleasantly.
2) Evaluate the colors of each room individually. Pastel colors do not sell well. Baby blue and princess pink are often gender-inspired colors, which are a huge turn-off for potential buyers. Even if the buyers have children and will use the baby blue room for their own baby, they may or may not like that particular shade or, in fact may wish to use yellow or green, often considered colors, which can traditionally be used for both boys and girls. Play it safe and simply paint over the pastels with a neutral color like beige or off-white. Any wallpaper should be removed or painted over if possible.
3) Go to your neighborhood grocery store and ask them for empty boxes from produce as these usually have side cut-outs for easy grabbing. Start storing empty boxes in a place for easy access a few weeks before you begin to stage. You will need the boxes and having them handy will keep the packing momentum moving along.
4) As you go from room to room, remove family pictures from the walls and replace them with used art from a thrift store or simply purchase framed prints from a local dollar store. Pack away all collections including children’s Hot Wheels, baseball cap collections and any other really personal collections you and your family may be fond of. You may leave out neutral items for decorating such as pricey crystal, Lladro, colorful depression glassware to fill in those spaces left behind when the spoon collections, baseball card collections and Formula 1 car collections come off the fireplace mantle and shelves. This may be ‘painful’ but consider that in 30-90 days you will be able to unpack these items in your new home and enjoy them again.
5) Consider at this point whether you will need to rent storage space or whether a neighbor or a friend will allow you to store these items in their home as filled boxes will accumulate quickly. A new storage idea has streamlined storage space in recent years, whereas you rent a container or a pod and store the items in this portable space for as long as you need to. If you should rent this container space, do not store the entire container on your own property. Ask a friend or a neighbor if you can store it there or ask the container company if you can store at their own facility. You do not want to make your home look like a warehouse. Also, do not consider storing any packed items in a spare bedroom or in the basement of your own home as you would simply be de-cluttering one room and cluttering another. All rooms should be clear of storage boxes, afterall you are selling a home and not a storage space.
6) Clean, clean, clean….particularly bathrooms and kitchens. No home will sell especially well with grit, mold, dirty tiles and floors. For as much as you will stage each room, the buyers’ eyes will focus on the dirt and not on the hard work you put into staging. People remember dirt and grime and it would only remind them how much more work they would have to do when they moved in themselves. If you need to re-grout a dirty tub, then you will need to make that effort.
7) Buyers make a determination of a home within 20 seconds of walking through the front door. Make that experience memorable within that short period of time. If you have an entryway, set up a table, with flowers, a small attractive bowl of expensive mints and add some potpourri somewhere in the area. Scented candles offer a nice smell when you first walk in, so I use them often. I often purchase scented candles at the dollar store or the day after a holiday when the retailers slash holiday item prices. An expensive red Christmas candle can be picked up for half price the day after the holiday season and no one would know it was a holiday candle. The same for Halloween…often orange, black, yellow and green scented candles go on sale after this event, so I stock up at that time and use those candles throughout the year.
If you have an entryway, open all the doors off the entry to make the space appear larger and brighter.
8) Go from room-to-room and pack- up clutter. Leave a small basket under the counter or in a closet with items you will need to use while you are still living there. The only items on a bathroom counter should be a small bouquet of flowers, a bar of clean decorative soap in a clean soap dish and a clean hand towel. Toothbrushes, toothpaste, shaving cream, medications and hair products should all be packed away under the counters or in places, which are not noticeable.
9) Go to the supermarket and purchase an inexpensive bouquet of either daisies or carnations. You get many more flowers to work with in these arrangements than you would if you opted to spend money on roses or more expensive flowers. Arrange the flowers in whiskey snifters, small vases, or, if you do not have either take a better drinking glass from your kitchen, tie a small ribbon around the base and fill that with water and a few daisies. Use these arrangements randomly around the home but be sure to place at least one in each room. Change flowers as needed but the daisies and carnations seem to last a long time even if you forget to add more water! Dying flowers MUST be thrown out immediately; they make bad impression to visitors to your home.
10) Move out the bulky furniture and create little seating venues in your home with small tables and chairs. For example, you normally have a large sectional in your TV room with a cocktail table and two side tables…however, you may also have a large window facing the backyard that is blocked by the sectional. Remove pieces of the sectional to make the space appear larger. Place the cocktail table and one end table near the sectional. Find two chairs, which do not always have to match and place the other end table in front of the window with the 2nd end table in between the chairs. Add your bouquet of flowers, a small lamp and you have another seating area in the room. Pull your curtains away from the window, tie back with decorative rope or ribbon and let the light shine in the room. Add a bowl of lemons (I also like to use colored peppers) to the cocktail table for added color. Find two pillows that DO match and place them on the chairs in front of the window to tie the room together. If you do not have matching pillows, take two unmatching pillows and wrap matching pillow cases around the pills and knot in the center with a piece of ribbon. This is an easy formula to pull together a room which works in every bedroom and common area in the home.
If you do not have a window to showcase, you may use a blank wall and situate the furniture as indicated above, adding two or three framed prints between the chairs and slightly overlapping the seating space to bring the eye toward the seating venue.
For more staging ideas, please click here for Part II of this series Staging a Home for Sale – 10 More Ideas You CAN Use – Part II
About the author
Michael Trust http://www.michaeltrustrealty.com/ is a native Angeleno. Born, raised, and educated in Los Angeles, and a homeowner himself, Michael is familiar with the challenges of buying, selling and owning real estate in the Greater Los Angeles area. His background is unusual in Realtor® circles. With a baccalaureate degree from California State University, Long Beach, and a Master’s Degree in Management from the University of Southern California (USC), and 15 years of corporate management experience in Fortune 500 type organizations, including responsibility for projects of up to $1 billion, he can help you look at your real estate transaction from a broader business perspective. Michael handles both residential and commercial properties.