In a perfect world, every listing would be expertly staged before going live. In the hyper market we witnessed from 2020 through much of 2022, you could argue that staging was almost unnecessary due to the intensity of a seller’s market. Today homes are staying on the market longer. In today’s market, getting a home sold in a timely manner is one of the most important factors of a real estate transaction, and when you have your listings staged to sell, you’ll get that job done more quickly and for more money.
CLEAN BEATS DECORATED – EVERYTIME
The most important part of staging is cleaning. Starting off with a deeply cleaned home is the first step. No matter how nicely a home is decorated, a home that is dirty and shows deferred maintenance will never show as well as a deeply cleaned home that has been maintained. This expresses “pride of ownership” to prospective buyers, and reassures them that the home has been well cared for over time. Deep cleaning means doorways and thresholds are scrubbed, cobwebs removed, squeaky doors lubricated, clutter and debris removed, paint touched up or repainted altogether, hard to reach nooks and crannies are spotless, and so forth. Clean also means organized and decluttered. The home should sparkle and smell clean.
BE CONSISTENT WITH YOUR LOOK
Decide what look and feel you’re going for, and stick with it throughout all the rooms in the house. This will create a seamless flow from room to room that is harmonious rather than distracting. If you’re going for a West Elm look, try to keep that feel throughout the entire home.
DON’T FORGET CURB APPEAL – LITERALLY
First impressions are happening the minute your buyers exit their car and head towards the front door. As such, the most impactful area you can stage to set the tone of the whole property is the front door/entry area. The door and hardware should be clean and freshly painted or touched up. The entry area should be tidy, decluttered, and devoid of spiderwebs, hornets nests, dead bugs, and so forth. There should be a clean doormat. Potted plants artfully placed with a few pieces of outdoor furniture can be an added bonus. A fountain or bird bath can add a nice water type feature that lends a feeling of well-being. The entry way should make people feel invited, welcome, and safe.
Make sure areas such as laundry rooms, garages, basements and attics are tidy. The same goes for drawers, closets and cupboards. Count on people opening closet doors, looking in attics, and surveying basement areas. Even though these areas aren’t for “show,” they are still very important to the value of a home and keeping these areas organized, clean and tidy will go a long way towards a successful showing experience.
USE WHAT YOU HAVE BUT SOME THINGS SHOULD BE NEW, TOO
If your budget allows, do consult with a professional stager to create a staging strategy for the home using what’s already there. Most of the time, the main focus will be on getting rid of extraneous pieces of furniture, artwork, and so forth. Never is the saying “less is more” more true than in the world of staging. However it’s always a good idea to have your sellers invest in new throw pillows, color-coordinated towels, throw rugs, bedspreads, and the like. These items often show the most wear and tear, even when perfectly clean.
DEVELOP SOLID RELATIONSHIPS WITH SEVERAL STAGERS
Real estate tends to be a world where everything is being done in a hurry. Timing is of the essence. Often getting a listing means convincing your seller that you can get the property on the market more quickly and in better shape and for more money than any of your competitors. If this is the case, having one or two stagers at your disposal will be key. Make sure you develop those relationships with love and care so that they are there for you in a pinch.
EMBRACE THE CHARACTER OF THE HOME
Don’t try to make a home something different than what it is. If what you’ve got is a three-two Rancher, embrace the great qualities of that style of home. For instance, highlight the fact that it is “mid century”, single level, and has an abundance of usable interior space. If you’re dealing with a Victorian, don’t downplay the fact that it’s intrinsic feature is that it has many separated rooms. Make that a highlight instead. Not everyone wants “open space,” especially since the pandemic in which having separated rooms has become an advantage for remote workers.
ON THE OTHER HAND……
Don’t be afraid to mix styles. For example, filling your Victorian listing with mid-century furnishings could open the home to a wider audience. And your basic Rancher listing could look great with a Spanish-style rustic look. Knowing when to do this has more to do with vibe and intuition, so again, consulting with a professional stager is always a good idea.
ADD STAGING TO YOUR LISTING PACKAGE
Become that real estate agent that develops the reputation of really taking care of his or her sellers. When sellers understand that you are there to take care of them to the end of every detail, word gets around. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to think about a seller’s home warranty…..another great perk to add to your listing package that will give you a competitive edge over the competition.