Co-Written by Deena DeVito-Carl of Urban Peridot Design and Pam Moreside of Center Stage Design
Think back to the last time you were looking for a home to buy. Remember how disappointed you were? The listings always sounded great on paper, but you were invariably disappointed each time you arrived at that boring little place that didn't look anything like the listing photo. With bad décor, too much clutter, and even unpleasant odors, each time you saw something it made you say "no thank you"! Finally, after near exhaustion from looking, you stumble upon the perfect home for you...the place you can easily envision yourself moving into and creating a happy, peaceful life. You quickly make an offer!
This is what home staging is all about! And this is why Home Staging works! Not only do staged homes sell faster than non-staged homes but they sell for higher prices. Why? Because people can not see potential in a home. They see it the way it is. If it is cluttered to bursting, stuffed with personal momentos, or a boring empty shell - that is what they will see. This is why developers use model homes, fully furnished down to the most beautiful detail. They help buyers envision themselves moving into this carefully crafted environment.
People buy with emotion and selling lifestyle is the best way to tap into that emotion. Got a bathroom? Who doesn't? But turn that bathroom into oasis of calm, your own personal spa retreat and you could have a buyer. It's not difficult or expensive. Add some new fluffy towels in co-coordinating colours, a nice basket stuffed with pampering toiletries, some candles sitting on the tub - you get the idea - it's all about setting the scene.
Now - tapping into a buyers emotion is what will help you to sell; not being able to step back from your own emotion can keep your listing languishing on the market for eternity. That collection of beer steins from around the world, the family photo gallery that dates back six generations, the stuffed animal collection that you still love - even though you are forty, they can cost you a sale. Professional stagers can be objective about your home because they have no emotional attachment to it. They can quickly identify the problems and transform a cluttered, cramped room into a spacious and functional room without breaking the bank. They can also help you chose new paint colours (yes, sometimes you do have to paint before you go) dress up, or down, existing furnishings and re-arrange rooms to make them appear larger and brighter. In fact, it may end up looking so good, that you decide to stay.
Where do you find a reputable home stager? This is an important question! Staging is a non-regulated industry. There is no licensing board and no legally recognized certification or accreditation. If a home staging professional claims to be accredited, they simply mean that they have taken one of a variety of courses that provide a certificate of completion that refers to that person being an accredited member. Research your home stager as you would any professional that you hire. Ask to see their portfolio, check that the pictures are of actual jobs that they have done, and ask for references. Your home stager should charge for their consultation fee. A proper consultation takes a couple of hours. A free estimates is most likely going to be little more that a meet and greet - you will have to pay for any real work that is to be done anyway. Discuss the process, find out what they are going to provide and what it will cost and get it in writing so there are no surprise fees in the future.
Here are some quick tips to help you get started to set the stage for a quick sale:
- Adjust your Attitude
- You must now look at your house in a new way - it is a product to be sold
- Consider that your home's value is most likely your biggest asset and therefore must be maximized
- Make the mental decision to "let go" of your emotions and focus on the fact that soon this house will no longer be yours
- Fix it First
- Home repairs need to be done before your home goes on the market. Don't wait for deficiencies to show up on the buyer's inspection and kill a good offer. Do the work now and rest easy knowing your home is in top condition.
- Curb Appeal
- You only have one chance to make a good first impression and this is it! If the buyer doesn't like what he or she sees from the outside they will simply drive to the next house and you will never get them back.
- Make sure lawns are freshly mowed, and leaves are raked.
- Consider adding a potted or hanging plant near the front door.
- Make sure the front entrance is clean and swept.
- Check the condition of your paint, could it use a quick spruce up?
- Pick one area at a time so it's not too overwhelming. Take each item and ask yourself if you really need it. You may want to put items not used often into a storage locker. Your home stager can recommend one.
- Let there be light
- Often houses (especially in our climate) can look dark and dingy. Invest in some lighting that will brighten the space or consider repainting a lighter colour to maximize the look of space.
- Add life to your space
- Adding plants or fresh flowers can add life to a space. Ask your local florist which flowers will last a week or more so you aren't spending a fortune replacing them.
- Clean, clean, and then clean again!
- This cannot be overstressed! Your house must be sparkling clean to attract a buyer. Hire a professional to come in and clean for you while your house is on the market. Not having the time to make a house spic and span can cost you a lot more than hiring a cleaner.
So whatever your situation: be it buyer or seller, being armed with the facts will help you to make the best decisions to maximize your profits and keep your dollars in your pockets! Best of luck!