I am a big proponent of home styling- in particular decluttering. The following is an article from the August edition of Florida Realtor magazine that offers great advice to home sellers on practical ways to style a house.
Staging may seem like a nice-but-not necessary enhancement — something you might reserve for higher-priced homes. But the return on investment can be substantial. In the National Association of Realtors’ first-ever “2015 Profile of Home Staging,” 32 percent of the Realtors surveyed estimated that staging results in up to a 5 percent increase on the price offered for a home, while 22 percent of Realtors® representing sellers and 16 percent of Realtors® representing buyers said the increase is closer to 6 to 10 percent. Professional staging experts place the figure as high as 15 to 17 percent above the price of an unstaged home. The report also found that the median amount spent on staging a home is $675, though staging experts say their services range from as low as $125 for a consultation to $2,000 to $3,000 to stage a vacant home with supplied furniture. Whatever the costs, it’s worth checking with your
accountant as the cost of staging may be tax deductible, says Barbara Schwarz, founder of StageHomes.com and the International Association of Staging Professionals.
CONVINCING CLIENTS TO STAGE
Among potential downsides to staging is the feeling some Realtors have that it places them in the uncomfortable role of coming across as being negative or critical about a sellers’ home. “A lot of [real estate professionals] don’t want to be the bad guys,” says Schwarz. In reality, they’re providing a service by helping their clients understand a fundamental reason behind staging, says Schwarz. “The way you live in your home, and the way you market and sell your home are two different things.” Time and money can also be factors, as some sellers won’t want to invest much of either in staging their home. However, there are some simple things you can do
to help reap benefits for your clients if hiring a professional stager isn’t in the cards. Here’s how to stage like a pro:
CROSS THE STREET. Take the sellers across the street to look closely at their house—the way a potential buyer will see it, Schwarz suggests. Is the grass too high? Are hedges in the front creeping into the entranceway? Does it look bright and welcoming? If the home doesn’t have curb appeal, you may lose a buyer before he or she even sets foot in the house. How to fix it? Small, inexpensive improvements can make a big difference. In addition to making sure the yard is well kept, Davis suggests adding colorful, fresh flowers in flower pots in front and a new welcome mat. If the mailbox is dented or rusty, replace it with a nice new one.
STAND IN THE DOORWAY. Not just the front doorway, although that’s a great place to start, Schwarz says. Go through the house and stand in the doorway of every room. Take a picture. Then stand in each corner of the room, and take another picture. Print them out and give them to the seller to help them objectively see what potential buyers will see. It should help smooth the way for the work to follow.
DE-PERSONALIZE. That wall of family portraits. Political posters. Religious artifacts. Sports memorabilia. They’re all precious (to them) items the sellers have been collecting their entire lives. But they distract potential buyers and hinder their ability to see a particular house as their future home. Staging a home properly makes potential buyers feel like they’re “walking into the beginning of a story,” a real estate salesperson and founder of GCT Marketing in New York City.
DE-CLUTTER. Most homeowners will have a tough time recognizing how many of their prized possessions need to be packed up. “If sellers are doing the staging, [they’re] going to think everything’s gorgeous because [they] love them,” Turnier says. Swanson recommends that all flat surfaces—counter tops, desktops, cabinet tops—should be cleared, with all but one to three items left. “Go room by room and knock the whole thing out,” says Davis. If the sellers are not yet ready to move, recommend they rent a storage
unit. They can use the garage or a pod in the driveway for storage, but Davis warns that going this route is “a dead giveaway that there isn’t enough storage space in the home.” Same with closets that are overstuffed.
MAKE THREE YOUR LUCKY NUMBER. Work in groups of three. For example, says Schwarz, three pieces of furniture, such as a sofa and two chairs, and a coffee table and two end tables, for a living room. Or, think in terms of tall to short, say a tall lamp, a medium plant, and a book on a coffee table or end table. “Create a vignette,” says Lynda Miller, a sales associate with Watson Realty in Longwood
who specializes in staging and selling vacant houses and expired listings. She advises standing in the front door and looking at the space you’re staging. If your eyes are being pulled in different directions because there’s too much going on, simplify.
KEEP IT CLEAN. Most people don’t have time to thoroughly clean and scrub their house from top to bottom — what Davis calls Q-Tip clean — but this is essential if they’re serious about selling. “Somebody should be able to take a Q-Tip and run it along the edge of your baseboards or along the edge of the floor or different surfaces and they should not be dusty or dirty or moldy,” suggests Davis.
ADOPT A NEUTRAL STANCE.
Walls should be painted in neutral colors. Turnier suggests taupe, while Miller is a fan of Benjamin Moore’s Revere Pewter, which she
describes as “gray-beige.” For bedrooms and bathrooms, Davis says, “you can’t go wrong with pale blue or pale green.”
ACCENTUATE THE POSITIVE.
Because she works primarily with vacant houses, Miller keeps enough furniture in her business inventory to stage 15 or 16 houses at a time. But small things can make a big difference, she says. “Mirrors are good sources of light and open up spaces,” Miller says. In the bedroom of a vacant house, put an air mattress on top of boxes, and cover it with nice bedding so it looks like a bed. Put a chair
with a plant next to it to soften a room. In a bathroom, buy a set of clear glasses at a dollar store, along with small soaps, cotton
balls, and Q-Tips. Use the tall, medium, large technique to put the items in the glasses, creating a spa effect. Convincing sellers to turn
their home into a house, a product to be sold, isn’t easy. But once they understand what’s in it for them—selling the house faster and getting more money for it so they can begin writing the next chapter of their life— it’s an investment in time and money worth making.