Home Stagers are experts in styling homes for photo shoots. In a few hours we can whip and flip a home into a stunner. Your on-line photos are the #1 advertising element of your for sale home. Don’t stop short when you publicly introduce your home to potential buyers by not making it perfectly groomed for its Internet close-up. Here are a few of my top tips and techniques.
Make your bedroom a showstopper
Master bedrooms are a big deal for buyers. A place to relax and unwind from the stresses of the day and every room needs a focal point. Plump those pillows (no pancake, lumpy old pillows) invest in fresh new pillows and bedding. It’s a small investment that can go with you to your new home and trust me it makes a huge difference in how buyers react to online images.
Make bathrooms sparkle with a spa theme
Every bath needs fresh, clean, fluffy towels, a seat down, glistening surfaces, and not a personal product present. No toothbrushes, potties, boxes of tissues, bath rugs on the floor, toilet brushes, cleaning products etc. etc. Many bathrooms are small and the least bit of clutter will make it even smaller online.
Remove all clutter, small appliances, paper towel, vitamins, paperwork, boxes of cereal etc. etc. Kitchen counters tend to be a dumping ground for all and sundry. You want to show how spacious your counters are and highlight those fabulous finishes. Don’t forget to remove rugs, door mats, dish soap and tea towels from stoves.
Photography and Lighting
I can’t stress this enough. Hours of of staging and prep will be ruined with dark, blurry images taken from bad angles. This is your chance to shine and impress buyers who are seeing hundreds of online images of the competition. Open all drapes and blinds. Often perfect opportunities to wow are lost when a beautiful view from a window is unseen or you can’t see how beautiful flooring or molding details are. If your images aren’t cutting it hire a professional, you won’t be sorry.
It’s been a brutal winter so far in my part of the world. Snowbanks are growing higher by the day and it’s hard just to get in and out of the house, let alone starting to think about preparing for selling. But the truth is, now is an ideal time to get a jump start on the competition. While many sellers are waiting for the first well awaited days of spring to list their home, you could be well on your way to sold.
By using the winter as a time to improve your home’s interior appeal, it’s possible to command a higher price when serious buyers are out and about (and lets face it, you have to be serious about buying a home to slop around in this weather ) Put your snow days to good use and start the dreaded chore of de cluttering. I know, you’re cringing at the thought of mountains of books, movies, unworn clothing and the 27 travel mugs in the kitchen cupboards. We’ve all been there, (myself included having moved recently) You need a plan of action, someone to cheer you on when what you really want to do is to be curled up with the remote and Netflix. A staging consult can be a great motivator to get you started.
When I first visit for a home consult one of the things I always hear is “I know we have to de clutter” but many times sellers underestimate how much time this really takes. You can’t just sort through 10, 20 or in some cases 50 years or more of belongings in a couple of weeks. Not if you want to minimize stress and wine consumption 🙂 Plus you may be removing some things that could be used as props for staging the home, while other things you think can stay, will not help your sale. Start by doing one closet, one drawer, put everything into a laundry basket and sort while watching t.v. if that helps get you get started. Starting is the hardest part so the sooner the better.
Winter is also an excellent time to get a hold of trades, to do any repairs or renovations that will maximize selling appeal. During a consult a stager can recommend where to spend $$$ for best bang for your buck and where to save, by not doing renovations that will not bring a solid ROI. I read a report today that indicated both male and female buyers rate master baths and walk in closets as top of their wish list when purchasing a home, so upgrades in these areas are sure to be a worthwhile investment. Come Springtime when all the other sellers are scrambling to find a painter, plumber etc. you are already ahead of the pack.
Selling a house requires you to make a potential buyer think that the home is already their own. Nothing gets in the way of this feeling more than another person’s clutter. Often, the things that buyers interpret as clutter are a homeowner’s prized heirlooms. Rather than purging your house of personal photos and accessories all at once, it can be less jarring to pack up your personal items slowly and move them into storage. These few weeks left of winter represent a perfect opportunity to start this process.
When I visit a client for a staging consult one of the first things they say to me is “I know I have to de clutter and clean”, but that is only the start in the staging process. Staging is the last step in property prep, after rooms are de cluttered, furniture rearranged or rented, all repairs and upgrades are completed and the house has been deep cleaned, then a stager can begin. It’s the icing on the cake that will entice a buyer when surfing though thousands of online images. You only have a few seconds for your home to wow, so you have to make the most of it and use all resources available.
