Home Staging to Sell

WRITER | KAREN SKOVIE 
PHOTOS I AKOVA STUDIOS / RED PHOTOGRAPHY

Home staging isn’t a new concept, but it has become an important part of today’s home selling strategy. Home staging was a proven and popular marketing tool on the west coast long before it reached the neighborhoods of Michigan. For years, Realtors® have encouraged sellers to prepare their homes for sale, but with the HGTV boom, viewers were given the opportunity to understand the power behind the term “staging.”

What is home staging?
Staging is more than furniture and fluff or karate-chopping a few pillows. Simply put, home staging is a marketing tool and involves merchandising a home to target the specific demographic of buyers. The reality is that staging can also involve maintenance, updates, painting, cleaning, and improving curb appeal to identify and address any issues that could result in lower offers or an extended time on the market. Buyers will begin compiling a mental list of “work to be done” the minute they set foot on your front porch. They will add to the list as they tour the home. The majority of today’s buyers are looking for “move in ready.” They aren’t looking for a project or a multitude of small jobs. Getting ahead of these issues will maximize your equity at the closing table.

Although your home may be beautifully designed to your specific taste, it may not be the style today’s buyers are seeking. Understandably, your home is your refuge, and you want to be comfortable. You might own that oversized comfy couch that is stuffed into a small space because it fits the whole family when you watch TV, but buyers will note that the room is too small. Huge sports fans might plaster a room with memorabilia or paint their favorite university colors. Unfortunately, that means you are waiting for that one buyer who loves the same team. We love our collections and display them proudly, but potential buyers may not be able to see past them.

Because we live differently than we sell, most likely the home will need to be decluttered. The furniture layout may also need to be redesigned to improve traffic flow, define every space with a purpose, and create an environment that is both photogenic and appealing to buyers. Therefore, you may need to tolerate being a little uncomfortable while your home is on the market. When it sells quickly, you can move on to the next chapter and return to normal living.

Unless you live in a model home with designer furnishings, your home most likely needs some level of updating or redesign. Of course, there are many projects you can take on yourself if you have the skills and spare time. If you love to paint and remodel, by all means, do so with the guidance of a professional staging consultant to ensure choices that appeal to today’s buyers. Staging Consultants, LLC recommends things like removing dated wallpaper and using neutral-colored paint to enhance existing surfaces like countertops and flooring.

Take this opportunity to start packing away family photos and collections. Not all horizontal surfaces need to be occupied; leave space for the eye to rest. That said, enhance valuable attributes of the home like a fireplace with stylish accessories. Consider removing area rugs from kitchens and baths as they make floor space appear smaller. Fresh bedding and the addition of plush pillows will create a welcoming retreat.  Weather permitting, raise the umbrella and stage your outdoor furniture with pillows and throws as well. Most importantly, clean, clean, clean, and don’t forget the appliances that are included in the sale. Nobody wants to pay for your old dirt.

It is recommended that sellers begin the process up to a year in advance, depending on the work to be done. Preparing a home for sale can be laborious and tiring. Daily life gets in the way. Add that to the stress of hunting for a new home, and sellers can become overwhelmed. Define your goals, make a plan, align your budget, and set a realistic timeline. It’s never too late to stage, but, ideally, it should be complete before listing.