You are moving for a reason. The last thing you feel like doing is prettying up your existing home. You are ready to move on. We get it. However, you are wise to consider what has to happen in the mind of your buyer. A dream has to be seen and bought. Let’s stop and analyze the situation and be realistic about what you might be willing to do and how it will help you sell your home faster.
Duke University did a study on the role of home staging in the selling process. According to the findings, the goal was to “empirically test some of these principles in a controlled, scientific way in a real life setting.” Further, they note that “While we recognize the artistry of staging, scientific testing invariably requires simplification, and we feel that our findings will be useful despite this necessary simplification.”
To make it very straight forward, we will share only the top three variables tied to efficacy in getting a home sold as they relate to advice commonly heard from staging professionals. If you wish to read about all the suggestions and the justification for each along with the correlation between making the change and seeing results, go to the complete study write-up located at: http://www.stagedhomes.com/PDF/Duke%20University%20ASP%20Home%20Staging%20Study.pdf
Are you ready for the top three most important suggestions?
1. Remove all signs of you and day to day living which detract from the sale.
This means, to be specific, that you must remove personal items from bathrooms such as used bars of soap, razors, toothbrushes,etc. Duke’s study cites these as top items to get rid of, first, because they can be disgusting. It’s also a too personal look into the life of your family for strangers to see, and worse, it distracts buyers from seeing the home as possibly theirs. The home becomes emotionally unavailable and “used” because of your obvious habitation there.
Evidence of day to day living evaporates along with the furniture you remove. Leave only necessary furniture, and the rooms will look bigger, leaving more to the buyer's imagination.
Furnishings that seem homey and comforting, yet fresh and contemporary will give off an aura that your home is updated and well cared for. Neutrals work best; just add colorful touches here and there.
2. Have rooms set up for the purpose they were intended.
For example, the formal living room should have attractive furniture scaled to the size of the room, not a pool table. The dining room should have a table, inviting set up, instead of a strange office space which works perfectly for you. Buyers must be able to visualize things differently as it is, with your stuff there. Adding a confusing room space situation makes this muchg worse. In their minds, they may decide there is not enough space in the house if a room is being used for an unintended purpose. If you have a space like this, realize this was the #2 most important item in the study. We don’t want a confused buyer.
Other things you can do to help buyers create their dream include clearing the kitchen counter of appliances, spice racks, towels, and cooking utensils and leave only a few things: a couple of cookbooks and a shiny tea kettle. Set the table. It's easy to do and makes a big impact. Buyers walk in and instantly feel welcome, like as if they're coming over for dinner. Don't forget the outdoor areas. Those spaces add as much interest for the buyer as the interior rooms. Create a scene which allows the buyer to imagine spending time outside as added living space.
3. Pet evidence is your enemy.
No one wants to be thought of as stinky. This may be a universal truth, at least among humans. If you do not remove evidence of pets including their smelly bowls and litter boxes, the buyer will have to overcome the worry that a lingering odor will haunt them and anyone they entertain for years to come. Your home may seem damaged and off-putting. It may bring to mind little Joey’s allergies just when they were warming to the idea of making your home their own, just when you were about to make your getaway to the next stage of life. Don’t let your furry friends unwittingly sabotage your plans.
The whole idea of staging is to prepare the home so that it is a believable dream, a place the buyer does not want to leave because it feels like home. One article summarized it as “presenting your home on a silver platter.” Set up little scenes that help buyers visualize their potential life in this home.
You are creating a dream, perhaps a not completely honest dream (no one’s desk is ever THAT neat), but a dream nevertheless.