Fans of “Million Dollar Listing” on Bravo and “Selling Sunset” on Netflix are familiar with home stagers who help prepare a property for sale.
WHY HIRE A PRO?
“We all have blind spots when it comes to our home,” explains Darla DeMorrow of HeartWork, a home stager and organizing company in Wayne, Pennsylvania. “Hiring a stager will help you maximize the great features of your home, eliminate or minimize the trouble spots, and incorporate the key trends that buyers are looking for in a home.”
More than ever, looks count. Buyers shop online before picking up the phone to make an appointment.
“The goal of professional photography and staging is to draw the buyer into a showing,” says Nora Crosthwaite, the owner of Stagerie, an online home-staging software solution and a real estate agent in Des Moines, Iowa.
You don’t need to empty your house to get results. Most stagers will work with what you already own. You can hire a stager as a consultant, or they can do the work. Some have furniture and artwork to rent.
Here are some other professional tips to help you sell your home in short order.
CREATE A FRESH, CLEAN SLATE
Remove old, outdated items. “Most people see the old and dated and won’t make an offer,” DeMorro explains.
Replace rundown appliances and worn carpets. It’s better to have no window treatments than old ones. If the bedding or lamps are showing their age, go shopping.
“Think of these as jewelry for rooms; they’ll make the house sparkle,” DeMorrow says. You can always take the new items with you.
Remove wallpaper and paint over 1980s-era stencils. Consistent color schemes create a cohesiveness. But avoid pure white, which looks “cold,” DeMorrow says. Try soft gray, light mocha, tan, or beige.
PRE-PACK AND REMOVE PERSONAL ITEMS
Remove as many items as you can from counters and tables. “Less is more,” notes Robyn Reynolds, a professional organizer in Los Angeles. “When someone tours your house, you want them to focus on the house itself.”
One of DeMorrow’s clients collected Eagles memorabilia, some of which was valuable. Not only was it a distraction, but the collection also had the potential to alienate the fans of other football teams.
Get ahead of packing and neatly arrange the boxes in the garage or basement. Just don’t tell your family that you’re “decluttering,” says Nora Crosthwaite of Stagerie, an online home-staging software solution. “To our clients, this isn’t clutter; it’s their possessions,” she says. Leave some decorative accents, so the house looks welcoming, she adds.
CREATE A FLOW
Large armoires and clunky sofas will make rooms look small. Put them in storage, sell, or donate them. “Rooms look larger with fewer pieces of furniture,” Crosthwaite notes.
Arrange the furniture so you can easily move around the space and into another. “Regardless of what you like or what works for you now, make sure the furniture placement works in the space,” Reynolds says.
CLEAN, CLEAN, CLEAN
Buyers don’t want to see toothbrushes, dirty dishes, overflowing kitchen cabinets, trash cans, and the unpleasant reminders that a pet lives in the house.
“Organize, clean, and tuck personal items out of sight,” DeMorrow says. Reynolds agrees. “As silly as it seems, if the home is not spotless and free of dirt, the buyer will get the impression that the home isn’t well-maintained,” she says.
Put away pet toys, beds, and food bowls for showings. “Have a friend with no pets do a smell test,” Crosthwaite recommends. “Odors turn off potential buyers.”
RENT FURNITURE OR CONSIDER VIRTUAL STAGING
If the home is empty, stagers can add furniture and artwork from their supply. Often, you only need to furnish the foyer, living room, and master bedroom. Again, the goal is to help buyers imagine living in the house.
Virtual stagers use the computer to insert furniture and artwork into photographs of empty rooms. If you take that route, print out the photos and put them on large foam boards so buyers can visualize the decor when they visit.
REAP THE REWARDS
If you purchase new carpeting, countertops, or appliances, incorporate the fees into the house's overall cost. It’s better than providing buyers with a discount to do it themselves or dropping the price when the home sits on the market.
The goal of staging? A return on the investment. “We like to see a $1 investment bring at least $3 in return,” DeMorrow concludes. Money in the bank means the money was well spent.