What Is Staging?
According to Wikipedia, “Home staging is the act of preparing a private residence for sale in the real estate marketplace. The goal of staging is to make a home appealing to the highest number of potential buyers, thereby selling a property more swiftly and for more money. Staging techniques focus on improving a property's appeal by transforming it into a welcoming, attractive product that anyone might want. People usually use arts, painting, accessories, lights, greenery, and carpet to stage the home, to give potential buyers a more attractive first impression of the property.”
Why Does Staging It Matter?
Staging matters because most people buy on emotion. Should dirty dishes in the sink, an un-mowed lawn, or 1970s-era décor impact one’s home buying decision? Probably not, but it does. While these are extreme examples, it’s a proven fact that staging makes a difference. Just look at any model home…they look fabulous!
How Much Staging Do I Need?
It all comes down to ROI...return on investment. Sure, hiring professional stagers to decorate your home with trendy furniture will help you sell your home for more money, but is it worth it? Probably not. That said, every home is unique, and this guide will help show you what things will give you the most bang for your buck.
1) Get Rid of Clutter
De-cluttering is the single most important element of staging for 3 main reasons:
It makes your home feel bigger, brighter, and more open.
A well-organized home appears to be better-maintained.
It's relatively easy and 100% free!
Treat de-cluttering like packing. After all, you’re going to be moving soon, so use this as an opportunity to box up EVERYTHING you don't need before the move. Neatly store the boxes in your garage, basement, or even at a neighbor's home.
You can also sell, donate, or throw away items you don't use anymore. Try using apps like Facebook Marketplace or LetGo to offload some unwanted furniture. You'll be surprised how much money you can get for used stuff!
Helpful Hint: Check out my page on de-cluttering for an in-depth guide on the magic of minimalism.
2) Hide Your Pets
Don’t get me wrong, I love animals! I even have a cat named Merle, but unfortunately, not everyone feels the same way. In fact, 10% of Americans are severely allergic to cats and dogs, which means about 40% of families have at least one family member with a pet allergy. Here are some quick tips for pet owners:
Arrange for someone to watch your pet during showings.
Set aside a box to quickly pack up all pet toys, food bowls, and litter boxes before showings.
Pack away unused pet toys, pictures of your pets, etc.
Spray air fresheners to ensure your home doesn’t smell like pets.
3) Clean Early & Often
This one should be self-explanatory, but you’d be surprised how many homes I’ve been in that simply aren’t clean. Not only does a clean home look better, but it subconsciously makes the buyer feel more comfortable buying it.
If you don’t have time to clean before a showing, then did you also not have time to change the furnace filter or reseal the driveway last summer? Maybe, maybe not, but this is what buyers think when they see a dirty home. A clean home is perceived to be well-maintained.
Therefore, I recommend a deep-cleaning before going on the market, followed by smaller cleanings before each showing. Mop the floors, vacuum, clean the bathrooms, make your bed, etc. You know the drill.
Helpful Hint: Don't have time to clean? Hire a professional maid service! A typical deep clean costs around $250, and subsequent weekly cleanings are about $100 each. This is truly a worthwhile investment.
4) Depersonalize Your Decor
This may sound odd, but depersonalizing your decor really works. Buyer's need to imagine themselves in your home, and unfortunately it's easier for them to do so if your family pictures aren't all over the walls.
Take down most of your family portraits, kids art projects, and save-the-date wedding magnets from 2014. You don’t necessarily have to take down all of your personal touches, but make some effort to neutralize as much as possible.
5) Every Light on the House is On
No, I’m not referring to the 1996 hit single by Trace Adkins. It’s actually really important to have a lot of light in your house during showings; especially at night.
Forget about your carbon footprint for a few weeks, and make a point to leave every light on in your house. This includes the basement, bathrooms, walk-in closets, and your front porch.
In addition to turning lights on, be sure to open blinds and curtains to let in natural sunlight.
6) First Impressions Matter
We've all heard that first impressions matter, and here in the real estate world, we like to call this curb appeal.
The psychology behind curb appeal is actually a very interesting subject. Without getting into all of the nuances, just understand that creating a good first impression can work wonders on the subconscious mind of prospective buyers.
Here are a few key tips for boosting your curb appeal:
Lay fresh mulch
Plant annuals in your flower beds (these are usually cheaper and more colorful than perennials)
Mow and edge your lawn consistently
Keep your lawn and flower beds free of weeds and crab grass
Re-paint your front door and threshold trim (if necessary)
Reseal your driveway, sidewalk, deck, or patio (if necessary).
So there you have it! Staging your home certainly isn't rocket science, but it does take a lot of work. For many, especially those who have been in their home for a long time, this can be challenging. I therefore encourage you to set proper expectations and get started early. It'll totally be worth it when all is said and done. And perhaps, when your home is completely clean and clutter-free, you may decide you don't want to move after-all.