Staging for your buyer demographic is crucial. The average seller has lived in their home for quite a few years and if the property hasn’t been upgraded or décor is stuck in the last decade or three it raises a red flag to a younger buyer. One thing most buyers object to is wallpaper. It’s one of those décor choices that is very personal. Yes, you may love the bold floral pattern, that’s why you choose it, but that’s the problem, you choose it. The time and money a buyer will have to invest in removing it is often enough to put them off buying a home, so remove their objections, do it before selling. Trust me on this I’ve seen it time after time.
Fresh paint is money in a can. Certain colours photograph better than others, I always advise to change bold colour choices. Deep colours in certain rooms don’t show off their true potential. I recently consulted with a Realtor on a home that has been lingering on the market for almost a year. The main areas of the home were clean, bright and well presented but the basement was dark with dreary wood paneling and buyers were not impressed. It was letting the rest of the home down. I advised the Realtor i consulted with to repaint the whole basement in a creamy white and it looked fabulous once it was complete. Bright, clean and much more inviting, the difference was amazing. All for a few cans of paint. The listing has since sold.
With window treatments, less is more. If in doubt remove it, especially in the Summer months. Bright rooms entice buyers so ban the nets, heavy drapes and valances. Show off those moldings, that view, a beautiful garden, those are your selling features, not the drapes from 1985. Again stage for your buyer demographic, not your tastes. Simple, plain fabrics work best on an updated rod. When I say simple, not a sheet, flag or my personal pet peeve, knotted in the middle (excuse me while I rock in a corner) Show buyers you take pride in your home and don’t distract them with bad decor choices.
The same principal applies to furniture. Less is more. Often staging requires removing items rather than adding, so if you have an abundance of seating or too many dressers in the bedroom, some has to go. You are selling square footage and buyers want to see it. Furniture layout can be tricky in some homes and this is where your stager can advise the best layout for traffic flow, picture taking and to show buyers the potential use of a room. Often a few simple adjustments to layout will make a world of difference. I’ve seen sofas blocking fireplaces, doorways and windows that have fabulous views, all selling features you want to highlight not hide. The eye needs somewhere to rest. There is no eye resting in the room below, every wall plastered with something and a strange furniture layout makes the room look strange Did you even notice the fireplace in the room ? See what I mean about furniture layout hiding the best features.
So, after many other issues are addressed a stager can work their magic. It’s a multi step process and giving yourself lots of time to prepare is key. Investing in at least a Staging Consult can save you time, money and frustration. We deal with all these issues and more every day so we can help make your property stand out and attract a buyer, when the competition is turning them away with lackluster presentation.
How much is too much? Should you put up a Christmas tree? Is it PC to do so?
One thing to consider is who are your target buyers? Do your neighbors decorate their homes for the season? Do you live in a family oriented neighborhood?
If you do decide to decorate for the season while your home is on the market, this is not the year to turn your home into Santa’s grotto. You don’t want prospective buyers to concentrate on your collection of 75 nutcrackers or your village complete with train station, you can enjoy those next year in your new home.
Keeping festive décor to a minimum will ensure buyers will still notice your home’s beautiful features and not be distracted by too much visual clutter, plus crowded spaces feel smaller.
When placing a tree be careful not to interfere with traffic flow in the room, remove a piece of furniture if need be and place in another room or storage. Choose your colour scheme wisely and try to coordinate with the rooms décor. Keep it subtle and sophisticated and save the macaroni ornaments made by your toddler and the paper chains for next year.
If you have a fireplace play this selling feature up and do a tasteful arrangement on the mantle to create a beautiful focal point in the room. One display in the centre of the dining room table and a few natural elements in the kitchen will carry the theme through.
Last but not least curb appeal. Leave those inflatable, flashy and cute items alone, much as the kids want you to put them out, just don’t. This is the time to really use restraint – less is more. A simple, lovely wreath on your front door and small evergreens in pots at either side of your door with twinkling white mini lights will say “welcome” and appeal to buyers without going overboard.
December house hunters are serious ones so you can’t afford not to appeal to each and every buyer.