REAL ESTATE CONSULTANT
Most agents discuss with their clients the advantages of extensive marketing, including widespread advertising, networking, and using the Internet. But not as many agents explain why marketing is only as good as the product shows – the house. Although professional “staging” is often beneficial, and in some cases highly suggested, the process does not generally require a $15,000 to $25,000 investment.
However, “staging” can be more than cosmetic cleaning and minor makeovers. Staging can turn houses into model homes to showcase. Personal knickknacks, excess furniture and clutter are removed; repairs and renovations may be completed; eccentric decorating can be turned back to neutral backdrops; and thorough cleaning makes the entire house shine – including closets/pantries, fireplaces, driveways, and decks. That’s one reason why so much money and time are spent decorating and furnishing new-home models: staging results in more buyers saying, “I want this house.”
In years past, buyers generally would schedule an appointment to tour a house. Today, more and more buyers are previewing homes online – before ever setting foot inside the front door. Those same potential buyers often eliminate a substantial number of homes previewed online because they appear cluttered, too small and unattractive.
Here is a room-by-room tour to illustrate the power of staging.
Remove family photos and knickknacks. The curiosity takes the focus off the house, which is what you are trying to sell.
Remove too much or too large furniture. Nothing makes a room look smaller than furniture that is too large or bulky. If the couch is angled, it may be too big. Buyers want and need the feeling of space.
Fireplace: A wood-burning fireplace may need to be cleaned, including the chimney and any soot on the front. A natural-gas fireplace may need the pilot light inspected.
Counters and cupboards: Too many appliances and dishes eat up work and storage space.
Pantry: If the food hasn’t been eaten in several months, maybe it would help to toss some of it out. The less stuff stored, the larger the pantry appears.
Built in desks: Clean surfaces and bulletin boards to rid of unnecessary clutter.
Bathrooms are the telltale room of cleaning habits.
Toothpaste, toothbrushes, cosmetics, and brushes should be stored neatly in drawers or cabinets.
Bottles, such as hair and body products, perfume, etc. can be stored together in one nice box or basket.
Toss soap scraps, and neatly hang towels.
The bed is a focal point, so it looks a lot better when made, with smooth covers and folded corners.
Walls. Neon green walls are great for a teenager’s self expression but unacceptable for a well-staged home. Walls need to be a neutral color.
Closets: Out of season clothes should be packed. Buyers usually think they need twice as much space as there is, so appeal to them.
First impressions are everything. Paint and landscape sprucing up can do wonders.
Driveway: Home improvement stores sell products to remove oil stains.
Decks and porches: Consider them like any other room in the home: grills should be in good shape; fertilizers, charcoal, and other items should be stored neatly in the garage; and patio furniture should be in good condition.
There are many more tips that can be made, and an experienced agent or staging expert can help tremendously in working with sellers to get their home ready to market. Even if the home shows well generally, there is almost always some area where significant improvement will help to sell it sooner and at a higher price
Michael Edlen provides real estate counseling services to prospective buyers and sellers and helps over 50 families each year to move. He also maintains a database of local professionals, including professional home stagers. Please contact his office if you would like to request a referral. More tips and information are available on his website, www.MichaelEdlen.com. He can be reached at 310.230.7373 or Michael@michaeledlen.com.