Buyers tell Realtors all the time that they don’t like the photos, or that the house in question looks too dated, cluttered, small, or messy to bother to see. It may be in their price range and have all the features the buyer is looking for, but that first visual impression is crucial to catching the buyer’s attention and sparking their serious interest in a property.
Every homeowner works hard to personalize their home, to make it THEIR home. It’s only human nature. But a buyer is looking at photos or walking through a showing trying to imagine personalizing your home to their tastes, their needs. A home with a strong personal style, outdated (no matter how lovely) décor, or a ton of mess and clutter is going to make it difficult for the buyer to picture themselves living there. So they don’t. They move on to another, more sale-ready home. Ultimately, these problems can lower the price you charge for your home. This is an issue that affects your bottom line!
A Home Stager can do two things for you. If you’ve already moved out, they can rent a few key pieces of furniture and knickknacks to make your empty house feel like a home, thus encouraging a higher price. Or, more commonly, the Stager walks through your home taking notes of various changes she thinks would bring a higher price or make your home more attractive to buyers. This can be hard to hear, especially since her goal is to de-personalize your lovingly decorated home! But it can earn a higher selling price if it’s done well.
There are four goals of staging:
1. Get rid of clutter. The ultimate goal is to make it look like either a model home, or a magazine ad. Surfaces should be clear of clutter, floors should only have furniture and throw rugs, and your brother’s beer can collection needs to be put in storage for the duration of the sale.
2. Remove as much personality as you can. The stuff that makes your home yours is the stuff to put into storage for now. That ocean of baby photos? Box them up. The band posters in your son’s room? Roll ’em up and keep them for the next house. The ceramic chicken collection all over the kitchen? That needs to go into storage too. This can even include painting a neutral color over that bright green accent wall, or taking a photo of the growth chart in the hallway and painting over it. Heartbreaking to undo what you did with love, but important to show your home well.
3. Clean, clean, clean. Remove the spaghetti-o that stuck to the ceiling the last time your nephews came over. Have the carpets professionally cleaned. Scrub the bathtub and replace any mildewed caulk. And if a wall has dozens of fingerprints that don’t wash off? Paint them over. Your house needs to look as though Martha Stewart is coming to visit. And it doesn’t hurt to bake something right before a showing to make your house SMELL as good as it looks. (Take kids, pets, and litterboxes with you when you leave the house for a showing…it make a big difference.)
4. Update or repair problem areas. This can get a little pricey, but a good stager and your Realtor can tell you where you can get the most bang for your buck by renovating. It may be as simple as painting a bright wall neutral again, or it may be replacing the carpet that Fido ate in the family room. Perhaps spiffing up your curb appeal with some quick and simple landscaping. It’s worth hearing a neutral opinion before choosing what to work on and what must be “as is”.
Ask your Realtor for the name of a good Stager, or do a simple internet search. If you’d rather get your Realtor’s advice on what to change and try to stage your home yourself, click here to get a great Staging To Do List to get you started!