More often than not, when one of my clients has a tight schedule and can only go see properties after daytime work hours M-F, I will preview a home to see if it’s even worth a client visit. As I was out previewing once I entered a home after finagling with the door lock for some time. The home was dark, disheveled, and moldy.
I was immediately drawn to an oversized lit up aquarium with a green glow in the front living room. Upon closer look, I noticed an unusually large sucker fish floating upside down on the surface, dead. Suffice it to say this was not the welcome that makes most buyers say, “This is it!”
Buyers want to envision what the space will look like with their belongings, not the items of the previous owner, especially dead fish. This brings me to a value add that your realtor can bring to the table- expertise in staging and prepping the property to show well.
There is no doubt that staging can help your home sell faster- a listing that is adorable on the inside will draw flocking buyers quickly to your home, especially right now in the Denver Metro area. You might be thinking, “It’s such a seller’s market right now, why put the effort into staging?” Yet, there’s data out there that suggests staged homes are sold for more money. If you think of staging as an investment and not a cost, you can approach it with positivity. In most cases, if you set the tone with the intention of showcasing the home- realtors, buyers will play harder to get the home.
And let’s not discount buyer perception. If you have pride in the way your home shows, you presumably have had pride all along in the ownership of your home. Whether subconsciously or not, buyers then make the leap that the seller has taken great care of the property and thus they will be proud future homeowners as well, with little to do but point to the movers.
Now to tips….
Frame of Mind: It’s all about the buyers
Take yourself, the current homeowner or seller, out of the equation. Even though you may think to yourself, “This is not how I would set this room up,” trust the professionals. Even look at photos of staged homes and non-staged homes to see the difference, outside of your own space.
Know your Buyer. Know your house.
As a homeowner, you’re likely familiar with the demographic in your particular neighborhood, but if not, ask your realtor. Then, stage the house accordingly. For instance, if you’re sitting in a neighborhood that 20’s and 30’s are moving into, take a look at the transitional styles of Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware, Crate & Barrel. Look at their magazines to get ideas. And in that same vein, make sure to match your décor to the price range and home style. You wouldn’t want to fill a contemporary home with pine antiques- the mismatch is distracting and disrupts the flow of the home.
Declutter, but don’t sterilize.
While you declutter to streamline, add a few accessories as well. Real (not fake) house plants, coffee table books, tasteful collectibles, blankets, etc. make the place look polished and together. Gone are the days that rooms are staged with just an empty chair. Give the home a personality. You don’t want a potential buyer to wonder how they might decorate and place furniture- give them some ideas to go on!
Now’s the time to get rid of the things that are not working
Got an unsightly shower curtain? Take it down. Dusty, outdated window treatments? Take them down. If it’s ugly and it has bothered you for years, chances are potential buyers will pick up on this as well. Even painting cabinets or replacing countertops could really give you a bang for your buck- but ask a professional first.
Don’t hide the goods!
If you have amazing hardwood floors (or potential for amazing hardwood floors) don’t hide them under a rug. Highlight your assets. Don’t be afraid to add a splash of color either, given that those colors look good in the listing photos. Pillows, vases, and even a fresh bowl of lemons in the kitchen can do it.
Spruce up the front
Most buyers drive by the home first to see if they even want to go in. Many buyers make up their mind in the first 30 seconds upon seeing the front of the home. You want the interior to have a fighting chance, so put some effort into the front- clean up the porch, plant and mulch if you’re in the right season, replace old light fixtures, paint if need be.
Consult the professionals!
Realtors and stagers alike can look at your home with a professional lens and offer suggestions on how to best showcase your home. Think about how we are inundated with stimuli through our phones, emails, and texts. The majority of buyers are making decisions about whether to view homes by sifting through the internet, with limited time. A skilled realtor should represent the seller by featuring the home well on the MLS through great photos and staging. Otherwise, you lose your audience without them even stepping foot in the home.
The importance of photographs is another thing that I’ll get to in a subsequent blog- if listing pictures are blurry, upside down, or there’s something unsightly captured in the picture like a box of rodent poison on top of the fridge (true story) then, at best, I’m afraid to preview it alone. Or worst, the listing may not even be sent to my client.