Before you show your home to a prospective buyer, you will want to make sure that it is in an attractive condition. First impressions are critical, and you do not want to be in the position of assuring a buyer that the home will look different once it is sold. Part of this process involves getting rid of superfluous possessions, moving other items into storage, and moving items that you plan to continue using into your new home. One key point to bear in mind is that a buyer can more easily visualize living in your home if they do not see it filled with your personal items. This can distract buyers from the home and encourage them to draw conclusions about it based on its owners, especially if some personal items relate to religious or political views.
A recent development in the real estate industry, “staging” has become an important part of how many real estate agents sell their homes. It involves orchestrating lighting, furnishing, and other design aspects of the home to emphasize its main selling points and draw attention away from its flaws. Staging is a cosmetic effort rather than a structural remodeling, so it is not prohibitively expensive and often can be handled at least partly by the homeowner. Most real estate agents believe that staging has a positive impact on how prospective buyers see a home, even in areas where homes sell quickly.
The Components of Staging
Without making your home look artificially presented, you can take steps to give buyers the ideal first impression. This may include repainting the home, removing most of the current furniture, possibly adding some small furniture items, creating a specific theme for each room, and providing some minor finishing touches like vases of flowers or bowls of fruit. You will want to handle the staging before opening your house to buyers. This will delay the process slightly but may shorten the time that it stays on the market. Your home will receive the most interest shortly after it goes on the market, so you need it to look its best from the outset.
People often move out before the staging process, since it tends to make daily life less convenient, but this is not always possible. That said, if your home is vacant, you may need to buy additional furniture or leave some of your furniture in the house so that it does not look austere and empty.
Hiring a professional staging outfit comes with a cost, but people who have handled staging for many homes will have a broad base of experience. They may know what appeals to a buyer in your area better than you would, and they can provide you with a report and estimate on what needs to be done. You can choose to adopt all of their recommendations, or you can just adopt some of them if your home already is in good condition. Fees for staging probably should not amount to more than 1-1.5% of the home’s sale price. They may be charged on an hourly basis or as a flat fee.
If you decide not to hire a professional stager, you can consider getting some general assistance from your real estate agent or a local designer. They might be able to review the property and give you recommendations on how you could improve it. You also might be able to get help with clearing out junk or superfluous belongings.
Homeowners who would prefer not to spend the money on professional staging or other external assistance can handle at least some components of the staging process on their own. For example, they can mow the lawn, fix any exterior lighting, plant flowers, repaint the house, and wash the windows. The outside of the house is the first thing that the buyer will see, so you should not underestimate its impact.
In terms of interior staging efforts, you may want to spend much of your time in the kitchen. You can clean the oven, replace the grout on tiles, clean out the refrigerator and cupboards, and wipe down the walls. Another important area to address is the bathroom. You can change the shower curtain, clean the vents, address any accumulation of mold, clean out the medicine cabinets, replace towels, and clean out the drains, among other things.
In the living room, you will want to open a clear path through the room, remove oversized furniture, create a cohesive color scheme, and potentially add decorations to the walls. Bedrooms can be harder to modify, but you can address any clutter in the rooms, make a child’s room gender-neutral, remove any visible toys, clean out closets, and remove any posters from the walls.