In a buyer’s market, it’s critical that home sellers do everything they can to position their property so it will stand out from the competition. The four main reasons a property doesn’t sell are condition, staging, pricing, and marketing. Part 1 addressed condition: condition colors the buyer’s perception – a home that is in excellent condition conveys the impression that it has been well-cared-for. Similarly, the buyer’s perception of a property is influenced by the way it is staged.
Home staging is the process of preparing your home for sale to make its best impression on prospective buyers. They key elements of home staging are cleaning, decluttering, and defining spaces. Nine out of ten homes are either improperly staged or not staged at all, so taking the time and effort to stage your home can set it apart from the competition.
Make it Shine
It should go without saying that a home for sale should be sparkling clean. Unfortunately, many home sellers don’t make the effort. Consider hiring professional cleaners to get your home spotless from top to bottom. Be sure to pay extra attention to kitchens and baths. Clean windows and screens – the view from inside is as important as the view from outside. Address any odors from pets, tobacco, or cooking. Just as a home in excellent condition appears well-cared-for, so too does a home that is sparkling clean.
Neat vs. Clean
Clutter can make an otherwise clean space appear dirty and unkempt. Neatness causes a similar emotional reaction as redecorating, yet costs much less so you get more return for your money. Therefore, it is important to remove personal items, knick-knacks, and extra furniture. Buyers know you are moving so neatly stacking packed boxes in the basement or storage area is okay, but an over-stuffed storage space gives the impression that your home is too small. If you have a lot of extra things, rent a storage space and store your boxes and extra furniture until you move.
Your home should be clutter-free with no more than two or three items on any surface. Nothing should be placed on any surface not intended to have something placed on it. Also,
- Uncover as much floor space, wall space and surface space as possible without ruining the ambiance of the home.
- Clear off the refrigerator – front, sides and top.
- Remove items from the top of the kitchen cabinets.
- Pack up rarely-used kitchen appliances, leaving only one or two (such as a toaster and coffee maker) and storing the rest in cabinets.
- Organize cabinets and closets – the goal is a spacious, uncluttered appearance. Store off-season items.
- Remove personal pictures and memorabilia.
- Be sure all traffic paths are 100% open and free of furniture. Avoid blocking access to windows.
- Clear off bathroom counters. Store electronic appliances out of sight.
- The foot of the bed should be the first thing you see when entering a bedroom.
- Open window treatments to 80%, allowing light in and easy access to the view outside.
Buyers want to see homes that feel different than their own, and yet they need to be able to imagine themselves living in your home. It can be difficult, if not impossible, for buyers to imagine beyond what they are seeing. Make it easier for them to do so by clearly defining the purpose of each space.
It’s a good idea to stage rooms for their traditionally intended use – e.g., a formal dining room should have at minimum a table and chairs rather than being set up as a home office. A room with a closet is easily staged as a bedroom with a twin bed and a small dresser. Whether the final buyer decides to use rooms the way you show them doesn’t matter. Your goal is to make it easy for them to develop an emotional attachment to your property.
From the Outside
- Curb appeal is critical. If your home doesn’t look good from the outside, your prospective buyer may never make it inside the front door.
- Neatly trim lawn, landscaping and shrubbery.
- In winter remove snow from all walkways, driveways and decks; salt or sand as needed.
- Clean or paint the front door.
- Don’t park your automobiles in the driveway or in front of the house during showings.
What It’s Worth
According to a HomeGain survey, home staging, lightening and brightening, and cleaning and decluttering are highly cost-effective when preparing one’s home for sale. The study cited a typical cost for cleaning and decluttering of $305 to $339 with the resulting increase in sales price of between $2,093 and $2,378, a 594% average return. Lightening and brightening typically costs between $86 and $110, resulting in a sales price increase of between $768 and $935, an average return of 769%. Home staging, which runs between $212 and $1,089, can increase sales price between $2,275 and $2,841, an average return of 169%.
Home staging can be a challenge if you are still emotionally attached to your home and the way you have kept it over the years. Once you decide to list your home for sale, it’s a good idea to detach yourself and think of it as living in someone else’s home until it sells. A neater, cleaner home can mean more money and a faster sale. The more you do, the more likely your efforts will be rewarded and the sooner you can move to your new home.
Copyright © Shawn Buryska