Note from the editor: Houzz is an amazing resource for those looking to update their home, do some decorating, and prepare their home for sale. You can share these these articles with your clients who are looking for ways to fix up their home to help it sell. We appreciate Houzz for providing us with this guest post.
By Laura Gaskill, Houzz
Proper staging can help you sell your home faster, and possibly even for a higher price, and in recent years stagers have become even savvier at zeroing in on what buyers want. I spoke with three home staging professionals to find out what works these days, from the tried and true basics to fresh ideas for prepping a home for a quick and profitable sale. Whether you are planning to hire a pro or want to learn a few tricks to do it yourself, these tips will get you up to speed on the latest techniques in staging to sell.
1. Find the right pros to work with. “I feel the most important thing for homeowners to focus on is choosing a great Realtor to represent them and to properly showcase their property with professional photos and staging suggestions,” says home stager Kelley Gardner in Madison, New Jersey. “I see too many poor photos, no floor plans and no staging. Most buyers are making their final selections using the tools of the Internet, so they will rule out the dated, ugly, messy homes that could actually be a gem if the homeowner had just taken the time to update the rooms with very little effort.”
If you are finding it difficult to let go of personal items, hiring a staging pro can help, say Robin DeCapua and Rachel Moore of Madison Modern Home in Los Angeles: “They can look at your home with fresh eyes and see both the strengths and flaws that may be invisible to you as a homeowner.”
2. Detach yourself from your house. The process of staging takes the focus of your home away from you and puts it on the potential new owners of your home. Shirin Sarikhani of Seattle Staged To Sell likes to show sellers photos of staged versus unstaged rooms to show what a striking difference staging makes.
“I also help them understand that empty rooms look smaller than staged rooms,” she says. “I try to let the home sellers understand that home staging is an investment and not a cost. The first step a home seller can take to ensure a successful outcome is to get detached from their home; now it is all about the buyers.”
3. Focus on the front. Wondering where to begin? Try sprucing up your home’s curb appeal. “Buyers make up their mind in the first 30 seconds as they approach the front door,” says Gardner. “Clean it up, paint and update the old weathered light fixture. Trim foliage, take out dead plantings and mulch if you are in a growing season. When your home hits the MLS, light it up. Potential buyers tend to drive by before they actually get inside.”
4. Say goodbye to ugly. There is really no nice way to say it: We all have a few ugly bits in our homes, and it’s best to face the facts early on. The good news: There are plenty of quick fixes for your home’s trouble spots.
“White towels and a white waffle-weave shower curtain can do wonders to a dated bath,” says Gardner. “If you have oak kitchen cabinets, paint them white and add quartz or stone counters to help update. Remove dated wallpaper and paint. Take down dusty, dated window treatments. Inexpensive updates can include changing out light fixtures,
throw pillows and bed linens. I like a white quilt or duvet for photos.”
5. Know your buyer. This is the golden rule of staging. The new paradigm is a targeted approach capturing the likely buyer pool through specific design styles that will resonate, such as hipster, industrial or beachy modern style, say DeCapua and Moore.
Gardner adds that buyers in their mid-20s to mid-30s make up a large part of the market, so “that is the group to capture and market toward,” she says. “They usually like the look of the big-box stores, like Crate & Barrel, Restoration Hardware and Pottery Barn, so I like to show the homeowners these catalogs to get the feel of this transitional style.” If you are staging your home yourself, ask your real estate agent for help identifying your target market.
6. Match your decor to your home’s style and price range. “It is all about creating the right lifestyle for each house.” says Sarikhani. “For example, for a high-end penthouse condo, the sofa should be a different one than in the one-bedroom condo on the lower-end price.”
7. Consider color. The colors you should use depend, at least in part, on where you live. “Stagers in large metropolitan markets have abandoned the bland, beige and neutral for a more vibrant style that employs color and eclectic decor,” say DeCapua and Moore. Those farther from urban areas may want to stick with neutrals.
Gardner adds that it is helpful to be aware of what is photogenic. “No red pillows, linens or accents, as this color looks awful in real estate photos. I suggest neutral colors — get rid of the hunter green and red rooms. Uncover your home’s assets by removing worn wall-to-wall carpet and exposing hardwood flooring.” And, she adds, “no pets in your pictures, unless you are selling Fido with the property.”
8. Accessorize wisely. Decluttering is important, but once you have things looking streamlined, try layering back in a few accessories that telegraph the lifestyle you want your home to project. Details matter, say DeCapua and Moore. “We use lots of coffee table books, add curated collectibles to bookshelves, toss market baskets onto chairs, hang original art and use only real plants to give buyers the impression that someone actually lives there. Old-school staging style tended toward the sterile and looked a bit more like a big-box furniture showroom.”
Final thoughts. “There should be no forgotten spaces in any house for sale. It’s all about square feet,” says Sarikhani. Put every closet and nook to work by fitting in smart storage or furniture, and your space will seem not only bigger but more appealing and usable to potential buyers.
Gardner says, “I always tell homeowners that we want the buyers to feel that they could drop their bags and move right in.”