Lessons Learned from Staging and Selling My Own Home

By
Home Stager with Set Sale and Go Home Staging

Lessons Learned from Staging and Selling My Own Home

Now, I have to say that I felt I would now be an expert at preparing my house for sale since I have now been running my staging business for 2+ years. Not to say that I am not an expert, but I certainly was hard on myself as a client.

I have staged my own home previously....meaning before I officially became a "stager". In fact, that is how I got into the business. It was a recommendation from my real estate agent that I stage professionally because I obviously had a knack for it. Both of the homes he sold for me, sold for list price or more on the first day of the open house and it was largely due to how I presented the house since they were plain old subdivision houses.

Because I know what should be done, I set very high expectations for myself and my home and I was completely stressed out that I would drop dead from exhaustion before I got the house ready. I was working day after day, morning until night, to-do lists running through my mind while I should have been sleeping. Not to mention, I have a realtor husband, who I have taught far to much about staging, and I let his "this should be dones" get to me too.

Then, I ran into a friend and ex-client who unknowingly set me straight. She had just sold her house and told me how much my words helped her through the process. I spoke to her the weekend before pictures and video were taken and told her that not everything had to be perfect at that time. Pictures don't show flaws or dirt, and you can move things out of the way and move them back afterwards if everything isn't positioned just perfectly. It really helped her calm down and she realized she still had a whole week until the open house to finish up all the details.

I saw her at the right time. I was not treating myself like I treat my clients. With clients, I calm them down and keep them from being overwhelmed by prioritizing the to-do list and keeping their skill level, timeline and budget in mind.

Since it was just me doing all the work, and the timeframe was slim and money slimmer, I was freaking myself out. Next I prioritized my list and had to come to grips with the fact that some things were just not going to get done, but I did the important stuff first.

I worked on the main floor and kitchen and bathrooms first. I did all the things that would show up in pictures and video in time for them to be taken and then worked on the rest in the time remaining. My 3rd floor which is really bonus space was left unfinished, but still in good shape. I hired a handyman for a day....the best $140 I have ever spent. He hung light fixtures, fixed a broken pipe, installed a range hood and a lock and a bunch of other stuff I could have done.....if there were time. He did it much faster, and all I had left to do was a little painting and cleaning out the basement. I hired a cleaning crew to come through my house on the Friday before the open house and then shipped the kids off to Grandma's house.

I worked right up to the time of the open house, but it all looked pretty good. I thought it was acceptable, but the buyers LOVED IT!!

Here are some things I learned while doing my own house:

1. If there are fabulous architectural features in a home, most buyers don't notice a scuff on the wall that drives you crazy. They are focused on all of the details of the home.
 

2. Bathrooms are hard to stage, especially if there are dated fixtures, but it can still make a huge difference. I love my new bathroom and wish I had made the changes while I was living here.

3. Bondo (a product used to patch car bodies) is great for patching rusted out metal doors, like my front door. Not exactly easy and a little time consuming, but not as much time or money as it would be to get a new door.

4. It is worth hiring a handyman to help with your to-do list. It really takes the pressure off, and it's not that expensive (especially if you pay cash).

5. Light fixtures make a huge difference. Not that I didn't know this, but the ones I decided to change really updated my home.

6. A maid service does wonders for the look of your home. They clean things that you may not think of cleaning and will clean things you don't want to clean.

7. Some people will never be happy, and you can't let it get to you.

And all of the hard work paid off. We had a Saturday and Sunday open house immediately after the house was listed, and by Sunday night, the house was sold firm, full list price, on our closing date. It really made it all worth while, but I don't really want to do it again soon.

Comments (18)

Patty Carroll
Vancouver, WA

Katherine, great post. We'd love to see the pictures of your home, maybe another post?

Aug 13, 2008 03:53 AM
Li Read
Sea to Sky Premier Properties (Salt Spring) - Salt Spring Island, BC
Caring expertise...knowledge for you!

Well done!     It's always hard to take one's own advice, so good for you!

Aug 13, 2008 04:09 AM
Shobha Vyavahare
stagewithme, Greenville, South Carolina - Greenville, SC

I am in the same situation that you were.  For me too staging became a profession while I am selling my own home, and activerain has helped me so much too.  yes we need to take the taste of our own medicine, and cut us some slack.

Shobha

 

Aug 13, 2008 04:27 AM
Susan Smith
Rooms That Work LLC - Sandy Hook, CT

Good job!  It's soooo much harder to do your own home!  Love the idea of the handyman too...keeps spousal relationships intact! ')

Aug 13, 2008 07:07 AM
Janice Sutton
1st Stage Property Transformations - Murrieta, CA
Home Stager - Temecula Murrieta

Great post!  #5 is my favorite.  Changing dated light fixtures can really make a huge impact on a small budget! 

