Staging Strategies To Sell Your Home
Real estate trends illustrate that Orlando is currently a “buyers’ market.” When a potential buyer is invited by his/her agent to an open house, the home better be…well, inviting! One’s first impression of a property usually sticks. Therefore, sellers need to strategically prepare their home prior to listing it; especially since showing opportunities are best during the first two weeks on the market. Real estate experts swear by one sales tactic: home staging. “Buyers are easily distracted,” says Francia Fusik, interior design and remodeling professional at All In One Decorating Solutions. “They can’t see past too many personal items. They want to picture the house as their home, not someone else’s property.” Megan Morris, Owner/CEO of MHM Professional Staging adds, “95% of homes staged by an accredited staging professional sell on average in 23 days or less; whereas non-staged homes average 130 days on the market.”
Home staging has three levels of investment implementation:
- Minimal: removal of clutter and arrangement of pre-owned furniture. “Staging is not interior design; there are some principles that are consistent to both. Conversely, in staging, the focus is on the home and the experience rather than the stuff in it. Many times, extra furniture and pieces are removed,” explains Morris. “The way you live in a home is very different than the way you position it for sale.”
- Moderate: minor repairs, such as chipped tiles, leaky pipes, etc.
- Major Upgrades: replacement of countertops, appliances, etc. Fusik cautions to analyze significant expenses, “Installing new ‘green’ appliances can cost you thousands, with no true guarantee of return on your investment.”
Dirt will hurt your sale. “Clean! Buyers are inspecting your counters, floors, tubs, and so on; thus, any visible stains, smudges, or mold can deter interest, especially if they are looking for a move-in-ready residence.” Even minor damages or flaws can bring out buyers’ doubt. “Fulfill small project repairs, like patio screen holes or cracked baseboards.” Morris points out the positive chain reaction, “Cleaning gets you in the frame of mind that you really are moving. You need to pack so why not start now by decluttering and storing items ─ help prepare your home and personal transition.”
A fresh coat of paint can transform a room and textured paint can create a luxurious look. “Opt for neutral shades, but make sure that the colors blend together. For example, if your granite, tile, and fireplace are tones of gray, brownish or even beige walls are not the best choice,” says Fusik.
De-clutter countertops and remove small appliances, such as toasters. Granite countertops are typically preferred, but Fusik says these are not the only option for kitchen upgrades. “Cabinets can be professionally painted rather than replaced, and dressed with new hardware.”
Fusik advises against the ‘old real estate trick’ of baking an apple pie or cookies in the oven prior to a showing, in an attempt to establish a ‘home feel.’ “Scent preferences are not universal among demographic groups, including gender, age, and ethnicity. Scents from food, candles, or potpourri won’t appeal to all and can even turn off potential customers.”
Livable Living Rooms
Remove family photos and personal artifacts. “People are curious and will focus attention on your belongings rather than the permanent fixtures of the space,” Fusik explains. Minimize the use of knickknacks by placing books on the television stand, wall unit, or coffee table. “Every room should be staged with books to add some soul and a finished look. Scrap any loose magazines or newspapers.”
Thoroughly clean carpeting and rugs or, if necessary, replace flooring altogether. Dress the room with attractive window rods and curtains. Fusik playfully compares window treatments to makeup, “Regardless of eye shadow, mascara always makes a woman’s eyes pop. Similarly, drapery frames the space to achieve the finished look of beauty.”
Consider positioning furniture, including couches and chairs, away from a wall to establish a comfortable sitting area. Morris advises sellers to emphasize a room’s proper traffic flow and eliminate obstruction from walkways. The television does not need to be the focal point; repurpose the room from the buyers’ perspective rather than its current function. Remove and store excess pieces, like book shelves.
Fusik advises clients to invest in a beautiful comforter instead of pricey new furniture. If lacking a headboard, place oversized pillows underneath a large framed picture. “Or purchase a blank painters canvas the width of, but less expensive than, a traditional headboard.”
The color scheme of the master bathroom should complement that of the master bedroom. In fact, any rooms that are conjoined or simultaneously visible should flow in both color and style. “Open floor plans, such as those with great rooms, allow buyers to see many spaces at once. Regardless of your design style ─ contemporary, cottage, coastal, romantic, eclectic, traditional, or modern ─ the rooms should be staged to flow harmoniously.”
Kids’ rooms can remain kid-friendly if kept clean and organized. “Murals and bright colored walls can be kept if visually appealing. However, ugly or unprofessional murals should be painted over,” Fusik recommends.
Some designers suggest that rooms should contain three types of lighting: ambient, task, and accent. Updating lighting fixtures can be a cost effective way to make a room shine. Options available at local hardware stores generally cost from $30 to $150. The key, according to Fusik, is scaling the light piece to the size of the space. “Many costumers mistakenly choose a kitchen or living room chandelier that is too small to fill the space, provide proper lightning, or become the desired focal point.” However, she advises that, if ceilings are low (8 to 9 feet) rather than vaulted, fans should be removed to make them appear higher. “Be sure to cover the ceiling hole with a cap.”
Neutrally painted walls are especially important if the house if vacant during showings, Fusik says. Different wall colors can present a choppy look when furniture is removed.
Paint your front door a hue that coordinates with the exterior of your house, yet provides some visual contrast. Trim grass, prune flowers, organize garbage or recycle bins, and update entry lighting. Pressure wash the driveway, sidewalk, and pool deck. Ponder a small staging investment with the purchase of new patio furniture or a larger investment to finish a deck. Finally, help drive sales by parking your vehicle down the street to allow full visibility of driveway and garage.