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How to get your home sold - (Part 5 - Home Staging)

The purpose of staging the home is to make potential buyers walking through the property feel like they can see themselves living there. They should be able to envision themselves enjoying a relaxing “Netflix & Chill” evening by fireplace or the cooking meals in the kitchen for their family. They should be able to see themselves working in the garden as their children play in the yard. It’s hard to imagine this if the home and yard are filled with clutter or the house is disorganized.

Home staging often requires that some minor repairs be made. Take a moment to look around the house to decide which repairs are worth making and which ones you’ll pass off to the new buyer. Keep in mind that this can drastically effect the sale price. Generally, when a seller makes strategic repairs or updates to a home, they’re adding value that could be tacked onto the overall sales price. Likewise, if you decide to pass repairs off to the buyer, it’ll probably yield a lower sales price. A staged home creates more buyer interest, and with more interest comes more offers, you may even find yourself in a bidding war. According to a Maritz Research Staging poll, 63 percent of buyers are willing to pay more for move-in ready homes.

I recommend going room-to-room when considering staging. We covered “curb appeal” in part 2 so we won’t get too much into that. Just know that the staging starts outside. This is where you’ll make your first impression on a prospective buyer. Some general ideas for staging include giving each room a fresh coat of paint. To make a room appear bigger, paint it the same color as the adjacent room. If you have a small kitchen and dining room, this seamless look will make both rooms feel like one big space. If you want to give the illusion of more space, paint the walls the same color as your draperies. It will provide a seamless and sophisticated look. Make sure that you use neutral colors like beige or taupe to appeal to the broadest amount of people. Some experts recommend purchasing fresh flowers, candles and other older devices but I actually recommend against this since some people may find this smells offensive or may even be allergic. Give the house a good thorough cleaning. Pretend that you have a friend coming over that you haven’t seen since high school. Mop, dust, vacuum, wash windows, baseboards — even the cat. Remember that people will look in your cupboards, under your sinks and in your closets. We also covered depersonalization in Part 2 so I won’t get too much into that either but be sure to remove many (if not all) of your family photos, knickknacks & sports memorabilia. Strategically place interesting artwork throughout the house to avoid leaving dead space on walls. Get rid of worn carpets, and consider refinishing shabby hardwood floors. An inexpensive new area rug can usually spruce up the look of old floors. Renew the look of the room by replacing old or dated light fixtures, door knobs, light switches and outlets. If it's tacky and older than you, get it out of there. Get rid of the low wattage light bulbs. I’m all for using energy efficient bulbs. But this is not the time for that. You want to fill the house with at least 100 watt bulbs to make it look brighter and bigger. If you have a dark corner or hallway, brighten it up with a decorative mirror. So let’s go room by room:

Livingroom: Consider rearranging the furniture to promote a better flow throughout the main common areas. Maybe you could even set the scene by displaying a board game or tea service on the coffee table and arrange furniture in conversational groups. If you have furniture pieces that are old or worn out, now is the time to get rid of them and open up the space.

Kitchen & Dining Room: Clear everything from countertops except one or two decorative items, like a vase of flowers or bowl of fresh fruit. Kitchen cabinets will be opened and examined. Be sure to organize them and make it as appealing as possible. Pack up all the dishes except one attractive, matching set. Do the same with glassware, flatware, and cookware, and pare down all other cupboard and drawer items down to the minimum. If your faucets and other hardware are older or worn, consider upgrading them. Set the dinner table and other tables/bars in the house. Remove notes, flyers, magnets, coupons etc…from your fridge surface it looks messy and cluttered. Plus, it takes away from the rest of the kitchen and could be distracting. Be sure your lighting is in full working order – no broken fixtures or burnt out bulbs.

Bathrooms: Grimy bathroom walls are a major red flag to buyers. There are plenty of websites out there that can teach you how to get rid of mold & mildew very easily and inexpensively. Once you’ve cleaned, decluttered, and neutralized the bathroom, it’s time to add in the touches that will make it feel like a home. Crisp white towels always remind people of a luxurious hotel, so keep those on display while your home is on the market. You can also roll up some hand towels to place in a basket on the counter or lay one over the tub. Remove clutter from the countertop, tub, and top of toilet. Clean surfaces until they gleam. Pack up and hide all your personal products — from medicine to razors. Create a luxury spa look with a fancy soap dispenser, fluffy white towels, decorative baskets, candles, plants, a white shower curtain, and a new bath mat. Fix leaky or running toilets and replace toilet seats. Remove hard water stains from faucets and shower heads.

Bedrooms: Remove all seasonal clothes, non-daily linens, sheets and accessories from closets. You can rent storage facilities very cheaply and will have to move the items regardless. By moving them ahead of time, you increase the appearance of storage space and increase the value of your property. Swap out all mismatched hangers in your closet for a set of wooden ones to create a classy, boutique look. Remove televisions or video game consoles from bedrooms to depersonalize and create a serene setting. Consider giving extra bedrooms a new identity as a home office, sewing room, or another interesting function.

This may all be a little overwhelming for some people. That’s why there are professional home stagers. If you’re in New Haven County, contact me and I’ll give you a local recommendation. For some, it may seem like the cost of staging may not be worth it. Let me tell you… IT IS!!! If you feel that the cost of staging is too expensive, consider the fact that you may be dropping the price of the house by $5,000 - $20,000 if the house doesn’t sell on your timeline. Staging the house certainly shouldn’t cost anywhere near that much.

In a perfect world, a homeowner wouldn’t need to be living in the home while it’s on the market. However, the list of reasons why someone sells is endless and in many cases forces a homeowner to stay put while selling. The experience can be grueling for sellers when personal lives become public displays to strangers and their criticisms. If you’re going to be living in the home when selling you have to willingly be inconvenienced—not only emotionally, but also physically. So what’s the best way to get out from under the microscope? Sell fast with staging and strategic marketing.

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