Guest Blog Post by Jennie Norris, ASPM®, IAHSP-Premier®, ASP-SRS®, ASP-REO®
Owner, Sensational Home Staging – Serving the Greater Denver Region
The spring market is in full swing around the country as homeowners take the plunge and decide to sell. It is important to make the very best first impression for buyers and that means staging your home before selling. Barb Schwarz, creator of Home Staging® coined a phrase used by many in the industry, “The way you live in your home and the way we market and sell your house are two different things.” What that means is there is nothing “wrong” with how you choose to live in your home. However, selling a house requires a shift in mindset because you are looking to attract a buyer.
Staging is the process of preparing a house for sale so it sells in the quickest time and at the best price. It is an up-front investment in time and dollars to ensure you maximize the rate of return on the sale of your house.
Think about a time you went to a job interview or on a date. Did you shower, dress up nicely, and present yourself well to the person you were meeting? Hopefully you answered, “yes.” Selling a house is no different. Buyers preview your potential property online and I call that the interview. When they come in person to see the house – it’s a date. In both instances the house has to look its best. If the photos are not good, then there is no date set to see the house in person which means no offer. One leads to the other and both are essential in getting you the best price for your house. It’s the laws of attraction at work.
You might be in a “hot market” where houses are selling quickly, yet staging will help you get the very best price and in some markets results in competing offers for the property because it looks so good. In a traditional market, statistics show that staging helps houses sell 2-3 times faster and anywhere from 5-20% MORE than the un-staged competition. Your ASP® or ASPM® Accredited Stager can explain the difference between “Staged List Price” and “List Price” which can mean more money in the sale of your house, as well as show you the statistics that support staging.
We live in our homes and sell a house or product. Staging is about preparing the house for the unknown buyer and that is why we have to put things away that are personal to us or might be distracting to buyers. All you know about a prospective buyer for your house is they have money to invest in a property and are searching in your area. You don’t know their age, faith, race, background, politics, education, what they do for work, or family status. In order for your house to attract all buyers, you need to remove any of the above items from your home and turn it into a house that all buyers can appreciate.
Staging also helps protect the seller. By removing things that are too personal such as family photos, financial information, and health issue items such as prescriptions, you are protecting your family from potential predators online and in person. Even something as generic as kitchen knives in a butcher block need to be removed because they are weapons. In fact any weapons in the house need to be removed and/or secured before any buyers enter the house. It is both a safety and liability issue.
I have seen my fair share of interesting things in homes. Things we are really proud of or a unique item we installed in our home may not have the same appeal to buyers and should be removed so it does not become the only thing someone remembers about a house. For example, I once staged a house where there was a very large oil painting in the formal dining room of a nude woman reclining on a chaise. Turns out the woman in the painting was the owner. I had to tactfully get her to remove that painting so I used techniques learned in my training to do this without hurting her feelings. The fact is the painting was special to her, but buyers don’t want to see a naked woman painting in the house. It’s too personal and too distracting. The house would be memorable for the wrong reason.
Here are some tips you can use to help get your house ready to sell:
Clean your house – top to bottom, inside and out. A clean house tells a buyer you take care of your home and allows them to feel better about the purchase. If you don’t have time to do the really deep cleaning in bathrooms and your kitchen, hire someone to help you. It will be well worth the investment.
Clutter-Free – removing all the excess from corners, counters, and rooms is key. You are packing – just pack up early so when you get that offer, you are already well on your way to being ready to move. Think about the things you have now and decide if you really want to pay to move them – and then purge and donate things you no longer want or need.
Color – we paint our walls custom colors we like but have to understand they may not appeal to buyers. Paint any bold-colored walls to a nice, warm tone neutral. If you love that color, you get to paint it in your new home. Remember we are selling SPACE so open up those rooms visually by putting warm tone neutral paint on the walls. You can add color with artwork, accessories, accent pillows, and bedding. Do add color to the exterior of your house with fresh annuals that are cheerful and inviting.
Room Arrangement – Stand at the entry of your rooms and ask yourself if there is too much furniture. If the room feels crowded or access pathways to sliding glass doors or other areas of the house are blocked, it is a good idea to remove some items. Furniture should be arranged to highlight a focal point or feature of the house. This is where having a professional ASP® Stager come and help you is key. Being able to visualize the best way to arrange a space is important and when we are moving, we are stressed. Plus we are used to how our home looks and it is hard to imagine it another way.
Pets – What do we do with our fur babies when the house is for sale? Buyers may have positive or negative experiences with pets so you need to minimize the evidence of pets for photos and showings. Buyers may assume a pet soiled the carpet or damaged the home if there is evidence of activity. Leaving a large dog that barks in the backyard or garage is not a good strategy. Taking them with you, putting them in a day-kennel, or having family members help out is a good plan. Pets that are strictly indoor pets need to have a discreet area to do their business that are kept very clean, and if they are housed in a cage or terrarium, it should be clean, covered, and located in a discreet part of a bedroom. Make sure pet hair is cleaned up before any showings, and take time to remove any dog “bombs” from the back yard so buyers don’t track that inside.
Personal Items – As you prepare your house for sale, remove anything of value. If you leave things out on display they are at risk because a buyer could handle them, accidentally break the item, or even steal it. Jewelry should not be left out nor should prescription medications. I recommend sellers take those things with them when there are showings. Just stuffing these things in a drawer is not a good idea because buyers may snoop.
Get Help – The last recommendation I have is for you to get an objective, third party opinion on what your house needs to prepare it for sale. Find an Accredited Staging Professional® (ASP®) Stager in your area and have them prepare a Staging Consultation which is a documented detailed summary of what you need to do room by room, inside and outside. On average a consultation investment can range between $125-$375 depending on where you live. If your house is vacant, an ASP® Stager will preview your house and provide a staging estimate to stage the key rooms in the house.
To find a qualified, trained, Accredited Staging Professional go to www.Stagedhomes.com and click on the ASP Directory Link.
About the Author:
Jennie Norris, ASPM®, IAHSP-Premier®, ASP-SRS®, ASP-REO® is the owner of Sensational Home Staging, serving the greater Denver region. Since 2002 she has Staged nearly 3,000 homes and over $1 Billion in property values. She is a Board Member of the International Association of Home Staging Professionals® (IAHSP®) and is the President of the local Denver IAHSP® Chapter. Jennie is also a Certified ASP® Course Trainer with Stagedhomes.com and since 2005 has helped educated thousands of Realtors and Stagers. Staging is her passion and she enjoys sharing the value and benefits of Staging with Realtors and Sellers. Jennie is a marketing expert, author, blogger, mother to four teenagers and wife of 26 years.
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