Aug 13, 2008 12:43 PM
Shelley Roufs
Simply Staged Homes - New Ulm, MN

Good for you! I too am selling my home. I did find it a challenge to see my house objectivly. (Just what I tell clients)I have also spent alot of time on my own home. Hopefully, it will pay off...

Aug 13, 2008 01:54 PM
Susan Peters
Dove Realty Inc. - Seattle, WA
The Better it Looks the Better it Sells

Katherine,

You did a great job and I can see why you don't want to do it anytime soon.

My broker said that we (Realtors) should have to sell our own home every 3 years just so that we can empathize with our clients. I think I'll just memorize your post instead.

Aug 13, 2008 07:01 PM
Cathy Lee
CL Design Services Home Staging - Danville, CA
ASP, IAHSP, RESA Danville, CA

Congratulations Katerine!!  Your home looks beautiful!  I could never do my own home-good for you!! Great post!!

Aug 13, 2008 07:06 PM
Juliet Johnson
Vizzitopia - St Johns, FL
Jacksonville Photography & Digital Marketing

Thank you Sooooooo much for this post.  I'm about to start work on my house; it goes on the market in January.  I'm completely overwhelmed!  My basement is my warhouse, and really can't be.  It's all got to go somewhere.  I'm dreading it.  there's stuff everywhere and my kids need all of their things and my husband insists on leaving out a big fat dirty teapot at all times on the counter and ....this is gonna kill me, I can just feel it!! Did you have another stager come in and do a consultation for you?

I'm a relatively unstable, insane person to start with; I'm terrified this is going to put me over the edge.  How do you distance yourself from "your house" to "a house"???

Aug 14, 2008 02:08 AM
Sheron Cardin
California Moods Inc - Selma, CA
ARTIST - A Home Stager/Sellers Best Friend!

If I had to list my house right now, I would feel the same pressure as you did. I think I live in an organized environment until I think about selling it...

Your experience will be enjoyed by all who hire you from here on out. Great post!

Aug 14, 2008 05:19 AM
No Longer Active in Staging. No Longer Staging
Hickory, NC

Hi Katherine, Thanks so much for sharing the details of your own staging.. Excellent points about giving ourselves a break.. I have done exactly the same thing as you before our open houses - totally freaked out.. The handyman idea was brilliant !!  Can you lend me yours at $140/day.. God bless,

Aug 14, 2008 07:44 AM
Kathy Riggle
STAGING SMART N SOLD - Houston, TX
Houston Home Staging

Congratulations on the super fast sale, Katherine! When I staged my house 3 years ago, I said that I never wanted to move again! That was my third move in ten years. My houses did not sell in one weekend, that's for sure!!

Aug 14, 2008 08:25 AM
Michelle Finnamore
Toronto GTA, Alliston, Newmarket - Vaughan, ON
Preparing your property for sale

HI Katherine, Thanks for sharing your experience. I cannot imagine moving now what with all the stock I keep here just  in case I need it in a hurry. You did well to sell in 1 day so that you can get back to your regular routine right away.

Which is exactly what we tell our clients isn't it? Stage to get the most equity in the shortest amount of time.Congratulations on achieving your goal.

Aug 14, 2008 08:41 AM
Michelle Finnamore
Toronto GTA, Alliston, Newmarket - Vaughan, ON
Preparing your property for sale

HI Katherine, Thanks for sharing your experience. I cannot imagine moving now what with all the stock I keep here just  in case I need it in a hurry. You did well to sell in 1 day so that you can get back to your regular routine right away.

Which is exactly what we tell our clients isn't it? Stage to get the most equity in the shortest amount of time.Congratulations on achieving your goal.

Aug 14, 2008 08:42 AM
Johnathan Smith
Coldwell Banker DiTommaso Realty - Staten Island, NY

SOUNDS GREAT!!  GIVE ME SOME FEED BACK

Aug 15, 2008 10:08 AM
Johnathan Smith
Coldwell Banker DiTommaso Realty - Staten Island, NY

SOUNDS GREAT!!  GIVE ME SOME FEED BACK

Aug 15, 2008 10:08 AM
Ken Caldwell
Royal LePage State Realty - Hamilton, ON

Great post Katherine, as a new agent, I have been surprised by how many dirty messy homes I have walked into.  It is an instant turn off for the buyer, and the seller is guaranteed to get a much lower price for the house.  I'm going to keep your number, and I will try to send some business your way....take care...Ken

Aug 22, 2008 05:41 AM
j r
International, IT

Great results and great post !! a dirty home is a bad home and people do not like to clean these days !! ;)

Sep 11, 2008 12:50 AM